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The Wrongologist

Geopolitics, Power and Political Economy

Trump ≠ Change

Despite being the presidential candidate of the Republican Party, Donald Trump has positioned himself as the candidate of change in the 2016 election. During the first debate, he tried to hammer home his call for sweeping political change. From Reuters:

Some of Trump’s strongest moments at Monday’s debate were when he categorized Clinton, a former secretary of state and US senator as a “typical politician,” accusing her of achieving nothing in her years in Congress and government.

Polls show an electorate hungry for change, with a majority believing the country is on the wrong track. In fact, Reuters/Ipsos polling shows that 64% of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. That number includes 87% of Republicans and 44% of Democrats.

When Reuters asked voters to pick the first word that comes to mind when thinking about the country, the most popular choice was “frustration,” (49%) followed by “fear”(15%) and “anger”(13.8%).

With an electorate once again yearning for change, as they do every four years; who will they turn to in 2016? Many pundits have said that Hillary Clinton is the voice of the status-quo, while Donald Trump is the candidate of change, that she represents incrementalism, while he represents big ideas.

Bill Clinton ran and won on change. Barack Obama ran and won on “change you can believe in.”

But, as Jeff Jarvis says: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

I ended up voting for Barack Obama, but while he was in a [primary] race against Hillary Clinton his campaign slogan drove me to distraction. “Change we can believe in.” What change exactly?

Jarvis makes this point:

“Change” is an empty word, a vague promise. Obama promised “change” and it was a vessel into which his supporters poured their dreams…The proper word is not “change” but “progress.”

But the term “progress” has been devalued and given different meanings by both the left and the right, making it less useful to describe what is required in next stage in our political and social evolution.

Jarvis thinks the key word should be “improvement”: Based on her web site, Clinton will work to improve health care, college costs, infrastructure, criminal justice, mental health, national security, the environment, taxation, campaign finance, and the status of women and minorities.

In this context, Trump ≠ change. He promises little improvement. In fact, his basic message is one of regression: Let’s return to an earlier time in America when many of his supporters feel they had more control over their lives. They say that they have lost their cultural and (possibly) their economic position due to changes they could not control, changes they resent, changes that broadened American opportunity, making it available to others, some of whom are outsiders. Trump is promising to stop these kinds of change.

Change can be of the revolutionary or evolutionary kind, but other than the American Revolution, are there examples of successful revolutionary change in the past 300 years? China, maybe? The French Revolution? Iran? All of these revolutions were accompanied by bloodshed. In our current environment, with instant global communication, evolutionary change is likely to be more successful.

And when you think about what evolutionary change involves: Understanding a problem, preparing and planning for the required change, building a supportive coalition, implementing and sustaining it in law and action, what about Donald Trump suggests to you that he could be an effective change agent?

Alternatively, Clinton presents a vision of a country headed basically in the right direction, but one that needs to address income and other forms of inequality. She is boxed into a position of running against “real” change, because of her career as a member of the establishment, and in part because she wants to run on Obama’s record. She would also like to bring his coalition along with her, but by temperament, she isn’t Bernie.

Still, she has cataloged the many tweaks and changes she hopes to make to policy. They are available online for those who have an attention span longer than it takes to read 140 characters.

This is in contrast to The Pant Load, who values tweets, conflict and personality over substance.

Three AM Tweet Storms are not change, they improve nothing. He promises nothing, and we are letting him get away with it.

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