Thursday, December 08, 2016

Who's stupid, and for that matter what's stupid (it's surprisingly hard to say)

David Frum on Twitter: “Basically the Trump administration is a giant prank on Trump voters.” For example, because Trump’s appointment for Secretary of Labor is “the most outspoken advocate of Bush-style immigration policy in [the] US business community,” and “[t]he Labor Department enforces immigration law in the workplace – the key way that immigration laws are enforced.” So the appointment puts a heavy thumb on the scales against targeting employment of illegal immigrants, despite Trump's directly opposite assurances to his voters throughout the campaign.

Meanwhile, Thomas Edsall in the NYT: Even though Trump can’t, won't, and won’t even try to, do anything about his voters’ economic complaints, they’re feeling elated about him to the degree that it may have measurable positive effects on their mental and physical health and wellbeing.  All that matters to them, at least so far, is the sense of emotional validation that comes from believing that he expressed their concerns and thereby won the election.

There is no reason why both can't be right, at least so long as the Trump voters don't figure out what is actually happening.  Ignorance is bliss. Or perhaps it's even simpler than that.  I'm genuinely glad, to this day, that the New York Mets won the 1969 and 1986 world championships.  This was independent of any sense that the Mets players were fighting for me, rather than for themselves - I just enjoyed having a rooting interest validated.

But if being conned and scammed - so far as actual policy outcomes are concerned - can leave one genuinely happier than one was before, so long as one manages to keep one's eyes tightly shut, the notion of rational self-interest in voting may need to be re-thought.

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