What is Trump?

Angry_TrumpDonald  Trump’s rise to the top of the GOP heap is a symptom of classic American anti-intellectualism, which unfortunately is the real cancer eating away at the Republican Party.

While many see Trump’s rise and even Sanders’ rise, not as anti-intellectualism, but as purely symptomatic of a growing frustration with establishment government, and certainly to some degree that is true, Trump is something much more sinister. The current discontent with the establishment was summed up nicely by a smart conservative friend of mine when he said, “People are getting tired of business as usual in politics and want change. I truly believe that the lack of term limits, and the creation of career politicians that are more worried about their next fundraiser or election instead of doing what’s right, is the cause of what we are seeing now.” But let’s evaluate this idea by analyzing both Trump and Sanders.

We’ll look at Bernie Sanders first. Sanders is a mostly economic phenomenon. His supporters are comprised of largely young, student loan-laden voters who have come to realize that our politics have rigged our economic system to favor the wealthy; to their exclusion. Our system capitalizes profits and socializes losses, something that became painfully clear during the subprime mortgage crisis and the subsequent extensive bank and corporate bailouts of the last decade, and they see Sanders as a catalyst to shake that construct apart. But being frustrated in the status quo does not an anti-intellectual make.

Trump’s rise is much more than simple frustration with the establishment. His brand of political populism in the Jacksonian sense is often a fairly clean inverse of anti-intellectualism. As wonderfully documented in Richard Hofstadter’s brilliant book, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,” we know that this phenomenon ebbs and flows throughout our history, and here we are again.

But instead of a true salt of the earth populist like Jackson, today we have the billionaire Trump.

Trump is the perfect poisonous mushroom sprouting from the great pile of crap that was and is the rise of the Tea Party as the dominant Republican identity. These are the xenophobes, the homophobes, the conspiracy theorists, the racists, the birthers, the anti-science (read global warming deniers), the religious zealots, and other malcontents coalescing under a Gadsden flag umbrella and whipped into an angry frenzy by 24/7 “fair and balanced” nonsense and propelled by YouTube ranters and misinformed bloggers.  Trump is the absence of critical thinking. He’s the antithesis of reasonable discussion. He’s the personification of the comments section of any Fox News article about anything social or political.

In a nutshell, Trump is a creation of the GOP’s inability to keep its fringe on the fringe, and the party is all but lost as a result.

CO2 hits 407 ppm – this is not good news

220px-Pierolapithecus_catalaunicus_(Pau)_a_l'Institut_Català_de_Paleontologia_Miquel_CrusafontCO2 has been breaching the 400ppm threshold for well over a year and just a few days ago, it was measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Earth System Research Laboratory at just over 407ppm. This is not good news at all.

The last time the earth had this level of CO2 in the atmosphere, our human ancestor was Pierolapithecus catalaunicus (a creature who lived around 13 million years ago pictured to the left), and sea level was about 100 feet higher than it is today.

It would be nice if our political candidates from all parties were debating the best solutions. Yet we are stuck with an entire political party who refuses to accept the science. We have to be informed and vocal and we have to hold our political leaders accountable for their ignorance of facts.


Letter to the Editor: Marietta Daily Journal – We need Rep. Ehrhart’s protection

the_worst_thing_about_censorship-4ea871c-introAs you know if you’ve read any of my most recent posts and letters to the editor, over the last couple of weeks there has been a bit of a public furor about the Art Aids America exhibition that traveled through Kennesaw State University.

Front and center in the mix are several of our elected officials who were, shall we say, upset by some of the more provocative pieces in the exhibit.  Undoubtedly the most aggrieved was Powder Spring Republican Earl Ehrhart, whose “solution” to viewing art with political overtones at a public university is to have State House budget members vet samples of art from potential exhibitions in lieu of those same state universities receiving their funding.  This is of course censorship and has no place in free and open society.

My satirical reaction to that idea below, ran in the Sunday, June 5th edition of the Marietta Daily Journal.


Regarding Representative Ehrhart’s comments in Tuesday’s Around Town, I, for one, applaud the representative’s burning desire to protect the students of KSU and indeed, art patrons across Georgia from art that he personally deems unsuitable for viewing. His idea for university presidents to bring art samples to the Gold Dome along with their budget requests is a wonderful first step that sends an encouraging message not only about academic freedom, but also about the value he places on the open marketplace of ideas that is so integral to the university experience in Georgia.

I would add that while he is at it, he should also ask state-funded university presidents to review the books in their libraries, as I’m sure there are many with content that would offend the finely tuned sensibilities of Representative Ehrhart. Beyond that, I imagine there are even professors who are expressing opinions that might inflame the good Representative’s acute sense of decorum, so let’s add their lectures to the list of items that need his approval before a university can get funding.

As we the citizens of Georgia are unable to form our own opinions and judgements, who else is going to protect us from ideas and images that bother him? Once Representative Ehrhart is finished ensuring art is safe and meets his high standard of decency, then perhaps he can host a good old fashioned book-burning for all those volumes that fall short! He could start his protective fire of censorship with John Milton’s “Areopagitica,” Richard Hofstadter’s Pulitzer Prize winning classic “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life” and a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

Ryan Bays