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The Still Angry Peasant – Deciphering the Trump Phenomenon

Op-Ed by: Thomas R. Cuba, Ph.D., Special To The Free Press

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – In November of 2015, as Donald J. Trump emerged on the political scene, many pundits and observers miscalculated his intention and his ability to achieve his goals. Some, myself included, who were less emotionally involved, were able to sort through the bluster and recognize that Donald Trump had tapped into something unseen by most of the professional politicians, their advisors, managers, and party leaders.

In 2020, the media continues to attempt to analyze President Trump through the lens of the typical politician and the peasants are still angry, but are now just as angry at the media as they are the candidates.

The original article is reproduced in the following paragraphs.

THE ANGRY PEASANT: Deciphering the Trump Phenomenon

December 2015.

In 1532, Machiavelli wrote these words regarding how a Prince might effect change in a newly conquered land: “For he who innovates [referring to government] will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.  This lukewarm temper arises partly from the fear of adversaries who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new until they have seen it proved by the event.  The result, however, is that whenever the enemies of change make an attack, they do so with all the zeal of partisans, while the others defend themselves feebly as to endanger both themselves and their cause.”

The assessment of the human dynamics in play when a new prince comes along is quite accurate if incomplete.  Machiavelli explains that those who are well off under the old rule resist change vehemently.  This makes sense because change – any change – threatens their position of comfort, power, and complacency.  An alteration of existing conditions may not be a personal disaster, but it will diminish the status of the already successful.

The second group of people are those who are not so well off but are also not well-visioned enough to see that the future for them might be better should the changes be made.  This is the “devil you know” condition in which a person accepts hardship and fails to pursue change because making the change will be hard in itself and the end result is not guaranteed; they might even be worse off.

Machiavelli, through no fault of his own, failed, however, to consider the third group: the angry peasant.  In the angry peasant, fear of reprisal has been overcome by dissatisfaction with the ruler.  In the angry peasant, dying is preferable to living under the existing conditions.  Machiavelli’s failure to consider the angry peasant is understandable, for the lifespan of an angry peasant in 1532 was not long enough to make his position worth considering.

In America, however, our Constitution protects the angry peasant, if only up to a point.  Trump, Cruz, Carson, Paul, Sanders, and a host of others have tapped into the swelling masses of the angry American peasant.  Those who have become comfortable and complacent in the existing system are fighting hard to maintain their livelihoods and their powers.  But in America, the angry peasant only becomes even more angry when the powerful resist their chosen saviour.

Trump has been able to stir the anger and fear more deeply than the others and leads the pack.

Machiavelli goes on: “But to get a clearer understanding of this part of our subject, we must look whether these innovators can stand alone, or whether they depend for aid upon others.”

It is this statement, almost a footnote in the original text, that clearly separates Trump from the others.  Trump can stand alone.  After all, as he has told us many times, he’s got lots of money.

About The Author: Thomas R. Cuba, Ph.D.

Raised a simple Missouri farm boy, Tom managed to attend a British Prep School before commencing a college career that would culminate in a Doctorate Degree in Marine Ecology.  He also served as an Intelligence Officer in the U.S. Navy, and as a scoutmaster, SCUBA instructor, Wilderness Survival Instructor, and Firearms Instructor.

Tom has worked as an ecologist in both government and private practice, as well as a freelance nature photographer and computer programmer.

Now, a father and grandfather, Tom offers life lessons in the form of stories about the challenges people face and conquer as well as socio-political essays.  To that end, his first lesson is always his favorite quote.  “Failure is the whetstone of success.” ~ T. Leith Rettie, 1884.

You can read more from Tom on his site by clicking here.

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