Winning By Destroying: Trump And Gingrich – OpEd


When I was a boy and lost just about every sporting event I tried, my father told me, “What counts isn’t whether you win or lose but how you play the game.”

Most parents told their kids this. It was part of the American creed. But I doubt Fred Trump passed on the same advice to little Donald, who seems to have learned the opposite: It’s not how you play the game but whether you win or lose.

If there’s one idea that summarizes Donald Trump — his character, temperament, career, business strategy, politics and worldview — it’s winning at any cost. That’s the art of the deal.

Playing the game well or honorably is irrelevant.

Now that he is the presumed Republican nominee for the highest office in the land, this view is outright dangerous.

Government is about process. Democracy is about law. The Constitution establishes the rules of the game. A tacit social contract binds us all together.

So when, as the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Trump says a federal judge who’s considering a case against him is a “disgrace” and a “hater” who shouldn’t be hearing the case because the judge’s parents were Mexican, he’s doing more than insulting a member of the judiciary. He’s attacking our legal system.

When Trump threatens his critics, saying he’ll “loosen” federal libel laws to sue news organizations and unleash federal regulators on those who oppose him, he’s not just bullying. He’s endangering our democracy.

And when Trump foments bigotry, demanding that people of a certain faith not be allowed into the United States, or claiming without any evidence that “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans in New Jersey celebrated the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, he’s not just telling lies. He’s threatening the social contract that binds us together.

If governing is not undertaken correctly and respectfully, the entire system we rely on is weakened.

Trump is the extreme, but his candidacy is the logical culmination of years of win-at-any-cost politics. If any public official is responsible for starting us down this bleak road, it’s Newt Gingrich – reputedly on the short-list for becoming Trump’s vice president.

Yes, Gingrich scolded Trump for his recent comment about the federal judge. But Gingrich’s approach to politics has been almost as divisive and destructive.

After Gingrich became speaker of the House in 1995, Washington was transformed from a place where legislators sought common ground into a war zone. Compromise was replaced by brinkmanship, bargaining by obstruction.

According to political scientists Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann, “the forces Gingrich unleashed destroyed whatever comity existed across party lines, activated an extreme and virulently anti-Washington base — most recently represented by tea party activists — and helped drive moderate Republicans out of Congress.”

Under Gingrich’s lead, House Republicans closed down the government when they didn’t get their way on the budget. Then they voted to impeach Bill Clinton. Gingrich left the House under a cloud, but his legacy lived on.

House Republicans shut down government again in 2011 in a dispute over raising the federal debt ceiling — which could have triggered a government default and risked the creditworthiness of the U.S.

Gingrich has continued down his destructive path. In the presidential campaign of 2012, he even asserted that public officials aren’t bound to follow the decisions of federal courts. Trump’s attack on a particular federal judge is almost tame compared to Gingrich’s sweeping attack on the entire court system.

Winning by weakening our system of government is heinous. So why are Republican voters prepared to make Trump president?

Maybe it’s because so many of them have been losing economic ground for so long they want a winner on their side, even if that winner sacrifices democracy.

They are deluded. The only real hope for positive change is to make democracy stronger. The Trump bandwagon is taking us down the road to tyranny.

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

3 thoughts on “Winning By Destroying: Trump And Gingrich – OpEd

  • June 10, 2016 at 10:58 am

    I would like to make these points about the article. The statement of “What counts isn’t whether you win or lose but how you play the game” is not a rational statement. Business people such as Mr. Trump are making decision according to costs and benefits. For Mr. Trump, he has indicated many times that he will make decisions according to how these decisions bring good outcomes to the country. Mr. Trump seems to be rational decision maker. The author is not interested in such a criterion because he is a bourgeois economist whose main interest is to save capitalism, a system that is no longer existing in the USA, where big oligopolies are controlling the government and the people and their central bank is setting the price of money according to a committee rather than market forces.
    The author states that Mr. Trump has a “view [which is] is outright dangerous. But how about Secretary Clinton. Her view is extremely dangerous and fanatic and may be more dangerous than President Bush the second’s view. She wants to destroy Iran completely because Iran has nuclear reactors as other countries in the world. She plans to go after President Putin and China, and she wants to reoccupy Iraq again. She plans to make Israel the only force in the Middle East, giving that Israel has been violating all international laws. Mr. Trump does not have such as a view and all Americans know that. It follows that the author’s statement is not correct.
    The author thinks that government is about process and democracy is about law. But the reality shows that American people have been losing their liberty, as the government has been monitoring our daily life. The government is monitoring our phones and the government is selectively putting people on no-fly list. And there are many examples can be cited. The US government is violating all international laws. For example, the government sent forces to Yemen and Syria without any approvals from the legal governments. The government is using Drones to assassinate American citizens without due process.
    The author is getting upset about the judge. But it is true that many American individuals are sentenced to many years in prison and finally they have been found innocent and released. Many judges follow Pareto’s concept of derivative. They make the decision they like and then pick evidence that supporting that decision. Exactly the same way President Bush destroyed Iraq and killed more than one million innocent Iraqis. He decided to destroy the country first and then selected the evidence, whether correct or not, to justify the decision. Some judges do the same. They just select evidence which justify their decisions and ignore all other relevant evidence. The author has not informed the readers whether the judge made the correct ruling or not. The author just defends the judge, because he has decided to do so. It is really a very bad procedure.
    The author defends Muslims from Mr. Trump’s statement, which is very nice from him, but Secretary Clinton was the main reason for killing many thousands Muslims in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria. Even President Clinton and Obama have contributed significantly in the killing of Muslims. So, they are all racists and hate Muslims.
    The author claims that Mr. Trump will take the country to tyranny, but the reality shows that we are already in that state. The country is being controlled by the dictatorship of the financiers, and the few wealthy make decisions for the rest. Simply, the corporate media, which is controlled by the financers for serving their interests, has recently announced that Secretary Clinton is the Presumptive Nominee of the Democratic Party, given that she does not have the required delegate number for the nomination. If she becomes the nominee in the convention, it means that the super-delegates want her, given that the super delegates were not elected by the American people. So, the American democracy is dead.
    Finally, if Mr. Trump tries to win at any cost, then how he has been able to accumulate his wealth. I do not think that President Obama has bailed him out. The author should prove his point in order to be relevant. I am really disappointed by the author’s article because he seems to write anything to defend what he has in mind. He behaves like Meghan McCain when she makes statements at Fox News without evidence.

  • June 10, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    Government is about process??? Democracy is about law? What are you smoking??? There is nothing real about process and law in America. At least not for those beyond the working people. What a hypocrite you are

  • June 10, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    USA is now void of any substantial leader- but Hillary seems to be more acceptable.It is a momentous occasion in USA history to allow a Lady to lead the country.She might be ambitiuos but had the courage not to leave her husband in distress.She may not leave an ally in distress as well like Nixon.Trump is a wealthy vagabond whom Republican cannot accept or throw away.Good LUCK to Mrs>Clinton.


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