Use parts of Trump’s playbook
Although I couldn’t agree more with columnist Mac Stipanovich’s characterization of Trumpism as a form of generic fascism, I am left wondering about the audience he hopes to reach. I suspect that his column, like so many other well-reasoned critiques of Trumpism, amounts to “preaching to the choir” and few if any of the 70-plus million people who voted for Donald Trump will read past the headline. Such an outcome would hardly be surprising given the deep polarization that exists within our body politic and the oft repeated observation that, politically speaking, most of us seek out media sources and opinions which confirm what we already believe. At the same time, however, I would like to suggest that, at least part of the reason that criticism of Trump has so little effect on his congregation has to do with the significant disparity in the method of discourse practiced by critics of the president as compared with the speech patterns and media favored by the president and his minions.
Whereas critics of the president are crafting lengthy, well-researched articles which argue that the president is a misogynist, his policies supportive of systemic racism, and his political movement a form of generic fascism, Trump continues his highly successful practice of tweeting single syllable slogans and epithets — “fake news,” “rigged elections,” and that “nasty woman.” They are simple, straightforward and unencumbered by facts or lengthy argument. Whatever else he may or may not be, Donald Trump is a highly successful ad man who gained the Republican nomination, won a national election and built an enormous block of loyal customers by branding himself as a maverick/winner and relying on a persistent campaign of simple slogans — “MAGA,” “Build the wall,” “Drain the swamp,” “Lock her up.” Like it our not, this approach has been largely successful. Yes, he failed to “sell” the pandemic as either a hoax or another example of his miraculous success. As a result, he will soon become an ex-president. Still, he lingers as a lame but dangerous leader and will likely continue to dominate the media and our consciousness for years to come.
What’s the lesson learned from Trumpism and its likely successor the next time around? Keep it simple, use ordinary language and ignore social media to your peril. When Trump insults women, he is simply a cad. When he blusters, storms about and fires people without cause, he is a bully. When he rushes in at the last moment, ignores the efforts of his own people to achieve compromise and proposes a fiscally irresponsible but highly visible $2,000 bribe, it is grandstanding. And my advice to the Democratic Party, forget about hammering out complex and detailed platforms and policies. At least as a public campaign, emulate the masters on the Republican side and promise “No new taxes,” “Beautiful health care for all,” and a “New and improved Democratic Party with proven stain-fighting capabilities.” And, please, in the the coming years, when Trump clamors for notoriety, may those in the media borrow from the play book of the great communicator Ronald Reagan and respond simply, “There he goes again.”
Jim Bennette, Indian Rocks Beach
Not climate change
Environmental error: A dam blocks the flow of the Ocklawaha River | Dec. 30
It is difficult to understand why your otherwise highly informative front-page article about damage caused by a decades-old dam blocking the Ocklawaha River was published under the banner “Florida in Focus: Climate Change.” Really? Man-made environmental harm, to be sure. But climate change? When everything is climate change, nothing is climate change. In this case it appears that the Tampa Bay Times just couldn’t let a crisis go to waste, even if the “climate crisis” existed only in the imagination of the editor who wrote the headline.
John Turell, Wimauma
Climate change is costly
Tampa addresses chronic flooding as climate challenges loom | Dec. 28
This is one of a number of articles with a common theme: large infrastructure projects driven by climate change or made more expensive by climate change. Remember what the pseudo-frugal deniers used to say " … yeah but dealing with climate change is expensive and we can’t spend money on something that might not happen”. That day is over. Climate change is proving to be very real, and the cost of delayed action to mitigate climate change is no longer negotiable.
Jon Crawfurd, Gulfport
Convenient calls for austerity
Calls for more aid grow | Dec. 30
In response to the article’s last statement — “Many Republicans who have spent years fretting publicly about a growing national debt” — I would point out that Republicans have for 40 years now consistently grown the debt at every opportunity. Since Ronald Reagan’s implementation of supply side/trickle down economics, only one president, Bill Clinton, has paid down the national debt. The debt has risen during the tenure of all other presidents over that period. Given history, it’s clear that the Republican Party’s claims to be fiscally conservative and concerned about growing the national debt are not honest or accurate.
Dave O’Brien, Belleair Bluff
No money for the needy
I find it most ironic (read hypocritical) that the same people who unanimously backed a $1.7 trillion tax handout to the rich two years ago — when the economy needed no stimulus whatsoever — are now complaining about a pandemic relief measure that’s a fraction of the cost and sorely needed by so many Americans. I just can’t figure out how there’s all of the money in world for handouts to the rich, but a COVID-19 relief package for regular Americans — at half the price — is too expensive.
Bob Lasher, Clearwater
The people are watching
Certification of Electoral College votes
Last month, I deciphered a daily Cryptoquote in the Tampa Bay Times. It has stuck with me ever since, and it seems timely at this moment in history. It said: “Posterity, you will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom — John Adams.”
I hope members of Congress who are proposing sedition will remember this when they county Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. The bosses (we, the people) are watching.
Susan Bullard, Gulfport