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Trump, “Change” and “The Status Quo”.

October 2, 2016


Among those who are dedicated to defend Trump no matter what, a repeated mantra is that Hillary Clinton represents “the status quo” whilst Trump represents “change”.

This concept is presented as something like an all sufficient and self justifying proposition. “The Status Quo” sounds like something bad and “Change” sounds like something good.

But let’s imagine that I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.  My “status quo” is clearly less than ideal.  There are places that I’d rather be.  But the notion that absolutely any “change” to my “status quo” is inherently desirable is hard to sustain.  Not every “big leap forward” is to be applauded when you’re at the brink of a precipice.

Some people would argue handing the ability to start a nuclear war to a foul tempered delusional sociopath provides a “precipice” type analogy.  Yet for Trump’s supporters absolutely all aspects of the “status quo” are evil and any bold demonstration of “change” is necessarily good.

To believe this, you would have also believe that America and the world beyond America (not that this peripheral territory has any relevance for Trump supporters) is in the worst shape it’s ever been or ever will be.  The years of Slavery, of Civil War, the Great Depression, Jim Crow etc. etc. etc. were the sunny uplands of dreamy optimism compared the unprecedented sufferings of Americans under Obama’s rule.  No Americans in history have ever suffered as much as (white) Americans are suffering in 2016.  Any candidate (like Hillary Clinton) who represents any measure of continuity with the uniquely horrific state of the union under Obama must be an agent of Lucifer himself.

To believe that “change” of any kind is always preferable to “the status quo” is also to believe that you are suffering and extremity of physical and mental torture that puts you within spitting distance of the innermost circles of a Dantean Inferno – so that movement in any direction takes you slightly upwards into the direction of the light.  To believe this is to reveal a profoundly damaged state of mind that has made a habit of wallowing in masochistic extremities.

Once you begin to admit that there are certain versions of the status quo that might be preferable to certain versions of change, then you have started to remove the fork from your brain and you can perhaps free yourself from the crude mnemonic binary of “status quo bad – change – good”.

For example, at present, I am not rummaging through a lawless post-apocalyptic wasteland, searching for food that isn’t completely irradiated in order to prolong the lives of what’s left of my family.  That is not my status quo.  Some kind of “change” would have to take place in order to make such a scenario my status quo.  And giving supreme executive authority to someone who respects no treaties and knows no boundaries – moral or legal – seems to me to be away of effecting such a change.

Oddly enough, I think there is one tradition of thought that might calmly absorb the notion that all change is inherently preferable to any form of status quo.  This is a very extreme (and ultimately I think heterodox) stream of Utopian Marxists.  I’ve heard of a few of these people for whom nuclear war itself is but a necessary nudging of the grand dialectic and therefore a “good thing” in the ultimate scheme of class warfare.  None of these Marxists ever managed to dictate policy in Moscow or Beijing (which is why we’re still here), but a warped version of Utopian Marxism is the only political justification I can think of for conducting an electoral debate along the lines that Trump supporters seem to like.

So let’s try challenging the “Trump means Change” lobby with being Utopian Marxists over the next few weeks.  See what happens.


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