Weekly Ezine Number 394
What Did Creighton Abrams Say that Applies Today?
Would You Like a New Insight Into Why Some Voters Voted for Trump?
What Did Creighton Abrams Say that Applies Today?
Lots of things to write about regarding Election Reform. Maine has been victorious in getting a second Ranked Choice Voting referendum on the ballot in 2018 (this is their People’s Veto to override the Legislature’s attempt to ignore the results of the first referendum). Plus, Maine will use Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in its primary election. Pennsylvania’s courts ruled its gerrymandered districts could not be used for the coming elections. Several Supreme Court cases will be ruling on the practice of gerrymandering and it looks like the practice may be outlawed.
But because our paragraph two today involves a story with Creighton Abrams, we decided to offer some of his quotes we think are particularly appropriate for current circumstances.
For those who don’t know, Abrams was the legendary General Officer America’s current main battle tank is named after. https://www.military.com/equipment/m1a2-abrams-main-battle-tank
Here is a bio of Abrams. His fame began as a Battalion Commander fighting in Patton’s Army in World War II. It was his Battalion that broke through at Bastogne on Dec 26, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Creighton-Williams-Abrams-Jr
Here are the quotes we think you will find applicable and thought provoking.
“In leadership, you have to guard against being up in the helm of a ship and zigging and zagging as fast as you can. You and everyone else up top are all full of yourselves and having a great time because you feel the spray in your face and the wind in your hair. But meanwhile all the people down below are getting seasick.”
“The farther up the flagpole you shimmy, the more your ass hangs out for everyone to see.”
“You people are telling me what you think I want to know. I want to know what is actually happening.”
“While we are guarding the country, we must accept being the guardian of the finest ethics. The country needs it and we must do it.”
Would You Like a New Insight Into Why Some Voters Voted for Trump?
I recently discovered inadvertently a new understanding of why some voters voted for Trump. What I want to do in this Ezine is tell you how I came to that understanding, what that understanding is, and how we can apply that understanding.
I’ve recently read Mark Bowden’s freshly published book about the battle for Hue in the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive. (A marvelous book. I recommend it.) https://www.amazon.com/Hue-1968-Turning-American-Vietnam/dp/0802127908/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523059500&sr=1-1&keywords=hue+1968+by+mark+bowden
Towards the end of the book is a story of a visit General Creighton Abrams made to the headquarters of the First Cavalry Division. Abrams at the time was the Deputy Commander of Military Assistance Command in Vietnam (MACV). Abrams came in upset with how the battle was going and the briefing he got from the Division staff only made him more upset. At the briefing’s conclusion, the First Cav Commander escorted Abrams back to his helicopter and got (ahem) personal guidance from Abrams out of earshot of the staff.
When Abrams left the tent, the First Cav’s Operations Officer sat down and started writing furiously. Somebody asked the Officer what he was doing. He replied, “I’m writing a wish list. In about 5 minutes the General is going to come back in here and ask me what we need in order to do what Abrams is right now telling him to do. I want to be ready.”
Sure enough, that’s what happened. With the backing of Abrams’ authority, the Officer got everything on his list except tanks. The reason he didn’t get tanks was because the bridges in the area wouldn’t hold tanks.
The story from Bowden’s book reminded me of a similar personal experience I’m now going to tell you about.
I remember the most positively animated I ever saw my father. My father was a very industrious man. He was a union worker on the railroad full time and he also built houses full time. Once when I was a teenager I watched him come into the house and immediately speak to my mother, and he was, as I just wrote, the most clearly excited I had ever seen him.
“You should have seen what happened at work (the railroad) today!” he exclaimed.
“They had this big muckety-muck come in from St. Louis (railroad headquarters) and he had a meeting of all the people who work in the (railroad) yard. He told us that our terminal had the lowest productivity of the whole system and he wanted to know why. And, boy, did he hear it.”
The implication was, of course, was that the workers pretty much unloaded on the man. My father told a few particulars that I don’t remember, but I do remember how he finished. He said that one of his other union workers told him a story. My father said the man (we’ll call him Jerry) had been working his job after the meeting in the rail yard’s tower. Jerry saw a train being assembled with too small an engine. The fact the engine was too small meant assembling the train was taking much longer than it needed to. Jerry told my father he immediately strode over to the nearby muckety-muck and pointed out the inefficiency. “Look there!” Jerry said. “That engine is too small! That’s exactly the kind of crap we’ve been telling you about!”
“Jerry told me later,” my father concluded, “That they had the bigger engine out and working in the yard that afternoon.” Not tomorrow. Not next week. That afternoon.
Here is what that story means to you and why I think it reveals why many people voted for Trump.
When my father said, “And, boy, did he hear it” and when he told my mother and I about the engine coming out for use that afternoon, those words were expressed in a tone of self-righteous vindication. He and the other union workers knew things weren’t running the way they should. The workers might even have spoken up before the muckety-muck appeared and made suggestions about how to make improvements. But given the way my father spoke that afternoon, I am inclined to believe those suggestions had been rejected. Worse, they had probably been rejected in a way that resigned my father and his co-workers to keeping their mouths shut and just collecting their paychecks. There was no one in authority who valued them or what they had to say.
That’s where they were when the muckety-muck arrived, They were hunkered down, doing what they were told and keeping their mouths shut. But when the muckety-muck arrived the union workers’ voices were heard and their insights were vindicated. Can you imagine the hidden smiles and up their sleeves laughter as the workers realized how much their usual bosses were getting their butts chewed by the muckety-muck? Can you imagine their satisfaction as they watched their bosses figuratively getting their heads knocked together and their operation became more effective and efficient?
You may even have had a similar experience where you work. It’s a formula for successful movies. The pompous ass boss is abusing their authority over someone when suddenly a hero appears who steps between the boss and the one the boss is trying to bully. Think of, for example, “Scent of a Woman” and how a blind Al Pacino steps between an overbearing Headmaster and the student Charlie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypx1Stz8zN0
So, how do these two stories relate to why people voted for Trump?
They relate because we had a significant number of voters who saw themselves as unseen, unheard and irrelevant to candidates and politics. There was no one running for office who those voters felt understood them or their needs. Then Trump came along. Those voters saw Trump as Abrams, as the muckety-muck or as Pacino. They saw Trump as a man free of the perceived flaws of the other candidates they had to choose from. Voters saw Trump as someone who would use his authority (like Abrams) to set things right. Voters saw Trump as someone as someone who (since he was already rich and (so they thought) not susceptible to corruption) would (like the muckety-muck) knock some heads together and make things run right.
Like Pacino’s character, Trump was speaking with words they could understand. He was calling out the fact that things weren’t right for everyday people and saying he could make things right. For people who had had their hopes dashed and felt betrayed, Trump’s message was the one they had been looking for. Trump’s message was one they felt would be good for them. And so, many of those voters voted for Trump.
Not only is this an explanation of why voters voted for Trump. This also offers an explanation of why voters continue to support Trump, despite the daily accumulation of evidence of his incompetence and unfitness for the office. The explanation is that Trump voters feel the complaints about Trump are not truly a revealing of his incompetence and unfitness. Trump voters feel instead that the complaints being heard are only the sour grapes bitching of people who are having their heads knocked together. Such complaints are, therefore, to be disregarded. Here’s just one of many examples of Trump’s unfitness. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-donald-trump-liar-20171208-story.html
What Trump supporters are doing is being unable or unwilling to admit to themselves that they have miscalculated. Part of this is psychological. We wrote about it in Ezine #385. http://blog.thecenterstrikesback.org/?p=175 (See the part in paragraph 2 about how buying decisions are emotional decisions justified by logic.)
In other words, to reiterate, when I first made these links from these stories, I for the first time really understood why people who should have known better than to vote for Trump (Trump is the ultimate scorpion to the frog) voted for Trump anyway.
I now understand, but my understanding does not change my opinion voters miscalculated in deciding to vote for Trump.
Voters miscalculated because they do not understand our system of government. We do not elect a dictator. We do not elect a CEO. We do not elect a boss of bosses. The person we elect President does not (unlike Abrams or the Muckety-Muck) have the power to “knock some heads together” or to unilaterally force the Federal Government to conform to their demands. The Congress and the Courts are their own branch and a President must persuade and act within the bounds of the Constitution.
Voters also miscalculated because they failed to comprehend the qualifications for the Presidency. Abrams and the muckety-muck occupied their positions of authority by virtue of a rigorous selection process justified by past performance. Trump manifestly lacked as a candidate and continues to exhibit in office the lack of judgement and character that should have caused him to be rejected as a candidate. Unfortunately, the American election system failed to provide meaningful choices beyond Trump and Clinton. This is why our election system needs the reforms we advocate.
There are several lessons to be had here for voters, candidates and future elections. We continue to assert that a prime lesson is our need for reforms to our election system that will allow more competition for candidates and more choices for voters. This is why America needs Ranked Choice Voting and Proportional Representation.
The final lesson I want to offer here was pointed out by a friend who previewed this essay for me. The lesson is this. We all make mistakes. We all make miscalculations. What makes our lives better or worse is what we do after we learn we have miscalculated. There’s the old saying of, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Shame on me because I’m not smart enough and mature enough to recognize I’m being fooled and take corrective action. The same principle applies to our miscalculations.
If we are dealing people whose cognitive dissonance is so embedded they are unwilling or unable to recognize their miscalculations, then they must be bypassed in favor of those who will. Further, those who will must be mustered and gotten to the polls so the ignorant, incompetent and unfit will no longer sit in positions of authority in our government.
See you next time.
P. S. I apologize again for the infrequency of these offerings. I do post frequently on my Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/TheCenterStrikesBack) with examples of the need for Election Reform. I invite you to check there and I will try to do better about duplicating those postings on my Blog.