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Opinion: Incredibly, Trump could be worse

What if Donald Trump were smart?

It is likely not a question you’ve given a lot of thought. After all, the urgency of our ongoing disaster leaves little time for speculation. One is too busy tallying up the damage that’s happening to worry about the damage that could.

But maybe it’s time we did.

Tyrannies, we tend to think, are things that happen in other places at other times to other people. We like to believe the strength of our institutions, of our character as a people, ensure that “it can’t happen here.”

Well, if Trump’s rise proves nothing else, it proves that it could happen here. It even shows how. Meaning that, more than any other single event, his presidency has forced us to see our vulnerability to new media manipulation and disinformation. Tweet by agonizing tweet, he has embodied the frightening possibilities of this new idea that truth can be whatever you need it to be.

As Stanford University law professor Nathaniel Persily put it last year in an essay published in the Journal of Democracy, Trump has “figured out that incendiary language could command attention or shift the narrative.” The title of Persily’s piece was fitting: “Can Democracy Survive the Internet?”

The saving grace in all of this — relatively speaking, at least — is that Trump has no fixed ideological moorings. He doesn’t believe in any particular thing outside of his own underappreciated greatness. Even his bigotry is lazy and unfocused, producing — with the exception of the ill-fated Muslim ban — no hard-and-fast policy proscriptions.

But what if Trump were smart?

More to the point, what if there arose some future demagogue who combined Trump’s new media savvy with a toxic ideology? It’s not far-fetched to wonder if Trump is not simply writing that individual’s playbook, showing her or him how easily a stable democracy can be subverted.

So, even as we grapple with the daily outrages of this presidency, it would be smart to begin inoculating future generations against one that could be worse. Now, then, would be an excellent time to push even harder for internet giants like Facebook and Twitter to find better ways of purging their platforms of false news and hate.

Now would also be an excellent time for schools to beef up their teaching of philosophy, history, civics and social studies. Teach those things as a means of helping people to think critically, value truth and internalize the ideals that are supposed to make America America.

The hope — in the end, the only real hope we have — is that people who do all that will be less susceptible to toxic ideologies.

Consider that, even lacking a real ideology, toxic or otherwise, Trump has already inflicted damage. It is hardly coincidental that the New York City Anti-Violence Project just reported that 2017 saw an 86 percent spike in hate crime killings of LGBTQ people. Or that the FBI arrested a Michigan man a few days ago after he allegedly threatened to murder CNN reporters for reporting, as Trump calls it, “fake news.” Or that the Pew Research Center found that the percentage of nations expressing confidence in America sank from 64 percent to 22 percent in the first months of the Trump regime. Or that the percentage of Americans expressing confidence in their government has dropped 14 percentage points to just 33 percent over the last year, according to an annual survey by Edelman, a communications marketing firm.

All this and much more has been done to us by someone who is not smart.

What do you suppose might be done to us by someone who was?

— Leonard Pitts is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald.

Comments

Fred Whitehead Jr.

Another great assessment of our current disaster in Washington. As the Mueller probe continues I continue to hope and pray for the revelation of impeachable offenses.

We as a country cannot continue to stand idly by as this idiot dolt continues to blather and boast of his greatness while all the while the country is going to hell in a handbasket.

Our reputation with allies will never be the same, our government will take many years to recover from the disease that is Trump. We will suffer the consequences of this disaster for many years to come if we do recover at all.

3 weeks ago

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Bob Smith

Because name-calling is all you have, you ******** ***** ** *****.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

"hope and pray for the revelation of impeachable offenses" ... "going to hell in a handbasket"

Let's all pray for a Constitutional crisis because our candidate was not elected. You think it might be time to quit whining?

Fred, just as our country is recovering from the 8 years of feckless and ineffectual leadership of the Obama Administration, if a President Trump is as problematic as you insist, he will be a one-term President and you liberals will get another chance to "drive".

I suspect your major concern is just the opposite. President Trump is "draining the swamp" and, as he puts it, "Winning" on a number of fronts. If that continues, Trump will be a two-term President and the American people will be perpetually less likely to elect another lefty apologist like Professor Obama.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Daniel Kennamore

I don't think you know what a constitutional crisis is, because impeaching a sitting president for (among other things) obstruction of justice is not one of them.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

The Constitution’s meaning is in question.- Sometimes the Constitution’s attempt to address an issue is phrased in a way that could allow multiple interpretations, leaving experts disagreeing about what it means and making it difficult or impossible to address a pressing problem.

You suppose DEMs interpretation of "high crimes and misdemeanors" is the same as REPs?

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Daniel Kennamore

Differences in interpretations are not a constitutional crisis.

If & when Trump is impeached for breaking a law, the only thing that will be in crises are Fox New's pundits and people who drink their koolaid.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

Attorney Alan Dershowitz said Wednesday he's concerned that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will choose to go after President Trump on a charge of obstruction of justice.

"A great worry is that because [Mueller] doesn't have anything really substantial, he may go after obstruction of justice, which would create a constitutional crisis," he said.

Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor emeritus and lifelong Democrat, responded on "America's Newsroom" to a new report of Mueller interviewing Trump cabinet members, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Daniel K. or A. Dershowiitz ... I think Dershowitz!

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

If Trump is found to have broken the law and is impeached, that is not a constitutional crisis. That means the constitution is working.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Josh Berg

So when it comes to impeaching Trump the Constitution is working but when it comes to the electoral college we get people crying for it to be abolished? Sounds like you liberals use the Constitution only when it is convenient and that is now how it was designed.

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Bill Turner

Just because the constitution is working (e.g. electoral college) doesn't mean you have to be happy about it, approve of the way in which it works, or can't think of a better way for it to work. It was not handed down on stone tablets from God, that's why it can be amended.

2 weeks ago

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Steve Hicks

Many of my fellow Christians obsess about being able to recognize anti-Christ, so they won't be misled by him when he shows up. Rightly so, since Jesus warned that the fake Messiah ("psuedoChristos") will be so plausible even "the elect" could ALMOST be misled by him (Matthew 24:24).

The crackpot theories identifying some prominent person or another as antiChrist have been around ever since I can remember. But Jesus' teaching was simply that he'd be a human being entirely of satan's spirit. And Jesus characterized satan as a "murderer" and a "liar" (John 8:43-4).

But Jesus' defines "murderer" more rigorously than most of us do, as anyone "angry with his brother" (Matthew 5:22). It's even more explicit in John 3:15: "Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer."

So anyone who takes Jesus' words seriously has to pay attention when Americans choose a president whose primary characteristics are hatred and lies. And greatly amazed that 80% of Christians wanted such a man to lead our country.

I doubt we should identify Trump as anti-Christ. Scripture says there are many who operate in his spirit of lies and hatred, before he comes on scene in person. But Mr. Pitts' warning seems spiritually perceptive, for the discerning.

Those who want to be able to recognize antiChrist would be wise to watch for a person of the same character as Trump, but more clever at concealing his evil intent: someone of the same destructive purpose, but smarter, "slicker," and more plausible than the current president.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

80% of Christians or of evangelicals?

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Steve Hicks

Good point, Dorothy: the 80% figure was for self-identified "Evangelicals."

My perception of friends who self-identify as "Evangelicals" is that most are sincere believers in Jesus: but led astray by the Russian/"conservative" lie-machine (as many non-believers were), and/or failure to exercise spiritual discernment. (The example of the latter I heard over and over was that a vote for Trump was justified as choosing "the lesser of two evils:" that well-known teaching of Jesus.)

After a year of Trump, I think a lot of "Evangelicals" have woken to the fact that they've done a very bad thing. Hopefully many have repented, and turned away from the deceivers: especially the big-name "Evangelical" mis-leaders who remain solidly behind Trump.

Except for the few who have become hardened Trump-loyalists, probably most honest "Evangelicals" are Christians, albeit temporarily misguided. It could happen to any of us, if we let down our spiritual guard: so I think there's hope for them, as there is for us.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Bob Smith

The stock market is up, unemployment is down, millions of Americans are benefitting from new tax cuts. Yeah, what a disaster.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Bob Summers

Liberals like Pitts, Pelosi and Jay- z etc. etc. are the problem with America.

>Trump wants Jay-Z to know black jobless rate at record low

https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-want...

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Well, yes. He could be Putin.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

You watch the Grammys last night Dorothy ...Oh, that's right, nobody did!

Viewership for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards was down by more than 20 percent from last year's show and an all-time low. While the stars in attendance seemed to enjoy Sunday night's highly-politicized Grammy Awards, viewers were seemingly turned off by the night's political antics which included a cameo from former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (Go away Hillary!).

There is no reason to believe that actors, directors, rock stars, and other such celebrities (like football players) have any more insight into public policy than the average person on the street. Oscars, Grammys, SAG, NFL, etc. better start realizing that Americans are getting tired of the politicizing of non-political events.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

I know, that's why I don't like your reality tv star. And yes, I did watch the Emmys. I'm a bit rock and roll fan, and I love Elton John, U2, and Sting a lot. But I guess because they are foreigners, you probably don't.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

I give you an observation and you give me that? Disappointing.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Actors, directors, rock stars, and even reality stars have freedom of speech. Don't like it change the channel. Don't like it? Don't buy their music. Don't like it? Don't go to their movies. You may get stuck with Scott Baio movies and Bruce Willis movies, but you are free to do all of those. Are you really against the First Amendment? By the way, I have never liked Trump. Ddi I watch his TV show? No. I was free not to watch it.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Daniel Kennamore

A. More people voted for Clinton than Trump.

B. Trump is a joke to 2/3rds of the country...they are completely within the mainstream to make fun of the clown.

C. There is no reason to believe that random posters on ljworld have any more insight into public policy than anyone else...yet here you are espousing your beliefs as fact. If your point is that only people who are qualified to speak to political issues should do so, I expect you'll be apologizing for committing the social faux pas of speaking about them and never post again.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Bob Summers

Heads are rolling.

Liberal fantasies about Trump are not working out.

http://dailycaller.com/2018/01/29/fbi...

He is not stepping down. He was fired

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Two months before he was going to retire anyway? Oh yeah, how tough. He still gets his retirement, and he gets to get out early. Poor guy.

And isn't he following Brownback lock step? There were a lot of state workers who were pushed out one way or another, because they didn't vote for Brownback or go to the "right" church. And they made it easier by removing civil service protections for state workers.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

Such a faithful person ... do you really want to continue defending the Obama administration and HRC? That ship is sinking and the "rats" are abandoning it.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Dorothy Hoyt-Reed

Again, Clinton did not win. He is abandoning Trump's ship. Would you guys ever admit that Trump won. Jeez.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Armen Kurdian

LP must be great at making desserts because he is a champion cherry-picker. Another completely one-sided, ignore anything that doesn't fit your narrative, hypocritical assault on Trump while allowing exact similar transgressions by liberals slide.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

"whose primary characteristics are hatred and lies" ... need to open up that mind a little Steve.

Campus Reform's Cabot Phillips visited New York University LAST WEEK to ask students what they thought about President Trump's first official State of the Union address.

The only problem? The speech hasn't happened yet.

That didn't stop students from condemning Trump's address, with some calling it "offensive" and "ridiculous."

"For people that pride themselves on being so open-minded and so tolerant, it was disappointing -- but not surprising -- to see they made up their mind based on rhetoric, based on preconceived ideas about Donald Trump and about the Republican Party, but not actually on facts," Phillips said.

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Bob Smith

"...How do civil wars happen?
Two or more sides disagree on who runs the country. And they can’t settle the question through elections because they don’t even agree that elections are how you decide who’s in charge.
That’s the basic issue here. Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war.
I know you’re all thinking about President Trump.
He won and the establishment, the media, the democrats, rejected the results. They came up with a whole bunch of conspiracy theories to explain why he didn’t really win. It was the Russians. And the FBI. And sexism, Obama, Bernie Sanders and white people.
It’s easier to make a list of the things that Hillary Clinton doesn’t blame for losing the election. It’s going to be a short list.
A really short list. Herself.
The Mueller investigation is about removing President Trump from office and overturning the results of an election. We all know that. But it’s not the first time they’ve done this.
The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here. .."
http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/2018/...

2 weeks, 6 days ago

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Richard Neuschafer

The Bobs and Gary proved that Leonard Pitts is right.

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Richard Heckler

Trump will be delivering a snow job tonight. Trumps message tonight means nothing! Info listed below will remain the agenda sponsored by Koch and associated billionaires.

Ongoing support for conservatives…. the spenders of large amounts of special interest money is mind numbing. There is no reason for any such activity.

37 years of voting conservative candidates posing as republicans into office has provided what? NOT SMALLER GOV’T!!!

What is the agenda of the Trump/Koch/ALEC Political Party

--- War against Medical Insurance and Single Payer

--- War on public education

--- War against women

--- War on Voters Rights

--- War On Good Wages aka Right To Work Legislation

--- War On USA Jobs aka Free Trade Agreements and Leveraged Buyout Scams

--- War On Social Security Insurance

--- War On Medicaid

--- War On Medicare

--- War for Oil Control Worldwide

How is he above being orchestrated?

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/report/...

Bill Moyers on the Secretive Corporate-Legislative Body Writing Our Laws

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/9/27...

http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec...

--- How the Koch brothers helped dismantle the Democratic Party
https://samsmitharchives.wordpress.co...

The War on Women is Worse Than You Think
By Britt Hysen, Contributor
Editor-in Chief of MiLLENNiAL. Journalist. Travel enthusiast. ...
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/britt-...

As Trumps hands go up skirts and into vaginal areas

If Republicans Love One Thing, It’s Attacking Women
By Michael Keegan, Contributor
President, People For the American Way
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/michae...

2 weeks, 5 days ago

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Bob Smith

Richard, anyone who was going to pay attention to that set of links would have done it within the first 500 times you posted them. BTW, the extreme leftists within the Democratic party are the ones who have damaged the party over the last few years.

2 weeks, 4 days ago

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Greg Cooper

And, apparently, at least 35% of the voters in the last election paid no attention to any of those points. Including you, Bob.

1 week, 6 days ago

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Michael Kort

Trump says $ 200 billion in federal funds for infrastructure and (?) maybe another $ 1.3 Trillion to come from state and local governments......with no tax increases ? RIGHT !

Now you know why he has been holding back on his great infrastructure plans !.....which aren't realistic plans but a magic wish list of who will pay for it all ( in his dreams ) .

Maybe Mexico will rebuild our roads, bridges, water, sewer, natural gas lines & electrical grids ? ? ?

Trump is an expert at Other Peoples Money......and he can send that bill to his BOBS...... who will blame that on State and Local governments ! ?....whatever .

BTW the stock market may be going up ......it went up before 1929.....was up in 1999........etc., but where is the matching price to earnings ratios that are holding up (?) that proves out the worth of the prices (?)......and the value of the dollar is dropping which will force interest rates up to fund the US debt and the cheap money to borrow to leverage the stock market up is going to disappear.......with predictable results......lots of $ liquidity creates big bubbles and the Fed creating lots of Fiat Money is pulling the suckers into the next great financial lawn mower .

Happiness Is .

Fortunately, if the country goes broke,...... Trump already has experience with Financial Bankruptcies .

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Michael Kort

BTW?.......water and. sewer bills are not going up to reflect the cost of rebuilding those utilities ? ........right......but that is not a tax !

At the rate that he is going, Donald will be turning the interstates into state highways.........13/15 Ths. of his infrastructure program to be paid for magically by others than the federal government........now that is rich !.........promisse the moon and then moon them !.......the massive Trump federal government program to rebuild Americas crumbling infrastructure with other people's funding, most of it from outside of the federal governments taxing authority .

I guess the Trump could do a $ 1.8 trillion dollar program with the Federal Gov. Paying 1/9 Th of the cost and 8/9 Ths. going to others .......are you feeling Trumps' CON........SERVATIVISM yet ?

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Scott Burkhart

Lets look at this:

President Trump defeated 16 other primary challengers. He defeated Hillary Clinton who cheated to get the Dem nomination and was the new "anointed one." Then he repeals, I don't know, how many regulations? Presides over a reduction in the corporate tax and personal income tax that results in hundreds of companies awarding bonuses to their employees and attracting manufacturing back to the United States. Allows the military to do what it does and in a few months do more to destroy Daesh (ISIS) and banish them to eternity than Obama. Unemployment at historic lows across all ethnic measures. Stock market at record highs without printing money. Yeah, good article, Leonard Putz Jr., what if Donald J. Trump were smart? #maga

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Scott Burkhart

I almost forgot to mention that he got the Russian government and Putin to help him win the election against Clinton without leaving a trace of evidence. Hahahahahahahahahaha! Morons, all!

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Scott Burkhart

Oh, and just so you know, I'm not tired of winning, yet. I'm looking forward to 7 more years of winning and liberal whining. Trump said America and Obama said I.

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Michael Kort

AS Trump himself said when speaking of his desire to find HRCs missing emails " RUSSIA ARE YOU LISTENING ? "

Both houses of congress overwhelmingly passed sanctions against the Russians that Trump fails to impliment......how unexplainable is that ? ? ?

POTUS PUTIN IS AMUSED !

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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Bob Summers

I wonder why Putin would want Trump to be President when Clinton has made him a lot of money?

It is weird that the Liberal people think an Alpha male, like Putin, would want an Alpha male like Trump for President of America when he could have a boozy female like Clinton instead.

But, Liberals genetically reason differently then folk without their condition.

2 weeks, 3 days ago

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