Empowering Donald Trump – The Base

Posted Feb 5, 2017 at 17:26. Revised Sep 6, 2019 at 21:21.

The short answer to the question “Who empowered Donald Trump?” is just about everybody did. Donald Trump’s core supporters have shown much adoration for him at his rallies, and without their support he would have gone nowhere. The related posts A Tale of Two Factories and Trump – The Same As FDR? are starting points for understanding why his base support has empowered him so effectively. In many respects, Trump uses FDR’s (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) playbook – updated for the age of social media.

Trump is at least as in tune with the working class locker room crowd as he is with the country club elite. Being able to function effectively with both those crowds is a rare skill. Whether that skill has been used in some extremely disruptive ways or whether such skills are enough to solve the nation’s problems are different discussions.

The most important cornerstone of Trump’s power with his base is probably the patronizing elitism which much of the Establishment feels toward Joe Six Pack. As the Tale of Two Factories explains, dismissiveness, snubbing, and not listening build time bombs of anger. Those time bombs are now detonating in slow motion, but with unrelenting persistence.

The patronizing elitists are dumbfounded by what they have unleashed, and are in almost complete denial that they are dismissive, patronizing, or elitists. Of course, the well-educated and well-connected have something to feel elite about, but they nevertheless live in a sociologically different world from the people whom they regard as baskets full of deplorables. J.D. Nobody knows an astute psychologist who has observed that elitists have no idea that they are elitists, and that once they face the situation they are automatically no longer elitists.

J.D. Nobody has a rare credential for understanding the social problems which elitist create. At one point in his life he held a real “dirty hands” job, thereby gaining exposure to many real world situations that elitists only know conceptually. A real dirty hands job is a job where one uses a large jar of GoJo Hand Cleaner per week just to get one’s hands clean enough to go to the bathroom.

The elitists cannot fathom a world where washing one’s hands before going to the bathroom is far more important than washing one’s hands afterwards. That world exists, and is a normal part of the lives of many people. Elitist disconnectedness from real dirty hands people and even disbelief that they exist is quite alienating to those who do the nation’s dirty hands work.

People with experience around dogs know that most dogs can read the non-verbals of people extremely well. Indeed, if dogs were running the country their sensitivity would make them incapable of being elitist enough to enrage the anti-Trump base enough to create the firestorm currently greeting Donald Trump’s presidency. Unfortunately, Washington D.C’s. educated elitists lack the skills that most dogs have.

Complexity is a cornerstone ingredient in this firestorm. The complexity of life breeds oversimplification as people reach out for something they can handle. A key ingredient in this growing chasm is an increasing income inequality that drives people farther apart. The link between complexity and income inequality is hardly surprising once a person recognizes that people are paid what someone else is willing to pay them. The more skilled a person is at managing the complexities around him/her the more income that person can demand. Similarly, persons lacking the required skills for making things go become worth less and less economically.

The superficial solution to complexity driven income inequality is progressive income taxes. This solution has been tried repeatedly since 1980 in the U.S., but each time income disparity has increased anyhow. A major explanation for this that the increasing economic value of skilled complexity managers is a more powerful economic force than are higher taxes.

Attacking the problem with sharply higher progressive tax rates and low income subsidies is a drag on those who know how to make the system go, as well as a discouragement for low income people to seek productive work. Although progressive taxation can to some degree address income inequality, it has the unfortunate side effect of punishing economic success and rewarding economic failure.

The United States is a country where most of its people live near the East and West Coasts and much of the agricultural and industrial power is located in the middle portion of the country. this “fly over” country produces much of the nation’s basic food, but the importance of its people is usually derisively dismissed by the elite flying across the country. These elite are quite content to spend the trip with their minds absorbed in various electronic devices because they find nothing of interest in the agricultural land slowly passing by underneath. After all, the only thing this land produces is the food which they eat. At the end of the day the people living in “flyover country” control the power, know how to fight back, and will.

In contrast, Washington DC has needed a growing number of increasingly specialized people and lobbyists to function. As the narrowness of specialization increases the specialists become more disconnected from the world around them and more dismissive of it. Look no further than this phenomenon to find a key reason why heartland America is up in arms – being ignored and dismissed is an insult guaranteed to enrage, but snubbing is only the start of the troubles.

The next step is slandering the religious views of much of the Heartland with assertions like “the only socially acceptable form of Christianity is Roman Catholicism, if even that is tolerable”. In this view, Christians are categorically all ignorant, intolerant misogynists, homophobes, and bigots who must be suppressed. The facts be damned. There can be no public display by Heartland Christians of anything that can be considered religious – especially if it has Christian connotations. In this world, even the 10 Commandments cannot be discussed or displayed in public, even though the Commandments are a foundation of early Jewish law – but are apparently tainted since they are accepted as containing religious wisdom by Christians as well as Jews.

Going no further than this, it should be obvious what will happen when someone like Donald Trump comes along and tells the people in the Heartland that they are decent people and deserve to be treated as such. Then they are told that wishing a friend or neighbor Merry Christmas is not an act of religious bigotry for which they should be ashamed. People tend to like people who don’t roundly insult them!



The life and death of Trumpian America (ft.com, subscription only)


Complexity->specialization->Optimization-> brittalization

Complexity handling skills are randomly distributed in the social hierarchy

Oriental an insult

Micro insults

Worries are prioritized; tend to focus outside the realm of the specialty

Who empowered DT, and why? Everybody. The why trumps the who and what.

Everybody created DT via progressively more disconnectedness

Concerned far more with what than why. Smokescreens of what obscures the why.

3 blind men and the elephant – everybody has part of the picture

Tale of 2 Factories

FDR & Joshua – Locker room v country club

Incomplete truths; not incorrect

Fact and opinion have become synonymous

“Only people matter” feel, not think, the Bern!

Hillary is being attacked on both flanks, Trump on only one.

Hierarchy of economic development – food clothing shelter etc.

Heartland v coasts v beltway

Flyover country

People vote on what is important to them first, economic self-interest takes a back seat

Optimization produces capital destruction outside of the optimization focal range techno-tangle

Optimization produces progressive loss of primitive skills – heads for a new dark age

IoT -> vulnerability; primitive technology can better handle a big wallop

TDD remarks

Connecting non-contiguous dots

Value disparities based focused skills

Lenin – enemies are those that are nearly the same politically

Pol Pot phenomenon

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Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 5, 2017 at 17:26. Revised Sep 6, 2019 at 21:21. –> Retrieved Sep 19, 2019 at 06:23.
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Author: J.D. Nobody

The Complexity Traps Editor and content creator, J.D. Nobody, OC '61, posts to Complexity Traps based on military, financial, and software development experience. He explains the ways complexity devolves into simplicity and collapses under its own weight. The post The Importance of Being Nobody explains J.D. Nobody's role in complexity.

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