Garry Kasparov: Trump Embodies the Worst of New York, Does Not Represent the Best of New York
April 18, 2016
Famous chess master Garry Kasparov thoughtfully explores concepts of good and bad “New York values”.
It’s tempting to rally behind him — but we should resist. Because the New York values Trump represents are the very worst kind. He exemplifies the seamy side of New York City — the Ponzi schemers and the Brooklyn Bridge sellers, the gangster traders like Bernie Madoff and the celebrity gangsters like John Gotti — not the hard work and sacrifice that built New York and America.
Born into millions, Trump wants us to believe we can follow in his footsteps if only we buy his book, go to his classes and, yes, vote for him. He stands for fake values and fake value, debt instead of cash, appearance over substance, gold paint instead of the real thing.
Kasparov makes a great point about Trump’s frustrating reputation for “telling it like it is”:
Trump’s supporters praise him for his bluntness, for “telling it like it is.” It’s true that his language is startlingly vulgar — one of several traits he shares with his mutual admirer, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin — and it’s easy to find this refreshing after years of politically correct jargon from career politicians.
But what is the point of clear phrasing when the thoughts the words represent make no sense at all? What does “telling it like it is” mean when the meaning of “it” changes all the time? The most New York habit I can imagine is to tell someone exactly what you think. Trump tells people what they want to hear, a practice we already get far too much of from Washington.
Speaking of Putin—
It’s hard to imagine the quality of Trump’s campaign improving with the recent addition of political fixer Paul Manafort, a connection to Putin more direct than The Donald’s dictatorial rhetoric and fascist fear-mongering. Manafort worked most recently for Viktor Yanukovych, Putin’s puppet president in Ukraine . . . .
Meanwhile New York has plenty of good values and native sons to be proud of, which Trump could have emulated instead.
New York has plenty of representatives to turn to in order to align our moral compasses. Alexander Hamilton may now be doomed to be remembered only as a character in a musical, but he championed a strong government that protected liberty instead of smothering it. Teddy Roosevelt went after rising inequality the American way, by busting up the trusts to create more competition and opportunity.
Mayor Fiorello La Guardia had the hard-charging character and bombast of the New York stereotype Trump presents himself to be, but La Guardia was also a brilliant reformer and anti-crime bulldog who relished policy details and spoke a half-dozen languages. Teddy cracked down on the “too big to fail” monopolies of his time and battled giants like Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan. La Guardia went after the “too big to jail” bosses of the Italian Mafia.
Contrast them with Trump, a bully who targets the most vulnerable.
Another common argument for Trump is that he’s a businessman.
He may have business experience, but unless the United States plans on going bankrupt, it’s experience we don’t need.
Finally, Kasparov can’t help adding a note about socialism. He would know—in Soviet Russia, he had to live under it for years.
Unfocused anger makes people vulnerable to political snake-oil salesmen touting simple solutions and utopian outcomes. It opens the door to the aggressively uninformed authoritarianism of Trump as well as to Bernie Sanders and his siren song of socialism. (I’m sorry, Bernie fans, but I lived it, and the failures of capitalism are still better than the successes of socialism.)