America In A ‘Bleak … Zero-Sum’ Game — T-Rump Lovers Love It

February 23, 2023

Sunny and cold this late-afternoon Thursday here in California’s Central Valley — nearly-exact the opposite of our forecast. We were supposed to at least have some rain by now, and for a while, it looked like it would happen, and then seemingly, and suddenly, sunshine reappeared (it’d been gorgeous in the morning) and the day will be finished out in fine style.
We’re still supposed to have some rainy weather ahead the next few days, but we’ll take it.

In my doomscrolling the InterWebs today, I came across a couple of news-related items that seem to epitomize the ugly, backward, and nasty situation we have in this country’s society right now — humane, decent sentiments have gone out the window as an entire political party (there’s only two) has crossed into delusion and way-shitty behavior.
Republicans are indeed horrible, and really, really terrible for America.

Of course, at the forefront of this GOP clusterf*ck of democracy and freedom, stands fat-ass T-Rump, and despite he’s still being an enormous piece of fecal matter, the flavor is still potent. A way-major horror of this shit is that a great chunk of Americans still worship the ground he waddles on, even beyond the corruption, scandal, and lies.

He’s not gone.
And still packs a wallop:

Although the fat-ass shadow of the T-Rump has somewhat diminished since being kicked out of office, T-Rump’s people are still his people — the always-smart Molly Jong-Fast today at Vanity Fair takes a look at the mess:

As we witnessed ever since the former reality star came down that bronze escalator and into our living nightmare, Trumpism was largely a vibe, a kind of embrace of the basest elements of the Republican Party. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said that day, adding: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Trumpism unapologetically trumpeted things previous Republicans had been ashamed to admit existed—the racism, the nativism, the stupid. Trumpism came with slogans (“Build the Wall” “Lock Her Up”), and for some, has vaulted the host of The Apprentice to deity status. QAnon diehards call Trump GEOTUS, which stands for “God Emperor of the United States.” Trumpism isn’t about policy, it’s about Trump.

Jared Kushner was reportedly going to help overhaul the Republican platform of 2016 for his father-in-law’s reelection bid. But didn’t happen, and so the Republican National Committee “dispensed with producing a 2020 platform, instead passing a resolution renewing what delegates enacted in 2016, bashing the news media and offering wholehearted support” of Trump, who, meanwhile, struggled to articulate a second-term agenda. Mitch McConnell is also guilty of this particular strategy, deciding not to release a legislative agenda before the 2022 midterms.

The question now is whether someone who isn’t Trump could win a GOP primary through Trumpism, which clearly isn’t fading away. When The Washington Post recently spoke to more than 150 Trump supporters, reporters found that in most interviews, “fatigue with Trump was not a break with Trumpist politics,” and that “while these voters expressed interest in someone less divisive, they showed little appetite for more moderate policies or messaging—a combination many saw possible with DeSantis.” DeSantis, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy, is apparently hoping that by acting Trump-like—plenty of bullying and threats—primary voters will somehow be wooed into thinking he’s Trump himself. It’s a gamble in a way. How does someone who isn’t Trump and isn’t endorsed by Trump convince Trump’s supporters that he is somehow more Trumpy, or as Trumpy, as the guy who created Trumpism?

Trumpism isn’t just a series of slogans; it’s also a bit of a fever dream. Since 2015, Never Trump Republicans and more mainstream pundits have predicted it would break. But so far, despite candidates like Kari Lake, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Herschel Walker, and Don Bolduc getting shellacked in the midterms, there’s still a fantasy that somehow Trumpism is a scalable phenomenon. If we’ve learned anything since 2015, it’s that Trumpism generally only works for Trump. I could see, theoretically, Donald Trump Jr. being able to pick up the Trump mantle, but the idea that some unrelated party would be able to take over seems less likely.


Republicans made a Faustian deal in 2015. They put winning over policy and decency. It worked once but it hasn’t worked since. The problem is Republicans don’t want to take the pain of rejecting Trumpism and possibly alienating his voters, and perhaps, driving him to run as a third-party candidate. But until they do, the base will control the party and no amount of thoughtful speeches will break that fever.

However, since MAGA hatters are so loud and asshole-mouthy, even being in the minority on just about every kind of social issue, from abortion, and trans and gay rights, to wearing masks, Republicans make life shitty for everybody.
In the other feature I spied today was a view on the status of Americans and their ability to be nice, against the sense from other developed nations.
Apparently, T-Rump already had a loving audience in 2015, to our peril (h/t Cheryl Rofer at LG&M):

In the ensuing years from T-Rump’s down-the-down escalator event, America has only become worse, a lot of shit due to T-Rump himself, like the railroad regulations for transporting hazardous materials, to tax breaks for the asshole wealthy, it’s just increased our dislike for being nice — compared with even Canada and Europe, we live shitty, depressing, somewhat hateful lives. Red and blue school of hard knocks.

Umair Haque, British economist, and author of “The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business,” addresses the ‘bleak’ theme of American life in a most-interesting piece at Medium last week — instead of being nice, Americans must have a loser:

It’s hard to put into words. Like I said, you feel it better if you’ve lived outside the States. Just cross the border into Canada, and people are famously “nice.” But what does that mean, really? Well, if Canada was in Europe, Canadians would just be normal. It’s because they’re right next to America that they’re “nice” — not that they aren’t, but that the juxtaposition is so striking. Cross the border the other way, go south into America, and suddenly — nobody’s nice. Being nice is something wrong. You can’t be nice as an American — what the hell is wrong with you? You’ve got to be tough, cruel, cunning, self-reliant, individualistic, or else. Or else what? You don’t make it.

Maybe you see what I’m getting at. So let me now put it a little more formally. Why is American life so bleak? Because it’s a zero-sum game. That means: for me to win, somebody else has to lose. When I say that, maybe it doesn’t even strike many Americans as something particularly strange or odd or bad. But it is. Because, well, the entire point of a modern society is to create a positive-sum game, where when I win, you win. But in America, that’s not true.

Let me start with a few very, very simple examples. Why doesn’t America — famously, by now — have any of the advanced public goods that the rest of the entire rich world has? From healthcare to high speed trains to universal higher education to retirement? For me to win, somebody else has to lose. Americans don’t back these things — not enough of them for them ever to become major social institutions, or the basic constitutional rights, that they are in Canada and Europe — because at a social level, enough Americans don’t believe that everyone should have these things. But the only way you believe that people don’t deserve basics is if you first believe: for me to win, somebody else has to lose.


What’s perhaps the most startling fact about the US, at a socioeconomic level? It’s that the rich capture even more than 100% of growth, by some estimates. At the very least, what’s happened in America is that the rich take all the gains in the economy, over and over again, over decades. That is why the average person struggles — why America’s gone from a society with a prosperous, renowned middle class, to one where basically everyone but the ultra-rich lives and dies in debt, can’t make ends meet, and will never retire.

The consequence of that is fatal. It means that society really is a zero sum game. When the richest are taking 100% or more of the gains in the economy, year after year — what’s the result? Well, it means that everyone else has to fight for what’s left over. Life becomes a bitter, brutal battle — just for subsistence. I have to get that job — because otherwise my kids won’t have healthcare. I have to put off that operation — because my parents can’t sell their house just for me. I have to fight, over and over again, every day. I have to work harder, find a side hustle, somehow, do something, just to make it. That’s not just some kind of cultural feeling. It’s a socioeconomic truth — one that’s overlooked in America. Because the rich take 100 percent of more of the gains, everyone else is left fighting…everyone else…just to keep their heads above water.

Well worth a full read — much more at the link.

If the MAGA hatters can’t have it their way? They’ll just burn down the whole house:

Bleak House or not, once again here we are…

(Illustration out front is of a New York state high-school student exhibit: ‘The piece was displayed during student-driven art show at Shenendehowa High School. It consisted of at least 12 identical black-and-white pictures of Donald Trump. There was also a sign above the pictures that read, “Draw on Me.” Using markers from the art classroom, some students opted to scribble critical messages and profanities on the pictures‘ — and found here.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.