Saturday, July 30, 2016

Zero-sum politics Part IV: Levels of support among Trump's voters

In Part III of Zero-sum politics, I talked about the consequences of losing for Mr. Zero-sum, Donald Trump, and the likelihood that he would "exit," in Hirschman's terms, because of his lack of loyalty to the basic institutional framework.

Donald Trump has been accusing HRC of rigging the Democratic primary and stealing the nomination from Sanders.  This suggests he might not go quietly should he lose in November.  In Part III, I suggested that his most likely response is the lazy one:  withdrawing in disgust, as in Slacker.  Insist that HRC stole the election, and then go back to sticking his name on buildings that other people built and declaring bankruptcy for fun and profit.  Or, as Cartman would say...

It is, however, possible that he could take the more dangerous path, not accept the results, and encourage his supporters to do likewise.  Their response depends on what's next for your homework assignment.  David Easton, A Systems Analysis of Political Life.  Easton's great contribution to political theory is the distinction between "diffuse" and "specific" political support.  Specific support is based on tangible benefits that people receive.  We can, then, connect it to all of the zero-sum stuff that I've been talking about.  Diffuse support, though, is more about attachment to general principles of constitutional governance, blah, blah, blah.  It all sounds more eloquent when someone with a conscience, like Easton explains it than when a cynical asshole like me explains it.

Basic point:  Trump has no "diffuse" support for the system.  Mr. Zero-sum is all about winning.  He just wants to win the election so that he can have one more thing to brag about, and will likely insist that a loss can only be explained by a rigged election.  Should he lose and demand action from his voters, their response would be governed by their level of "diffuse" support.  The point about diffuse support, though, is that it is not governed by zero-sum rules.  A "republic," or "democratic" system, or whatever the fuck you want to call this country (no, I don't care about this one because the terms are so poorly defined, and yes, I have a Ph.D. in this, so fuck you if you want to try to lecture me on it) is set up in such a way that everyone can, in principle, benefit at some point in time.  That's not zero sum.  Tearing down the system, even peacefully, then, isn't necessarily beneficial, even to those who lose an election.  That's why we have peaceful transfers of power.

The point, then, is that diffuse support allows peaceful transitions of power, unless Trump throws a temper tantrum so epic upon losing, and his followers are in such a tizzy, and so devoid of diffuse support, that shit happens.

What might that be?  Well, let's save that for Part V.  Don't you want to read Easton now, though?

Again, Trump would probably be too lazy to stir anything up if he loses.  Probably.

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