Sunday, November 6, 2016

West Coast Observer: Venom

Some thoughts on the pending election

By William Silveira

I continue to be amazed at the amount of support that the demagogue Trump has managed to secure for himself in certain parts of the country and among certain parts of the electorate. He is a monstrous liar, bully, racist, and tax evader; he brags of using his wealth and celebrity to get away with sexual abuse of women. Yet, all of that is ignored by his supporters. When confronted with his faults and lies, they don’t defend him, but, instead, immediately shift to the position that Hillary Clinton lies, engages in criminal activity, etc., and is of worse character than Trump. This sort of comparative process leads to a logical dead end, with a bias default to Trump.
    Why do I perceive a bias default to Trump? The Clintons have been the subject of right-wing ire and invective for many years. It all goes back to Bill Clinton’s presidency. Despite their best efforts to impeach Bill Clinton, the right was unsuccessful in doing so. Yet, the rancor and invective that they created in those years were not dispelled by the passage of time. Rather, they have been directed against Hillary Clinton. In other words, the bias is longstanding and deeply ingrained. (Already, an Alabama congressman has vowed to start impeachment proceeding against Hillary Clinton if she is elected.) Moreover, having disgusted the public with politics by engaging in lies and smear tactics, the right wing pushes the public to choose the “outsider.” Thus, experience in governance is turned into a liability.

The pundits claim that some of Trump’s support comes from disaffected working class whites in places where factories have closed and jobs have gone elsewhere. Trump blames it on our trade policies. The reality is that many of those jobs didn’t go to China or Mexico. They moved south – to Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and other southern places. The labor costs were cheaper and governments in those places subsidized the building of new factories there. When we were in Greenville, South Carolina recently, my wife and I saw a new Michelin factory, a large BMW plant, and other large plants. There was evident prosperity in the town.
    When we were at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, we learned that the family textile mill is still manufacturing specialized denim for blue jeans. And yes, American manufacturers have closed plants in the United States and taken up manufacturing in Mexico. But this isn’t because we give Mexico preferential trade status, but rather because American capital chooses to locate there for cheaper labor costs and less worker protection. It is not caused by wealthy Mexican companies somehow out-competing American companies.
    I raise this point because political observers seem to show sympathy for Trump supporters on this basis. I don’t doubt that we have unemployed people who were previously employed in the manufacturing field. I raise this point to show that the facile reasoning employed by Trump is specious and that those who believe it are only deceiving themselves. It is even a greater self-deceit for these people to believe that Trump and the Republican Party will do anything for them.

Yesterday I was speaking with a very nice lady, born in Mexico, but now resident here. She, her husband, and her family are outstanding and industrious people. Her children excelled in school and are working in various professional capacities. We spoke briefly of the election. She could not understand how anyone would believe the lies and racist remarks Trump has made against the Mexican people.
    She told me of Mexican friends who are employed by a very successful and self-made businessman. I know that his business holdings and properties extend well beyond Tulare County. He happens to be of Portuguese descent; his parents were immigrants here. He trusts and employs Mexican people to work in his home and businesses. Yet, he is a Trump supporter. She cannot understand why, and neither can I. I cannot understand how this man can support someone who denigrates whole groups of people when his experience with those people has been one of trust and confidence. I guess maybe it goes back to old racist attitudes I heard about black people as a boy: “Don’t get me wrong, A lot of black people are my friends, but I think blacks generally are….” (I’ll leave it to the reader to fill in the blanks.)
    I am grateful that the election will be the day after tomorrow. Much rancor and bigotry have been raised from what now seems to be shallow graves. The venom spread by Trump and his supporters shall not soon be lanced. Indeed, should he win, he could keep his power 
only by repeating and reinforcing the lies he has already told. It is not a prospect I like to contemplate.

Copyright © 2016 by William Silveira


  1. Trump is America. People like to pretend we are better than that, but in truth we are not. A year before Richard Nixon we re-elected, the polls had him so low he could not be elected dogcatcher. He won by a landslide. People who voted him in, they knew what he was but didn't care. If by some chance Hillary wins, it will be by so little, she will have her hands tied. Either way the future doesn't look good.

  2. Ed, this column by Frank Bruni, in The NY Times, elaborates your point: "Why This Election Terrifies Me."

    Election Day will redeem and settle nothing, not this time around. No matter who declares victory, tens of millions of Americans will be convinced — truly convinced — that the outcome isn’t legitimate because untoward forces intervened. Whether balloons fall on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, there will be bolder divisions in America than there were at the start of it all and even less faith in the country’s most important institutions.
        The person taking office will do so not on a wave of hope but amid tides of disgust, against fierce currents of resistance. Tell me how she or he moves forward. Tell me how America does.