The Most Dangerous Game

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This is not a second edition of Pulp Fiction Thursday, it’s the political post I originally planned before writing about Korematsu. The Most Dangerous Game referred to in the movie is: MAN and/or WOMAN. The deranged hunter in that story, Count Zoroff, enjoys hunting human beings for sport. People are the game. Poor Joel McCrea. It was easier being on the chain gang in Sullivan’s Travels.

Senate Democrats, including such progressive stars as Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and a certain Independent from Vermont, are making noises about working with the Insult Comedian. They seem to think they can find common ground with him on the “populist ideas” he spouted during the late campaign. Unless this is a tactic designed to expose Trump as a fraud, they’re out of their minds.

First, we have no idea what, other than himself, Trump believes in. I have a hard time believing that a sexual predator who lives in a Manhattan penthouse favors populist solutions to economic problems. The sole “populist” on his team is the millionaire anti-Semite and white nationalist, Steve Bannon of B3 Brownshirt fame. The potential Vichy progressives want him removed for laudable reasons and I agree with them. Who’s going to have their back on economic issues if he goes? Nobody, that’s who. The crazed cannibal capitalists will have their run of the asylum AKA the Trump White House.

Second, Trump lied his way through the campaign. Moreover, he’s an habitual liar who screws everyone who deals with him. His word is not his bond. Trying to deal with him is an act of extreme naiveté. He will look you straight in the eye, shake your hand, lie to you, and later deny that a deal was made. If we’ve learned nothing else from the campaign, we’ve learned that Trump is a con man who tells his marks what they want to hear. I’m not buying what he’s selling. Repeat after me: the Insult Comedian is the  lyingest liar who ever lied.

I understand *why* they want to make a deal. They know Trump is a blank slate when it comes to policy and they want to get shit done. Yes, our infrastructure needs work but is it worth selling out to Trump? Presidents get credit for things like this and, knowing Trump, he will put his name on every construction project. I’d like to point out that public works spending is a tried and true way for dictators to build support. Why do you think the original German autobahn was built? The Nazis built it as a popularity boosting measure. They were “populists” appealing to the “forgotten man” too.

Some Democrats and Dudebro progressives are drawing the wrong lesson from Trump’s narrow victory in some Rust Belt states. Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has written the best refutation. Here are the money paragraphs from his piece:

Warren and Sanders are wrong, and in a way that signals a significant misreading of the landscape on the part of the most influential Democrats. The simple truth is that Trump’s use of explicit racism—his deliberate attempt to incite Americans against different groups of nonwhites—was integral to his campaign. It was part and parcel of his “populism” and told a larger story: that either at home or abroad, foreigners and their “globalist” allies were cheating the American worker, defined as a white working-class man with a factory job. To claw back the dominion he once enjoyed—to “make America great again”—Trump promised protectionism and “law and order.” He promised to deport immigrants, register Muslims, and build new infrastructure. This wasn’t “populism”; it was white populism. Writes historian Nell Irvin Painter for the New York Times: “This time the white men in charge will not simply happen to be white; they will be governing as white, as taking America back, back to before multiculturalism.”

It seems reasonable for Warren and Sanders to make a distinction between Trump as blue-collar populist and Trump as racist demagogue. But that distinction doesn’t exist. Supporting a Trump-branded infrastructure initiative as a discrete piece of policy where two sides can find common ground only bolsters a white-nationalist politics, even if you oppose the rest of Trump’s agenda. It legitimizes and gives fuel to white tribalism as a political strategy. It shows that there are tangible gains for embracing Trump-style demagoguery. Likewise, it seems reasonable to want to recast support for Trump as an expression of populism. But Trump’s is a racial populism—backed almost entirely by white Americans, across class lines—that revolves around demands to reinforce existing racial and status hierarchies. That’s what it means to “make America great again.” It has nothing to offer to working-class blacks who need safety from unfair police violence just as much as they need higher wages, or working-class Latinos who need to protect their families from draconian immigration laws as much as they need a chance to unionize.

As Jamelle points out, the real “forgotten” people in Trump’s working-class appeal are minorities. Are we going to turn our back on people who supported our nominee to chase the chimera of collaboration on Trump’s terms?

Why do Sanders, Warren, and others think appeasing Trump will work any better than GOP efforts to do likewise? He will lie to them, stab them in the back, and brag about it on Twitter. I already miss outgoing Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Harry is a white Mormon from Nevada but he understands who we’re dealing with better than many ostensibly more progressive politicians.

If you’re a regular First Draft reader, you know that I consider myself a member of the “get shit done” party. These are not normal times. Appeasement, collaboration, and normalization of this menace will not work. The Trump administration has a chance to surpass the corruption of the Gilded Age administrations and that of Warren Gamaliel Harding. And that’s the best case scenario: the worst case is a continuing attack on minority communities and the steady erosion of our freedoms.

The most dangerous game in the 21st Century is collaborating with Trump. That is why I stand with the Resistance. Vive les Maquis.

5 thoughts on “The Most Dangerous Game

  1. Jane Gagle-Bennett says:

    Thanks for the link to Jamelle Bouie and the rest of the post. I’ve bookmarked this and Bouie’s for future reference. Meaning, you and Bouie say it much better than I, and when I get mansplained to again about how it’s economic insecurity and Bernie/Elizabeth/Sherrod are the new Trinity, I’ll just post the links.

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  2. gratuitous says:

    I agree that making a deal with Trump is a sucker’s game. As you point out, there’s no way to tell what Trump thinks on a given subject or issue; it’s possible that he himself doesn’t know what he thinks. Making a deal with Trump is just asking for a screwing.

    That being said, nice-nice noises are at the very least good PR. Republicans can get away with all kinds of irresponsible talk, and threats against the new president, and refusals from Day One to cooperate with the administration on anything. Democrats can’t do that. Ever. By the time Obama got to the bottom of his big bag of fucks to give, all his efforts to make nice with Republicans were wiped from the record as Republicans and the media brayed about the “imperial” presidency, and how simply awful it was that Obama was issuing Executive Orders like a real president or something.

    Hopefully this time around, Democrats will offer lip service to cooperation at the very beginning, and then settle into opposing everything the Republicans try to accomplish because Republicans refused to reach across the aisle.

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    • Peter Adrastos Athas says:

      Republicans don’t care about bad publicity over things like this. Neither should we. Only way to change those expectations is to defy them.

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  3. MichaelF says:

    Agree with you…don’t deal with a con artist. Instead, and I don’t know how to do this, but somehow mobilize our side.

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  4. sfgary says:

    This idea of this post feels good. I feel resistance to Trump down to the DNA level and I don’t want to be like some former Weimar functionary lobbying Hitler for local railroad improvements.

    But this is a confusing time for those of us who belong to the “get shit done party”. It goes to the very idea of resistance… what exactly do we resist, and how do we resist it? Specifics help.

    For myself, I will resist actions – not words. This is not to say words are harmless, but that what someone says is less important to me than whether or not I lose access to health care. An article on Breitbart might make me mad but the creation of a special police force to round up some of my Hispanic neighbors (while harassing the rest) will make me act in defiance.

    But if Trump proposes spending money to fix roads and bridges I’ll be happy to have my representatives support it.

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