Idiocracy is a movie based on the idea that society will become stupid in 500 years.

But that’s not at all what I have in mind here. Idocracy (only one i) is a government centered on serving a single “id”.

Imagine a scenario where the president was obsessed in reversing all of the foreign policies of his predecessor, merely out of spite. In areas where his predecessor was hawkish, he’ll be dovish. Where his predecessor was dovish, he’ll be hawkish. There’s no rhyme or reason to these policies, just personal spite.

Imagine the president despises an important state because its voters overwhelmingly oppose him. He instructs his staff to harass the state with legal cases, regardless of their merit. If the state has environmental restrictions that are tighter than the national average, then insist that they end those regulations. If the state has regions with high pollution levels, then bring lawsuits claiming they don’t have sufficient environmental policies. Heck, why not do both! All that matters is that his officials harass the state. Because they don’t love him.

Imagine a president who talks incessantly about public opinion polls and his own personal qualities even when meeting foreign leaders. Rambling on about how he’s a “stable genius“. And by the way, don’t most geniuses you know send out a constant stream of tweets telling you what a “stable genius” they are. Certainly all my stable genius friends bombard me with such tweets, reminding me of their geniusness almost every day. (Is that a word? Well it is now.)

Imagine a President who cares not at all about policy issues, only whether his party is sucking up to him with sufficient obsequiousness.

Imagine a president who demands that the evil Chinese interfere in our elections, and then is quickly defended by a senator from Florida on the grounds that he must have been joking. After all (the senator implies) his behavior is so obviously insane that he can’t possible be serious. Pity that the Ukrainians and Chinese have no sense of humor. (Was the Senator slyly trolling Trump?  No, he’s simply can’t think of anything else to say.)

Idocracy?  Idiocracy?  Both?  I’ll let you guys fight it out in the comment section, as I grab another bag of popcorn and turn on the cable news.

PS. I think it’s highly unlikely, but if for some reason (health reasons, impeachment, etc.) Trump left office and Pence took over, then GOP politicians would no longer live in terror.  Right now they are terrified of criticizing Trump.  Not afraid, they are flat out terrified.  So frightened they are wetting their pants.  They would not be terrified of criticizing a President Pence, even if he continued Trump’s policies.  That distinction is the easiest way to explain what it means to have a “cult-like” following. I say that because in the past some of my commenters pretended to not know what I was talking about.  Cult?  What do you mean?



12 Responses to “Idocracy”

  1. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    5. October 2019 at 10:02

    Well first off States are equal from the Executive level and it’s telling you are a state supremacist but that aside that President you described sounds amazing. I mean all of them already do the latter four so I just have to accept that as the presidential norm but on that first one I can only hope someone runs someday so I can vote for him because he hasn’t existed yet. Yes I know you will claim TPP or the Iranian deal, I will counter the tens of thousands of other foreign policy items which are uninteresting that have continued identically. Has Trump quit bombing countries with drones? Are we still in Iraq/Afghanistan/Libya/Syria? Have we pulled out the UN? WHO? Invaded France? Has the FBI quit talking to Interpol and NSA pulled out the FVEY? The US equally has been an Idocracy from at least the Great Depression so nothing new there either.

    So once again what is your specific complaint where Trump is uniquely bad acting outside what Presidents have always acted in living memory outside his sin of not being a cool Washington insider?

  2. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. October 2019 at 12:14

    “Imagine a scenario where the president was obsessed in reversing all of the foreign policies of his predecessor, merely out of spite.”

    Sumner, you claim Trump has no independence of his advisors in regard to foreign policy. Now you claim this nonsense. Use your brain a little.

    Right now they are terrified of criticizing Trump. Not afraid, they are flat out terrified.

    No. GOP politicians criticize Trump all the time. Read their tweets. Trump is not a strong president, he is a weak president.

  3. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. October 2019 at 12:30

    BTW, Sumner, what exactly is this? Yes; presidents’ justice departments regularly sue states of the opposing party.

  4. Gravatar of Kenneth Duda Kenneth Duda
    5. October 2019 at 13:58

    One thing I’ve noticed in the Trump era is that people point out Trump is doing something bad, and Trump’s defenders rush to “whataboutism” — “yeah, but _your guy_ did something just as bad or maybe worse! Let’s ignore what my guy is doing right now and argue about something your guy might have done in the past!”

    E Harding, despite seeming intelligent, descends to that form of argument above. Instead of saying, “yes, it’s bad when the president directs the federal government to harass states of opposing parties, Trump should really cut it out,” he argues, “but everyone is doing it! Until your side admits all the wrong things they’ve done in the past, be damned if I’m going to concede that my guy is bad!”

    This seems really bad to me. Can’t it just be _bad_ to subvert US foreign policy in an effort to smear your rivals? Can’t it just be _bad_ to threaten higher shipping costs on the business owned by someone who also owns an unhelpful media outlet? Can’t it just be _bad_ to set up hotels to siphon off some cash from the normal processes of government? Can’t it just be _bad_ when the president imposes “national security” tariffs without grasping the relationship between the current and capital accounts, or the relationship between the aggregate current account balance and bilateral current account balances? Do you really have to say, “but what about when _your side_ did X?”

    I really wish we could all agree on some basic principles of good governance. Instead, people like E Harding and so many others sacrifice their principles on the altar of tribal warfare.

    The most depressing thing about the Trump era for me has been to see clearly for the first time how few people believe in good governance, abandoning it to fight a tribal war that I can’t even understand. What are the stakes of this crazy “red vs blue” fight anyway? It appears all to me to be an enormous distraction, impeding progress and teamwork. Guns, abortion, and the borrowing/taxing mix cannot be this important.

  5. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. October 2019 at 14:16

    Legal harassment of hostile state and local governments is the honorable right of every incumbent president. That’s how our political system works.

    Also, Kenneth, you seem to (mistakenly) think I’m a Trump defender. I am the farthest thing from a Trump defender; believe me, it would be a great thing if he were impeached and removed from office. That would improve our political discourse by 100%. I would gladly support Bernie Sanders against Trump if he were the nominee.

    What I don’t like about Sumner is that he lies and lies and lies, and never apologizes for it, even when called out. Just like the guy in the White House, come to think of it.

    Every president gets rich off being president; this is not new to Trump. Is that bad? IDK; maybe. I don’t know how our politics would be different if that wasn’t the case. I guess I oppose it, but I don’t think, e.g., Governor Pritzker of Illinois should divest himself of his businesses while being governor. I’m not partisan.

    “Can’t it just be _bad_ when the president imposes “national security” tariffs without grasping the relationship between the current and capital accounts, or the relationship between the aggregate current account balance and bilateral current account balances?”

    I guess, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter.

    Both sides do bad things, people. Don’t bash one side.

  6. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. October 2019 at 14:21

    as I grab another bag of popcorn and turn on the cable news.

    Cable news rots your brain, Sumner. That’s why I never watch it, and get all my news from the Internet.

  7. Gravatar of Kenneth Duda Kenneth Duda
    5. October 2019 at 14:39

    > That’s how our political system works.

    Why not aspire to do better?

    > Both sides do bad things, people.

    Isn’t that the truth. In my preferred universe, Joe Biden would have prevented Hunter from joining the board of a Ukrainian oil company, or, failing that, would have publicly denounced his joining as a corrupt attempt to influence the U.S. government.

    > Don’t bash one side.

    I’m not sure if you think that’s what I’m doing. I was critical of Obama’s DACA policy at the time — not for the policy itself, which seemed reasonable, but from improper use of an executive order to circumvent the legislature.

    > What I don’t like about Sumner is that he
    > lies and lies and lies, …

    I have not seen that but I am probably less informed and read less carefully than you. But, your messages that triggered my reaction don’t seem to be about Scott lying. Or, if you regard “Right now they are terrified of criticizing Trump” as a “lie”, I’m not sure I’m really following. Such a broad characterization of a wide class of people is not easily falsifiable; is it even possible for a statement like that to be a lie? Factually, outside a few mavericks (Romney, Sasse) I don’t see many GOP politicians doing much criticizing of Trump, so it’s at least plausible to me that many Republican politicians are terrified of the consequences of criticizing Trump. I can also imagine grounds for disagreement with Scott. But even if you have a well-supported basis for disagreement, is it right to call Scott’s statement here a lie?

    Anyway, I am glad you do not support Trump. Because if you did, I would feel a need to understand why. I can understand why low-IQ tribal warriors support Trump, but other than them, I’m stumped.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. October 2019 at 18:25

    Peter, OK, you have trouble seeing Trump for what he is. But do you have any comments on the actual post, other than making claims about my beliefs that are incorrect, such as that I’m a “state supremacist”?

    Harding, You said:

    “get all my news from the Internet.”

    Let me guess, alt-right sites.

    But you are right, cable is not a good source of news, it’s entertainment.

  9. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    5. October 2019 at 19:02

    @Scott: Sure you are, you literally made the claim some states are more important that others hence other states are inferior. If you were to make that same claim about a racial group example you could fairly be labeled a racial supremacist. Those were your words not mine. I have no trouble for seeing Trump for what he is, I just don’t find him any worse than any other President in living memory and in some ways better. The last couple days (maybe long but I have only been paying particular attention recently) you keep belaboring him for basically acting as every other president has hence I’m still lost on your dislike of him outside personal taste because it doesn’t seem to be based on any ideology. None of my posts the last couple days have been about “Trump”, they have been trying to tease out and understand your view outside “I personally dislike him” because I’m not seeing it and you aren’t explaining it. What few explanations you tend to give go the SCOTUS route when they don’t want to rule on something and go extremely narrow rather than address the actual issue. If you don’t want to be accused of TDS then make your case that what Trump is doing is uniquely abusive to Trump and now the same old stuff every President has did because nobody on this blog remembers you going after Obama with this same vitriol for the identical behavior.

    @Kenneth: Yet whataboutism is a legitimate concern, we just call it disparate impacts when we like it or hypocrisy when in more polite circles; the claim against it is usually made as a way to attack the speaker as with slippery slope because you don’t want to address the point. The fact is just as a concept general depends on impartiality hence it is perfectly fair to question the speaker that decries apples when it’s his opponent but gobbles them up with it’s his friend. Whataboutism isn’t about the action itself or it’s merits, it’s about questioning the motives of the speaker. You won’t find me defending Trump anywhere on the morality of his actions in a vacuum but you find me questioning people like Scott who claim “they don’t have TDS and have always been this way” yet weren’t. For example Scott seems to take issue yesterday (?) Trump was interested in using physical methods to prevent foreign citizens from actively breaking US law yet do you honestly think Scott truly believes, even as libertarian, “sovereign entities are not allowed to use physical methods to prevent trespass” or that “authoritative societal bodies are not allowed to use physical methods to prevent imminent criminality”? Like maybe Scott recently found Jesus and decided to become the second coming of Radley Balko but I doubt it. What is more likely is Scott simply doesn’t like Trump because he would prefer Trump watch opera instead of WWE. Decrying whataboutism is the equivalent of crying racism all the time, it’s cheap and meaningless. The fact is Trump is acting as every other President and if we don’t like that, that’s fine. But then attack executive authority, not Trump. You see attacking Trump for normative behavior is what makes claims of whataboutism invalid and TDS because it shows that folk like Scott don’t have a problem with the action but the person. THAT is issue here, not Trump in a vacuum. The fact is every president since the US left isolation (and probably before that as well) and mass media became a thing has used the officer to further their political goals in a personal manner and punish their detractors to include lean on foreign leaders for domestic purposes. We can both agree that is distasteful and probably unconstitutional (though equally we both know the Constitution is a meaningless document) but then by all means attack that. But to attack Trump and Trump alone, and to an insane level if virility, for simply acting as the President is expected is dishonest outside a personal vendetta.

  10. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    5. October 2019 at 19:26

    “Let me guess, alt-right sites.”

    also, I run five Twitter channels in Discord, which altogether run hundreds of accounts, with the most active channels posting about a thousand times per day or so.

  11. Gravatar of Derrick Derrick
    7. October 2019 at 09:44

    Trump only survives because where his enemies bring knives, he immediately brings nuclear bombs. It doesn’t make a difference if its someone who called him a name, someone suing him, or the leader of a foreign country. You see this same behavior in the sort of dull-witted reactionary dictators. It doesn’t surprise me that he became president since many Americans would also be like this if they were in charge.

    What is horrifying is the enablement by the right. Trump will do things, on camera, like mock a disabled reporter, and the GOP will just completely deny it ever happened. You can show Trump these things on camera and he will literally deny he did it. It is amazing to watch.

  12. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    8. October 2019 at 07:40

    Kenneth, good comments.

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