Some Of What Is Going On

I’m not going to claim I understand every move the Trump administration is making. One of the gaps in my education is that I never studied abnormal phycology. Today I’d like to look at two things that are going on and try to explain them. Let’s explore.

Many of Trump’s policies can be lumped together under isolationism. This encompasses things like trade, the wall with Mexico and the Muslim Travel Ban; oh, I forgot it’s not really a ban even though Trump himself called it that. This falls in line with the “master race” (well, white males anyway), rhetoric Trump has purloined from 20th century fascists. (Their American sympathizers originated the phrase “America First”.)

There is a populist appeal to isolationism. I have to admit at first glance some of it even looks good to me. An example was last week’s Iran sanctions. (Does that mean they are still on double secret probation? or as National Security Advisor and retired General Michael Flynn called it, “On Notice.”) Many times in my coaching career my teams employed a full court press. It can be a tremendously effective defensive weapon in a basketball game! However it only achieves its maximum effectiveness if all five players participate. Sanctions are much the same. The more countries that participate in the sanction the more effective it is. Unilateral sanctions often hurt the country imposing them as much or more than the target of the sanctions. The effect is similar to the floated (we hope it was only floated) tariff on Mexican imports to pay for the wall. In that scenario Americans would pay the tariff and therefore pay for the wall. The bottom line on the sanctions is that they would have been much more effective if we could have gotten our allies to participate, particularly the European Union. However it is difficult to get allies to cooperate during the same phone call in which you insult or threaten to invade them.

Many of Trump’s promises and executive orders are much more sizzle than steak. If there is a political strategy behind them it appears to be one of pleasing the most civically ignorant in his base (in reality most of his base). At the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning Trump said, “I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment.” I hope the menu was steak and eggs because Trump’s statement provided the sizzle but no meat.

The Johnson Amendment was passed in 1954 and was named after then Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. Due to extensive research I have done on Johnson’s life and political career I am not only familiar with the Johnson Amendment but the political moves that brought it about. From a young man Johnson had an ambition of becoming President of the United States. In fact it bordered on an obsession. He knew his only route included the united support of the other Southern Senators many of whom were powerful committee chairmen. In the 1950’s the South was solidly Democratic and segregationist. Many of those Senators later became Republicans and while the philosophy hasn’t changed the names have and their party affiliation is Republican. Johnson was complex and part of what he did was pretend to be a segregationist until he became President and finally had the power to enact the liberal policies he had really held his entire adult life. Remember it was President Johnson who was the main moving force behind the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The Johnson Amendment was a “gift” to white Southern segregationist who feared the organizing power of the black church. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the white church was far behind the black church in organizing power. Black pastors held tremendous sway over their congregations and could mobilize large blocks of voters/demonstrators. In order to curb their power the Johnson Amendment imposed severe restrictions on churches’ political activity under threat of losing their tax exempt status. Fast forward to today and the white church has become a political powerhouse. Now that the shoe is effectively on the other foot they want the freedom to engage in unlimited political activity without the possibility of losing their tax exempt status.

Here is a bit of reality for Trump: The Johnson Amendment is law and it will take an act of Congress, not cheap rhetoric, to repeal it. However, since Republicans control both chambers of Congress and Trump they could pass a bill repealing the Johnson Amendment. Trump is on record as saying he would sign such legislation. Today the Republican Party is effectively the segregationist party in America so such legislation is within the realm of possibility.

Well, that explains a few things. Now back to researching the Bowling Green Massacre. That won’t entail much reading because it never happened except in alternate reality. By the way, was that supposed to have occurred before or after Barack Obama’s invasion of Texas in 2015?

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