The whole world’s eyes are on Washington today, and not in a good way. As Venezuelans, we’re looking North with more trepidation than most today, even though — in fairness — the panic over Trump-as-northern-Chávez is premature. A politician is to be judged by what it does in office, not by what he says before he gets there. Beating Chávez historic economic demolition of the richest oil country in the world, during the biggest oil bonanza ever, leaving behind an inflation-ridden, bullet-stricken, hungry, ailing country — is quite an ask. But let’s see what happens.

Because in one way, Trump and Chávez are identical: they are masters of Populism.

There’s something soothing in all that anger. Though full of hatred, it promises redemption.

The recipe is universal. Find a wound common to many, someone to blame for it and a good story to tell. Mix it all together. Tell the wounded you know how they feel. That you found the bad guys. Label them: the minorities, the politicians, the businessmen. Cartoon them. As vermin, evil masterminds, flavourless hipsters, you name it. Then paint yourself as the saviour. Capture their imagination. Forget about policies and plans, just enrapture them with a good story. One that starts in anger and ends in vengeance. A vengeance they can participate in.

That’s how it becomes a movement. There’s something soothing in all that anger. Though full of hatred, it promises redemption. Populism can’t cure your suffering, but it can do something almost as good — better in some ways: it can build a satisfying narrative around it. A fictionalized account of your misery. A promise to make sense of your hurt. It is them. It’s been them all along.

For all those who listen, Populism is built on the irresistible allure of simplicity. The narcotic of the simple answer to an intractable question. The problem is now made simple. The problem is you.

How do I know? Because I grew up as the ‘you’ Trump is about to turn you into. I was cast in the role of the enemy in the political struggle that followed the arrival of Chávez, and watched in frustration year after year as the Opposition tried and failed to do anything about the catastrophe unfolding all around. Only later did I realize this failure was, in a significant way, self-inflicted.

And so, some advice:

1. Don’t forget who the enemy is.

Populism can only survive amid polarization. It works through caricature, through the unending vilification of a cartoonish enemy. Pro tip: you’re the enemy. Yes, you, with the Starbucks cup. Trump needs you to be the enemy just like all religions need a demon. As a scapegoat. “But facts!”, you’ll say, missing the point entirely.

What makes me the enemy, you may ask? In their mind it’s very simple: if you’re not among the victims, you’re among the culprits. In your case, you’re that modern bogeyman called the liberal urbanite hipster who thinks all cultures and religions are valid and equally worthy, who thinks of the working-class disparagingly. You are, in short, ‘a citizen of nowhere’ whose utopia is a massive, world-wide kumbaya with carrot chips, no church, and no soul either.

It’s silly, I know. Especially because you do care. As did I, a teenage CIA agent bent on feeding the serfs at my feudal estate with dog food. However, as long as you don´t recognize the problem is not the message, but the messenger, you will be wasting your time.

Your focus has to be on erase the cartoon you’ve been drawn into. Scrambling it. Undermining it.

2. Show no contempt.

Your organizing principle is simple: don’t feed polarization, disarm it.

This means leaving the theater of injured decency behind.

The Venezuelan Opposition struggled for years to get this. It wouldn’t stop pontificating about how stupid it all is. Not only to their international friends, but also to the Chavista electoral base itself.

“Really, this guy? Are you nuts? You must be nuts.” We’d say.

I heard variations on this so many times growing up that my political awakening was set off by the tectonic realization that Chávez, however evil, was not actually a stupid man.

The subtext was clear: Look, children — he will destroy the country. He’s blatantly siding with the bad guys: Fidel, Putin, the white supremacists or the guerrilla. Besides, he’s clearly not that smart. He’s threatening to destroy the economy, too. He clearly has no respect for democracy. For the intelligentsia. We, who work hard and know how to do business. We, who’ve researched this, thought about this, grasped this. In history, in economics, in diplomacy, in accounting. Now, learn this word. Repeat after me: fascism.

I heard variations on this so many times growing up that my political awakening was set off by the tectonic realization that Chávez, however evil, was not actually a stupid man.

“Don’t listen to them, folks”, says the populist. “Stop letting them think they can school and fool you. The only true fact is that the enemies are few and that they lie. Let’s show them they’re the ones who are wrong. They’re the ones who are stupid. They’re scared! Or, worse, fearing justice! They think only about themselves. Turn off the TV. Listen to me.”

You’ve just lost the first battle. Instead of fighting polarization, you’ve played into it.

In which case, try again, seriously, because by all means…

3. Don’t try to force him out.

Our Opposition tried every single trick in the book. Coup d’etat? Check. Ruinous oil strike? Check. Inviting international intervention? You guessed it. Want to know how they did that last one, by the way? By removing themselves from the ballot in a parliamentary election. Yes, they just handed Chavismo full congressional power as some sort of ‘diplomatic statement’. Honest to God.

But we failed. Because we lost sight that a hissy-fit is not a strategy.

Look, they were desperate. If anything, history has proven they were right to be desperate. If any of those plans had gone well, bear with me for a second, Venezuela wouldn’t be in the shitshow it is in right now. Lives would have been saved. Many more improved.

But we failed. Because we lost sight that a hissy-fit is not a strategy. The people on the other side, and crucially Independents, will rebel against you if you look like you’re losing your mind. Worst of all, you will have proved yourself to be the very thing you’re claiming to be fighting against: an enemy of democracy. And all the while you’re just giving the Populist and his followers enough rhetorical fuel to rightly call you a saboteur, an unpatriotic schemer, for years to come.

To a big chunk of the population, the Venezuelan opposition is still that spoiled, unpatriotic, schemer. It’s taken many furious years for its politicians to wash away those stains. It sapped the opposition’s effectiveness for the years when we’d need it most.

All non-democratic channels are counter-productive: you lower your message, and give the Populist rhetorical fuel.

4. Find a counter-argument. (No, not the one you think.)

Don’t waste your time trying to prove that this ism is better than that ism. Ditch all the big words. Why? Because, again, the problem is not the message but the messenger. It’s not that Trump supporters are too stupid to see right from wrong, it’s that you’re much more valuable to them as an enemy than as a compatriot.

The problem is tribal. Your challenge is to prove that you belong in the same tribe as them: that you are American in exactly the same way they are.

It’s way easier to get this wrong than to get this right, and the chances are the people getting it wrong will drown out those getting it right.

In Venezuela, we fell into the abstraction trap in a bad way. We wrote again and again about principles, about the separation of powers, about civil liberties, about the role of the military in politics, about corruption and economic policy. But it took our leaders ten years to figure out they needed to actually go to the slums and to the countryside. And not for a speech, or a rally, but for game of dominoes or to dance salsa – to show they were Venezuelans too, that they had tumbao and could hit a baseball, could tell a joke that landed. That they could break the tribal divide, come down off the billboards and show they were real. And no, this is not populism by other means. It is the only way of establishing your standing. It’s deciding not to live in an echo chamber. To press pause on the siren song of polarization.

You will not find that pause button in the cities or the university’s campuses. You will find it precisely where you’re not expected.

Only then will your message land.

There’s no point sugar coating: the road ahead is tough and the pitfalls are many. It’s way easier to get this wrong than to get this right, and the chances are the people getting it wrong will drown out those getting it right.

But if you want to be part of the solution, the road ahead is clear: Recognize you’re the enemy they need; show concern, not contempt, for the wounds of those that brought Trump to power; by all means be patient with democracy and struggle relentlessly to free yourself from the shackles of the caricature the populists have drawn of you.

It’s a tall order. But the alternative is worse. Believe me, I know: I’m from Venezuela.

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M.A. in Economics from the University of Edinburgh. Madrid based. Wealth management, roots in banking and microfinance. Voracious reader of Classics, specially the Russians, and History. Caraqueño and Caraquista, inescapably a lover of Salsa, wheat talk and Rum. Fascinated by South America’s indigestion of modernity, owes his political understanding mostly to Octavio Paz, Ivan Karamazov and dad.

407 COMMENTS

  1. This is exactly what non-Trump supporters and liberals need to hear, and you have explained it perfectly. They have to stop fighting the “other side” and try and understand them and then realize that there is no other side.

    • Yeah many of Trump supporters aren’t the same as the people opposing and no many of them are not worth trying to understand because they engagr and behavior and things tuat simply aren not understandable.

      • WTF??? exactly WHO is not understandable here? Now that’s funny, I don’t care who you are! LMFAO! And I thought Barnum and Baileys went out of business.

      • I think that attitude is exactly the thing that the author is trying to advise against. I have often felt the same way, but the reality is nothing is going to change until I quit looking at those people that way. I have many friends that I previously thought were very intelligent, only to be appalled that they were actually supporting this guy. Then I actually had to look at motives other than racism to attribute to them. I discovered that they have strong perceived hurts and slights. Many times they feel disadvantaged by others who are intellectual. And they feel condescended to. I’ve been trying very hard to shut that off, but it’s hard because I actually have always been the “person with the good argument”, and lately the person with the “injured decency”. But, if we really care about the world, democracy, and the “American way”, we really have to change our attitudes, and try to understand where they’re coming from.

        • We understand where they are coming from. They want coal jobs but there is no demand for coal, they want $50 per hour jobs but they read at a 3rd grade level, they want 11million hispanics deported and that isn’t feasible, they want a giant wall that stretches from Texas to California, they want every Muslim dead or banished from the country. Should I go on? They are insane. Sadly, they represent the absolute worst this country has to offer. I really wish there was a Jesus I could pray to in order to save this beautiful country from those deplorables. You can’t reason with them because they’re highly irrational, superstitious, stubborn, and illiterate. Heaven help us all!

          • We can stay in that frame of mind, or we can take action.

            Notice that the article also states: pointing out how the changes hurt Trump supporters, keeping adverse reactions calm, and showing we’re also part of this “American tribe.”

            It feels weird, it’s not intellectual, it closes the divide.

    • I actually thought Obama was the populist when he campaigned and started his reign of kingship in a Republic of middle income people strugglin in a worsening economy… and Democrats refused to listen to the hardworking taxpayers getting shafted with more taxes and regulations. Shoving Obama care down everyone”s throats like he did and still calling us crazy for complaining about the out-of-control spending of government agencies. Lying about our national security and caring more about helping other countries than your own people. Trump, to the majority of us, was the Knight in Shining Armor. He was the candidate that made sense and was willing to listen to our problems. He was the one who was willing to negotiate and make our lives better. The recent riots are not helping to convince the people that they made a mistake voting for Trump. Whether you like him or not, he is working fast to fix the problems of the past 8 years and I hope he would cut all the stupid spending the government makes year after year that we, the taxpayers, have to pay. I want to ease my burden, just like every welfare recipient wants… but we work for our income while they don’t. What”s the use of Obama are when no one can afford to pay for any care?

      • I know what you mean, but I don’t think it’s right to call out people on welfare. Many work incredibly hard just like we do. Sure, there are some that game the system, but most are just getting temporary assistance after their jobs dried up or moved away. People on welfare and disability still pay taxes, and most are trying to get back to work. If it didn’t exist, we’d see even more devastation in towns where jobs have died. As frustrated as you are with Obama, I am the same with the Republican congress that killed so many of his plans to support us. Republican congress stopped more than 500 bills during his presidency that were supposed to help the middle class, even stuff they agreed with, just to deny him any sort of win. They are playing games with us, and now people are out protesting because they think Trump is just going to reward that behavior and do more of the same. Hopefully he has it in him not to, but he is slippery and we need to watch him.

        • Nice reply–you are a good role model for the rest of us who just get exasperated when we see/hear a regurgitation of rightwing propaganda and willful ignorance of the facts of federal spending (especially entitlements and defense) and taxation. Obamacare (a copy of Romneycare) was not his first choice, but he offered it in the spirit of compromise–failing to realize the other party was not a reasonable “loyal opposition” but rather a group of anti-government extremists and corporate tools who only wanted to “win” through defeat of their made-up enemy, who only want to rule rather than to govern, who scare vulnerable (fearful and naive) people into distrusting a democratically-elected government more than the wealthy oligarchs intent on concentrating their wealth ever further–the good of the country or the health of the planet be damned.

          • Spot on Greg…..There was much compromise in the bill presented by President Obama only to be stiffly opposed, which many forget. Your comment “rule rather to govern” is becoming quite evident as the days pass by.

          • Agreed…if only more Americans followed what actually happens in American politics instead of relying on Fox News and far-right rhetoric to get their “alternative facts”, we wouldn’t be in this mess!

          • In truth, Obamacare wasn’t a compromise offered to republicans. It was a compromise offered to moderate democrats because there could be no defectors. Hence you got the Nebraska compromise and other things, but they didn’t even bother talking to the girls from Maine.

            2016 is just the latest round of escalation, that started in 2006 and probably enough 2000. We are going to be at Hatfield and McCoy level soon enough though.

          • Thank you Greg for stating facts. Many remarks are not facts, just feelings about Obama. Our founding fathers trusted facts even in the face of much disagreement. That is how they were able to write the Declaration and the Constitution. Thank you!

          • Yes I agree. It was an excellent reply, I wish it was easier to overlook the crazy making uninformed commentary that makes dialogue so hard – partially because the pain that is felt by those who see the value of many of the things that are demonized is no less than the pain of those who somehow found something in Trump that inspired them. What the author suggests is hard work, and I am not always sure I am up to it, but the alternative is worse. It would be so much easier if you could get just a little of willingness on the “other side” to actually try to see things from a wider perspective, and not have to feel like you are carrying the burden of building bridges as a solo experience, and one that is likely to draw more pain than pleasure, but again, the alternative is worse. Still, I appreciate the insight of the article, and hope to be able to better turn my steps in that direction and begin down that road.

        • Bill$h!t, I’m a hard working middle class American, and there is plenty of work for anyone who WANTS to work and be off of the dole. I pay for that dole, and I resent the hell out of it! Obama expanded the dollars I am paying out of my paycheck to leeches and slackards. I hope Trump shuts all of them down! Go Trump! Go America! No free lunches!

          • Hardwork, when I see more than a third of my salary go toward taxes and other costs and even more when I make purchases, I do, at times, feel resentful. However, I have to remember that for a year, I was on Welfare and received medical for my son and I when I lost my job and could not find work. With that help, I was able to finish college, and can now pay back into the system that helped me when I needed it most. Also, with that support, I now have the opportunity to work with children (and adults) to help them reach their full potential and become contributing members of our society. No doubt there are people who take advantage of the system, but there are many who truly benefit from its true intent.

          • I am always surprised that when white people are struggling they are victims of government policy, but when people of color are struggling, they are takers. If you think that poor people and brown people are what is causing your problems, while rich white men make decisions on golf courses that we are all paying for, then I respectfully believe you have been sold a huge lie.

          • Then I guess you are going to be pretty upset when your taxes rise because Trump has decided to spend $54 billion more on the military, and wants money up front to spend on the wall, and more…and thinks there is enough money in the discretionary part of the budget to cut to pay for this….but there isn’t.

      • Hey Carmen, I’m taking a big risk here in commenting here but I needed to let you know what you’ve described finally makes sense to me. I don’t consider myself a Democrat, however I do vote for the person who makes sense to me. Without calling anyone names, I want to understand how you balance the economic and financial relief you describe (which I want too because I’m not a rich liberal!) with the often crude, non-filtered behavior of the man who says he can give it to us? I want everything you’ve talked about above but I want it delivered in a package that treats women in a respectful way (because I spent over 20 years teaching my sons that manners and responsible language matter). And, I want to see the tax returns to alleviate my fears of foreign conflicts so I can let that issue go and trust the rest of the decisions. Can you help me understand how it would hurt Trump supporters to ask for those two things to help bring the country together?

        • T – I agree with much of what you say. I believe many many people (liberal AND conservative) want much of what this man promises, but are offended with the way he says them and can’t get past that. If you listen closely, he espouses principles that are so basic it is almost laughable… why wouldn’t you want safety? Why wouldn’t you want prosperity? I am a lifelong conservative who could not bring myself to vote for him because I feel that, despite his promises, he is completely out of his element. I long for a true conservative leader – Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave. I fear that Trump’s lack of intellect will outweigh any benefit and set our country, and it’s people, back decades.

          • Yes, Daniel, but I’m not laughing. He is out of his element but the agencies, cabinet and staff around him are not. I caution that we should interpret his seeming lack intellect as a cover for skilled manipulation.

            With that said, can we ask his supporters to get what they want from this president while still holding the administration’s feet to the fire on other common issues. For instance, can we all agree that divesting of business interests to a blind trust, rather than family, is a good step in bringing together folks who voted the other way? If you don’t care one way or another as a supporter can you understand that more than half of America does care and give us this small concession to build our trust? A simple note to your legislature as a constituent will help me get on board and support the other issues you care about too. We are not that far apart on some things.

          • I don’t believe Trump lacks intellect; I believe he’s deranged, and that is obvious to me from the way he conducts himself and how he demands total and complete obedience and loyalty, and when the facts don’t suit him, me makes up his own. That is not the mark of a leader, it’s the mark of a tyrant. I have, unfortunately, seen junior versions of this guy in my own life.

            Now you would be right in your argument about the principles he espouses, except for two things that you’re assuming. One, that he means what he says, and two, that he also knows how to get those results. It’s one thing to espouse a principle, and quite another to come up with a workable plan and see it through to completion. I think you should be very, very skeptical of both of those assumptions.

            The other reason to question what he says is that for the most part, he speaks in vague terms, and doesn’t actually come out with detailed plans. This may be intentional, so that he can do what he wants and then twist the meaning of his words to claim he fulfilled his promises. It may be a result of simply not having a real plan. It may be just a way to get people on his side. Making vague statements that just about anyone should agree with (and would feel like bad people if they didn’t), is a common tactic of a con artist. This is a trick used by fortune tellers, traveling salesmen, as well as politicians.

            You sound like a thoughtful and intelligent person. I’m not going to argue against any of your values, I am arguing against Donald Trump specifically. Please, take a very, very close look at him.

          • More out of his element than Obama, who had never had a job of consequence in his life ? Who voted ‘present’ more often than anyone could imagine was reasonable ? Who populated his cabinet with incompetent ideologues ? Who’s national security advisor was a failed fiction author ? You beclown yourself.

            The American pubic is done listening to you self-proclaimed ‘intelligentsia’ – whether you label ourselves ‘conservative’ or ‘progressive’

      • For whatever it is worth, allowing an authoritarian to take control of the democracy is not worth saving ten percent on our taxes. Government spending is and has been out of control for decades. Look at what the budget is spent on, look at a simple pie graph. The only thing that will make a significant difference in yearly budgets is to cut the military. Cutting everything else just isolates the poor, and there will always be people who are poor, always. The difference in society is how we treat them and what conditions for the poor we as citizens tolerate. Blaming welfare or the poor for the economic problems is shortsighted and lacks a level of morality that we can afford to avoid. Few people in the middle make enough to save for even something as simple and routine as a hernia surgery (mine was 52K) happens. The wealthy do not pay taxes in the same proportion as the rest. The government runs on taxes from the middle class. All of trumps ACA reforms and tax cuts are for the ultra wealthy, none for the middle class as I understand it. His rise is exactly parallel with what is written above and it does not end well for anyone in any country in History. His words and action are tactics to gain power plain and simple. He does not and will never empathize with workers and there are stories upon stories. You and I make a deal? Honor is how we follow through. We have a job to do as citizens do protect our democracy. There has been a sophisticated information assault on our country and others in Europe and Nato is being dismantled. We democrats/liberals were asleep, so believing that we have evolved and we didn’t see this coming. Our soldiers have protected our nation since the beginning,but guns cannot protect us from being manipulated by misinformation. We can solve our economic problems without giving up our democracy. Your savior, in Trump has lied, is lying. I think jobs will be created and jobs that are in the sectors that seem to need it most but, those jobs created will be for him to maintain power only.

          • From a historical average of 17% to nearly 22% during the last 8 years signals a massive increase in Federal spending. Don’t fool yourself.

          • Thanks for this graph, Russell Knox.
            Someone please tell David J. not to fool HIMSELF. And perhaps he should contemplate how he came up with his distorted conclusion. (I suspect it’s no coincidence that “the last 8 years” happens to comprise Obama’s presidency.)
            He claims “a historical average of 17%” but the last time Federal spending as a percentage of GDP was less than 17% was in 1966, 50 years ago. It was *below* 17% only 11 times since the start of WWII (ie, in the past 75 years)–less than 17% was exceptional, not “average.”
            It was *over* 22% in only five years since WWII, during the downturn in 1982-23 and in 2009-11. Much of the past eight years was recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-2010, when the GDP contracted a very significant 5.1%. Historically since WWII, then, the main factor for fluctuations in this measure seems to be decreased GDP rather than increased government spending. So, claiming “a massive increase in Federal spending” over the past eight years is a disinformative canard.

          • LOL! Yeah … those darn pesky facts used as arguments! You are right Jeremy!! The National debt IS your most basic concern and needs to be addressed. So, tell you what, let’s work together to fix it without destroying our democracy and country! Can I get an AMEN?

          • THIS MEASURE IS BULLSHIT. Federal Net Outlays as Percent of Gross Domestic Product (FYONGDA188S) was first constructed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in January 2013. Gee, strange coincidence that in 2013, the USA changed the way it calculates GDP (which OVERSTATES GDP), which is NOT how REST OF THE WORLD calculates GDP. Therefore, this measure UNDERSTATES Federal Net Outlays.

          • THIS GRAPH IS MISLEADING. It understates Fed Net Outlays. Here is why:
            … Federal Net Outlays as Percent of Gross Domestic Product (FYONGDA188S) was first constructed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in January 2013. Gee, strange coincidence that in 2013, the USA changed the way it calculates GDP (which OVERSTATES GDP), which is NOT how REST OF THE WORLD calculates GDP.

        • As a side note, if he is so concerned about government spending, why not start with government top officials’ salaries and benefits? Is that billionaire working for free?

          • If the billionaire you’re talking about is DJT, then the answer is yes. He has said he will not draw a salary as POTUS. I believe only 2 others did same — Washington and JFK.

          • Working for free but . . . I believe he’s “renting” space in Trump Towers to the secret service (which they need since he and his family won’t relocate to the WH) and thus coming out ahead of not taking a salary. Just because one isn’t drawing a salary doesn’t mean they’re not benefiting.

      • The 17 agencies and programs that Trump wants to cut, collectively cost each taxpayer less than $23/year. And they help people and communities, and create jobs. The mortgage interest tax credit alone, which benefits wealthy people the most, costs each American $296/year. Not clear what you’re referring to by “recent riots.” Trump is working fast to bilk us all out of as much as he can, for his own benefit and that of the billionaire cronies he is packing into the Cabinet. He will eventually get impeached, but by then the damage will be colossal. It will take us generations to recover, if we ever do.

      • Do you really think the problem with struggling middle income people is because of govt. regulations (and not with corporate greed)? Sure, maybe making some government agencies more efficient could help, but having corporations pay their share would improve conditions (roads, schools, public services, and thus also creating more jobs) that actually affect everyone. A single payer health care for all system would be entirely feasible if corporations paid their share, we could negotiate with big-pharma (corporations), and we had a more fair tax system. How long will it take for Trump to further enrich the billionaires while the struggling middle class gets nothing, before his own supporters realize he is a scam artist? Don’t get me wrong- I hope he does some good by using his bargaining skills, etc., I just don’t believe it will be to benefit the struggling middle class.

        • The problem of “struggling middle income people” is not solely the result of government regulations nor is corporate greed. The “problem” is multi-faceted. However, government regulations are making it difficult for our economy to recover and/or expand after the recession. Those regulations make it harder for small corporations, in particular, to grow, to thrive, to innovate. That in turn, makes it harder for them to hire more employees etc… Government regulations aren’t the only problem, but they are a real problem.

          • Mike, government regulations in the U.S. are a huge problem, not for the reason people have cited, but because they’re only applied to small and mid-sized companies. The Fortune 500 have spent the last 30+ years ensuring Congress regulates the little guys right out of business.

            And this lifelong Democrat will also tell you that the Democratic Party happily paved the way for this by focusing SOLELY on social issues while its leaders in Congress either stood by idly or supported those regulations and loopholes, all the while cheered on not only by those who weren’t slowly losing everything, but by those who were.

            There’s an old saying that the voters always get what they deserve. It couldn’t be more true in America right now.

          • Too much regulation gives big companies an advantage that smaller companies dont have , because they have the big resources needed to comply with that regulatory overreach while the small guys dont , so the latter leave the playing field to the big ones who then have less competition to deal with and can compete on their own terms ….this is what Larry Summers says in a recent article on the subject of what causes inequality and the problem that such inequality brings…!!

      • Carmen- You are a prime consumer of the Fox News propoganda machine. Your information regarding Obama is patently false. You can fact check his economic numbers easily- but you won’t. After eight years Obama leaves this country much better off than the day he entered office.

        The article is a weak argument at best. Making nice with people who refuse to listen to real facts, is pointless. Better to let you find out through extreme pain that you totally screwed yourself and everyone else in this country. It has already begun. He has put a gag order on all federal workers, increased the mortgage insurance costs for first time home buyers, cut a major employment program for veterans, shuttered the food safety inspectors… next they’ll come after social security- the GOP has been trying to get rid of that for years. I hope you have a great retirement savings plan. If not I hope you enjoy canned cat food.

        I’m not the enemy, but I’m not your friend if you support the idiot in chief.

        • Since you appear to know everything, please explain to Carmen (and the rest of us) what information she shared re: Obama is “patently false.” In addition, why are you so unnecessarily mean? You can tell from the tenor of Carmen’s comment that she is considerate and is truly looking for answers.

      • Carmen, every single sentence of that comment contained at least one lie. Democrats ARE the hardworking taxpayers getting shafted, but taxes aren’t the problem. The Republican party caters exclusively to the extremely rich and only enacts policies that benefit the extremely rich. Anyone advocating for a Republican is the enemy of the poor and the middle class. The vast majority of Americans are strongly in favor of the Affordable Care Act (yes, that’s Obamacare, even though I’m sure the Fox News propaganda machine has been trying to convince you they’re different things), and most of us would prefer something even more progressive like a real single-payer solution. Trump lied about hating the rich and the “elite” and then the instant he was declared President-Elect he packed his cabinet and staff with as many Goldman Sachs assholes and mega-rich toadies as he could. No Republican has done anything to improve the lot of the common people since before Reagan, and Trump sure isn’t going to break that trend.

        By the way, government spending is GOOD. Public infrastructure (roads, schools, sewage systems, electricity, etc.) benefits everyone. Improved health standards benefit everyone. Increased scientific understanding of our world and our universe benefit everyone. You get a hell of a lot more personal benefit out of your tax dollars by committing them to the public good than you would by spending them yourself. Do you have any idea how much technology only exists today because of tax-funded government research and development? Think how much poorer the world would be today if the internet protocols we all use had been developed by a private company and made proprietary instead of developed for the free use of all by government-funded scientists.

        Unless you are one of the super-rich, you made a huge mistake by voting for Trump. You thought you couldn’t afford to pay for care before? Wait until the ACA is repealed and the Republicans cause the next massive economic collapse. Because remember, it was only a collapse for those of us at the bottom; the rich got even richer, and the Republicans congratulated each other on a job well done.

        Also, I know this isn’t mentioned in the post I’m replying to, but I do feel it bears pointing out: if you’re a Christian, you should never support a Republican politician. Our Lord and Savior was EXTREMELY clear about how we are to treat the poor and the sick and even criminals: whatever you did to the least of these, you did to the Lord himself (see Matthew 25:41-46, and this is only one of many examples). When you reach the pearly gates, how are you going to answer for your decision to vote for people who think that the poor and downtrodden should have no rights and should die miserable and suffering?

        • “You get a hell of a lot more personal benefit out of your tax dollars by committing them to the public good than you would by spending them yourself.” What a typical liberal idea – that the government can spend your money for you better than you could for yourself. Government spending has its place, but there are, obviously, philosophical differences regarding how to spend it and how much to spend. I don’t think the gov’t can better spend my money and I do believe that there is more innovation when private industry leads. What always surprises me, and pisses me off frankly, is that I understand that we all have view points which differ. Just because we differ does not mean I hate you. I respect you. Can you really not see that your positions on the issues you addressed above are towards the extreme left and bordering on absurd? Finally, your closing paragraph is as misguided, insulting and hateful as anything you’ve tried to describe. Stating that all Republicans “think that the poor and downtrodden should have no rights and should die miserable and suffering” is ludicrous. It also falls directly into the notions discussed in the main article, above. By vilifying your enemy, YOU help create politicians like Trump! Until we all recognize common sense and a middle ground, we will just go back and forth between worsening extremes.

          • It is difficult to reintroduce facts into a belief system that is already rife with disinformation (Carmen’s comment is chock full right wing thought markers and dislodging “known” facts is nearly impossible because most people base those facts on anecdotal evidence and not observable and provable facts). Back to the main question at hand: The primary problem with out of control federal spending is two fold: military and healthcare. Those are the two things that are eating our country alive. Everything else is just nibbling around the edges of a much much bigger problem. Military makes up more than 54% of our discretionary budget. There is zero reason to need this much spending on fear. How much corruption and fraud and waste is in that system? Why are so many Americans ok with this? Fear is a terrible way to run a country. And then there’s healthcare. This is a real mess, because it is not rational or productive for regular people to “shop” for healthcare. The amount of variables is so extreme that the only way to make it equitable is for the risk to be spread, i.e. single payer and to use professionals, doctors, to advise you on care, but those doctors must be removed from being incentivized to “care” for by lining their pockets for services rather than outcomes. All other arguments lead to more deaths, more suffering and more expensive healthcare. Period. And the plus to this is that the rich can always buy “more” healthcare if they want the Cadillac version but at least the rest of us won’t die of easily preventable diseases. The question remains: what is common sense? Where is the middle ground? Is it to prevent the most deaths and suffering and try and spread that risk as much as possible? Or to be free to suffer the consequences of a random and oftentimes brutal life that may not take into account your best intentions or efforts and still give you lemons? This by the way seems to be most often advocated by those who are very well off and cannot conceive of ever having to deal with the nastier parts of life.

          • I agree that the comments from Vista are emotional and condescending. A lot of folks on the left are frantic right now. Trump appears to be moving quickly, and the results are scary. Though it may seem like progress for his supporters, some of his actions also seem to be consolidating power and silencing his opposition. I don’t want to see control in our government consolidated into any small group, whether I agree with them or not.

            I do agree with one of VIsta’s points. Trump said he was anti establishment, and working for the people. But then he placed a lot of very wealthy business people into his cabinet whose interests may conflict with the job. This is dangerous.

            I’ve heard some on the right say “The establishment isn’t the wealthy, it’s the do-nothing politicians. Businessmen know how to get stuff done, we should give them a shot” I think it takes two to tango. Corruption occurs when politicians and the wealthy work together for their mutual benefit, at the expense of common folk. If you put the wealthy directly in power, they no longer need to bribe politicians, they have free reign.

          • Private industry leading is never good for the public benefit because by design private industry is about self-interest and self-enrichment. If they can do shoddy work and get paid they have no interest improving things. Their innovation comes from ways to cut costs – not make things better. What is possible though is government harnessing private industry for public benefit. When private industry is rewarded for innovation that improves the public good they then have the incentive to focus on that goal. This is why privatization of public services is never good, but when government works with private corporations good things can happen. However, such things need to be monitored because the private sector will always be looking for shortcuts that aren’t necessarily scrupulous to add to their profits. Hence we find such things as government being billed 200 dollars for a hammer.

        • I think even the super-rich made a mistake if they voted for Trump. Maybe their net material wealth will increase in the short-term (at our expense), but they are going to have to breathe the same polluted air and drink the same polluted water that will be left after Trump leaves office, to say nothing of the pervasive negative economic/social/environmental/agricultural impacts that ensue from his denial of human-caused climate change and from his administration’s policies that will accelerate the process rather than slow it down. Their ships–or their grandchildren’s ships–will sink along with everyone else’s, when climate change occurs too rapidly, extensively, and impactfully for civilization to survive.

      • While I agree with your sentiments about Obamacare, I’m not so sure that Trump “was the candidate that made sense and was willing to listen to our problems. He was the one who was willing to negotiate and make our lives better.” As the above article suggests, he was the one able to make you believe he ‘was the one.’ I fear that he used you, as well as many others, to secure his office (his power) only to throw you aside (since you are no longer useful to him) to implement his agenda (whatever that may be).

      • Trump bought up then closed down many factories putting many, many Americans out of work. Words are easy. Look at the deeds. He will make all his buddies even richer whilst screwing the rest. America is already great. It is great because of the people in it, people like you. Sadly when the going gets tough it is easy for folks like him, the populists, to arrive on their white charger saying they will make America great again, when it already is great. He will say everything is for americans but america already had it all. Though, admittedly in varying amounts. Beware slighting obamacare, that is its slang term. Check your insurance. Many hardworking americans only have healthcare because ‘obamacare’ means you cant be denied, that the price must be reasonable.Trump could have helped those factories but he shut them down putting profit above all those americans jobs and families. Yeah words are easy. It gets more difficult when you look at a person’s deeds.

      • That would be Obama’s plan have all poor and depending on his democratic standards. In short depending on government for our well being — DANGER DANGER DANGER Trump is just as sick of it as we hard working Americans are! This guy ( article) says it right want to make a difference, STOP acting like a baby and roll up your sleeves and truly put your money where your mouth is – get to work on helping the minorities yourself quit asking the government to do what God ordained us to do- help each other.

        • We do need the government, for so much that we have come to take for granted. Clean air. Clean water. National security. International alliances that keep us out of another world war. Do you actually want to live in a failed state? I do not. As someone pointed out earlier, entitlements are but a small fraction of federal spending. In my opinion, we don’t do nearly enough to help the poor and disadvantaged in our country – but that’s just me. Focusing on entitlement spending and the culture wars is just another way for corporatist to distract from corporate subsidies, wasteful government contractors, and the other real ways in which our tax dollars are being frittered away.

        • Stop it please!! I work hard every day- actually have been working since I was 11 years old, 2 and 3 jobs at a time and have personally paid for everything I own! Nobody has given me a handout! AND I am proudly a liberal democrat! Because I believe it is important to help each other out. I believe a sacred duty of the government is to protect its people. I believe the government is in fact a collective of people for the purpose of protecting each other- economically, from hostile foreign agents, and from acts of god. So do NOT make judgements against me like you did above because you are sadly mistaken.

      • Carmen,

        You say “we work for our income while they don’t”. I work for an income and I fully supported Obama. Your assumption seems to be: ‘if you supported Obama you don’t work and you want to further oppress those who work’. The 1% are the ones who oppress and exploit. Not the people who work and supported Obama.

      • Hi Carmen, I will reply only to your question about “what’s the use of Obamacare” … for what is the use of Obamacare/ACA if none of us can afford it, I agree that it needs repair too. But there are many aspects that provide critical protections for all of us and I can speak to that out of personal experience. Years ago (before ACA), I had a good job at a private school (nonprofit). I was divorced with one child, received some child support, but nonprofits don’t pay well, so I had to work side jobs (mostly waitressing) on the weekends to make ends meet. I managed like that for years. I had excellent benefits EXCEPT for some reason no short-term disability. Well, I developed a bizarre and mysterious spinal canal/brain injury issue. It took doctors months to diagnose me – during which time they actually suspected me of drug-seeking – b/c it could only be dx by MRI. They kept switching diagnosis and medications. My budget was so tight that the co-pays (only $10 or $20) took a real toll on me. I got sicker and sicker and couldn’t waitress anymore – another hit. I used up all my sick time at my professional job, partly from being sick, partly from travelling to see specialists. Then I was finally diagnosed. I was scheduled for spinal canal surgery in a few weeks. By then I had no sick time left and no short-term disability. I had long term disability but needed to save that for when I was recovering from surgery. So there I was, too sick to work, but without any time off left. My colleagues tried to donate their sick time to me but the school had a policy against it. If I had lost my job, I would have lost my medical insurance, and then would not have been able to have the brain surgery. My state had a poor medicaid system and I would not have been eligible. So,my doctors doped me up, and I basically sat at my desk, pretty much useless. The ONLY reason I survived this situation was because my boss was compassionate and ignored the fact that he had a useless zombie sitting at a desk. If I had lost my job, I would have lost my insurance (I was eligible for COBRA but it cost $1K a month, which I would never have been able to afford). If that scenario happened today and I lost my job with ACA in place, I could still buy it on the open market, and the subsidy I would get from being low-income would make it affordable. And they couldn’t have refused me even though I was sick. And, once I was well enough, if I got a new job with ACA in place, insurance would not be able to refuse to cover my ongoing care (needed monthly MRI’s for a year, then yearly for 3 years, not to mention medications) for my pre-existing condition. I know it’s complicated, but basically, I just got very, very lucky that my boss ignored the fact that I was too sick to function at my desk. Otherwise I have no idea where I would be today, or what would have happened to my child. I also ended up having to file bankruptcy, even though I had worked hard and lived very frugally. People forget that when insurance is tied to employment, you are very vulnerable – if you get too sick to work, you lose your insurance. COBRA is an option if the company is big enough, but very expensive. Then if you somehow recover without medical care, your new insurer can refuse to cover related expenses (it used to be for up to a year.) Co-pays and deductibles are important, but when evaluating a health care policy, we all need to think WORST scenario: what if I got REALLY sick, too sick to work? Evaluate all of it on what would happen if you lost your job due to illness. ACA addressed that. I am employed now with good insurance and fully recovered, but I never forgot my experience and was so grateful when ACA put that protection into place. I know all too well what perils there were before those provisions. When they propose a plan, we all need to read the fine print CAREFULLY and think worst case scenario – not just co-pays and deductibles – but if we got too sick to work. I hope everyone will make an exception and go to the news sources they don’t usually read so they can understand what “the others” are saying about any proposed plan. And if we don’t like what they are proposing, contact our representatives! Maybe between President Trump (who made some favorable campaign promises about health care – but I expect Republicans to block them!) and pressure from constituents regardless of who we voted for, they will come up with a decent plan.

        • I wanted to say “thank you” for sharing your story. I live with spinal stenosis/syringomylia. I’m not at a piont yet where surgery is advised. I have also been terrified regarding health insurance coverage and any potential lapses. My current employer only knows I frequently need PT and that I take medication. They don’t know that technically I should never lift more than 20lbs. I work in childcare…I lift daily.

      • Carmen, The only problem is that Trump probably wont do what we hope he will either. How do you “drain the swamp” with the big bankers and billionaires who are looking for good deals that help only themselves? And because almost none of them have shown their tax records so that we can see what conflicts they might have, it is likely that there are those very conflicts and that the deals they will make will line their pockets and not ours. I couldnt get any health care before the affordable care act, simply because I am over 50 and in the individual market (I work for myself) and I guess for some of us getting some care is better even if we have to pay a little more.

        • Yes…imagine what could happen to the thousands who fell for Trumpism. And all the rest of us. Then comes the long and tough climb out of this miserable mess. Sorry to hear of your suffering! Thanks for sharing.

      • You could have shortened that comment to, “Sorry, but I am an idiot, please do not read further” and saved us all the minute it took to read that crap

      • With all due respect, Obama did not ask to be thrust into a situation of chaos, as a result of Bush (and yes, others). He did not ask for bank failures, auto industry and housing collapse, an increased deficit of 1.4 trillion dollars. He did not ask that the republican political regime block everything that he attempted; whether considered good or bad. He did not ask that party members called him and his family names; even stooping to the lowest level of interrupting him during a state of the union address. The ACA costs increased thanks to greedy insurance companies, items like the Aetna merger, and the failure of congress, overall, to mandate price negotiations for drugs. I could go on, but is it worth it?

      • Carmen, I don’t understand any part of this sentence: “I actually thought Obama was the populist when he campaigned and started his reign of kingship in a Republic of middle income people strugglin in a worsening economy…”

        Could you please elaborate on this? Furthermore, could you explain what you mean by “the problems of the past 8 years”.

        Thanks.

      • You may want to look into how much money welfare recipients actually receive. It may surprise you. Also, maybe you could walk in someone else’s shoes. Furthermore, are you ok with paying for a Wall? If so, you may need to look at your values set. I will pay for roads, and parks, and police, and education, and healthcare, research and development, the arts and more; but I will not pay to wall off America. Read about the economic fallout this rhetoric with Mexico will have on the American worker and prices. There is much to learn. I hope you will reach out and look into real numbers and fact.

      • How can you SHOVE health care down anyone’s throat? Have you never had cancer? Have you never gotten sick? Never had pneumonia? And if you think Donald Trump is a “Knight in Shining Armor” he definitely tweets to you… In the meantime, there’s soon to be NO Social Security — NOT an entitlement but a “paid benefit” — no Medicare, no Medicaid…. no safety net when any business goes belly-up and leaves its employees in the dirt… How’s that working for ya? We’re all taxpayers, by the way…. So get over it already… You are no different than anyone else. If you cannot afford to pay for health insurance, you probably qualify for Medicaid… get it? There also are programs for women with children… get it? Your taxes are paying for your safety net… In the meantime, you’re praising the very man who is doing everything in HIS power to dump you and us and everybody in the dirt with nothing…

      • I agree about a lot of the things you object to with Obama, but where we differ is whether Trump was the solution to all of that. I believe that no Republican candidate was going to solve those problems, but Trump is deranged. He’s a special case. He’s not a Knight in Shining Armor. He’s going to make this economy worse for everyone but the 1%. If they kick out all the illegal immigrants, are you going to do the backbreaking farm labor for less than minimum wage? Will your kids? Somebody has to pick the food for our country.

        I should also tell you that about 18 years ago I spoke with a former geological engineer for Exxon. He told me that Exxon has known about global warming for decades, and that they had plans for how to drill in the Arctic and use the Northwest Passage for shipping, and that also they’d been investing in solar and wind technology. Now if Exxon knew about this all along, and didn’t believe the research of their own engineers, and didn’t believe it was human caused, why would they bother with solar and wind? Oil companies make plans 10, 20, 40 years out. They did not just figure out that the NW Passage was melting recently and mobilize in a couple of years. This guy had no reason to lie to me either, since it was just a casual conversation in my kitchen and he was my boyfriend’s stepdad.

        Oligarchs are turning America into a second world country. I said this to friends & family back in the GWB years, but I thought that time was a long way away, and a small possibility. But now, take a look at Republican policy and Trump’s behavior. China and India have 2 billion people. It makes no sense for them to make products for us; we have only 300 million people and a shrinking middle class – a very limited market. It makes a lot more sense to make us slave away to make things for them. But that can’t happen until it’s just as cheap to make things here as there, and that means gutting environmental protections, getting rid of minimum wage, eliminating OSHA protections, union-busting, removing educational opportunities…. all things Republican leadership has been advocating, under the guise of “bringing back jobs.” What kind of jobs??? And look who Trump is putting into his Administration – billionaires and bankers – Goldman-Sachs bankers. So, think about that for a minute. Do you want yourself, your kids, and your grandkids toiling away in factories making cheap crap to ship across the Pacific? Because that is the future I see coming down the pike with these people. They do not care about you or me; we’re the little people.

      • So that Now our tax dollars can pay 15 billions toward a wall?? These are complicated times. We have to weigh the good obamacare did –i.e.saving lives–along side the burden created for some of us. Isn’t this what democracy is all about?? We must find ways to listen and negotiate. it’s not one way. It is not good against bad. Shutting one another down and out is not the way. Not now. We are only causing more derision. I think it is important to find our common ground as humans living only a finite amount of days on this earth.

      • What regulations and taxes are forced down your throat? You mean the regulations the republicans suspended in Flint to save some money, and now people have been forced to drink lead-poisoned water for years and republican congress just suspended the investigation? How about the insurance companies that have been collecting money but screwing people out of care for decades?
        There is plenty to be angry about, but if you want to change things in a real way, it’s up to you to understand all sides of the story and figure out who is going to make money. That is where you find the real corruption. Did I mention that Trumpxs pick for Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, is actually on the pipeline board, and gives zero shits about the constitutional rights of Americans being violated to build a bullshit oil money-saving scheme? Follow the money, find the corruption.

      • This illustrates a very fundamental problem – working from different facts.
        You, and many others, think “the majority of people voted for Trump” or there was a groundswell – but he lost the popular by ~3 million … so “the majority” *didn’t vote for him.
        When Trump supporters say this people other than Trump supporters hear somebody that is willing to ignore or distort facts – so when Trump supporters further say “he makes sense” – when he sounds like a used car salesman to us – no dialog is happening.

        I’m not sure how to get past that – or if we should try to.

      • Carmen, when the Corporate Welfare Kings like WalMart pay their employees less then a living wage, the employees, people who work as many hours as WalMart will allow (so the corporation can classify them as part-time), then need government subsidies to get their needs met. What this amounts to is taxpayer-funded welfare to the corporation. We, you and me, and even those receiving welfare, are paying the part of WalMart’s labor costs that they can then keep for themselves through our taxes. THAT is the Welfare I am against!

      • Carmen, all your problems, and your hurts and resentments are understandable. You didn’t participate in the strategies that improves income and position. You probably even went behind. Society failed you and you didn’t see how to grow in a direction that would let u participate in ‘The next good life’s wave. Let’s all pull together and create an economy and jobs to be proud of. Business, wealthy individuals, and you will have to invest in your future. We don’t want more taxes, so government can only recommend wjAt to do. We all hope it works out!

      • What is it with this conservative idea that everyone on the left is sitting around, collecting welfare, while everyone on the right is off working to support us? It’s such a ludicrous notion that it defies logic. I am a liberal who has built a generous income on hard work, and I pay more in taxes every year than a whole lot of conservatives see in twenty. I’d much rather that money goes to helping people in need than in swelling a military that is already bloated beyond common sense. This is where this notion of common ground disintegrates. You want to play cards, Carmen?

      • You haven’t seen spending yet. Just wait; trump is showing all the signs of spending like a drunken sailor. Twenty billion for a mostly useless wall? No problem! That’s just the beginning. The money will come from education, healthcare, the Arts, the environment and everything that we need to live healthy, contented lives. However, we will spend more on the military than the next 150 countries combined, to defeat people who only want the same things we want.

      • Thanks for a thoughtful comment. Please consider, though that we are not having “riots”. They’re peaceful protests. I’m not sure who you mean when you say, “they don’t” work for their income. The people who are protesting are not the top percent who don’t work or pay taxes. Those are Trump’s cabinet and supporters.

      • How is Trump working to fix the things that HE is part of the problem?

        He runs mass conglomerations and has defaulted on paying bills and staff; he defaulted on his supposed University (and while he settled out of court, it was for a much lower sum and the students lost their money to him); he’s gone bankrupt several times; he’s never known what it means to do hard labour -his money came from his father; he won’t supply his tax returns, which lends me to believe he pays none due to his write offs,thus, he is not paying his fair share into the US economy; he mocks the disabled; creates “alternative facts” when the truth is not what he wants to hear; gropes women; has put his children – unelected – into power; will not give up his businesses or even put them into blind trusts while he is in power; is already in a conflict of interest with his businesses and travelling VIPs through put the world; and now he’s banning entry to the US from Muslims from countries with no history of violence in the US, while allowing Muslims entry from countries that have a history of violence in the US- the same countries he has business ties to.

        The list goes on and on….

      • Dear Carmen, you started a conversation, and many people replied to you with support, intelligent responses, and some arguments. I really wish you would come back and answer some of them. At the moment it looks like you are not interested in having a conversation, but rather want to state a position. I really want to hear what you have to say to the people who replied to you.

      • The economy improved the entire time Obama was in office. Most of the new money generated was going to the top of the food chain, CEOs and Big Banks and such, and the people working harder weren’t getting their fair share, so it felt like the economy wasn’t improving to most working class Americans. I always get a sense of pride when I pay my taxes; a grandmother gets her prescription refilled, an 8 year old eats a warm meal after school, a soldier goes to battle with full ammo and body armor. I’m only middle class, so I can’t afford to feed everyone who is hungry or heal all the sick, but I pay my share with my fellow Americans and we make it happen together. It’s disappointing when someone gets a free ride, Trump hasn’t paid taxes in years but he gets to sleep at night with the protection of the same military and police risking their lives for all of us, but a few freeloaders aren’t worth ending all the good that these programs do. I vote Democrat because I want to give back, to help every American have the same opportunities I had. Obamacare was kind of lousy, way too much money going to the insurance companies and not healthcare, but it was better than nothing, so I hope it’s replaced by something instead of scrapped completely. I do worry about national security much more these day. Most of our Allies are not fans of Trump, and our enemies celebrated his victory. We went 8 years without a 9/11 scale event, but Trump’s policies seem designed to cause another one, and his close ties to Russian oligarchs are unprecedented. Our economy needs new jobs for working class people. We could build enough electric cars and solar panels to power the whole USA, and then start exporting it all too. Our auto industry almost collapsed in the recession, and I don’t see it truly growing again until we switch production to 100℅ electric vehicles. A solar farm in every city in America would mean jobs in every city, not just the big cities. How will cutting taxes for the wealthy coastal elites lead to new jobs in middle America? Right now China outproduced the USA in solar panels, which is unacceptable. The rest of the world was mad when we told them they had to stop using fossil fuels, since they knew only we had the technology and industrial capacity to build and export green energy infrastructure, but the longer we wait the more time they buy to modernize their economies. Big coal and oil are happy to grow and grow in India/China/Russia. Once we invade a Middle Eastern country, gas prices will go up a ton, and ExxonMobil/Russia/Venezuela/OPEC/etc
        will all get rich, but working class Americans will be stuck buying it all when should be driving electric for free. Bernie and HRC both had plans to revitalize the Rust Belt and America’s industry. All that’s on the horizon under Trump is automation taking more and more jobs, and the CEOs paying less and less taxes, with nowhere for the average American to go. I hope I’m wrong.

      • 1) How was the ACA shoving down people’s throat?
        It was voted via partisan lines because the Tea Party held local Republican seats hostage & forced the Republican to obstruct a bi-partisan bill – thus the message from the Republicans was that it was shoved down American’s throat – simply NOT true – their seats were being held hostage & they loaded the any Obama bill ideas with pork.

        Why do you think it’s so hard to get it repealed & replace now?
        Maybe because 20+M people actually find it helping them.
        Funny thing is a majority of those people who would lose it are now speaking for it – in Trump counties.
        Souyrce: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/17/us/politics/17mcconnell.html?pagewanted=all

        2) A misconception is that the ACA costs are rising faster than expected this year – which is not true.
        It was priced below the OMB’s projections the initial years years & now in the 3rd year is finally getting to market rates. Essentially – people on ACA were getting a discount the first years.
        Source: https://www.brookings.edu/research/how-has-obamacare-impacted-state-healthcare-marketplaces/

        3) ACA actually has help slowed OVERALL healthcare cost increases including premiums for employer-based insurance plans! Source:
        http://files.kff.org/attachment/summary-of-findings-2015-employer-health-benefits-survey

        4) Obama took over the start of the recession & got over 6M people back to work , saving the auto industry & avoided banking meltdown.
        Sources: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/18/obamas-record-on-jobs-versus-five-other-presidents.html
        https://www.ft.com/content/b5b764cc-d657-11e6-944b-e7eb37a6aa8e

        5) Under Obama – no FOREIGN born terrorist EVER attacked on US soil. So how is that a fabrication of our national security ?
        Source: https://www.cato.org/blog/little-national-security-benefit-trumps-executive-order-immigration

        6) Easing the burden of welfare? Does that mean that if you own a home you don’t want your tax credit? Or does that mean that if you get work healthcare that those aren’t dollars you don’t want to deduct pre-tax from your pay?
        Because those are examples you get government ‘help’ to ease your tax burden.
        Source: http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/31/news/economy/taxes_welfare/
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_welfare_state

      • exactly Carmen, the Democratic party in the US has become the party of intolerance and destruction, and we can no longer discern who the fascists are in this country. This article is complete nonsense, because on its face, you can’t compare dictatorial socialism with a capitalism, two very separate economic philosophies. And Populism in no way brings the two ideas to a common ground, the two are diametrically opposed to each other.
        Every politician will establish their platform based on the need of that country at that period in time, and he or she will be elected if it makes sense to the country at large. However, the platform of big government that Obama and Hillary ran on to get elected, no longer made any sense to the majority of the American electorate, hence, the Republicans took control of the country again. That’s what’s so beautiful about the United States and why so many people want to live in this great nation…the electorate in each state will always have the option to change the leadership every 4 years, unlike a socialist dictatorships.
        Unfortunately, for the new opposition in the US is enabling the majority of the news media in the US to pursue their argument about Russian involvement in our elections in an attempt to keep their campaign platform relevant, and that’s fine, but at some point in order to be re-elected they will have to start looking for real solutions to their failed policies. Simple.
        I would say this in closing, read and view all media sources, not just the ones that make you feel comfortable, and listen to what your opposition is saying, then decide for yourself if that makes sense to vote for them.

        • I agree to pretty much all of this but, as full of shit as the DNC is – and as creepy as it is that they’re sudden bedfellows with the spy guys – there is too much smoke in the Russia thing, here AND in Europe, for a fire not to exist.

      • He is certainly “working fast” but i don’t feel like he’s come up with anything to solve the problems. Immigration is not as big a problem as 45 would have us believe. Clean water IS a problem and he’s clearly working against protections there. Other than that I’m not sure what he’s doing (aside from continuing to campaign.)

        If you’re going to talk about problems needing solving, don’t fall on the “past 8 years” rhetoric. Lets face facts. These are problems that run clear back to at least the 80s.

        And who is the “us” that was the majority? Republicans? The Electoral College? It certainly wasn’t a majority of voters, or a majority of voters or those eligible to vote.

        And finally, don’t EVEN complain about welfare recipients without calling out corporations and THEIR welfare. CEOs are taking in obscene sums (including those lovely folks in the banking industry who got bailouts. And, Yes, if it happened again, Trump would bail them out.) And really, if you don’t want the government spending the money we work so hard for, why aren’t you opposing the building of the border wall at taxpayer — pardon me — MEXICO’S expense?

    • What a bunch of bull shit…in my opinion.

      Hope he drops dead from a heart attack soon, along with dense Pence and asshole Cryin’ Ryan.

      • Statements like this do nothing to advance your purpose. In fact, saying shit like this works in the opposite direction. When you work to belittle, diminish and demonize your adversary you diminish and make a demon of yourself. You’ll never convince someone to respect your opinion when you disdain theirs, flawed though it may be, with shit like that.

    • Except we’re being treated as the other side. We’re being made into the nation’s garbage and how do you push back against that? No matter what, even if you go to the rural areas and the small towns and try to connect with people, they’re always going to see you as the weirdo outsider, and first time things take a downturn they’ll throw you out.

      Say you grew up in that rural area and you realize their politics are not humane, and you come out and say so and look, they’ve known you since birth. It won’t matter and they will not listen to you. They’ll throw you out.

      This guy underestimates human tribalism. That’s all.

    • No, what they need to hear is:

      Why were protesters wearing hijabs?
      The dark, powerful, hidden force behind the Women’s March on D.C.
      They gathered by the thousands to watch history on television. They cheered wildly when President Trump said in his inaugural address that the U.S. will eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth. The next day, they looked on in shock and horror at the violent protests in the streets. They were even more horrified when they saw American women wearing hijabs, Muslim headscarves worn as a sign of piety. But this wasn’t Kansas. It wasn’t even the Midwest. It was the Middle East. Cairo, Egypt. Home to tens of millions of devout Muslims……….
      http://www.wnd.com/2017/01/why-were-protesters-wearing-hijabs/#Oy6L2pOLwBgt1xWZ.01

      Or:

      Women’s March towards Islam?
      Abortions are illegal in Islam, yet Muslim groups targeted pro-choice groups for this event; homosexuality is despised in Islam, yet Muslim groups targeted the LBGT community–why?
      http://www.cheriberens.net/womenrsquos-march-towards-islam.html

      From a Cairo Coffee Shop – the “Women’s” Marches look no different to those organised by the Muslim Brotherhood. Then again, the Brotherhood have several front organisations in the US……….

    • No, they need to hear something like this and start fighting the “other side”!

      They gathered by the thousands to watch history on television. They cheered wildly when President Trump said in his inaugural address that the U.S. will eradicate radical Islamic terrorism from the face of the earth. The next day, they looked on in shock and horror at the violent protests in the streets. They were even more horrified when they saw American women wearing hijabs, Muslim headscarves worn as a sign of piety. But this wasn’t Kansas. It wasn’t even the Midwest. It was the Middle East. Cairo, Egypt. Home to tens of millions of devout Muslims……….

      Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2017/01/why-were-protesters-wearing-hijabs/#MbbPGbDIqXCGtE2l.99

    • That’s exactly true. The more they pitch their hissy fits the worse it gets. I wish everyone would just settle down and go about their daily lives. The country will not implode and you will survive. Guess what, by the time those attending collage graduate, they will be thanking Trump, who will have plenty of businesses for them to choose a job from.

      • In 10-15 years America, and most of the world have wide scale unemployment due to automation and AI, and nothing Trump does will change it. It’s the reality of todays world, and no one is really talking about.

  2. The populist leader counts on a not always well recognized human propensity for finding narcicistic pleasure in the cultivation of Righteous Rages against a demonized enemy which make people feel empowered , heroic , morally grandiose , life is seldom generous enough to sattisfy peoples yearning for feeling grandly proud of themselves , they commonly know failure, frustration , mediochrity and of course an anger that must find an outlet to vent itself ……..

    The populist leader taps into these deep yearnings and frustrated conceits and silent angers to movilize people passionately against an enemy that he creates and in doing so wins their support by presenting himself melodramatically as the super human incarnation of that heroic rage.

    In a recent article in El Pais , Juan Villoro touches on the subject as follows : “Umberto Eco tomó un taxi en Nueva York, conducido por un paquistaní. Al enterarse de que era italiano, el taxista le preguntó: “¿Quiénes son sus enemigos?”. Eco respondió que, de momento, su país no estaba en guerra con nadie o, en todo caso, estaba en una soterrada contienda contra sí mismo. La respuesta decepcionó al conductor: un país sin adversarios carecía de identidad, ¿podían los italianos ser tan amorfos? Al bajar del auto, Eco compensó con una propina la pobre beligerancia de su país. Minutos después pensó que en realidad Italia enfrentaba una legión de adversidades, la mayoría de ellas internas, pero carecía de claridad para identificarlas. La inquietud del taxista era más profunda de lo que parecía: el otro puede servir para canalizar el odio y la desconfianza, pero también para saber, por riguroso contraste, quiénes somos. El resultado de estas reflexiones fue el ensayo Inventando al enemigo. Ahí afirma: “Tener un enemigo es importante no sólo para definir nuestra identidad sino para enfrentar un obstáculo contra el cual podemos medir nuestro sistema de valores”.

    The phrase that best describes this human propensity for an Enemy whom to hate is Nietzsche : “how fine does bad music and bad speeches sound when one marches against an enemy” , a more modest one comes from Antonio Leocadio Guzman creator of the Venezuelan Partido Liberal Amarillo which marched under the banner of making Venezuela a Federation of States or Federalism against the Centralim of the governing Conservative party of General Paez and who cried ‘If they had shouted Federalism we would have shouted Centralism’ because the important thing was not the political concept but the thrill and narcicistic reward of heroically fighting a demonized enemy…

    The above piece from Mr Rondon is extremely insightful and sharp and well written , these lines are only to complement his thoughts on what is it that makes Populist leaders popular….!!

  3. Trump is probably the first ‘populist’ in history whose political platform is basically to get rid of the healthcare system that only poor people care about and to protect the rich in all forms!

    If that already makes Trump being Chavez’s twin, I wonder what the hell Obama is.

    “How do I know? Because I grew up as the ‘you’ Trump is about to turn you into.”

    If Venezuela had had a Trump, you all would still be based in Caracas, writing these posts from brand new Dubai-like skyscrapers. I actually wish Chavez were like Trump, but he was just a marxist idiot. And what’s sad is that his left-wing thoughts were what made Venezuela fall in love with him. Americans, on the other hand, are very different from Venezuelans. They would never elect a Chavéz like you guys did. Most of them love their Constitution above everything and are not bought by freebies, making a populist political platform extremely ineffective to earn votes (ask Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders).

        • “People who support a populist often refuse to see the populist as being such. You are a good example of that.”

          What is funny is that I’ve just heard Trump saying:

          “We will get out people off welfare and back to work!”

          It’s the populist person less populist in the world! haha!

          If we only we had more populists like these in South America, we wouldn’t have such populist societies! (I’m confused too).

          • Well, not really, it’s populist in the way populism can work in America. Not all cultures work the same. For the US, there’s a strong myth of “making it on your own”, of working hard and conquering all with your personal talent, which tends to disregard the practical limits of such an ideology (as everyone pictures themselves as ‘the successful’ and never imagines they could be the ones getting the shaft). So Trump is appealing to that – the “American Dream” it’s called, after all. Both things can be removed from reality, because usually no good solution can be summed up as “we just have to do THIS ONE THING everywhere, for all problems, and we’ll solve everything”.

          • Populist does`t mean or imply an ideology from the left or right, same with fascist. The populist is the one who capitalized on discontent with a rhetoric that place the blame on someone else, and he present himself as savior. It is easy to say this is all bad and that stinks. It really hard to fix it in instead. Always follow the money and you will see who is behind pulling the strings, the rest is an illusion a diversion tactic to keep people clinging to ideology and fighting over stupid stuff. They want you to believe that the poor is the problem because they get help. That help is minuscule compare to what rich people and big corporate interest gets, and some how it is never enough. Trump is heading on a collision course with the media, and the media sucks too, but censorship is already here, and he will use the patriotic card to have you agree with that and much more. Be extremely alert on any changes in the power structure that he might propose “checks and balances”

          • Every Prez says they want less people on welfare. But you have to create the jobs FIRST. The Right seems to think that if you kick all the lazys off welfare they will be forced to find a job. A job that does not exist.

        • Oh! Another Trump supporter. Alright…

          If you don’t understand why Trump is a populist, then the one who needs to do a lot of learning is you.

    • Yeah pana, maybe the skyscrapers would have been saved, but poor people would be starving just as well today. Like Trump’s proposals, Chavez’s policies were short-term, superficial, and did not address most of the REAL problems that plagued the Venezuelans that elected him.

      For example: like Trump, a lot (not all) of the supposedly “alternative”/”revolutionary” aspects of Chavez’s policies were simply rehashes of previous public policies, like the currency controls and the over-reliance on imports. Didn’t Bush propose a wall that failed already? I get the focus on secure borders, but we have all this advanced technology and the best we can do is a fucking wall?

      This could be the case for gov corruption regulation in the Trump administration. Corruption is a systemic problem, it requires deep, carefully-planned, transparent, structural change. The system won’t be less corrupt because Hillary isn’t president (though worries about her were legitimate). It needs a radically methodical change, and we’ll see if Trump can provide that.

      In any case, I fundamentally agree with you on the “Americans, on the other hand, are very different from Venezuelans. They would never elect a Chavéz like you guys did. Most of them love their Constitution above everything” bit. That’s the one thing that might save America – nationalism here is about democracy. It’s deeply ingrained in the culture – forget the institutions – in Venezuela democracy was institutional but not always cultural for people outside of the AD/COPEI clientilist circles.

      Also, Trump won’t have PDVSA as his personal bank account, that’ll help.

    • So right! Trump only ever talked about Obamacare. I never heard Trump mention jobs, regulations, the economy(STUPID!), taxes, foreign relations, globalists, …

      • He absolutely DID talk about all those things, only bringing Obamacare fully into it once he got the party’s nomination. His biggest tag-line is his motto – “Make America Great Again”, saying “America isn’t number one anymore, we lose at everything.” One of the scariest things I heard him say was “There are so many problems, and I am the only one who can fix them.” He’s conceited, ego-centric, and as immature as a 5 year old on the verge of a major tantrum – but he now has nukes at his disposal, and that is frightening.

        • Make America great again sounds suspiciously like something Hitler used to say – make Germany great again! Even his demagoguery is plagerized

    • You are wrong Marc because Trump is as populist as Chavez was; but only to the right. It called fascism: “an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.” A right so extremely rooted on nationalism, isolationism and a manipulated reality that does not exist. He won’t be able to achieve most of what he has promised because we live in a globalized economy and by cutting off trade and “bringing jobs back” he will only manage to terminate our ability to be a global super power and will hand all the trade to China who will then gain an upper hand. And what he manages to deliver will bring an economic chaos that Americans have not experienced yet because he is woefully unprepared and unfortunately he is not choosing the most prepared cabinet in most cases. Further, he breeds division, hatred and inequality for women. The author of this article is right on the left and opposition having to shift their approach. On that I agree 100% with.

    • But Trump is not adhering to the constitution. This is one of the issues I find most baffling. Why the voters who despised Obama for ‘acting like a king’ are blithely cheering as Trump stampedes through his first…has it only been 6 days? Yes, only 6. …..days in office. Every day I am confounded. I am asking my (few) conservative and republican friends what is appealing and they reference the multitude of restrictions and the skyrocketing cost of healthcare (which they believe Obama is responsible for) holding America back and making their lives less successful and inhibiting their ability to make enough money. Which in turn baffles me? Because….we were our very poorest (welfare and state healthcare) during Bush II era….and it never occurred to me that it was anyone else’s fault or responsibility that we were struggling. Certainly not the President! It was our responsibility and we eventually climbed out (ironically, one of the things that crushed us financially was our inability to obtain health insurance that we qualified for—we all had ‘pre-existing conditions’, even my infant daughter, who had a blocked tear duct—and then afford; we could never get any coverage that wasn’t high premium/high deductible) after a few really difficult years. So now when I hear people blame President Obama for their misfortunes, I think, “I thought Conservatives believed in personal responsibility and small government and making it on their own without interference from the government?” I do not understand how it can be both ways.

  4. Excellent piece. I’ll always wonder how left-populism targeting the 1% played into right-populism (“drain the swamp”).

    The only good news is that Trump builds on an electoral college majority based on a minority vote, a much weaker starting point than Chavez enjoyed. But the office of President provides many opportunities to grow that base through “decisive” steps that promote short term gain at the cost of long-term disaster. By that time, it’s too late.

  5. 5. Stop assuming it is the government’s responsibility to feed you clothes you, provide a place to live, control the prices of basic food, groups, transportation, gasoline…. etc. etc. etc. I could go on and on….

    • By the same token stop insisting that people are poor or destitute because they’re lazy and need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.

    • Should then corporations stop receiving tax credits, farmers subsidies for not planting crops? Why is it the government’s responsibility to make up for the poor business dealings of those in the private sector?

    • Who assumes that? I’ve never met anyone who assumes that. And most of the people I know are Californians. Could it be that you are making assumptions about people based on straw-men stereotypes? The government is there to protect us — from each other (from cheating, stealing, taking unfair advantage, etc.) and nationally (from other countries and terrorists.) There are some things that work better if we pool our money and do it together — like building roads or having fire departments. Do you disagree with that? The OP is right — we are all just Americans, with basically the same American Dream — we just have different ideas about how to achieve those dreams.

      • Well said, Kim. I wish we could have this conversation without all the needless personal attacks. Populism on one side breeds it on the other. Except as one beats out the other, the extremism becomes greater and greater, with each respective side vilifying the other ad nauseum, much like the article described. We are very close to hating each other’s differing political views that we are losing sight on our “superpower” status and out place as a world leader. We will soon hate each other enough that we will all be speaking Chinese.

    • This idea that liberals are all on welfare is baffling. I thought we were elitist coastal elites that don’t share the concerns of the common man? Which is it?

  6. This is all nice, fine and dandy assuming you are facing a populist. However, when what you are facing is a failed state composed of narcos, assorted thieves, military Cuban ass kissers and traitors to their country and hoi polloi heteroclite militias what do you actually do? Your recipe looks like a plaster on an artificial limb.

      • FT, all true, but U. S.real/effective institutional checks and balances should keep this from happening, plus, as mentioned, an electoral college mandate is not the same as a 3mm popular vote loss. As for Venezuela, is there still time for the shrinking “middle class” to traipse cerro arriba in the barrios to play dominoes/dance joropo/drink anis and pela ‘e perro to viscerally connect with Venezuela’s 90% miserably under-educated/ignorant poor?

        • “No vale, you no creo” that’s what we said. Trump is already undermining the institutions with the help of the Republican majority. Did you watch the Senate hearings?

      • I still stick to my guns. The only parallel between Chavez and Trump is their narcissist personality. In addition to this quality, Chavez was a resenting goon, spilled blood and while switching from a coup mongering horse to an electoral one still believed that power came from the barrel of a gun. The result is for all to see. One also forgets that Venezuelan institutions were weak to start with. In more than 200 years independence, the country had hardly 40 years of wishy washy democracy. Is that the case with the USA?

        • Comparing Trump to Chavez in any but the most superficial capacities is idiotic. If Trump is so hell-bent on destroying American institutions, then why will he appoint an originalist supreme court justice in the mold of Scalia? Charly’s got it right. Where is Vza’s supreme court now? Are they defending your constitution? Are they providing a critical check and balance. I don’t think so….

          • Scalia was not an originalist. He was a corrupt activist for Republican Party and Big Pharma wishes with rulings in direct violation of the words and stated original intents of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments; the Emoluments, Postal, and Progress Clauses; and he was a threat to democracy itself (i.e. he and 4 other activist justices elected W. Bush despite final electoral college counts showing Gore won that as well as the popular vote, and they redefined corporations as if they were human citizens that could buy more “rights” than real humans). May that traitor rot in hell.

        • Wow Fred. You must really be an asshole to call Scalia a traitor and ask that he “rot in hell.” That is particularly the case because your opinion of the man is obviously based on falsehoods and lies. Please explain how his rulings (and which ones) were “in direct violation of the words and stated original intents of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Amendments; the Emoluments, Postal and Progress Clauses”? In fact, I’ll send you $5 if you can cite ANY Supreme Court case in which Scalia even cited the Emoluments Clause! Before cursing a dead man and “educating” us with the alternative facts you cite, you should do some studying.

    • Bingo! I think you have a better understanding of the political situation in Venezuela than most Venezuelans.

      Some people in this forum fails to understand that USA is not Venezuela, and that Donald Trump is not Hugo Chavez.

      Donald Trump promises to bring jobs back to America and is already delivering on his promise, while Hugo Chavez did his best to kill jobs in Venezuela.

      • A few hours after his inauguration, and he is already bringing jobs back to America. WOW! What a great president!!!

        Do you really believe what you wrote?

        • We will never, ever see nuanced, reality-based responses from trump mules. If someone thinks he’s ‘already bringing back jobs,’ then serious dialogue is impossible.
          Sure, he’s meeting auto executives and braying about getting factory jobs back (and many of those “jobs” are now automated: being handled by ROBOTS). But sadly for the trump supporters, the lions’ share of 21st century jobs are in the tech sector, and hence are international/multinational–jobs held by the bearded urbanite with the starbucks cup and horn-rimmed glasses..
          So: dismantling trade deals and relations with other nations, as mentioned above, he is empowering China and will be disastrous for the American economy overall. If he remains in office for more than a few months, we are really in bad shape and follow a different route to the same destination now occupied by our Venezuelan sisters & brothers.

  7. We don’t have to accept Populism in the first place and dismiss it as just the nature of Democracy, we don’t have to be patient and do all kinds of elaborate strategies to “culture jam it” We don’t have to fight the fake news, in the hopes that it goes away. It would never go away as long as we don’t change the root of the problem.

    So here is this radical idea.
    What about if maybe, just maybe there is something seriously wrong about the Electoral system that empowers ignorance, tribalism giving these Populist legitimacy to power as history keeps telling us, again and again?

    The fact is, and I am sorry but would have to grab peoples by their heads and smash them against a wall repeating this so they finally get the point.

    THE AVERAGE VOTING CITIZEN DON’T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT POLITICS, ECONOMICS, SOCIAL ISSUES, ETC NEITHER THEY KNOW WELL THE POLITICIANS THEY ARE VOTING FOR. AS A NATURAL CONSEQUENCE WE HAVE DISASTROUS RESULTS LIKE THIS.

    Again….

    THE AVERAGE VOTING CITIZEN DON’T HAVE A CLUE ABOUT POLITICS, ECONOMICS, SOCIAL ISSUES, ETC NEITHER THEY KNOW WELL THE POLITICIANS THEY ARE VOTING FOR. AS A NATURAL CONSEQUENCE WE HAVE DISASTROUS RESULTS LIKE THIS.

    Is the GIGO principle used in computer science.
    GARBAGE IN GARBAGE OUT

    The quality of output is determined by the quality of the input.

  8. Venezuelan Populism is the creature of Chavez who planted the seeds of his own mangled megalomaniacal personality into the Political movement he founded ……Populism can come in many guises , they share in common a visceral satisfaction in professing morally embellished albeit vitriolic passions against a rethorically satanized enemy. They see life as a conflict between themselves and others which they must always win by humiliating and hurting those they see as their enemies

    The malignant megalomaniacal personality disorder which afflicted Chavez is not identical to that which afflicts Mr Trumps personality…….. coming from highly contrasting backgrounds they resulted in different men sharing some common character traits ….

    I have a relative ,a psychiatrist, who had experience treating people with malignant narcicistic disorders like Chavez , he explained to me that they were almost impossible to treat because they were constantly playing a game against other people , if they opposed him they were his enemies who deserved to be despised and hated for not recognizing his superiority as a human being and if they went along and tried to appease his abuses then they were weaklings which should be despised for not opposing him …..in short these malignant narcicists created a life game they played against all those around them where the dice where loaded and they always came out on top……!!

    • Venezuelan populism pre-dates Chavez, is a function of a poor/needy/under-educated/ignorant population, especially one that has traditionally been ruled by a “strong man” (military/hacendado/Spanish noble/etc.).

        • Populism is as old as Rome , remember how the emperors made themselves popular by distributing free bread and staging gladiatorial circus shows to the delight of the roman populace , even before that a tribal chief might attach the loyalty of the warriors in his tribe by leading them on plundering expeditions ….populism is as old as the hills . In US political life the practice of populism begun with General Andrew Jackson , who preached that any one could do a govt job so they should be distributed among the most loyal of his followers as reward for their loyalty , the begining of a long US political tradition of patronage and cronyism (the source of much corruption) which lasted into the early XX century and beyond . US political theorist and historian Francis Fukuyama has written some fine texts on the subject ……!!

          But the populism that Chavez introduced in Venezuela was different because it went beyond the reach of ordinary traditional populism and into the instilling of stirring hatreds and frenzied sectarian passions in his many followers against anyone representing the values of the liberal capitalist West …..while.giving vent to his agonal megalomaniacal narcicism which took proud delight in destroying and humiliating his chosen enemies and their lives,and thereby the very fabric of Venezuelan institutional life !!

          The populism of patronage and the populism of rethoricaly hyped up hatred can exist apart but they can also compine to make a really toxic form of Populism!!

          Chavez populism combines traditional populism with the megalomania of the political gangster and bully ….!!

  9. Comparing Trump to Chavez or the USA to Venezuela is absurd. Trump is a fervent Capitalist, who believes in the US constitution, free enterprise. Trump will abide by the Democratic rules of the USA, and if not re-elected in 4 years he’ll be outta there. Chavez was just a Liar, a disguised leftist dictator, and a corrupt Thief. There only thing the 2 share is a large Ego, and some charisma.

    The USA has a solid system, true separation of powers, congress rules. A very long tradition of checks&balances dating back to the Founding Fathers 2 centuries ago. Venezuela is and has always been an unruly mess, full of dictators, plagued by corruption, prime land for a beast like Chavez to emerge. In the USA the first day Trump tries to cross the line, break a single nuance of the Constitution he would be Eaten Alive by the people, the media, the congress, the Democrats and his own party. He’d be impeached in no time.

    All politicians are “Populist”, they tend to say what people want to hear. That’s how they rise, and get elected. Some talk more crap than others, or lie more than others, demagogues or impractical dreamers. But no, Trump is very different from Chavez, and the USA totally different from Venezuela.

    • “Trump will abide by the Democratic rules of the USA”
      Sorry, but I can tell you don’t know much about DT.
      Trump doesn’t play by the established rules, in fact that is his trademark.
      He is infamous for inflating the number of floors of his Trump tower in order to sell them. How more fucked up you need?
      If there is a constant theme about his campaign has been to break all the rules.
      So what makes you think he would let himself be submitted by constitutional rules. lol
      The not abiding the rules would be his undoing as President as many experts on DT are predicting an impeachment before the end of his presidential term.

      • Dude, this is the USA, there’s a Congress that rules, separation of powers, solid democracy, have you lived here for 25/200 years? It ain’t Venezuela. Wake up.

        • Correct, that is why he would be impeached or just quit out of frustration that he can’t command as in his own business.
          I am still open minded and he should be judged on his future achievements or failures.
          I am actually rooting for his success despite his despicable personality. But can’t help but be pessimistic about his capabilities for the job.

          • Hopeful but not optimistic, right? Agree, with Eugenio, if he crosses that line on the constitutional rules, he will be impeached.

          • Lou, he has a congressional majority, House and Senate – he can ask them to CHANGE the Constitution through Amendments. I am NOT rooting for his success as such success would be America’s failure. I’m not just pessimistic about his capabilities, I’m scared to death of his immaturity and ability to strike out like a child, but with dangerous ‘grown up toys’…

        • You are right the US is not Venezuela, the US have 1st or second largest nuclear arsenal. That makes him extremely dangerous as he had already mention they should be put these nukes in use if necessary. He had already on day 4th undermined some of those institutions and some traditions like releasing his taxes. This is not a process that will happen over night as it did not happen over night in Venezuela, and there are many contracts. However, the same symptoms. Common traits with Chavez are: Ego maniac, arrogant, despot, liar, divisive, sociopath, immature, vindictive, resentful, manipulative, self righteous, narcissist, savior complex… I could go on. Chavez fucked up a small nation in South America. Trump could potentially destroy the world.

    • Several corrections are needed: Venenzuela was the most stable and fastest growing economy in South America, our last dictator was a facist in the 50s, and we also had division of powers which was very similar to that of the US. I agree they are not exactly the same but unfortunately Chavez and Trump are very similar in many characteristics: they both are/were woefully unprepared, fed us with alternative realities and made up stories the Populus believes (birther anyone??). You think your institutions are strong and they are, but they can be weakened and they will. Look was he is already doing to the media who does not agree with him including the most balanced of all like the WSJ. Wait and see Eugenio. I hope to be wrong!

    • Trump has been in persistent violation of the emoluments clause from the moment he was sworn in. He intends to prohibit Muslim immigration and register Muslims already here, a clear violation of freedom of religion. He hopes to expand libel laws to go after press he doesn’t like.

      He’ll be impeached if Republicans decide they don’t like some of his plans (e.g if he gets in the way of repealing Obamacare without a replacement) or if they feel his demeanor has become a political liability (e.g he goes on a 3am Twitter rant against Reince Preibus). But only for those reasons; the Constitution isn’t self-enforcing.

    • Trump is a fervent Capitalist, who believes in the US constitution, free enterprise. Trump will abide by the Democratic rules of the USA, …

      He never did but thankfully it only took him a week to make you look like a fool.

  10. Andres,
    You have an interesting perspective. Five years ago if you had told me that I would have been supporting Trump, I would have fallen off of my chair because I was laughing so hard.
    Please allow me to explain why I voted for Trump in the primaries, donated to his campaign and voted for him in the Presidential election.
    I don’t argue that Trump is a narcissist. It is hard to find a politician that isn’t.
    I believe that Hillary Clinton would have done more damage to this country than Trump possibly could have. I live in New York State. Clinton was one of my Senators. She used her position as a Senator to build the foundation of her first Presidential run, not to help the people of NY. I was an ardent opponent of the US invasion of Iraq. Her support of the invasion was a political decision. I would rather have a politician that is principled and makes mistakes than a politician that makes decisions based on building political capital.
    Hillary Clinton led the State Department during a period of utter failure of US foreign policy. How much influence she had in formulating this policy, I do not know. The Obama administration’s foreign policy was reactionary rather than visionary. Clinton did an extremely poor job of executing what was probably an extremely poor foreign policy.
    The misdeeds of the Clinton foundation, the Clinton Global initiative, the Clinton campaign and the Clinton family are numerous. The Clinton family enriched themselves by over 200 million Dollars while Clinton was Secretary of State.
    I am glad that the Clinton reign of crime has been stopped.
    I believe that a large portion of Trump’s votes were an attempt by the American people to put an end to what they saw as an illegal crime syndicate that was masquerading as people concerned about the little guy. Does that sound familiar?
    I took the time to attend a Trump rally. Trump came off as much more controlled and reasonable than he had been presented in the press. my impression of him was that of a businessman that could not believe the people in power can be as stupid as they are. Taking the time to read Trump’s financial plan and his arguments against NAFTA, particularly how NAFTA does not compensate for the different tax structures between Mexico and the US will enlighten you way beyond the sound bites that you see on CNN.
    Multinational corporations have benefited greatly from the cheap labor costs of China and Mexico. The lax environmental laws, lack of worker’s rights and collusion with corrupt government officials did not make for fair trade. Ignoring all of these issues and basing free trade on tariffs alone is foolish. In essence the US has been in a trade war for years, it is just that we haven’t been fighting. Trump is the only candidate that addressed these challenges and people responded.
    Our Constitution is strong enough to address any problems should the Trump train run off the rails. There is no provision for emergency powers or martial law.
    Rather than the voters electing a criminal, many feel that they stopped a criminal from becoming President. Time will tell. I hope Trump has a successful Presidency. I did not vote for Obama, but I also wished him success. I want our country to be peaceful and prosperous and I think Trump was a better choice than Clinton.

    • John, let me ask you this. So Trumps lies left and right way way more than the average politician according to Politifacts and that doesn’t bother you?
      Do you think that the media overwhelmingly has reacted this way against him because is the plan of a conspiracy?
      Can you trust a person that hasn’t show his Taxes as is customary in presidential candidates?
      Doesn’t bother you that he has no experience in government or a related education?
      What about his Climate Conspiracies Theories?
      What about declaring in the media Obama not an USA citizen despite the facts?
      Why the world keep thinking that Donal Trump is successful in business, when he have not really been. He is only successful in promoting himself, just like Paris Hilton or Snoop Dogg.
      How any of his “business” have impacted in a positive way the world or are revolutionary? Casinos, Beauty Pageant, Real State Speculation, etc
      Did you ever took the time to watch the debates, where he never talked about anything of substance?
      What do you or the average citizen really knows about NAFTA, what drives you to conclude it has been a bad deal?

      Trump indeed raised interesting question during his campaign, I give you that, but his flaws are alarming to say the least.

      He is obviously and utterly unqualified for the job.

        • Gordon, can you attempt to debate civilly? His comments weren’t a lament for safe spaces. And the republicans are every bit the pearl-clutchers that the dems are on their issues, safe spaces are hardly a liberal-only defect.

        • Your juvenile attempts at political jabs amongst civil discourse, Gordon, is embarrassing – for you. I invite you to participate with greater respect for others and yourself.

      • Or to summarize, given his complete estrangement from facts, why should we believe the other things he supposedly said? He could have have begun with those plans, instead of calling Mexican immigrants rapists and whatnot. That’s reprehensible, beyond slanderous. Somebody is being played for a moron, and it it’s me, I won’t fall for the immorality implicit in Trump.

      • This is the problem non-supporters of Trump faced in trying to show how Trump was wrong for this country – it really wasn’t that Clinton was the best person for the job, it was that Trump was so blatantly WRONG to lead the US. He’s not sane, he can’t handle criticism, much less being told he’s simply WRONG on any given subject; he responds immediately with lashing out, calling everyone who disagrees a loser, “weak and sad” – when he’s not threatening law suits. He’s a CHILD used to having his way and his sway – with a pocket full of nuke-codes… great…
        I think this article understates the threat that Trump is, not only to the US but to the WORLD. All the above would be great reverse-psychology, if we had time to use it. I don’t think we do (please let me be wrong while we at least TRY…).

    • John, just abstracting away from the personal flaws of the character, the solutions that he is proposing are doomed to fail the same people that voted for him. Manufacturing jobs are not going to come back just because the differential in wages is too high because of the average living standards of say, Mexico and the US. The US has benefited a lot from the last 50 years of globalization and integration in value chains. It is the number 1 provider of services. For example, what if the rest of the world started charging a tax for every Facebook or Twitter user or advertiser to protect local social networks.

      I think his rationale is, America is the number 1 military power of the world and gets to make the rules of the game. Gets to put tariffs on cars produced elsewhere and have manufacturing jobs and coerce with its economic and military might other countries to cope with it. What many fear is that this behavior will back-fire, create less welfare, less security, and less ‘greatness’ for America and for the rest of the world.

    • Watch much Fox News? What you offer as facts is straight from the playbook of Fox News. The News part is, charitably, up for debate.

      • Yikes, my comment was meant to be a reply to John’s comment on his reasons for voting Trump (or rather not voting Hillary), not Armando’s.

    • I just going to address the point on trade here because I think you are misinformed, or then again only partially informed.

      Mexico produces more than 100 different species of organic corn. The Mexican diet relies on corn heavily. Because Nafta, and because the fact that the US government subsidies the corn industry (GMO by the way) it is cheaper to import corn from the US, and that is what they do, same with steel and many other items, so who is getting the benefit ?. Trade law are shaped and pushed by big corporate. Because they have the power to lobby as you know. Who gets the shaft ? the Mexican farmer, the consumer because they get an inferior product plus all the GMO crap etc. To campaign like Trump did an get away with saying the only super power is being taking for a ride on every trade deal it is ludicrous. Once again who takes the jobs over seas ? Big corporate because labor is cheaper. If Trump starts fucking around with these trade deals you are going to see an increase on prices because it cost more to produce it. Who is going to have to pay more money for products ? You and I.
      Sorry you can`t have it both ways. In other words, you can`t have cheap stuff + made in US and provide good jobs with good salaries and benefits. Did you know that it is cheaper to buy any Japanese product in the US than buying it in Japan ? I bet you did`t know that.

    • John, I share your thoughts on the Clintons but I could not bring myself to vote for Trump either. You at least back up your viewpoint with articulate facts, which is something we should all respect. I also did not vote for Obama but wished him well. Same goes for Trump. My fear is that his “promises” to the electorate were just a means to gain power and that he will have an entirely different agenda than what he stated on the campaign trail.

    • You were had. The Clinton Foundation is a charity that has saved millions of lives around the world. The Clintons don’t profit from it. They did not increase their wealth by 200 million dollars when HRC was Secretary of State. Just because you heard it or read it somewhere that doesn’t make it true. The Clintons were already very wealthy at that point. And why didn’t we hear about this stuff before the election season? It seems like all of the attacks on Hillary are predicated on the notion that people have taken it easy on her for a really long time. This is insane–nobody ever took it easy on Hillary Clinton.

      Then again, I don’t think the American people fully bought this line of attack. The voted against her because they fell for the fake email scandal. It would take forever to go down the list of all the things that the public got wrong about that–which is exactly why so many people fell for it. BTW, now that Obama is gone, and can’t “protect them,” you no longer have an explanation for why Hillary and Bill aren’t being indicted. So doesn’t that mean the GOP blatantly lied? What consequences should there be if HIllary isn’t prosecuted for something like Trump swore up and down she was supposed to be? Should he be asked not to run for re-election? Should Paul Ryan and Jason Chaffetz be asked to resign from Congress?

      I swear, this is what it looks like when nations are falling.

  11. Excellent tips. I have a couple of other practical suggestions, based on my (albeit more limited) experience with Chavismo:

    -get involved- don’t wait for it to implode on itself, and don’t leave the task of organizing and supporting opposition to the “marginal consumer” (i.e. idle wealthy people who always are involved in politics, and crazies)

    -support the press: buy a subscription, buy more, don’t free ride

    -put aside your petty differences: the way of the sociopath is division, division among his supporters, division among his opponents- stand up for the guy next to you, settle your minor differences between yourselves, because you will be him/her next

    -mock him if you like, but take his supporters seriously: if it helps, think of one (or more) you know and who has helped you in a time of need (sort of like your #2).

    The gringos need us. They do. They were there for us, one way or another. We’re adults now. We’ve seen this shit. Let’s be there for them.

    • Plus, resist giving the regime excuses to fit you into their narrative of persecution and victimhood. That probably fits under #2- show no contempt.

  12. When trump noisily but voluntarily leaves office in 4 or 8 years will all you vile leftists stop trying to pretend that the ruinous socialism you are enduring is actually more similar to something on the right than the thing you want?

    I hope there’s a really nice article on how the embedded forms of democracy and capitalism and individualism are anathema to socialist endeavors.

    Socialism turned your country into a smoking pile of garbage and your first thought is to attack republicans.

    • But I respect the Republican Presidents and candidates: Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, etc. etc. I don’t respect is the foulmouthed populist and his band of hateful crazies who are setting up to rape and gut the Republican Party and not necessarily in that order.

      • It is infuriating though isn’t it? Like watching someone trash a store and then the cops show up and arrest you.

        It is a common symptom of delusional leftists to displace the faults of socialist economies onto conservative or republican ideas.

        It’s like you watch Chavez slowly destroy an entire country with one idiotic socialist idea after another, and the brain dead left-wing starts saying, “omg just like the republicans!”

  13. Great article, you nailed it. all the kudos you voiced something I’ve been feeling for quite some time.
    will share it as much as possible.

  14. In a democracy all pols play the populist card , is stands on the narrative of the little guy who lives an ordinary life vs the mean rich guys with all the influence who take the lion’s cut of the pie….., but there are some largely innofensive forms of populism and there are other highly toxic destructive forms of populism , the first plays to peoples sense of discontent with what life has to offer ( its never enough) and goes hard for patronage and clientelism ( with a bit of cronyism thrown in ) , but the second one plays to their worst passions heating them to megalomaniacal and sectarian fervor and seeking not the improvement of society as an ideal but the erection of a structure of power which occupies all social spaces and destroys all existing institutions and social structures in the name of some lofty utopian apocalyptic ideal which of course destroys the society root and branch.

    They can both cause harm because the emphasis is on making people feel pleased with themselves and their leader even in a transitory fashion while misusing public resources in ways that prevents that societys full potential development ….responsibility is sacrificed on the altar of political convenience….

    The thing is that populism can evolve , can start as an innofensive kind of populism and gradually foster conditions that allow for the surge of a more radical destructive form of populism creating a totalitarian monster that grinds a country to the ground …….we in Venezuela started with the first kind of populism and ended up with the worst kind of populism because the first type of populism having failed in many of its objectives opened the way for megalomaniacal snake charmr Chavez to institute the most toxic type of radical populism …

    The US is not Venezuela , and of course Trump is not Chavez , he can do a lot of harm but there are much more mature and strong institutions standing in the way so there is a limit to the harm he can do even if tried…….Of course what happens in the US is important not just for the US but for the World so the scale of the harm he can do is in one dimension much worse that what could be done by Chavez because the latter could destroy Venezuela but he really couldn’t mess up the world the way a bad US govt can …..!!

  15. “The recipe is universal. Find a wound common to many, someone to blame for it and a good story to tell. Mix it all together. Tell the wounded you know how they feel. That you found the bad guys. Label them: the minorities, the politicians, the businessmen. Cartoon them. As vermin, evil masterminds, flavourless hipsters, you name it. Then paint yourself as the saviour. Capture their imagination. Forget about policies and plans, just enrapture them with a good story. One that starts in anger and ends in vengeance. A vengeance they can participate in.”

    This describes almost every politician that has ever existed. It certainly could describe Clinton, Obama, Sander or Capriles.

    Trump supporters were labelled as “irredeemable”, “deplorables”, racists, anti-Semites, anti-democrats, treasonous tools of evil Russia, etc. They were openly beaten in the streets by thugs. If you didn’t pay attention to the election, why have such a firm opinion on the matter?

    Trump does have different and sensible policies, even if you are not aware of them. For example, telling the Euros we are leaving NATO is a no brainer, even if we don’t want to leave NATO. This kind of anti-status quo thinking is not welcomed by the power elites nor by the people who get their “news” from their propaganda outlets but that doesn’t mean it is not viable policy.

    I don’t remember the media criticizing the naive foreign policy ideas that Obama espoused while campaigning:

    – open dialogue with North Korea, again (complete failure)
    – extend hand of friendship to Iran (complete failure)
    – reset relations with Russia (complete failure)
    – only work on international crisis through the UN (complete failure)
    – apologize to the Muslim world so that they will like and respect us (complete failure)
    – close Guantanamo Bay prison camp (complete failure)
    – quickly remove troops from Iraq and Afghanistan (complete failure)

    Any idiot could have seen his world view was infantile, but no one got too upset over it. Now Trump is questioning the status quo and it’s a huge problem.

    Finally, why is the world looking at the USA with trepidation? Is it based on logic and reason or an emotional attachment to big government, leftist policies? Let’s take Venezuela for example. What was so good about Obama, with regards to Venezuela? Did Obama help you? Can Trump be that much worse? Think about this logically rather than emotionally. Your instincts are of a Latin American leftist, which is why you are afraid of a Trump administration. Logically, I see no reason for you to fear a Trump administration. Obama did nothing for you even when it would have cost him little to nothing.

    • Problem is, Trump insisted on hateful, divisive rhetoric. Just like Huguito. Hasn’t dropped it yet, and like Huguito, only death would make him drop the Twitter acount.

    • The deplorables comment wasn’t the most politic thing Hillary Clinton has ever said. But have you ever read the full context of her remarks? They might surprise you:

      “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables…But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

  16. Venezuelans lecturing Americans on Trump must be one of the most depressing things in the world. And they have the ‘pretension’ of ‘opening American people’s eyes’, because they ‘suffered the with same thing’, with the so-called ‘populism’, and at the same time they still support the likes of Capriles and Chuo Torrealba, populists that say that the price controls are necessary, it’s tragicomic, really.

    Now I understand why Juan Nagel left.

    • Venezuelans lecturing Americans on Trump must be one of the most depressing things in the world.
      Indeed. Quico went to Reed, a very elite school, and his rants against Trump are rather typical of the place. [A high school classmate of mine teaches at Reed.]

      However, bear in mind that about half the US electorate would agree with the CC take on Trump. But that also means that CC is thumbing its nose at half the US electorate, which is not a wise thing to do if one wants support from Gringos. Wouldn’t neutrality re US politics be a better choice?

      Quico had a column in the WaPo wondering whether Trump is like Chavez or is Trump like Maduro?[After all, running a canteen, and building skyscrapers, are similar skills. 🙂 ] The WaPo had a recent article pointing out that Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for
      Secretary of State, had experience with Chavez and Maduro while he ran EXXON. Rex Tillerson got burned in Venezuela. Then he got revenge. After Chavez nationalized EXXON’s Venezuelan assets, EXXON made a deal with Guyana, and made a big discovery offshore Guyana in territory that Venezuela claims. I wonder how those informing us that Trump is a populist just like Chavez will interpret the actions of the prospective Secretary of State in getting quiet revenge against Chavez and Maduro.

      Soon after Fidel Castro’s death, Quico had a column where he stated that Castro’s legacy in Latin America was overwhelmingly negative. No disagreement from me. It is of interest that Bernie Sanders has been a fanboy of Fidel for a half century- not to mention the Sandinistas. Recall Sanders saying that Sandinista food lines were a good thing- which would make the price controls causing those lines a good thing also. Know of any other country where price controls have led to food lines? Do you, like Bernie, consider food lines to be a good thing? Just sayin’.

      One would think that Quico, having a justified abhorrence of Castro, would approve of those pointing out Bernie Sanders’s support of such despots and the failed policies of such despots. But no: Quico dixit: “To tar Bernie supporters with the ills of the Chavez era is to show the kind of slackjawed rightwing simplemindedness that brought us…well, that brought us candidate Trump.” Bernie likes Fidel and the Sandinistas, who are Chavista allies. No connection there, right? Oh well. CC link to my replies to Quico’s “slackjawed” comment.

      Now I understand why Juan Nagel left.>/b>
      Is there a link which further explains Juan Nagel’s exit?

      CC people will write what they will.

      Ciao from a slackjawed simpleminded deplorable. Ironically, my reading Del Buen Salvaje al Buen Revolucionario, which I purchased in Anaco, was a big influence in my changing from a prog to a slackjawed simpleminded deplorable.

      • “Quico went to Reed, a very elite school, and his rants against Trump are rather typical of the place. [A high school classmate of mine teaches at Reed.]”

        I remember you saying that you used to help at your family’s restaurant by working as a cashier when a kid, and I was at the industrial kitchen of my family’s company too when a teenager. Helping to do the food, though. I guess that’s what makes us so different from Quico.

        When I arrived at college, I was already a ‘deplorable’, having had my mind shaped by three influences: my father (engineer), my mother (businesswoman), grandfather (European refugee, survived WW2). I mean, someone like Quico probably never had such influences, and by arriving ‘raw’ at University, he could be easily influenced by his commie professors.

        I believe in you when you say that one book changed your mind, but just the fact that you bought that book shows that you were already inclined to change your mind in the first place. And by working at your family’s company when a kid and seeing first-hand the difficulties of creating jobs, paying taxes and dealing with all the bureaucracy that all that entitles, it’s extremely hard to see the government as your saviour, it’s pretty much the opposite. We start hating it.

        Regarding Nagel’s unfortunate absence, although I don’t have the links anymore, I accessed his twitter at the time he left, and I remember seeing him explaining his followers that he was leaving because he couldn’t accept Caracas Chronicles comparing Trump to Chavez so often, and how he thought that that comparison was absurd.

        Have a nice Sunday, BT.

        • While I had worked at family-owned restaurants in high school and college as cashier and dishwasher, the restaurant owners weren’t my relatives. My parents were STEM professionals w graduate degrees. My father rehabbed every room in the old farmhouse I grew up in, including building cabinets and laying cement for a second story floor, so I learned firsthand that skilled craftsmen who worked with both their hands and minds merited respect as much as those who worked only with their minds.

          Seeing the owners of those restaurants put in 100 hour work weeks, without becoming screaming zombies, showed me they merited a lot of respect.

          Thanks for the update on Juan Nagel.

    • Oh, the temerity of us Venezuelans. We must sit idly by because the snowflakes might be offended. We must only speak up if our views match theirs. Do you need a safe space, Marc?

      • And the same applies to Boludo Tejano. Let’s us not lecture Americans, but of course they are free to lecture us. Gee…

        Oh, and by the way, I am also an American citizen.

        • Please note I suggested that neutrality might be a better stance, as “thumbing its nose at half the US electorate… is not a wise thing to do if one wants support from Gringos.” I also pointed out that half the US electorate would agree with CC and Quico.

          Refer to the point I made about Del Buen Salvaje al Buen Revolucionario.

          Feel free to refute the points I made about Quico.

          Not as simple as you make it out to be, pana.

  17. Hi Andrés, I like your post and I would like to print it and share it at tomorrow NYC Women’s March with your permission. Thanks!

  18. Since Genral Andrew Jackson introduced populism for the first time in US politics almost all govts in the US have included a populist element because pols need to get elected to their offices and populism helps them do that , there are however different forms of populism , some being more destructive and irresponsable than others , and good governance can tolerate a bit of populism because thats the way democratic politics work in most of the world . You have to have a model type of citizen to avoid the scourge of populism altogether but to transform populism of any kind or degree in and by it self into a boogie man automatically destroying the body politic everywhere it appears is a bit of an exageration ….!!

    The self righteous ideological puritans are sometimes the worse enemies of decent governance because they think that the world can be shaped to emulate to perfection their abstract mental models and insist on their ideologicaly pristine impractical outlandish programmes that end up by ruining all decent efforts !!

    If you demand absolute perfection and purity in the realm of politics , then you are inclined to what the ancients called hubris and moderns call utopian thinking ……..which is an invitation to disaster !!

  19. The problem with Venezuela’s opposition leadership is not that they “threw hissy fits” and thus fucked themselves in the chavista caricatures, their problem has been since day one that they tried to be more populist than the pus-stuffed zombie, and the worst part is, that they never, EVER attacked him in ANY way, always treating him as if he was some sort of sacred deity that no one could never have the right to gainsay or anything, and you know that.

    The only ones who dared to directly confront shiabbe and are paying the consequences now are MCM and Ledezma.

  20. Sr. Rondon shows that how an insightful essay, drawn from deep poetical can classical humanistic sources, is certain to liven the conversation. The problem, in a word, is polarization.

  21. Is there any piece of evidence that supports the claim that the opposition’s discursive change had an impact upon recent electoral results? I mean, they could be perfectly attributable to the economic catastrophe that has occurred since 2012, combined with the dissapearence of the Caudillo.

    Even if you compare the results from 2006-2012, it’s not clear-cut that the opposition’s discourse had something to do with them. When Manuel Rosales lost against Chavez, the oil bonanza was at its peak. Then came the 2007 constitutional referendum, which is not clearly comparable to presidential or regional elections, and whose results were overturned by the 2009 ammendment. Afterwards, the opposition showed some electoral growth in 2008 and 2010, for the local and parliamentary elections. But when the Caudillo’s leadership was at stake, he won swiftly against Capriles – even after 13 years in power.

    It would be nice to have some kind of natural-experiment, difference in difference sort-of study to clear up the presumed causality of a “warmer” opposition’s discourse upon electoral growth. But I don’t know if someone has actually done something similar.

    To me, it’s a plausible yet still unsupported claim

    • Part of the thing that’s kept chavismo in power has been the fact that the opposition’s discourse has never seek to confront any of chavismo’s ideas, instead on focusing of trying to be a “better managed chavismo”

  22. If you are competing against someone who is offering a group of children free candy and no homework and you in contrast offer replacing candy for spinach and more homework , you cant expect those children to favour you over your rivals ……it would be nuts to do so , the first order of the day is not to get yourself rejected because if you do you have no chance of teaching children that spinach and more homework is good for them , adopting a populist discourse maybe wont get you extra votes but it does help you not to lose votes you would otherwise lose……!!

    There are two vices in populism , one that it promotes a misuse of resources which although likely to make the masses feel happy short term are irresponsible in that they produce waste and destroy the economy , the second vice is not typical of all populism , only of the most toxic form of populism which is to foster a climate of social hatred of the masses against the better off in order to gain the support of the latter and install yourself in power for perpetuity ….

    During the fourth republic populism incurred in the first vice but it sponsored a vision that all classes should unite in the pursuit of the building of a better country , come Chavez populism became toxic and spnsored class hatred and division and the state as taking control over many things that had remained private during the fourth republic…..

    The first form of populism has to be dismantled with great care so as not to allow demagogues to promote the second more toxic populism among the masses of voters…….people have to be WEANED away from populism , not forced to go cold turkey if they are ultimately to be persuaded to abandon populism in all its forms ……!!

  23. Here is something I don’t understand. CC is informing us that Trump=populist and Chavez= populist. Therefore, Trump~ Chavez.. One aspect of Chavismo is violence against its opponents: motorizados et al. Sandinistas in the 1980s also had their turbas divinas directed against their opponents, [Which was similar to the nicolasa that the Somozas directed against their opponents.] Yet in the US, most of the violence has been directed against Trump supporters, not against Trump opponents.
    Please explain.

    • For example: Dem senator: Violent inauguration protesters ‘disgusting’.
      Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says she is appalled by protesters responding destructively to President Trump’s inauguration Friday.

      McCaskill tweeted shortly after Washington, D.C., police announced that they had arrested “numerous” people for destructively protesting against Trump.

      “Nothing is more un-American than protesters who are not peaceful – disgusting,” tweeted McCaskill, who backed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Trump.

      “I understand the angst out there today for all of you throwing stuff at me,” she added. “Sorry, but I believe peaceful protest is always the right way.”……
      Authorities told The Associated Press that those arrested were charged with rioting following incidents involving a group of about 100 people.

      The demonstrators damaged vehicles, destroyed property and set small fires while armed with crowbars and hammers, officials added.

      Please explain to this slackjawed simpleminded deplorable why violence is on the part of those against a populist leader,

    • I have seen evidence of violence in both ways.

      One very, very crucial thing about Trump is that he actively encouraged violence at his rallies. He told his supporters to punch a specific protester at an event, and waxed nostalgic for the days when protesters would be carried out “on a stretcher, folks.” These aren’t isolated things. The only time he has expressed a neutral-positive view of people protesting him is tweets that were clearly written by staffers.

      Do I foresee violent suppression in the future? Not sure. The police behaved very admirably with regard to the Women’s March, so I’m cautiously hopeful.

  24. Populism is a form of political discourse and a form of governance , as a political discourse it depicts society as engaged in a melodramatic struggle between a salvific magnificent heroic group of valiant individual embodying the interests and noble aspirations of the mass of poor goody goody unjustly abused people ( a sentimental political construct) and a small group or class of powerful wicked and corrupt elites that exploit them , where the People are enticed to profess highly pugnacious hatreds and rages against that elite which members or purported allies are demonized and dehumanized and blamed for malicious causing all the ills of the world or for other people who are stigmatized as freeloaders and criminals by reason of their origins or creed (anti semitism , xenophobia) . This narrative is of course maniquean reductionistic , histrionically deformed and delusional but it plays on peoples worse passions to movilize them in support of the usually narcicistic political ambitions of those salvific heroes…

    Populism as a mode of governance and at its most basic is bent on sacrificing the demands of responsible government to favour those policies which bring normally very short term benefits to the mass of those members of the voting population whose support the leader needs to remain in power for as long as it can. These benefits come distributed in three tiers , benefits to those who form part of the heroic salvific group and their cronies (graft , bribes, overpriced purchase of goods etc), to the mass of their followers ( patronage and clientelism in giving them govt jobs or special social benefits) and to the general mass of the population to keep them happy or at least calm (gasoline , currency and other subsidies, irrationally munificent labour or social laws ,) .

    Sometimes however a populist political discourse results in a form of governance which turns vitriolic , destructive , uber belligerent, authoritarian , which seeks thru hook and crook to destroy the very basis of a free society so that the salvific heroes can take total control of all social spaces to put them at the service of some megalomaniacal delusion with effects which can be catastrophic to the society concerned ,!!

    We in Venezuela abandoned the pure populist discourse during the 4th republic and replaced it with the idea that we were a multiclass society in which everyone was invited to the party while applying a populist more of governance with lots of clientelism , patronage and subsidies and price controls .

    With Chavez advent however that bland innefficient form of populism was replaced by the more vitriolic belligerent destructive kind of populism , one which has brought Venezuela to the catastrophe and collapse we see today.

    When Trump is mentioned in the commentary above , what is underscored is that his political discourse is that which we define as populist in the 1st paragraph (which resembles Chavez and is also inspired by a rampant narcicism) but not that his mode of governance will resemble Chavez highly destructive form of populist governance , because the basic ideas that are at the background of Mr Trumps mind are more attuned to those which have prevailed in the US traditionally and because there are important institutional bulkwarks preventing him from even trying to bring the US to the kind of governance which Chavez instituted in Venezuela …!!

    • The institutions in Venezuela were so ridiculously weak, that they allowed Chávez to openly instigate crime in his takeover, and later they conceded his asspull of making the constituyente, which was NOWHERE in the 61 constitution and was illegal as murder.

      You know which country didn’t have such weak institutions? Honduras, the minute Zelaya tried to change the laws that would allow him to be reelected forever, he was kicked out of the effin’ country.

      Again, ask yourself this: Will Trump be able to leave criminals to do as they please and destroy the production means of the whole USA AND the value of its currency just to secure political power? Because those three things are what chavismo did in Venezuela and the reasons the country is in ruins right now.

  25. These are wise words to heed for democrats in Turkey, too. Thank you. I have been trying to do the same, i.e. empathize, find and show common ground, etc.. through my work, as much as I can. However, in cases like ours, when there is a lot of brainwashing and aggressive, low-grade behavior that’s prevalent among the conservative masses, one has to protect oneself from literal, physical-verbal abuse at times. One needs steel nerves, and needs to say it like it is, to uphold basic principles of truth and logic. In the Turkish parliament this week, female MPs from opposition parties were assaulted physically by female MPs from the ruling party, on command of the male MPs, but zealously. It was shameful, awful. A balance of good will and firm stance is necessary, IMHO. One thing is for sure, it is indeed a tough, tough road ahead.

  26. Seven HELLS, I WISH the Cheeto were Chavez!

    Chavez raised living standards by more than 800%, he ensured housing, healthcare, and education for everyone, he doubled the number of university graduates, his administration provided low cost heating oil for poor US AMERICANS, he sent doctors after Katrina, and he was voted in FOUR TIMES by huge majorities– larger than any seen in the US in 100 years– in the “fairest elections in the world”.

    Venezuela’s recent economic collapse is a direct result of US interference.

    So, as Malcolm said long ago, I guess once again the chickens have come home to roost.

  27. Thank you, Andrés. You have put what I have been sensing for a long time down eloquently in words.

    While every country’s political problems are complex and vary in cause and effect there are many similar psychological reasons for the behavior of each country’s citizenry. In the U.S. we have been in an increasingly divisive political and class war for years. Obviously, the back and forth screaming, posturing, and acrimonious debating is not working.

    I think the only way to a better future is to try and get more citizens to see the common goals we share. To show the benefit of working together against the unrelenting greed and callousness of the powerful few. Indeed, it is going to be a rough road. But I believe a road we must travel.

    • “…increasingly divisive political and class war for years. Obviously, the back and forth screaming, posturing, and acrimonious debating is not working.”

      Seems to me this is a result of gerrymandering, which has brought the most extreme elements of each party to nomination on a local/state level. i.e. Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren some who seem unwilling to and have made negotiate/compromise unacceptable. Along with the cable tv/radio phenomenon of news as sport/self-enrichment, the country seems to be sliding in the wrong direction.

      • The problem with your comment is that the examples you chose to prove your point- Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren -are US Senators, who are elected statewide. Gerrymandering is not involved in the statewide election and nomination for US Senators.

        While gerrymandering may well increase extremism, by carving out safe districts where the district’s representative does not have to appeal to both sides, that is an argument regarding the selection of US Representatives, NOT US Senators.

  28. Food for thought, but I’m skeptical about the efficacy of a technique that begins by asking one to be something other than what they are.

    • Populism became bad when as a result of its inherent stupidity it makes people to search for scraps in the garbage to avoid starving to death.

  29. Thank you for this article.

    For steps 1 and 2, I think I have some idea what to do (I am trying to not act like the enemy, to not show contempt, to be constructive rather than critical), and my understanding is that it is the Republicans’ plan is to impeach Trump (since they’d be much happier with Pence), so for step 3, I just need to stand back and let them do it.

    That leaves step 4. I would like to address “the wounds of those that brought Trump to power,” but how? I don’t think that Trump’s solutions to our nation’s problems will heal those wounds.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and posting this.

    What you wrote about reaching out to the Trump supporters and showing you have common ground with them is crucial. One of the most annoying things about the election (other than the loss) was the seemingly endless amount of pundits and DNC leadership saying the loss was because the so called east coast latte drinking liberal had cocooned themselves into a bubble and did not understand our more conservative brethren.

    There’s no doubt that a portion of those supporting Clinton and/or liberal/progressive ideals come from an insular existence where they have never done physical labor or interacted with the blue collar world in any significant way. I wouldn’t put it past 35% though. Most of us who are liberal/progressive have some connection to the blue collar/rural world. Maybe our parents worked blue collar jobs and pushed us to do better than them, maybe we worked blue collar jobs for part of our lives, or we just grew up around people who did. Whatever the back story, there are a lot more of us with a foot in the blue collar world than vice versa.

    Certainly there are progressives living in a bubble, ignorant or indifferent to the difficulties of daily life for rust belt families and others. But for many of us, we know what its like, I can remember months of my dad, construction worker, being unemployed waiting for the next call from the union, it was just part of growing up. It is far easier for us to step into their bubble and share common ground than it is for them to step into ours. If the country is going to be saved, that’s the point where you start from.

  31. I believe the writer occasionally writes in he first person but from the opposite point of view. This is a frequently used rhetorical device, it might be called “parody” or “sarcasm,” but it only works well if it’s entirely clear that the statement is made as a parody. If this isn’t clear, as it frequently is not in this piece, then the message becomes confused and very difficult to follow. In every section, because I know the technique is in use, and especially in this piece for me, as an American reader of an Venezuelan author, I struggle to determine which voice is in use. I repeatedly wonder: “Is this section intended as a direct argument or should I understand it as a negative example?” Parody works better in an audible speech because the change in inflection will manage the change in intended sense. In text, it needs to be made much more obvious.

  32. Wow. Just…wow. You nailed it, and I UNDERSTAND THIS. It’s a tall order, but one that makes sense. Thank you for the healthy ammunition needed to try and effect change for the positive. To be viewed as a compatriot, even if it is a tall order. It’s the only way to undermine what could potentially devastate our country, too.

  33. I’m interested in these perspectives. I recognize that many of our approaches seem doomed to fail or make things worse. I’m just not sure if the conclusions here are correct for the U.S. (or if they are, exactly how to follow the prescription on a mass scale).

    The few conversations I’ve had with Trump supporters have not been acrimonious, and have not branded me as the enemy. They were civil, because they took place across a vast divide of facts—my side, based on facts that could be verified on this planet, their side, based on facts that seemed the product of some planet in another dimension. And the enemies weren’t the liberal elite; they were immigrants and Hillary Clinton.

    This article seems spot-on as far as what won’t work … but I’m still looking for suggestions on what will.

  34. Andres, I really appreciate your incisive prescription for us resistors of Trump. I needed to hear what you had to say and it makes total political sense to me. I do object to your use of the term populism as a pejorative. Populism is fundamental to stable democracy. I realize that the power structure of societies (religious, political, economic, and academic) almost always view it this way, but that is because populism is or can be a threat to their positions and wealth. The people not only must be heard, they must perceive that they have been heard, otherwise we get, what I believe is a better term, demogogy.

    Thanks

  35. Well said and true. As soon as my empathy for EVERYONE on EARTH was recognized, things became more positive and easier to discuss. I managed to get 2 people of conservative bend to admit underprivileged children matter and Sesame Street has a place with taxpayer dollars. Let’s move forward understanding we are all traveling on EARTH together, and our lives are inextricably linked; we must hold out a hand to those who may or have fallen and work TOGETHER as a GLOBAL SOCIETY!

  36. I do not agree with any of this, specially since this is the same strategy that led to our ruin. Instead, my advise would be: understand that this is only a matter of brute force, of power in the most strict and basic sense. Whoever controls the media, the money, and the weapons, controls the vote. So what you should do is not to hesitate to do anything to overpower him, before he manages to turn the system around and he can overpower you. We failed (venezuelans) not because we were not charismatic enough, or because we didn’ t visit the barrios enough, but rather because we didn’ t have what it takes to kill chavez when we had the chance, or to take control of the military by force when we had the change. It sounds terrible, but that’ s the truth. We have to understand how demacracy works It is not only about the votes or about charisma. It is about power. I don’ t know if Trump is really a fascist, he certainly seems like one, but I am not sure. But the thing is: if you let him take control of the true elements of power, he will crush you, because this is not about the people, but only about pieces that, if you control them all, you don’ t have to worry about anything else. Our failure to understand this idea, the idea of “suprastructure”, is what led to our collapse as a nation. Chavez changed the suprastructure in his favor. It was never about his charisma or about his conexion with the people. It was simply that he understood politics better. So now we have an opposition that, trapped in this new suprastructure, can’ t change anything, because the only true way to do it is by emulating Chavez`s strategy, not his words.

  37. Not doing any of that. We don’t have that luxury of time.

    Hugo Chávez, in full Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (born July 28, 1954, Sabaneta, Barinas, Venezuela—died March 5, 2013, Caracas), Venezuelan politician who was president of Venezuela (1999–2013).

    Got any other ideas?

  38. Interesting article. Could someone (or several people) suggest a few books/articles I could read covering the history mentioned in this?

    • Rory Carroll’s “Commandante” is one of the best English language introductions to Hugo Chavez and his chaotic reign that you will find, and you will find the man described there, and his methods, very familiar.

      • For another good introduction, check out Frontline’s “The Hugo Chavez Show” on PBS.org.

        “He obeys none of the ground rules of what is expected of a head of state, or a public official on television…” Jon Lee Anderson

  39. this article is very good. I am wondering if you can edit it to get the message out (or write a sequel?) where the text highlighted is about:

    Populism can only survive amid polarization.
    Your organizing principle is simple: don’t feed polarization, disarm it.

    those are the first lines after the titles of bullets 1 and 2, I think those should be the titles for bullets 1 and 2.

    Thanks for the text! I ll pass it to my community …

  40. What i see here in all these coments ,is one central theme.. divide!

    For most(not all) of my three score years and ten its been a divided society. That cannot and will not work, someone has to give way, now is a chance, i think trump is poor in vocally but i think in his heart he sees a possibility.
    My thoughts are even simpler, stop all the over breeding and put a pause on Islam. And back this team through thick and thin

  41. This article has calmed me down quite a bit. I’m grateful for that. It’s valuable to have this advice from someone who has grown up with the issue of a populist, authoritarian leader very much like Trump. Trump’s loathsome qualities are the kind that most folks were brought up to avoid yet somehow he’s been awarded the world’s top position. For so many, it seems we’ve entered the Twilight Zone where manners, truth, empathy, decency, modesty are no longer valued. Saturday’s March also helped calm nerves knowing how many folks out there oppose him. Thanks to this excellently written article I have a new understanding about the tribal quality of Trump’s fans and how their focus is not on the message but the messenger. Polarization demands an enemy and we are it. Refusing to feed polarization is a revolutionary idea that I’ll remember when my instincts are to throw a hissy-fit when confronted with blatant lies from our President. The article speaks to how leaders can reach out to opposing tribes but I’d like to know what the author recommends for the average citizen who opposes Trump. The March was great and peaceful but the response to it was, again, to not focus on the message but to put down the millions of messengers.

    • I feel the same RDE. This article reminds me that when we need to resolve a conflict, we might need to give up trying to prove that we are right. This is especially disgusting regarding Trump because it basically means NOT defending equal rights and compassion for everyone. If we want to win the long game, we have to refuse to rise to the race baiting and other unacceptable behavior, until we gain back seats in congress, senate and eventually, president. It can be done.

  42. Mr. Rondon, you seem to miss why Chavez was such a disaster and why Trump is so different, and that difference is Socialism. Eventually you run out of other people’s money while Trump/capitalism will increase the size of the pie that everyone shares. My not even mentioning the real reason for Venezuela’s problems you betray your bias.

    • David J — You’ve got that backward. Capitalism is what eventually destroys all opportunity. It is part of the capitalist system that all the money goes to the top and then stops circulating, causing no room for innovation or growth. The people who would normally spend their money to keep the economy going run out of money and the whole thing grinds to a halt. Without “redistribution” to the bottom, capitalism can’t work — and you will notice that that is exactly what the entire right wing is calling for — no redistribution of wealth. They are cutting off their noses to spite their face. What you would call regulations, but I call protections, is what allows capitalism to work, and without protections and redistribution, it ceases to function.

      • Because socialism has done so many wonders for Venezuela in almost two decades, ssuuuuuurreeee…

        Capitalism is the way, when people own their stuff, they become less dependant of the govermnent, thus they’re less vulnerable and likely to be controled by the populists.

  43. David J — You’ve got that backward. Capitalism is what eventually destroys all opportunity. It is part of the capitalist system that all the money goes to the top and then stops circulating, causing no room for innovation or growth. The people who would normally spend their money to keep the economy going run out of money and the whole thing grinds to a halt. Without “redistribution” to the bottom, capitalism can’t work — and you will notice that that is exactly what the entire right wing is calling for — no redistribution of wealth. They are cutting off their noses to spite their face. What you would call regulations, but I call protections, is what allows capitalism to work, and without protections and redistribution, it ceases to function.

  44. First of all I agree with the author, his words have the ring of truth. My view is the Trump thing is a hard right takeover of the government masked in populism. We have seen similar admins before do this, Bush comes to mind, both of them., they promise infrastructure and jobs and lowering the deficit. They never deliver on the infrastructure because of the big looming threat, in this case Islamo-fascism, Chinese Imperialism, rogue dictators, and insist that we go to war to keep us safe.So the jobs and the money go to military industrial complex and we are driven deeper into debt, mission accomplished. I will head the words of the author and make my moves accordingly. Let’s become one of them. I think it’s the right approach.

  45. ‘Show them you’re nice! Don’t hate them! Don’t try to make the assholes stop abusing power! Instead try hanging out with them so they’ll like you!’
    To summarize this shitty advice

  46. This is the only good thing I’ve read since the election. The right and left has swelled and popped me out of the tank. I’ll elaborate to my friends on faceblock in a day or so, but I’ve shared this first. Thanks. 1000 thumbs up.

  47. Democrats are their own worst enemy right now.. the problem is this “listening to people” needs to come from the top down but the Senate is still in stop him mode instead of lets address why WI, MI and PA turned backs on Dem party mode. Find areas of agreement.. recently Trump met w/ union leaders.. he is reaching across party lines cause the unions supported Hillary. The union leaders had good things to say about him because he was talking about investments in infrastructure that will create jobs… meaning his plans are in alignment w/ what they want too. The unions were also glad he ended TPP if you all remember everyone even Hillary and Bernie stated TPP needed to go. It is a mistake for Dems to keep being obstructionist. They need to be smarter and choose their battles… everything Trump does can not be a battle. Also Dems might be surprised to actually be able to find common ground and get some wins for the American People.

  48. Did anybody in the comment section read this article?? I read through some of the early posts and it looked like only ‘T’ got it.

    I can talk to people to find out what their problems, falling short of going to where they live, but I too have a hard time with step 4. What if they are down right racist, violent or just inconsiderate? How do I respond to that? And wait for the democratic process!! by that time the U.S. will have started WW3, how can I wait?!
    Andrés Miguel Rondón you have done a very good job in this article but can you write a follow up. This article was very informative, but it seems I, as well as a lot of others have more questions.

    1. Don’t forget who the enemy is.

    I am the enemy, the liberal urbanite hipster.

    2. Show no contempt.

    I believe Trump is a smart man

    3. Don’t try to force him out.

    All non-democratic channels are counter-productive: you lower your message, and give the Populist rhetorical fuel.

    4. Find a counter-argument. (No, not the one you think.)

    Show concern, try to relate, not contempt, for the wounds of those that brought Trump to power; by all means be patient with democracy and struggle relentlessly to free yourself from the shackles of the caricature the populists have drawn of you.

    • There is a point in which the metastatized agonal narcissim of a group ( which feeds on the self proud thrill it gets from glamorizing its rage against a satanized enemy) reaches a point in which it turns pathological and can no longer be disarmed by rational appeasement , If Hitler and his fanatized followers , or Isis devotees or Pol Pot had been met with the 4 point program described above , its is not likely that they would have become more amenable to adopting a more tolerant or civilized political posture …….!!

      Agonal or malign narcicism , is a personality disorder that from clinical experience feeds on the feverish use of self delusional constructions to maintain itself …..so that if you actively oppose it you are loathful because you are an enemy and if you seek to somehow appease their florid antagonism you are weak and comtemptible ….so you are dammed if you frontally fight them and your are dammed if you dont …the thing for people afflicted with this disorder is the desperate need to come out on top in a confrontation they revel in savaging pursuing …..!!

      Having said the above there is chance, that at a certain stage , and for certain people non confrontational responses to a persons radicalized posture can help make some kind of reasonable accomodation possible , but the formula even if quite reasonable and intelligent isnt infallible once a form of radicalism has hardened to a pathological mutation….

      The US followers of Trump are probably more amenable to this kind of approach than Venezuelan hard core chavista fanatics , the approach can be useful but not universally applicable …!!

    • The article is a weak cover-up for all the stunningly absurd and useless approach that the venezuelan opposition has used trying to remove chavismo from power, which basically has been “please listen, I can do that same thing but better”, that’s where all the idiocy surrounding the sanctification of a murderer like Chávez even going as far as “respecting his legacy” and the stubborn insistence into the burundanguero monologues since 2014, all because it could “show contempt” to the little delicate snowflakes that are the base chavistas.

      • Ulamog, I see it in the same way as you do.

        We had people in the Brazilian opposition with that same naive mentality (all center-left people, obviously), they tried to please the ‘little delicate snowflakes that are the base petistas’ too. One of the last opposition presidential candidates even celebrated Lula’s past deeds in his campaign videos, saying that he would ‘improve’ Lula’s legacy.

        And you know what happened? They are still expecting the support from those fragile snowflakes that we can’t trigger until today! The votes never came. And never will!!! Hahaha!

        If only MUD could LEARN with Trump about how to conquer the masses and win a goddamn election instead of mocking him — the most powerful man in the world that also happens to hate the same enemies –, things could be different.

        MCM is the last hope, but I’m already waiting for CC to destroy her reputation when that time comes. She too ‘radical’ and right-wing, isn’t she? She must be eliminated! Even if that means destroying any chances of a better Venezuelan future for once and for all.

    • Ah yes, he thinks if you put a 20% tariff on goods entering the country from Mexico, that means Mexico will be paying for the wall! He and Chavez are quite similar I think, in their understanding of how markets work (i.e. by dictat)

      • And they will. No escape from that.

        When you pay taxes on your car and that money goes to healthcare, you are paying for healthcare. No escape from that either.

        I just hope he does the same on Canada just because of everything Trudeau has been saying against the US in the last months. Maybe in this way Trudeau learns to be a statesman concerned about the Canadian people rather than a babbler more concerned about himself and his stupid political ideals. Then Trump could forbid all the Venezuelan oil imports, just to make MUD learn to do high-level politics instead of high-school level politics.

        Trump is being a great president already, extremely concerned with the American people’s interests.

        Canada and Mexico economic projections are all going to hell. And you know what? It’s deserved. Why don’t you guys elect a Trump later?

        • If we’re paying for a border wall with a 20% tariff on imported goods, then it’s the American consumer who buys the imported good – with it’s price raised by the same 20% – who is really paying for the wall. The Mexican manufacturer will get the same profit as before, they’ll just have the extra hassle of funneling Amercan’s money to the US government in the process.

          • “it’s the American consumer who buys the imported good”

            They can choose to not buy Mexican products if they believe that they are too expensive. Hardly a problem.

          • Yes, we can certainly all choose not to pay the tariff by not buying the imported good from Mexico – but then if we all do that, the tariff generates no money for the USFG, and then we’re back to the US taxpayer paying for the cost of the wall. The point still stands – a tariff does not cost the importer a penny – the full cost of the tariff is borne by the consumer. The only effect of a tariff is to make the imported good more expensive so that the domestically made good will have an advantage at the market. The bottom line is that you can’t make Mexico pay for a border wall by imposing a tariff – it’s just a way to fool the US citizen into believing that Mexico is paying for the wall.

          • Heh, you can say that Trump is doing exactly the reverse of what Chávez did, he’ll make some imports expensive to boost the local production, while Chávez made imports cheaper to destroy the local production.

          • Oh! I’m sure she wouldn’t. That Soviet materialist woman was about money, money, money before anything else.

  49. Trump’s problem isn’t that he is wrong in pointing out what ails the US. Trump’s problem is that he proposes easy (often wrong) solutions to EXTREMELY complex problems and he does so in self-serving ways:

    (1) Is illegal immigration problematic? Yes.

    (a) Normal Solution: Build walls/fences in strategic areas because this is the most affordable/practical alternative. Accept that you can’t catch all immigrants that come through but you’ll get most.

    (b) Trump Solution: Build a YUUUGE wall that is impractical if not impossible to build. When told that it is impractical/impossible insist that it is possible and person saying otherwise is stupid/lying/sad.

    (2) Is offshoring jobs problematic? Yes.

    (a) Normal Solution: Retrain American workers. Find areas that U.S. is still competitive in (i.e. knowledge) and exploit those areas.

    (b) Trump Solution: Impose tariffs that will likely cause retaliatory tariffs. Bully domestic industry and interfere with corporations’ internal affairs.

    (3) Is NATO allies’ not paying their fair share problematic? Yes.

    (a) Normal Solution: Accept it or work behind the scenes to get them to pay more. Do not air dirty laundry in public because Russians will take advantage of this to harp about NATO disunity.

    (b) Trump Solution: Threaten to not come to NATO allies’ aid, reactivate cycle of European armament and brinksmanship that has started wars on the European continent for hundreds of years.

    These are all COMPLEX problems with COMPLEX solutions. Anybody trying to sell you EASY solutions is full of it.

  50. 1) Bernie Sanders…. as it pertains to #4
    2) Sure looking forward to that Wall of Mexico just 30 minutes south of my home….you too? Still think after hmmmm…. 1week of being wpotus he is doing a great job and we should all shut up and stop fighting for what is right? He has just alienated our first ally… Yay!
    SMILEY FACE!

  51. I first read this, and thought…hmm, interesting food for thought. It sounds nice in theory. But…try to replace Trump in this article with other dictators or fascists like Hitler, Mussolini, Ceacuescu, Marcos, Noriega, Stalin, etc. Maybe the problem is not that we don’t understand the other side (i.e. the plight of Trump supporters). Maybe the problem is that the other side is making some choices that are based on racism, hate, xenophobia, perceived decrease in privilege, homophobia etc. We can’t take this reality out of the equation. What the article suggests is similar to saying that we should try to empathize with Nazis and really hear them out. Maybe they were misunderstood. What if Trump supporters’ underlying needs are not really palatable? What if they are more connected with a belief in a “pure” America, one where everyone is a Christian, married (heterosexual), straight and able bodied? What if the problem is not that we don’t get it? Are we in the bargaining phase of grieving a bad relationship? Perhaps it’s not so bad, even if they are ok with electing a man who advocates attacking women and lacks empathy…maybe if we try hard enough to listen to them, they will change. Maybe it’s us. Maybe we caused Trump to happen. We need to change. We hear it all the time in the context of bad relationships. Why is it so foreign now? “Baby, why do you have to make me hurt you??” We (the royal we meaning all of us who don’t support Donald Trump for president) did nothing wrong. It’s you.

  52. Firstly, Trump is not against religions or races, but against extreme ideology which is currently deeply rooted in a small but significant section of one particular religion. So unless your planning to strap bombs to yourself and run into crowded shopping malls, you are not really the designated enemy.
    Secondly, Chavez was out to destroy a functioning capitalist economy, which is the exact opposite of what Trump represents.
    Third point, I’ll give that to you, the Democrats readliy admit they are a bunch of schemers (at least to the Veritas Project) who have been paying protesters and busloading them in for decades to cause havock for the oposition, and refuse to stop
    Forth, if you think that the majority of Trump supports feel they want or need the outspoken active “liberal left” to be some sort of oposition, you are mistaken. I think most people who support Trump hope that you come to your senses and stop think something like teaching a 5 year old that its OK to be gay is a win for LGBT rights rather than the continuing degradation to the family unit that it actually is

    • “Firstly, Trump is not against religions or races, but against extreme ideology which is currently deeply rooted in a small but significant section of one particular religion.”

      So he’s going to crack down on those evangelical christians who are trying to impose their religion upon all of us? Didn’t see that in his plans…

      • Geez, watch out for the evangelical christians, because if you don’t convert, they’ll slit your throat and set your family on fire, then they’ll steal all your stuff and sell it to buy more whores for their leaderheads and more explosives to strap into their children!

        • Compared to some of the comments on this thread, the comments of Chris Carlson/Get a Clue/dspur/whatever or Arturo are models of reason, logic and objectivity. 🙂

          I also note that a number of the, shall we say, more “interesting” comments, such as the one you replied to, come from commenters who are rather new to commenting at CC- as shown by Advanced Google Search. Granted, the comments sections have been hosed by various software changes over the years, but that is all we have to go on.

          Click bait for CC: post on Trump. Maybe those drawn in by “Trump” will learn something about Venezuela. Good marketing strategy.

  53. Hey guys,

    Gotta say, i’m loving the discourse here, it’s much more mellow the usual shouting matches i’ve need to grow accustomed to, and id a world where free knowledge can be given out openly, it’s nice to see the flow of ideas blending ever so slightly.

    I’m apparently late to this thread as well, but focusing time, as been much harder for me recently since I’ve been constantly forced to change my schedule for work, on days I don’t study, so that (fingers crossed) i might be able to find a job I enjoy in like 4 years.

    Obviously shitloads of other variables are going on that I will never touch on here, due to time constraints, but I think if we all care about each other we should be alright, but I’d say that the hands in control of the power now wont give it back easily, and although we should attempt to reason with it, sometimes you have to see a troll/nazi/hatemongerer for who and what they are, and punch them in the face.

    Non-violence almost always works, but that means it doesn’t always work.

    If you see someone ask a nazi a question about why they’re hateful, or if you want to ask them questions about why they’re hateful that’s ok; however, the second there is no reasoning or logic behind there stance, and science (like 2 century old [at least] science people, because come on, “doctors” treated washington’s virus with leeches, and when he needed his white blood cells the most, they were all gone)

    Tolerate all stances of inequality that are rooted in facts, and try and overcome them, but the second someone makes an unsupported non peer reviewed claim, first call them out on peer review, or even do your own test, and then inform them why you’re changing their knowledge of the truth for yours, and if you’re wrong, that’s ok, own that, don’t lie.

    Afterall, if all the hits are one sided, then it’s not a fight.

  54. This has been making the rounds on social media. I agree that all the impeachment talk is a lost cause. Even it were somehow miraculously to happen, which it won’t, it would just make a martyr out of him among those who have been convinced/convinced themselves that he is the remedy to a corrupt system. They’ll double down behind the ideologues who will be left in charge and the boot will stamp down hard.

    At the same time, when it comes to nostalgic white patriarchal America, the line between rapprochement and appeasement is dangerously blurry and I personally don’t see it. The terms of enmity are defined by the very nature of who we are (and I say “we” only as a comrade of the those who seek to live their lives as they are and those who seek to care for their fellow citizens and who envision a more just and equitable society — for I am a white man who probably could live without much threat under this regime.) The Jews who were persecuted under the Nazis did not have the choice of making friends and finding common ground with the gentiles. They could hide and pretend (and thus lose) or they could fight back (and be slaughtered). It hasn’t gotten to that point yet, of course, but it could surely before long.

    My hometown is deep in Trump country and when I go up there, I’m friendly with folks that I know, but I don’t know what I can possibly say or do to change their minds. And they know my politics and they still like me and I like many of them. And we can be kind and civil to one another, but that has not changed a thing.

    And, frankly, we had a leader who did show concern for at least some of the issues that have given Trump his base — being left behind by a new economy, etc. Bernie Sanders’s campaign was built on that. He was sidelined, perhaps by the liberal elite, true. Still, as contrary as it is to this argument, it ‘s hard for me not to think that Trump has tapped into something that is essential and indelible in the character of people, not just here in America, but clearly around the world as country after country goes down this same road. Fear, self-interest, xenophobia — primitive traits that our social and intellectual trajectory has shamed for decades. In empowering them to cast off that shame, Trump is a liberator for many people. I don’t know what strategy can disarm that.

    What, then, is the counter-argument?

    • There are bound to be things in your counterparts mind you do agree with even if they come from the wrong side of the fence , in those cases forget the fence , if you honestly feel something is right about their opinion , say so , there are of course dissagreements in which case there are people who will be more open to some reconciliation if you dont confront them directly but instead draw their attention to issues of implementation , of how there can be different ways of approaching a problem from a practical stand point …that can help deweaponize your differences with that person …..finally there are people for whom confrontation is a joy , who thirst to have a dollop of political passion give some gorgeous meaning to their drab and frustrated lives, arguing with those is a loss of time , so best to keep the discourse civil by not dwelling on the part of their opinions which fire them up , keeping things personally civil and cordial as much as you can !!

      There is no one size fits all strategy to deal with someone holding opinions which differ markedly from your own , the thing is to recognize that there are limits to the appeasement approach even if with some it can be useful ….Maintaining composure and civility is the one constant recommendation which works best for every one….!!

  55. Andrés Miguel Rondón, I’m going to call you “slick” because that’s what you are doing stroking people’s fear and anger. Fucking useless article and blog. I’m looking for serious analysis, not this bullshit. IF you cannot write about Venezuela-US then don’t write at all because you are just another guevon (asshole in English). YEs you are an ASSHOLE.

  56. Carmen,

    You have to understand that AFDC, Welfare, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children was converted into a workfare program that requires between 20-30 hours of labor per week for as little as $225 a month and often costs families upfront expenses for drug testing or background checks, and represents a small fraction of the expenditure in that program. No one gets cash benefits without working, even if they are home with a disabled child, and if you can work, then there are job search requirements including identifying yourself to potential employers as a recipient. No one gets a job when they are doing that. It is worth knowing, and you can ask your state what the process is, or simply go down and apply – work through the paperwork yourself. You can look at the data here: http://features.marketplace.org/yourstateonwelfare/ – but know, those programs create jobs, keep people in the economy, fund education and emergency support for families for a very short time and to not prevent homelessness, cover rent, buy diapers or (as the story points out) children’s cough medicine.

    These were democratic policies put into place under Clinton, and I would expect these benefits to be gone pretty fast, along with disability. The problems in Venezuela were not parents getting help in emergencies. Look into it.

    You also have to understand, there are no cash payments going out to immigrant families from government spending- though many christian ministries are supporting families during a transition and have raised money for this ministry. Many of those folks either served the US in their home countries or fled for their lives. You need to understand that things were said in the election that have put us in a situation no republican really imagined and that it is going to take us all, eyes open, to put it right.

    If your middle class family is hurting, take a moment and imagine any crisis, or a series of them that might have put you down. These things happen to real people and sometimes to three generations of the same family all at once. In my state, there are more children in kinship care than in single parent households. How are things in your state?

  57. We know Venezuela is in trouble when they start breaking into zoos and eating its’ animals..but, what he’s saying is that democratic leaders have to get down off of the ivory towers, ie. speaking at uiniversities, major city thresholds, etc..and go to where the people are..the people who have felt disenfranchised for many years, the Trump supporters who feel left behind at the end of a dirt road. That’s exactly what Bernie Sanders has been trying to tell the DNC.

  58. “In your case, you’re that modern bogeyman called the liberal urbanite hipster who thinks all cultures and religions are valid and equally worthy, who thinks of the working-class disparagingly.”

    Yeah, that “all cultures and religions are valid and equally worthy” thing? That’s a big reason liberals are getting their butts handed to them. Electorally, of course. You might have noticed that we Conservatives don’t burn down our own neighborhoods.

    • You missed the point if you thought the article was about “Look how ridiculous those liberals are.” The point is to look outside your narrow world.

      For example, do people in your neighborhood own their homes? Do you think it’s the same in every neighborhood? That might have something to do with what neighborhoods get burned down by their own residents.

  59. People tend to form a conception of the other as the sum of all the things that are different, even though they share many things in common.

    There are many things in my world rural Americans would not appreciate, but many others they would. Beer is Seattle’s true passion, not coffee. There are many things in rural America I could not be a part of, but others that people here admire. “Lumbersexual” – beards and flannel – is the in-style look for men these days.

    Personally, I can’t stand the city; I live in the woods and commute to it. I have a grudging respect for it and the vibrant popular culture and strong personal relationships people form there, like I have a grudging respect for the country music of middle America and how it tells a story better than any other three-minute musical form, but the sound of it is often grating to my ears.

    We are all individuals. We’re not all concentrated at the poles, or even on a spectrum. We can’t be defined by one dimension.

  60. Esta es para felicitar al amigo Rondon por haber escrito un articulo que ha terminado publicado por el prestigioso Washington Post , por haber escrito una de las mejores descripciones de los resortes psico sociales que fomentan el populismo y por el exito que representa el altisimo nivel de participacion de comentaristas que ha tenido su blog en esta Pagina , El tema es sexy pero el tratamiento del mismo en este momento en el que Trump empieza a mostrar lo que es el populismo ,lo ha convertido en orgasmico La calidad analitica de los comentarios que ha inspirado es tambien impresionante!!

    No se sin en el bululu en que se ha convertido la respuesta a su blog va a poder leer esta felicitacion , espero que si ……. te lo mereces y con creces….

  61. Would someone please explain to me what this sentence about the dog food about? It doesn’t make any sense to me;

    It’s silly, I know. Especially because you do care. As did I, a teenage CIA agent bent on feeding the serfs at my feudal estate with dog food. However, as long as you don´t recognize the problem is not the message, but the messenger, you will be wasting your time.

  62. IN THE IMMOTAL WORDS OF “POGO” THE CARTOON CHARACTER ” WE HAS MET THE ENEMY AND THEY IS US…”POGO” WAS A WISE OPOSSUM WHO LIVED IN A SWAMP AND WAS VERY POLITICALLY INFORMED AND QAUITE ASTUTE. GOOGLE “POGO” AND LEARN “GRASSHOPPER”…

  63. And what, exactly is wrong with populism? Is it not the mere expression of a peoples desire for sovereignty?
    We can’t do away with the worlds borders, nor can we synthesise all the worlds cultures into one; won’t work.

  64. Venezuela is not the US and Trump is not Chavez, but the way to destroy a democracy is the same everywhere and no country is inmune to it. That is my point. To destroy democracy is very easy, it is really not that hard. In fact, I would say that Bannon already accomplished the most difficult part of his plan by now.
    This post gives very poor advise, it misses the real threat. If you want to defeat Bannon (he is the real problem), you have to understand how he thinks. He will change the system, because he is a leninist. It is very obvious how he will do it. So you have to overpower him before he overpowers you, or you will end up like MUD. The MUD failed to defend the rules of the game, so now it is playing by the rules Maduro impossed. So, i hope liberals in the US don’t make the same mistake to be afraid to defend their system by any means if it comes to that.

  65. The current Trump supporters I know live in a tribal white supremacist imaginary world. They love their guns. They love their whiteness.They are afraid that the People of Color will kick their white behinds off their imaginary pedestal. They believe they will obtain the best jobs because of they are white, and their white Chriastian-imaginary bleached Christ figure only speaks to them..Fortunately there are a growing number of moderate Trump voters who have developed a serious case of Byers Remorse. I Love these moderate folks, because we can agree on many things. Fore example, we agree on Climate Change, Science, and how to balance a check book, hah, hah.

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