Monday, July 04, 2016

July 4: “No class” Trump and “all are created equal.”

“Trump ain’t got no class. Trump may or may not lose; his brand already has.”

Richard Cohen, Washington Post

Class and aspiration go together. Divide people by class, and people will want to rise or hold on. To rise, to aspire, one needs hope. Those holding on need reassurance, something Cohen’s snobbery provides. Today’s progressive America is a meritocracy divided by intelligence, brains in First Class. Either you have brains, willingly defer to brains, or you are no class.  

fear and greed  

“financial markets are driven by two powerful emotions – greed and fear.”

old Wall Street saying

Class and aspiration are linked to fear and greed. Not just financial markets, but also politics, bend to the basic emotions of “flight or fight” — fear or greed. Do you strive to rise? That’s greed. Do you worry about losing your place? That’s fear.

Trump appeals to middle class and working class aspirations for more. That’s greed. Progressives warn minorities, youth, and unmarried women that Trump threatens their welfare state — fear. Trump talks illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism — fear. Progressives demand wealth redistribution and a higher minimum wage — greed. The emotions seem linked to  

positive v. negative liberty

This blog keeps coming back to Isaiah Berlin’s 1957 lecture on positive v. negative liberty:
Do you truly believe in “negative liberty,” which allows each person to pursue happiness as free as possible from outside interference (beyond basic protection), or do you favor “positive liberty,” which allows the collective (and its leaders) to guide us toward “the better angels of our nature?”
It’s July 4. The Declaration of Independence’s “all are created equal” is “negative liberty” — ideally people start even, allowed to succeed (or fail) to the limits of their efforts. Or has our nation become “July 14,” a day that commemorates the launch of the French Revolution 13 years later, a revolution for “liberty, equality, and fraternity, where “equality” means the state insuring “equality of results” — “positive liberty.”

“Negative” = greed. Earn my share. “Positive” = fear. State please help. Which choice best represents our revolution?  

Progressivism or Liberalism?

Damon Linker, in The Week, calls himself a liberal, in contrast to progressives. According to Linker:
progressivism holds out a very specific moral vision of the future. It will be a world beyond particular attachments, beyond ethnic or linguistic or racial or religious or national forms of solidarity. In their place will be the only acceptable form of solidarity: humanitarian universalism. . . there will be nothing left to debate. The big questions of politics will already be answered. . . Everyone will understand that all particular forms of solidarity are morally indefensible (just various forms of racism) and that all strong political stands against humanitarian universalism in the political realm are politically unacceptable (just various forms of fascism).
Liberals, Linker writes:
believe in the rule of law; in individual rights to speech, worship, assembly, and private property; in an independent judiciary and civilian control of the military; in representative institutions founded on the consent of the governed; in democratic elections, not as ends in themselves but as checks on the power of government and as a means of gauging and forging popular support for policies pursued by public officials in the name of the common good.
That means today’s politics is progressive/positive liberty/equality of results/fear v. classic liberal/negative liberty/equality of opportunity/greed.

Justice Dept.'s Loretta Lynch
Those accepting this division understand why progressives have adopted a defensive posture motivated by fear. They listen to conservative guru Rush Limbaugh, who recently told his audience:
[Here’s] today’s . . . Democrat Party[: t]he whole point of acquiring these positions of power is to corrupt them with your people, who will use these positions of power to implement your agenda. Now, they don't look at it as corrupting anything because they think they're God's gift. They're simply doing the work that needs to be done to transform America. So in their minds they're not corrupting anything. . . The Department of Justice [see illustration] is there to implement the Obama, Democrat Party agenda.
And they understand the ferocity with which progressive media goes after Trump, as the conservative New York Post’s Michael Goodwin writes:
Trump can’t count on wall-to-wall “free” media coverage the way he could in the primaries. The novelty is diminishing, and media bias for Democrats is growing. . . everything Trump ever said or did continues to be fodder for new investigations. It means the GOP candidate is playing against the referees as well as the other team.
Yes, “playing against the referees.” The reality of the times (Times).

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