In Wake of Trump, Turning the World Right-Side Up Again

JOHANNA M. COSTIGAN, CO-EDITOR IN CHIEF | NOVEMBER 12, 2016

On Friday, November 11, President Botstein spoke with Bard professor and political journalist Mark Danner about Trump’s victory. The talk addressed how Trump amassed the success he needed to win, and also covered the immediate implications and repercussions of his victory. Danner began the talk with a level of honest pessimism that permeated the rest of the discussion. The idea that the country is continually progressing, he said, “was wiped out on Tuesday.” Below are some excerpts from the talk.On Friday, November 11, President Botstein spoke with Bard professor and political journalist Mark Danner about Trump’s victory. The talk addressed how Trump amassed the success he needed to win, and also covered the immediate implications and repercussions of his victory. Danner began the talk with a level of honest pessimism that permeated the rest of the discussion. The idea that the country is continually progressing, he said, “was wiped out on Tuesday.” Below are some excerpts from the talk.

Danner: “We’ve had this experience in American politics before. Reagan’s relationship with the truth was very capricious. George W. Bush had this idea that we can change the world and make what we say true, that we create our own facts. But we’ve never had anything like the Trump campaign where the press, particularly the commercial press, earned hundreds of millions of dollars, from the ratings Trump gave them.”

Danner: “Trump continually excoriated the decision to go into Iraq, but the point is that among his voters, they were the ones who lost people in that war, and who had men and women come back to them with debilitating injuries and who felt that this war had been a complete disaster perpetrated by a lying elite. He brilliantly deployed that issue. His position is not recognizable. ‘We’ll bomb the shit out of them,’ to quote him directly.”

Botstein: “We have the right of assembly and the right of free speech. Both these rights need to be used constantly and perpetually. What we have to do is no longer be passive. We have been concerned about our private lives, watched Kim Kardashian, wasted our time and dismissed the public sphere. We need to use the modern media and the rights of free speech and assembly to slow the effort to build the wall, for example.”

Botstein: “If you look at Trump as a Caesarism personality, the dangerous thing is he might be smarter than we give him credit for. He may do the unexpected: replace Obamacare with a single-payer system.”

Danner: “Trump is not an ideologue. He has few policies he is wedded to. This is a frightening prospect because it means he can turn on a dime when it comes to policies and it’s one reason the republican party so distrusts him. We are here speculating about who this man will become in office and we have never in this country had a president-elect with no public record. Never someone like this. The fact is I don’t think he has policies in any areas because he hasn’t thought about them and isn’t curious about them.”

Botstein: “The president-elect will have to testify in a trial about the fraud of Trump University. He’ll have to be deposed in a legal suit. Those professional elites caved in in Italy and Germany. Suddenly there was no protection from the police. Laws were passed that were evidently unconstitutional. If Trump puts forward a law that is clearly in violation of the 13th amendment for example, this is a test of the resilience of American institutions. If any justice doesn’t insist on upholding the constitution, then we’re really in trouble.”

Botstein: “Not all Jews are alike, not all women are alike, not all people of color are alike. You can’t reduce the person who disagrees with you to a kind of Twitter cliche.”

 

Photo courtesy of Roger Berkowitz/ Bard College.

To respond to this article, or to submit an op-ed, contact bardwatchmanaging@gmail.com

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