How we live with President Trump

How we live with President Trump


norman lebrecht

November 09, 2016

In the Brexit referendum, almost all UK artists and the entire cultural establishment voted fervently to Remain. They got trumped at the ballot-box.

In the US presidential election, the vast majority of cultural votes went to Hillary. She got Trumped on the stump.

In both cases, a clearly defined, positive message outvoted a cause that represented more-of-the-same.

So what now?

We don’t change our ethical view of Brexit or  Trump. If we found them abhorrent before, abhorrent they stay.

The situation is as it is.

The psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, a survivor of four Nazi concentrations camps, wrote that when you cannot alter your situation the way to survive is to change your attitude towards it. Preserve an open mind. Find a different angle. Seek holes in the wall and opportunities in the system. Hang on in there.

Hope did not die.




  • Scott Fields says:

    Well, yea, sure. But he says he’ll make America great again.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, and when a scoundrel says that, it means something else from what the dictionary says.

      • Robin Worth says:

        What about Gary Johnson?

        Who did he take votes from ? And might Clinton have won Michigan and Wisconsin if he had not stood?

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Not at all clear at this point. Both Clinton and Trump were the most unpopular presidential candidates in recent memory.

  • David Osborne says:

    You can make a comment that long on SD? Don’t tell John Borstlap.

  • Tim says:

    ” a clearly defined, positive message outvoted a cause that represented more-of-the-same.”

    How about, “a vague, dishonest and negative message outvoted a cause that represented more-of-the-same.”

  • debussyste says:

    Very sad day for America ! We will regret Obama dearly even he did not do everything right .

  • John Borstlap says:

    The worst of it all will be that populists and anticultural underlings will feel strongly encouraged, extreme-rightwing parties in Europe (paid by Russia) will gain influence and power, to the detriment of civilized values, culture, integration of immigrants, etc. etc. Will European governments continue to support cultural institutions? Now that becomes very doubtful.

    • Sally says:

      Sorry about that…. he started-up an old computer in the attic.

    • Steven Holloway says:

      You are spot-on here, John. Le Pen was ecstatic at the news of Trump’s victory — as, of course, was Putin. Every country in Europe has an extremist right-wing movement or formal party lying in wait, or, in the case of Hungary, now in power. They may well take the presidency in Austria. Their influence in the Netherlands and elsewhere has been great indeed. Trump’s victory tells them they can succeed, and also gives them some tips on how to do it. This is a dark day, for after hearing Trump’s mysteriously subdued and rather conciliatory speech, I’m now the more in that dark re what he will actually do. He is utterly unpredictable. I wondered in the middle of the night here if he is, in fact, a better actor than was Reagan. After all, he was a television celebrity, and act was certainly what he did in his programme, viewers on tenterhooks as they waited to hear to whom he would say, “You’re fired!” I think that unpredictability explains the stock markets plunge, Mexico’s contingency plan, Iran’s statement this morning re the agreement made with Obama’s government and allies — allies then, but his attacks on Nato and foreign policy in general, for the latter is in essence isolationist, as all American right-wing movement have been, and his favouring of Putin may mean doubtful allies now. But frankly, I do not know what this man, who in the past gave large sums of money to the Democratic Party (though, a businessman, he hedged his bets by also donating to the Republicans). What I fear is that he and his advisors will realize that his most extremist supporters will be in rebellion if he doesn’t do what he said he would, expelling all illegal immigrants, as they are called, building that ludicrous wall (and denying Mexico’s sovereignty by making them pay for it. ho ho). In short, I wonder if his need to maintain support, thinking of a second term, may put the Government in the hands of the extremists, whether Trump himself is one or not.

      • David Osborne says:

        Chances are, Republicans who loath the man will have a dirt file and a plan in place to have him impeached and they’ll end up with an old style GOP man like Pence in the White House.

    • David Osborne says:

      Not sure I totally share your pessimism on that count. As this little train wreck develops, I think there could well be a backlash against that sort of far right populism in many European countries. That’s not to say that cultural institutions will not be under threat because of course they already were…

      • John Borstlap says:

        It is to be hoped that these developments will mobilize resistance movements, counterbalancing irrational madness.

        If I think of concept art, and concept music, they share in the trivial, desrtuctive irrationality, not as a warning but as a celebration. Maybe they will become even more negatively associated than before and that is in itself a good thing.

  • Halldor says:

    Mr L seems very well informed about what his compatriots did in the privacy of the polling booth. I know plenty of pro-Brexit people in the UK classical music business: understandably, they keep extremely quiet about it.

    • Steven Holloway says:

      What sector of the business? Not, I think, the musicians. It’s no good making a comment like this unless you are specific.

  • Gary says:

    “In both cases, a clearly defined, positive message outvoted a cause that represented more-of-the-same.”

    Actually it appears that Clinton won the popular vote.

    • M2N2K says:

      That is nonsensical because that was not the object of the game. It is like saying that a chess player won the match because he captured more pieces than his opponent who only captured the king. The object of this game was to win electoral votes and she lost.

      • John Borstlap says:

        There is a fundamental difference between a chess game and national elections. Clinton had ca. 200,000 more voters than mr T-Rex, so in fatcual terms, she got more voters. One could say that the system rigged itself and the clown took advantage.

        • M2N2K says:

          In terms of established rules being the determining factor in how the game is played or how a campaign is being run, there is no fundamental difference. All candidates had the same target — electoral votes — and one of them got considerably more of those than any of his opponents. The other statistical categories including so-called “popular vote” are immaterial and do not signify anything because they are not what the campaigning was for.

  • Dwayne says:

    I don’t see where BREXIT implications for English Classical music, and TRUMP governance here in the U.S.A. Classical music, will draw similar conclusions, at the end of the day, so to speak. I believe it remains to be seen how this will all play out, over time.

  • Alter Ego says:

    All those culturally engaged but disappointed citizens can apply for financial support from that model of philanthropy, the Clinton Foundation. After all, they hand out at least a few percent of what is collected after deductions for first-class travel, daughter’s wedding, and other expenses!

  • Hilary says:

    9th November has unfortunate precedence. A rare instance of something favourable occurring on this date was the fall of the Berlin War.
    Both May and Putin have congratulated Trump where others have been more guarded

  • Ken J. says:

    The paltry sums for supporting classical music from the US national government, delivered through the National Endowment of the Arts, will end. Shutting down the NEA has been a popular Republican goal for years, and now the Republicans have the authority and power to do it without fuss.

  • William Safford says:

    A vote for Trump is the performative act that proves that the voter is a xenophobic, racist, misogynistic bigot, or a fool, or both.

    • M2N2K says:

      Not necessarily. There are other possibilities.

    • Dwayne says:

      Judge not, lest ye be judged, sir.

      • William Safford says:

        Their votes condemn themselves.

        • M2N2K says:

          According to you — the judge and the jury of almost sixty million people.

          • William Safford says:

            They made their own judgments. They voted for a bigot. He won. This bigot is now our President-elect.That is on them.

            As Charles Blow wrote: “It is absolutely possible that America didn’t elect him in spite of that, but because of it. Consider that for a second. Think about what that means. This is America right now: throwing its lot in with a man who named an alt-right sympathizer as his campaign chief.”

            Trump is bringing into the halls of power the very people whom William F. Buckley shoved to the sidelines: the spiritual descendants of the John Birch Society, the KKK, and other conspiracy-minded far-right.

            Did Trump reach his audience? Well, the Ku Klux Klan is preparing to hold a victory rally in support of their winning candidate.

            Now we have to live with it for the next four years.

          • David Osborne says:

            According to the figures I saw, turnout of eligible voters was very low, around 56%. Clinton won the popular vote so fair to say that around 25% of American voters elected Trump as President. Still alarming that even than that many people were so misled, but let’s jot get carrying declaring he has any sort of popular mandate.

          • M2N2K says:

            Like most generalizations, yours is simply inaccurate. More than sixty million people voted for DT for all kinds of different reasons. I personally know a few highly intelligent and well-educated men and women who don’t have a bigoted bone in their bodies, none of whom — not a single one — is enamored of our president-elect and all of his past actions and statements, but they did vote for him because they firmly believe that the alternative would have been worse for this country. Time will probably tell us all whether they were right or wrong.

          • William Safford says:

            Your “highly intelligent and well-educated men and women who don’t have a bigoted bone in their bodies” knew exactly what they were doing when they placed their votes.

            There are many, many secrets surrounding Donald Trump. Where are his taxes? What are his ties to the Russian government — as the Russian government disclosed, Trump’s people were negotiating with them leading up to the election. What conflicts of interest will there be with Trump’s financial holdings? What else did he do to other women, not just the ones who came forward with their testaments to his groping? What else is there to learn about Trump University? What else is there to learn about his bankruptcies? What else is there to learn about all the people he has stiffed? What else is there to learn, that we don’t even know about yet?

            But what is not secret is the toxic stew of bigotry, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, paranoia, narcissism, nepotism, ignorance, and incompetence that is merely a partial list of what composes our President-elect. His birtherism is a profound act of bigotry, and an attempt to delegitimize our current President with his caustic lies. The day he announced his candidacy, he started off with slurs against Mexicans and others. He has lied about everything from Obama’s birthplace to climate change.

            Your voters who “don’t have a bigoted bone in their bodies” just elevated this disgusting man to the most powerful position in the world. And they knew it when the cast their votes.

            They did this, why? To keep a woman from being elected President.

            Either they are in deep denial, they are not intelligent but are profoundly stupid, or they knew exactly what they were doing.

            With their votes, they have made clear their true colors.

          • M2N2K says:

            The questions you have raised about DT are fully legitimate and these people to whom I referred earlier (who are by the way far more knowledgeable than I am on this issue) do indeed share these concerns. Since I have known them for decades, I am fully confident about their fairness and intelligence. During primaries they were decisively against this man. But when confronted with the final choice, they, and I am sure many more like them, have nevertheless chosen to vote for him in spite of all these doubts and reservations because they considered the alternative to be worse for the country, particularly in the long run — certainly not because of anyone’s gender but because of everything they know about that particular person.

    • Holly Golightly says:

      And that’s precisely why he was voted in; people despise being spoken down to by people like you who think they’re morally superior in showing utter contempt for ordinary folk. The inner urban and moral vanity of the regressive Left has been comprehensively rejected by the voters. And anatomizing the society into identity groups as gay, black, muslim, women – as if these groups are homogeneous and think and behave exactly the same. They do not all think the same and your attempts to corral them into disparate groups needing nanny’s protection has backfired spectacularly.

      Time for some inner reflection from you and people like you.

      PS: Paul Ryan will be President next time round.

      • William Safford says:

        Wrong. I do not show contempt for ordinary folk.

        I show contempt for bigots.

        As much as there is overlap between the two groups, that’s on the heads of the bigots, not the ordinary folks who aren’t bigots.

        You have elected a bigot, a xenophobe, a misogynist who likes grabbing p**** (censored by me).


      • David Osborne says:

        You’re a nasty piece of work aren’t you Holly Golightly. The people that isolated those groups are the ones that have oppressed marginalised, vilified and discriminated against them. That would be your mob. Go on dreaming for the likes of Paul Ryan, who was happy to destroy the country by disrupting Obama’s agenda if that’s what it took, because by the time Trump’s finished trashing your brand, there will be little left.

  • John Borstlap says:

    it appears that in reality, there were ca. 100,000 people in the US more who voted for Clinton, so according to proper national numbers, she should have won the election. A system which can produce uch unbalanced and unfair results, is entirely defective. It means that Mr T-Rex has won on a flawed basis.

    • Allen says:

      Your criticism of the voting system would more convincing if it had been made before the result was known, not after.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I would say, the other way around, since the outcome proves it.

        According to more recent info, there were ca. 200,000 more people voting for Clinton.

        The most important conclusion for Europeans is, again a strong warning against rightwing populism, and the need to prevent the further development of an underclass of victims of globalization and digitalization.

        • Allen says:

          I think you’ve missed the point.

          If selection by electoral college is fundamentally flawed, and should be replaced by popular vote, it is probably better to press for this before an election, not after when it has produced a result that you don’t approve of.

          The problem for you, Mr B, is that, as with Brexit, the “wrong” people turned out to vote. Shame on them – they should know their place.

          What you don’t seem to understand is that it is attitudes like yours that turned Mr Trump into a politician in the first place.

          • John Borstlap says:

            I’m merely commenting on a music site, not campaigning for a political position.

            And my comment clearly shows concern about the causes of the frustration:

            “…. and the need to prevent the further development of an underclass of victims of globalization and digitalization.”

            My comment did not invite personal attacks, this reaction shows the author up, really, as someone equally challenged as the Trumpists.

            In any society there will always be a large number of simple people, who deserve the same respect as anybody else who keeps to the law, but who should not be expected to understand the workings of complex social and economic processes, which is the responsibility of politicians and experts. The free-trade economic climate of recent decades has resulted in accumulation of capital at small elites, banks and big businesses, skimming society’s general wealth, and while there has been and still is intelligent critique on that development, it is outnumbered by primitive expression of frustration and not much else. These masses, entirely blind to what they are voting for, merely want their feeling expressed, and don’t think any further. It was the same dynamics that made Hitler’s coup possible and the enthusiastic bloodshed of the French revolution.

        • M2N2K says:

          The number of personal votes is irrelevant. The system of determining the winner is based on the number of electoral votes and that is the only number that the candidates were pursuing. Therefore that is the the only number that matters. By the way, for the record: I personally think that this entire “electoral college” system is deeply flawed. But that is the law and in a nation of laws we have no choice but to live with it for now.

  • Holly Golightly says:

    With all this rancid wailing and gnashing of teeth and catastrophizing from what I presume are mostly Lefties it’s so easy to see the elision from this kind of emotional outpouring to the equally emotive climate catastrophizing. No wonder so many million are skeptical – when you spend your lives emoting rather than thinking. So typical of the Left. Just like the violent riots and protests in the face of the democratic process.

    • John Borstlap says:

      In case further evidence would be needed to show why someone like Mr T-Rex could win these elections, this comment would be sufficient. 2 + 2 = 5 feels so much better, so let’s keep at that and if another outcome will appear somewhere, it’s the lefties fault.

    • William Safford says:

      By your evocation of climate change denial, you confirm the rational disconnect from reality that pollutes the conservatives and the conservative movement in the U.S. right now.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Indeed. Although I would call them ‘neo-conservatives’, and then specified with ’21C American’.

        • Holly Golightly says:

          That’s right; keep throwing your toys out of the cot. And keep emoting. Meanwhile, the Right will be running things.

        • William Safford says:

          It’s more complicated than that.

          A Venn diagram would show only a partial overlap of Neocons and climate change deniers. But there would be far more overlap with other conservative groups, especially the Tea Baggers whose land is about to be flooded by rising seas.

          The conservatives and Big Business (e.g. Koch brothers) have politicized what should not be a partisan issue. It is in the pecuniary interest of certain groups (the Kochs again) to foster the lie of climate change denial. They have used the tools of far-right media, from Faux News to Rush Limbaugh to Breitbart to promulgate these lies and inculcate them among their slavish and credulous listeners.

          It is not all of America that denies climate change; it is the fact-free conservative bubble.

          A parallel is tobacco companies and the denial of the link between smoking their product and lung cancer. As recently as the 1990s, the CEOs of all the tobacco companies could appear before Congress and lie under oath about this causal linkage, without going to jail for perjury or worse. Meanwhile, countless thousands of people continued to die from their products. This continues even to this day, but at least the lies are now overturned.