Friday, 29 April 2016

Bidinotto on Trump & Hillary, & America


Author Robert Bidinotto explains that Trump and Hillary truly do represent who, and what, Americans now are…

AS I WITNESS the slow, gradual, resigned acceptance within the Republican Party of Donald Trump (and within the Democrat Party of criminal Hillary Clinton and socialist Bernie Sanders) by more and more people -- people who, during a more civilised moment just months ago, would NEVER have tolerated the likes of such creatures -- I am reminded how a culture becomes corrupted, then lost.

The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- a thoughtful, pre-Clintonian Democrat and champion of Western civilization -- memorably described the process he called "defining deviancy down." It amounted to slowly lowering the bar of moral and intellectual standards, of social and cultural expectations, inch by inch. Pretty soon, what was unthinkable in January and intolerable in March becomes tolerated in June, then accepted in August -- and finally celebrated by November.

Why celebrated?

Because in order to accommodate and accept the once-intolerable, a person must surrender his standards, piecemeal...but then rationalise his self-corruption in his own mind. How better to rationalize the despicable -- and one's own acceptance of it -- than to turn it into virtue, and the despicable person into a non-conforming hero? (More on this in the comments section, below.)

I want my friends, some of whom are Trump or Hillary supporters, to understand how seriously I take this corruption.

I am not a bandwagon-joiner. I am not one to stick ‪#‎NeverTrump‬ hashtags everywhere. But neither can I tolerate this crude, ignorant, unprincipled narcissist simply because the alternative would be to vote for a criminal like Hillary. Trump represents the culmination of a process of corruption within the Republican Party, just as Hillary Clinton represents the same within the Democrat Party. To my great sadness, they have come to symbolise and accurately reflect the character of an American people who have, for decades, been defining deviancy down in their own lives and institutions.

I realise that an election is merely a tactical decision, almost always between less-than-ideal options. Oftentimes it is a choice for the lesser harm. But -- and I'm being stone-cold serious -- in a choice between Trump and Clinton, I have no clue who would cause the greater long-term harm to America or to my own values and interests. An unprincipled populist demagogue, whose answer to all problems, foreign and domestic, is an international trade war (see Robert Tracinski's cogent column if you still don't get this) -- or a pathological criminal with a progressive agenda? We're not talking about two characters who would continue the status quo of steady American decline. We're talking about two human wrecking balls. Each, in his or her own way, would accelerate American decline in a host of political, economic, AND CULTURAL ways.

The latter is what concerns me most, because it affects the character of America. As they say, "character is destiny." While these two bottom-feeders sadly reflect the country's slide into decadence, a national leader of character might decelerate that decline. These two would both hasten it.

It might be argued that Trump at least represents what Ayn Rand would have called "the American sense of life," which Hillary Clinton and the left despise and hate. Perhaps. But he has hitched that pro-American spirit to an ANTI-American policy agenda, foreign and domestic. He does not stand for constitutionally limited government, free markets, private property, or individual rights. He is trying to wed "Americanism" to populist statism, and call it "conservatism." That's bad enough on the level of political philosophy, and it would be disastrous on the policy level. But on the more-important level of personal character, Trump would bring into the Oval Office a gutter mentality and behavior, power-hungry narcissism, crude anti-intellectualism, and a mindless personality cult. Yes, America has elected and endured presidents who exhibited one or more of these various ugly traits; however, I cannot recall any single president who embodied them all.

Meanwhile, a vote for Hillary Clinton would be a vote for a pathological liar and crook, and a statist proponent of unlimited government power. And it would be a moral ratification of her despicable betrayal of four brave dead American patriots in Benghazi. That is intolerable.

Because of these considerations (and barring any last-minute, utterly unexpected, radical changes of circumstances in an already insane year), should the electoral alternatives sink to a choice between Trump or Clinton, I shall not vote for either.

I care too much for America's founders, for those who fought and bled and died for this special nation, to dishonor their memory and legacy with such a vote. If our nation has come to this, I believe the November 2016 election will be remembered as America's Jonestown -- and I for one shall refuse to participate in moral self-poisoning and political mass suicide.

[Hat tip Mark V. Kormes. Post originally appeared on Facebook]


  • “But even before the speech began, Trump’s campaign was telling us that there would be no policy details in it, and they weren’t lying…
        So Trump will hire really great people. He won’t tell you anything about them, but he can tell you what losers the other guys are…
        “The majority of the speech was Trump criticising everyone else for being a loser while telling us almost nothing about what he would do differently. In other words, it was exactly like the rest of his campaign.
        “Except that one policy issue was consistent: Trump’s desire for a trade war.”
    Trade War Is Donald Trump’s Only Real Foreign Policy – Robert Tracinski, THE FEDERALIST
  • ““America First” soon became associated with isolationism, antisemitism — and short-sightedness: Just three months after Lindbergh’s speech, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war on the U.S., making Lindbergh’s stance obsolete.
        “Trump certainly knows the legacy of “America First.” And just as he seems unafraid of politically correct taboos on other subjects, Trump seems prepared to risk the backlash “America First” will certainly bring.”
    Trump risks Charles Lindbergh label with 'America First' foreign policy speech – Joel Pollak, BREITBART
  • “Defining Deviancy Down (DDD) was an expression coined by the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1993. Moynihan based his phrase on the theory of Emile Durkheim that there is a limit to the bad behavior that a society can tolerate before it has to start lowering its standards…
        “That same year columnist Charles Krauthammer expanded Moynihan's point by proposing the reverse -- that not only were we ‘normalising what was once considered deviant,’ but we were also’"finding deviant what was once considered normal.’"
    Defending Deviancy Down – Manon McKinnon, SPECTATOR
  • In fascism ever coming to the United States, Ayn Rand recommended “you read or re-read Sinclair Lewis’s t Can’t Happen Here with speccial reference to the character, style and ideology of the fascist leader Berzelius Windrip.” Now’s the time.
    It really can happen here: The novel that foreshadowed Donald Trump’s authoritarian appeal – SALON
    Q: How would Donald Trump be rated in the DIM Hypothesis? [audio] – Yaron Brook, LEONARD PEIKOFF.COM
  • .


  1. 'It amounted to slowly lowering the bar of moral and intellectual standards, of social and cultural expectations, inch by inch.'

    While I personally like this I'm not sure how you can hold to it without being religious (or something like that) to a degree that allows you accept there are some moral standards outside man's 'rational' and variable thought you should see as foundational to civilization. Passing laws to defy a moral decline is pointless as there is effectively no consent of the governed in such things. Islam tries with Sharia but look at the brutal mess that arises from that. With the shifting sands of progressive morals and demands we treat as perfectly normal that would have been seen as unacceptable a generation ago we now have no absolutes - it seems everything is negotiable if you are loud and obnoxious enough.

    So, who is to say that this perceived (to you at least) foolishness or anything else, is wrong? Where is the moral authority beyond what you think to do so? History shows that mankind is easily led to behave badly and I struggle to see why anyone would expect better candidates than these unless an impending cataclysm was apparent (even that won't affect the zealots and the party stupid). Things are not that desperate yet so we can continue to indulge ourselves a bit longer. The issue is one of how long have we got before reality bites - again?


    1. Mans life is an objective standard of value, while mystical beings are simply what the most persuasive say they are. The contrast between religions, particularly between Christianity and Islam, demonstrates that. There is no reason why the above objective standard of value cannot be (and it is) revered in a spiritual way. All it takes is a love of life and reason rather than a love of mystical beings.

    2. 'All it takes is a love of life and reason ...'

      Whose reason? Its clear that life is cheap as well. I still think there's more to it than chewing a grass stem while watching the clouds float by even if that gets a useful number to act half decently most of the time. I worked in general insurance for a long time and got pretty tired of supposed honest people rationalising it was OK to lie to me to make a buck when I was trying to be helpful in the first place.


  2. @3:16 - Your position is certainly not untypical for those who ate religious, but I have never understood why you and other religious folk think that for something to be an absolute it must also be arbitrary, nor how something that is arbitrary increases (rather than decreases) the likelihood of it being a valid absolute.

    1. I think the reason I like some absolutes by decree, if you will, rather than debate is because if its just us we know there are no absolutes for many, many people - you just need to find their pet vice. The main article laments the lowering of standards but how can you say that the standards now are wrong - maybe they were too high before? Your great intellect does not make you right about everything. There is a constant ebb and flow because we like to change the rules to suit ourselves and I see that as man's struggle. The warnings Moses gave to the Jews thousands of years ago are just as relevant because we haven't really learned or changed. The names and some of the vices have changed but we continue to screw up as history testifies. If we are evolving its depressingly slow when it comes to morals and ethics. I think there's something engineered into us to make us moral beings and that makes us accountable. That we can switch the conscience off when it suits us doesn't excuse bad behaviour but many act like it does.



    1. How can there be objective values if Objectivists can't even agree among themselves whether Trump would be a good president?

    2. @ Richard: I'm dumbfounded to read that article on Lindsay Perigo's website, not to mention the reference he makes to those who disagree with him as subhuman. Decades ago he used to criticise the ARI because they were too quick to assume bad faith, now he seems to be worst exponent of it. In terms of content, if you substituted Communism for Islam and changed a few other details, I think you could have used similar reasons to argue in favour of Hitler in the 1930's.

      @ Paul: It's a reasonable question. But what we have here is disagreement on how closely (or far apart) a specific individual is to objective values, not on the nature of those values. And even if there were disagreement on what those objective values are, it doesn't mean they don't exist.

    3. Aye, sadly SOLO has gone into steady decline, now hosting arguments for white supremacy and worse. Very sad.

    4. Well, it is possible to raise the level of debate on SOLO, if you think it needs raising. Linz might get cranky over some things, but he allows people to have their say.

      @ Mark: I don't think the same argument can be made in favour of Hitler, at least not if looked at beyond the superficial. As much as the left paint him that way, Trump is a million miles from being a Hitler.

    5. Richard: I have no interest in debating white supremacists. Nor reason why anyone would want to host them.

    6. @Richard: I didn't say Trump and Hitler were similar. I'm saying the reason for the appeal of both; Hitler in 1930's Germany and Trump now, as expressed in that Solo post are similar. They like him entirely because he's a 'strong' man that throws his weight around and makes aggressive statements about dealing to our common enemies (Communism then, Islam and the PC crowd now). His support comes from a diversity of people from rednecks to Objectivists, who would agree on hardly anything, but all see in him what they want do see - not what he actually is. He achieves that by making vague statements about "making America great", and then leaving to the imagination of his followers what that actually means. They also both started being regarded as clowns, but gained popularity by tapping into people's naivety in that regard; the naivety of people desperate for a solution to world's ills, and suspending their better judgement. My criticism is not primarily of Trump, but of the author promoting him for such superficial reasons - and that you could have used equally superficial reasons to promote Hitler in the 1930's.

  4. Clever I agree but I'm not much into music of any style and doesn't get me like a sunrise with my wife, a motorbike ride (on a fast bike) a windy road (without my wife usually), watching the heavens slip by through my telescope, theology over decent scotch with my friends or a great hymn. Then there's this:

    " ... only 99.9%—of millennials are moronnials, and my answer to the pig-ignorant mewlings of the sub-humans ... "

    When this is how your poster boy of rational thought speaks I think you need a new poster boy - this is not a club I want to belong to. This arrogance is no answer to life's great mystery of why we are here or what's it all about.


  5. Excellent summary. The moral choice in this election is indeed not to vote.


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