How did we get to Trump? - The Abridged Edition

The following essay is from a Quora comment that I made in response to this honest question:

But I still think it is strange what has happened to the USA. It used to be the country that got together to solve any kind of problem or public need. You had the entire country to have paved roads and everybody had cars way ahead of us even so with electricity and telephones. You invented the Internet. But now it looks like every community expects somebody else “big corporations” to come and sort all problems out. What changed so that the US stopped to be a “let us get together and solve this shit!”. I am by no means complaining to you I just don't get it. It is like the public is afraid of starting or wanting changes. - Kjell (2019)


There are a lot of Americans who feel the same way, Kjell. It’s not wrong that you’re confused.

The problems stems mostly from capitalism, principally the form as espoused by Milton Friedman. Milton said a few things that I hope will give you an idea of what’s been happening for decades:

“The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system.”


“The world runs on individuals pursuing their self interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn't construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn't revolutionize the automobile industry that way.”


“When government - in pursuit of good intentions - tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.”

It’s not all on Milton’s head, though. A lot of where we are now is the tacit agreement between various groups seeking power and control and freedom from government limitations, such as the Religious Right, the Koch brother(s), the white supremacist Alt-Right, protectionists, Libertarians, conservative Republicans, and others who were tired of losing their individual fights.

Obama really put a bee in their bonnet, which gave the Tea Party, the Koch’s pet project, a target to rage against, and pushed the GOP into forming a policy that would try to make Obama a one-term President.

They failed to make that goal, but they were deeply successful at obstruction and fear mongering. Leveraging tools like propaganda, a unified messaging scheme, the use of lower-level sacrificial lambs to test the waters for said messaging (how low can they go before things break), spreading false narratives, and engaging the services of networks like Fox News whose leadership were keen to have America run by people who were far more empathetic to their goals.

It is around this time that Trump pops up with his claims that Obama wasn’t a real American, but an imposter from Kenya. Other lies that were spread around were that Democrats wanted to take away everyone’s guns, and that national health care would necessitate the need for Death Panels to decide who would get health care.

The reality, however, wasn’t about the issues that were all over the news cycle day in and day out, but the Right’s new agenda package.

  • Lower taxes for the wealthy
  • Reduce, if not eliminate, regulations on business
  • Get rid of illegal immigrants
  • Eradicate religious diversification
  • Legitimize the re-segregation of America
  • Empower a renewed need for male dominance

Trump gave the ‘cabal’ two things.

  1. A target that media would focus on and a mouthpiece that sat at one of the biggest tables on the world stage in a single person
  2. An in to start changing the American government that would facilitate their desire to ‘terraform’ the country in the form of a Republican party that was reshaped by the Tea Party

By the end of the 2016 election, enough American were disgusted by the choices on offer to not vote enough for Hillary Clinton, and Trump was able to win, despite being dramatically short of the popular vote. Not that it mattered, since Americans don’t vote for presidents. The Electorate does, and all they need is enough incentive to pick the candidate that can muster enough support.

States Rights also played a significant role, by allowing each state to organize their own election rules, which means each state gets to select how the candidates will receive their electoral college votes.

This has never been about making America great again, but taking America back from the dirty, unwashed, uncouth and colored filth that come to bright, shining America to build a better life for their families.

Its about getting revenge for losing their slave labor, having to see all those Black people walking around free, making money, and being happy instead of earning the white people money with their blood, sweat, and lives because they are less than human. Cows don’t run Fortune 500 companies, do they?

Its about getting people out of their face when they want to poison a lake to make 100,000 more widgets an hour and not having to pay a lot for labor.

Its about getting those fat stacks of cash, and fuck anyone who isn’t devious enough to get it first.

Its about winning.

And the only way to win this game, the game that involves the lives of 300,000,000+ human beings, is to play dirty, no matter who it hurts, as long as someone comes out on top.

And that, my friend, will get us a planet devoid of intelligent life.

Strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.