by Shelton Bumgarner
In this video, I talk about one possibility.
by Shelton Bumgarner
In this video, I talk about one possibility.
by Shelton Bumgarner
Yeah. About that BuzzFeed story. I predicted earlier today that there was a 50/50 chance it would be debunked by nightfall…and it was debunked just after nightfall.
I should get some cool points.
I say this as someone who absolutely loathes the Trump Administration with a white hot rage. The story was simply too on-the-nose from a liberal fever dream point of view. It was, in short, too good to be true.
And it turns out it was.
The below video is kind of a downer — if thought provoking — in more ways than one.
by Shelton Bumgarner
What if Trump was a Russian plant from the beginning?
As of late March 2018, here’s my hot take on the endgame to #TrumpRussia.
It seems to me that what is going to happen is it will be a combination of Iran-Contra and the Monica Lewinsky scandals. Trump could very well be impeached, but he won’t be convicted and ultimately he not only survives but prospers as he grows more accustomed to the office of president.
What’s more, I still predict a major war against the DPRK (and maybe Iran) between now and August 2018. I say this for two reasons. One, Trump needs a Wag The Dog situation to get people talking about something else. Meanwhile, he wants to squash any chance of a Blue Wave happening this fall.
I am not that old, but I am old enough to remember with the Republican Party was the party not only of Lincoln, but of Ronald Reagan. I came of political adulthood in the mid-80s, the height of Ronald Reagan as a near demi-god in Republican circles. I’m no conservative Republican, but I do remember some of the basic tenants of Reagan Republicanism.
Reagan was pro-democracy around the world, no matter what the costs. He saw the Soviet Union (Russia) as our chief geo-political foe and he had, first and foremost, principles he was willing to stand and die for in an ideological, rhetorical way. Or put another way, Reagan had an actual ideology, a vision, of America as “a city on the hill” that was a beacon to people around the world no matter what type of “shithole” they came from.
Even the most ardent Trump supporter, I suspect, would have difficulty telling me what Trump’s ideology is other than “make America great again” and building that fucking wall. The idea of American exceptionalism, that we are a city on the hill that not only defends freedom around the world but is a place open to people from any “shithole” around the world seems to have been cast aside like so much unwanted trash by Trump people.
It all kind of boggles my mind. The whole thing is bizarre. If you have any the tiniest bit of historical perspective on things, Trump’s rise is such an aberration relative to the previous path of the modern Republican Party that it’s enough to leave you a bit stunned. Republicans as recently as 20 years ago, were a party that had, like, principals and stuff. The were the comfy home of “values” voters who supported a witch hunt against Bill Clinton because, well, they hated his guts on a personal level because they felt “character” counted enough to warrant looking for something, anything to impeach him for. They got their wish, of course, be he managed to escape conviction.
Now, I don’t know what the fuck is going on. Everything is turned upside down. Things are surreal. Republicans are soft on Russia. They scoff at the notion that America not only would defend freedom but that our doors would be open to outsiders who are the lifeblood of our continued prosperity. It’s all very surreal for someone like me who actually has enough personal memory to remember the Cold War.
The question, of course, is what the hell happened?
The only answer I can think of is, maybe, Trump is an example of the “Great Man” theory of history at work. I struggle to imagine this clusterfuck happening without someone like Trump being the unique vessel of the resentment of the common man against the evil liberal elites. But Trump is so unhinged, so erratic and so devoid of any type of specific ideology that even though I fear he will be a two-term president, there is a chance he may be the historical equivalent of a Chinese food. Soon enough, we’ll struggle to remember exactly what all the fuss was about.
That’s not to say that, in a way, Trump is already America’s political-historical herpes. All those insane, young judges he’s appointing aren’t going anywhere. They are going to do real harm to the American body politic for decades to come and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. I am still unconvinced that there will be a “Blue Wave” in 2018. I think Trump will attack the DPRK or do something equally nefarious and not only survive, but prosper for a full eight years.
The real question, of course, is what happens after Trump. Do things snap back into place, or are we fucked for good? Because of the coming of the Singularity and other long-term issues, I am more inclined to think we’re fucked. The question, of course, is, exactly how fucked are we?
For all the liberal fever dreams about how Trump will eventually be impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, we have to accept that by the time Robert Mueller finally presents his conclusions to the Congress, things could be so completely muddled that it will be a moot point.
Add to that the cold, hard fact that Trump’s poll numbers are creeping up and Trump could very well pull an epic wag the dog by starting a preemptive war against the DPRK and you have a recipe for a Iran-Contra type endgame for #TrumpRussia.
It’s a classic instance of history maybe not repeating, but definitely rhyming. Iran-Contra was a huge Constitutional clusterfuck for several different reasons and the president at the time, Ronald Reagan managed to escape relatively unscathed. So, it’s very possible that if the economy continues to do well along with a strategic and timely war with the DPRK (and maybe some painful, uncharacteristic groveling) Trump could not only escape serious political harm, he could manage to prosper enough to have a second term.
The only reason why I suggest Trump might do the required public self-flagellation needed for the Iran-Contra endgame to come to be is what he did as part of the Access Hollywood tape scandal. He said he was sorry and he was able to go about his business. And, if Trump does, in fact, find himself at risk of being impeached, I have a feeling he’ll bend his knee to the public to save his job.
Though, I have to note, presidential second terms are not known for being all that great. The usually are pretty shitty compared to energetic first term. Usually, by the middle of the second term, Americans begin to grow unhappy with an president and weird things begin to happen. Trump, himself, is a manifestation of this. So, should Trump slouch towards a second term, some seriously fucked up shit might happen.
My biggest fear is that America’s already broken democracy is finally shatter altogether and there’s no going back. We will finally enter an era of fully “managed democracy” like they have in Russia. I used to think that could never happen, that America has too much spunk. But I’m afraid I’m beginning to lose hope. I’m beginning to fear that we’re fucked. I’m beginning to fear that there will never be a free and fair election in the United States in my lifetime. Or, if a Democrat wins it will be because of a really bizarre fluke.
It’s all very unfortunate, very sad and tragic. The major problem is we’re in an extended Civil Cold War with no end in sight. In fact, I might suggest that only a real civil war might end this turmoil. But the greater tragedy may be that when push come to shove there won’t be a war at all. The states will split peacefully for no other reason that they have, at last, nothing in common.
For about six months after Trump’s election, I was so angry that I seethed with rage. Now that I have calmed down considerably, I find myself struggling to understand why Trump won and what is continued appeal is for roughly 37% of the American electorate.
We have to understand that Trump is a product of social media. Something about the rise of social media has made people extremely partisan. Some of it has to do, I think, with how easy it is to block or otherwise avoid people who disagree with you. So, both sides simply wallow in an echo chamber of things they agree with, leading to the breakdown of the traditional basic need of democracy to have consensus, compromise and synthesis. Throw in dark money, gerrymandering and Russian meddling through bots and paid trolls and you have us where we are today.
And, yet, we have one significant thing to be thankful for: Trump has no political ideology. He has no strategy. He’s all about the tactical win. He’s all about winning the moment. If Trump had the rock-hard ideology of, say, Pat Buchanan, we would be in serious trouble indeed.
But, as it stands, there is no Trumpism without Trump. Whatever magical mystery power Trump has over a sizable chunk of the electorate is attached to him personally. So, really, the only way to get rid of Trumpism is to completely vanquish Trump personally as a political force. That is quite tricky because the American Republic is on such shaky legs for various reasons that the core problems that allowed the Trump caner to fester will remain for many years to come.
One issue is people like me are too quick to enrage and not engage Trump supporters because, well, we’re at a loss as to where to begin. Where do we begin to engage people who we feel support a racist, misogynist bigoted nativist? I struggle to do that for various reasons. I closest I can come is seeing that the blind rage of people in rural areas about the modern liberal order was so great in 2016 that they were willing to overlook any flaw on Trump’s part because they thought he would, in fact “drain the swamp.”
That’s the thing that I think people like me have the most difficulty understanding: that core group of people who support Trump really do support the authoritarian chaos that he has caused since he came to power. That’s what they wanted. It’s difficult for secular humanists like me understand why “values voters” could possibly support the thrice married Trump. But they do. They do because they know that while he’s using them for his own political needs, he will, in fact give them the reach around that they have longed for so desperately. He gives them a sense of power that they haven’t felt in decades, if ever. The fact that it’s all a gross political ploy doesn’t phase them.
Another thing people like me struggle to understand is that fact that rock hard core group of Trump supporters that aren’t going anywhere really do think a Hillary Clinton administration would have been worse. They actually, to this day, really think that. They may be a lot more quiet than they were election day night, but they still think it.
Which raises an interesting counter-factual. What if Clinton had won? What would the world look like a year after the election? Probably something like this: instead of Trump’s tweets causing chaos from the White House, they would incite the Republican Congress to look for any number of different reasons to impeach Clinton and they probably would have gotten pretty damn close.
But Trump won. So we have to deal with the consequences. One of the crucial unknowns is will things snap back into place once Trump finally leaves the public sphere, or are we doomed. Are we going to suffer a Russian-style autocracy from now on because of the damage that Trump has inflicted on our body politic, or will we go back to some semblance of normalcy once he’s gone?
The answer to this question lies, in great part, to who succeeds Trump. If it’s Mike Pence, probably things will be more likely to snap back into some semblance of being normal. However, if Trump manages to last a full term, or even get re-elected, all bets are off. It is possible, probably probable, that we’ve reached some sort of event horizon whereby the realms of celebrity and politics are so muddle that they are indistinguishable.
It may be that the person who manages to heal the divides caused by Trump — and they are many — won’t be a traditional politician at all, but a liberal celebrity who manages to bridge the gaping wound that Trump has caused in our national psyche. The longer Trump stays president, the more likely it will be, say a Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart who succeeds him. I like to think that the only person who stands up to the middle school bully is the middle school class clown and it would make a lot of sense if someone like them took up the challenge of bringing down Trumpism. Though of late I’ve begun to think that the only person who could handle the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune any Democrat would suffer at the hands of FOX News’ bullshit would be someone tough as nails like Chelsea Handler.
The most ominous aspect of all of this is it’s possible we’re doomed. It really is possible that the United States is now a failed state and the only thing keeping it together is Trump himself. It’s possible that Trumpists are so completely deluded and brainwashed by their bullshit bubble that once he’s no longer in power things will grow dire indeed. And that doesn’t even begin to address the possibility that someone really dangerous — a charismatic Right-wing nutjob with an ideology — may learn from the mistakes of Trump and inflict the final death blow to the American Republic. That we really may fall of the precipitous into a dystopia.
I would like to think I have some hope that that worse case scenario won’t happen, but I don’t. History doesn’t go in a straight line and there are absolutely no assurances that the good guys will win. All we can hope is that some sort of sanity will return to American political discussion sooner rather than later.
Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.
What’s the Craic?
This is a new podcast like thing we’re doing where we talk about events of the day. In today’s edition, we talk about the shooting in #Texas, #GunControl and the #NRA. We also talk about the #ParadisePapers, #Trump and #TrumpRussia. It takes a little while to get going, but in general this is a pretty good chat. If you like it, be sure to follow us and share this video as well.
Any normal president would seriously thinking of giving a national speech apologizing for TrumpRussia. But Trump is not a normal president. And TrumpRussia is not a normal scandal. The only thing I can of that will allow Trump to survive this scandal is a major war in Northeast Asia.
I don’t know what happens next. I just don’t know.
In the mid-80s, it looked like Ronald Reagan was a goner. He was involved in a huge scandal called Iran-Contra. But he was too popular and he also was able to do some effective crisis control when he essentially did a national address and apologized for what happened.
While it doesn’t seem likely that Donald Trump would do such a thing, he did pretty much apologize after the Access Hollywood tape and so if he really wants to be president all that bad he might do it. He could announce that he’s pardoning all the key figures, apologize and ask that the nation move on.
But Trump is no normal president and it’s very possible he may prefer to start a war with North Korea than risk losing power. Only time will tell, I guess.