Saturday, December 17, 2016

The American Kakistocracy

Kakistocracy, meaning "government by the worst people," is not a new word, but it certainly has become more common since His Orangeness became a serious presidential candidate. That kakistrocracy is what we would get with Trump was obvious to more alert Americans in general, and certainly to the editors of the Atlantic, who called him "the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency."

The word came to mind this morning while reading a New York Daily News article about the drop off in education of the incoming administration. Advanced degrees by themselves are, of course, no guarantee of job performance, but the difference in education levels between many members of the outgoing Obama administration and incoming Trump administration is quite stark. Beyond under-education, Trump seems to have selected a number of foxes to guard various hen-houses. Wall Street insiders, creationist theocrats, and anti-government ideologues will now have powerful influence over business, the economy, education, housing, insurance, and other vital areas.

A number of other terms could apply. Certainly we have had for some time an oligarchy, rule by the few. Now more than ever we have a plutocracy, rule by the wealthy. If we have not had before, then we certainly have now a kleptocracy, "government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed."

It is very tempting to claim we also now live in an idiocracy, but I think the term is misleading. If Trump and his administration were actual idiots we'd have less to fear. They may be under-educated and may allow their ideologies to blind them to basic facts, but they're not stupid. They have agendas and at least some idea of how to achieve them.

Kakistocracy indeed.

Fear of kakistocracy is why most Americans could never consider Trump to be a credible candidate, let alone vote for him. Those of us among that group will be dismayed, but not surprised, as the events of the next four years overtake us. We may at times feel vindicated by one or another disaster, although we won't really enjoy it, as we'll have to live with the consequences as much as anybody else does. As for the 63 million rubes who happily gave in to a race-baiting demagogue, I can't even begin to guess how the next four years will seem to them,

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