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The Meaning of Trump

Donald Trump’s fortunes got a major boost last night with his towering victory in New Hampshire (and, just as important, the ongoing failure of a clear “establishment” alternative to emerge from the fray). And that means that pundits are once again debating, with a renewed sense of urgency, the real source of support for the unapologetically crude populist billionaire.

There are a variety of theories, all of which tend to conform perfectly with the pre-existing political views of the people offering them. For liberal elites, Trump is generally understood as a result of the supposed racism and anti-immigrant demagoguery of at least some GOP voters. For some anti-establishment Republicans, meanwhile, Trump is a vindication of everything they have ever said is wrong with the elite Republican policy agenda—in particular, its libertarian-bent on taxes, trade, and immigration.

But the exit polls out of New Hampshire complicate any effort to ascribe Trump’s soaring popularity entirely or even mostly to the substance of his policies (to the extent that he has articulated any real policies). As Ramesh Ponnuru writes in Bloomberg View:

Many people, including me, have looked at his support as a sign of dissatisfaction among Republican voters with Republican politicians. That dissatisfaction is indeed widespread, including about half the New Hampshire Republican electorate. But Trump did roughly the same among people who feel betrayed by Republican politicians and those who don’t.

Is his support instead about immigration? He certainly did markedly better among the 15 percent of Republicans who picked it — rather than the economy, terrorism or government spending — as their top issue. But he won among the people who picked each of those other issues, too. (A majority of New Hampshire voters said they favored offering legal status to illegal immigrants. Trump won 23 percent of those who favor making this offer.)

These results suggest that Trump’s support is more visceral than substantive—that voters are drawn to him more out of a desire to see a strong leader and a grand simplification at a time of crisis and drift than, as many thinkers on the right and left seem to assume, by any particular policy platform. As WRM wrote in August, Trump’s populism is rooted more in his particular anti-PC affect and freewheeling style:

Some politicians appeal to popular constituencies by advocating for their economic interests, at least apparently. This was the path of Huey “Every Man A King” Long in Louisiana. It was also the strategy President Harry Truman took in 1948 when he warned working Americans against Republican plans to destroy the trade union movement and the New Deal welfare state.

But Trump offers a different kind of “representation.” By flouting PC norms, reducing opponents and journalists to sputtering outrage as he trashes the conventions of political discourse, and dismissing his critics with airy put-downs, he is living the life that—at least some of the time—a lot of people wish they had either the courage or the resources to live. In this sense he’s not unlike Italy’s bad boy Silvio Berlusconi, who accumulated tremendous popular support by flaunting his refusal to abide by conventional rules of behavior.

None of this means that policy isn’t part of the picture, or that the GOP shouldn’t try to reach voters who, citing immigration and economic opportunity, did break disproportionately for Trump. But it’s important not to give “Trumpism” too much credit as a coherent political ideology.

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  • Beauceron

    Not me.
    I think Trump is a crude, oafish moron who would be a horrible president. I also doubt he would do half the things he says, and I don’t think he’s particularly conservative– just opportunistic.
    But I think the Left’s push to change the demographics so that they can get their permanent majority (supported by the Big Business-WSJ Right who want cheap labor and large profits) is wrecking the country, will permanently change the culture for the worse, and lead to a non-stop frenzy of divisive identity politics and “white privilege” bullsh*t from a crowd of braying, nihilistic know-nothings.
    So, I fear a President Trump, but I am delighted to see a GOP that has repeatedly lied to its base, repeatedly failed to stand up for principle, and failed time and time again to have any thoughtful plan for the country get its head kicked in.
    As a conservative, I think if we end up with Sanders and an utterly destroyed Republican party it will be worth it. From the ashes of the GOP, perhaps we may actually build a party that can and will stand up to the Left.

    • Celsius1939a

      First paragraph is just a repeat of elites description–not too intelligent. Rest is OK.

      • Fred

        No, his first paragraph is pretty spot-on.

    • Ellen

      Interesting. I agree that what is need is to utterly destroy the political establishment, but in BOTH parties. On the conservative side (which I support) Trump will slit the throats of these decadent lobbyists and corporate types who live the liberal lifestyle and fundamentally support it, while mouthing support for religion, family and all the rest to get the support of the yahoos, including educated ones. They aren’t any more conservative than the leadership of the Democratic Party, whom some of them go to bed with (remember James Carville and Mary Matalin?). Trump is the man of the hour. He is the only one with the money, the chutzpah and the craziness to drive the stake through the heart of that corrupt, do-nothing party.

      What will destroy the Democratic Party leadership is the defeat of Hillary Clinton, and the horrible legacy of their first black president as it unravels during Trump’s first term.

      Trump’s victory therefore, in one fell swoop, will accomplish 2 great goals even before his bed is warm in the White House.

      • Beauceron

        “but in BOTH parties”

        The Democrats are on their way to establishing a permanent majority– and all while they’ve moved farther to the Left than the party has ever been. The Left is winning (maybe even have won); I don’t see why they’d need to change.

        “He is the only one with the money, the chutzpah and the craziness”
        That I agree with. Say what you will about him, but he does have some balls to stand up and say a things that, regardless of how committed he actually is to them, needed saying.
        In an age where saying the wrong thing will get you fired from your job, or banished from polite society, that is no small achievement.

      • Jim__L

        I just can’t help but think about that video someone posted here that outlined what KGB agents used to do to try to “demoralize” countries in advance of a Russian takeover.

        If you can get the population to lose faith in their institutions, there can be no organize opposition to an outside takeover.

  • lukelea

    Coherent? What’s coherent about passing Nafta and Gatt while ignoring redistributive effects of? Or 1965 Immigration Act while ignoring demographic effects of? etc., etc., etc.

    • Angel Martin

      nothing was ignored. What you see as bugs were actually features – to the elites that supported them.

      Trump ascribes current trade and immigration policy to “stupid” leaders in D.C.

      that’s a rather charitable take on their actual motivation.

  • Palinurus

    The efforts explain Trump or Trumpism as a political ideology is a symptom of our ideologically blinkered age; the reigning ideology is that everything is susceptible to being explained as an ideology. Max Weber crystalized what this post is groping for as Trumpism with the notion of charismatic authority. It’s the political and personal magnetism of one who seems to be set apart from ordinary men by virtue of his extraordinary powers but yet can still appeal to the people by convincing them that they can join his band of chosen few and take on the world. In Trump’s case, think of Henry V’s St. Crispen day speech, the “band of brothers” one, re-written and recited by Andrew Dice Clay. It is precisely Trump’s ever-changing, arbitrary, ultimately personal, and always authentic voice that appeals as a refreshing and revolutionary challenge to the rule-bound, passionless, feckless, and hypocritical bureaucratized power of the establishment.

    The American version of this was immortalized in Melville’s Captain Ahab, that mysterious, magical, charismatic captain who leads his ship of state on a reckless and catastrophic adventure. Moby Dick is the tale par excellence of the perennial appeal, and danger, to the American republic of a bastardized brand of Caesarism, of a half-mad leader who would exploit and harness the discontents and dissatisfactions endemic in hearts of men living in a commercial republic. Ahab wanted to “punch through the plaster mask” of nature in the form of the White Whale. Captain Trump wants to “punch through the plaster mask” of every sort of establishment figure and institution, and thereby exercise mastery over the economic and political forces that seem as inscrutable and hostile to Trump’s crew as the White Whale and nature did to Ahab and his. That Trump hurls the equivalent of cream pies to the face rather than harpoons, and his followers don’t go to sea to fight the whale but rather watch and maybe vote, merely locates him on the lower end of the spectrum of this type.

    • Beauceron

      “Max Weber crystalized what this post is groping for as Trumpism with the notion of charismatic authority. It’s the political and personal magnetism of one who seems to be set apart from ordinary men by virtue of his extraordinary powers but yet can still appeal to the people by convincing them that they can join his band of chosen few and take on the world”

      Is that how you see Trump? As a “charismatic authority” whose “personal magnetism” sets him apart from “ordinary men”?
      Me, I see him as a dolt who was crafty enough and far enough outside the beltway-blinkered crowd to recognize that an awful lot of Americans don’t recognize the country in which they were born and raised anymore. That an awful lot of Americans are sick and tired of a political and cultural elite who answer every criticism and question of their policies with dismissive charges of racism and xenophobia. That an awful lot of us see the country on a downward spiral and would like to get off the ride. Trump capitalized on that. Does he have fixes to those problems? No and no and no. But He was crude and callous enough to at least voice them– and he should get points for that. Heck, even the GOP establishment types– who have made a career of ignoring conservative voters– have pricked up their ears and said to themselves “Maybe mass immigration is an issue…” They don’t think it’s a winning issue though –they know the demographics are changing quickly enough now that it is political suicide to anger latino voters, who will be the majority in the US in two decades. So they are trying to figure out a way to get latino voters on board without alienating their traditional white conservative base, it’s just there’s no way to do that. The way to bring minority voters on board is identity politics– racial spoils and handouts. And that will make white voters abandon them.

      The GOP, I think, is a dead party. Minorities will never voter for them and whites are sick of their lies and betrayals.

    • Jim__L

      I doubt that Trump would call anyone in his audiences his “brother”. Great line about Henry V, though. =)

      I further doubt that Bernie (and especially not most of his supporters) would consider most of those he’s trying to “help” to be his social equal either, which puts him at odds with the only consistent definition of “socialism” I’ve ever seen.

      The “Man of the Masses” demagogue has not yet appeared on the scene.

  • Celsius1939a

    The author will eat his words as have all who put down Trump’s supporters. We need some intelligent writers, not limited thinkers.

    • Jim__L

      You’re welcome to try your hand at it, join in the discussion. =)

    • Fred

      The author will eat his words as have all who put down Trump’s supporters.

      Be sure you buy those brown shirts in bulk. They’re cheaper that way.

      • Celsius1939a

        You really are a sicko! I am sorry for you.

        • Fred

          I’m a sicko? I’m not the one making threatening noises about those who oppose il Duce Americano and his supporters.

          • Jim__L

            There’s certainly a possibility that Celsius didn’t mean that literally.

          • Fred

            That actually occurred to me later. Given Trump’s belligerence and that of some of his followers, it’s a natural mistake to make. So Celsius, if you’re watching, I apologize if I misread you. That said, without reference to Celsius, there does seem to be a strong fascistic strain in Trump, although he reminds me much more of Mussolini than of Hitler (so I suppose I should have said black shirts). He has the same exaggerated machismo, oafish clownishness, and crass, vulgar boorishness. There is also the incident of the Black Lives Matter thug who was beaten at one of Trump’s rallies. Now having disruptive riff raff like that forcibly expelled from a rally by trained security people is one thing, and I’m all for it. Having a mob beat him up (or approving of it after the fact like Trump did) is another thing entirely and smacks far too much of Italy circa 1927.

          • Jim__L

            Yeah, Mussolini a pretty apt comparison.

            Trump is also unofficial leader of the “White Lives Matter” movement. I wonder how long it will take the punditocracy to make that connection…

  • WigWag

    Sorry, Via Meadia; you don’t have a clue what the meaning of Trump is. It’s not hard to figure why the Trump phenomenon is so mysterious to you; like the rest of the press, the punditocracy and the intellectual class you have your head so far up your you know what that you can’t see straight.

    Here’s the deal. The United States has spent the past seventy years or so (since the end of World War II) as the enforcer of a legal-based international order where every nation that was willing to buy in and play by the rules had a fair chance to succeed. Since the end of the Cold War, this Pax Americana has become increasingly costly to the United States just as it became increasingly valuable to the rest of the world. In politics, defense, diplomacy research and development and finance, U.S. taxpayers subsidized the rest of the world. We were able to afford to do this because we were rich, the international system we defended benefited Americans too and we had allies in Japan and Europe who were also wealthy and helped defray some of the costs.

    Those days are gone.

    America’s allies are increasingly useless. For decades Japan has cycled through one economic calamity after another. Europe is now weak, confused and entering its dotage. Our allies no longer help defray the enormous costs associated with policing the world system; the burden now falls exclusively on America.

    The U.S. role as world policeman still works relatively well for America’s elite. America’s dominance of the world financial system insures that Wall Street types make fabulous fortunes. Massive government subsidies to the health care system and higher education assures that
    people who work in those sectors are still prosperous as ever.

    Unfortunately the system no longer works for the rest of America. Americans don’t understand why we have to fit the bill for running the world when the vast majority of Americans get so little for footing the bill. Americans don’t understand why American workers have to take it on the chin so the American Government can protect an international system that benefits workers in other countries so much more than it benefits Americans.

    Trump gets this; none of the other politicians running for President do. Obviously Via Meadia is too dense to get it either.

    Millions of Americans want the United States to look out for the interests of Americans not some rule-based international system that insures that foreign workers become increasingly prosperous while American workers become increasingly marginalized and broke. They wonder why Chinese workers reap the benefits and become increasingly wealthy while the international system that facilitates that prosperity is paid for almost entirely by American taxpayers. They wonder why American factories relocate to Mexico while American auto workers lose their jobs, all the while that Mexicans prance back and forth across the border practically at will. They see a Muslim world seething with hate against Americans and against Christians and Jews while the very mention of limiting immigration from the Muslim world is denounced as inherently bigoted.

    Trump wants to put the interests of American workers ahead of the interests of an international order that Americans have been paying to police for decades.

    American elites don’t care; they’re doing fine. Millions of Americans aren’t doing fine; Trump speaks to them. His message his simple: I will put your interests ahead of the interests America’s elite few and ahead of the interests of the Chinese, Mexicans, Arabs, Europeans or any other group in the world that has been living off of American largess for decades.

    Millions of Americans like Trump’s message.

    Why shouldn’t they?

    • Pete

      Hey Mead, you need to get WigWag here to lecture your kiddies.

      The guy make more sense than what you’re selling. But then again, you’re so into the establishment and part of it that you can see why Trump is popular and why the cushy post WWII you prospered in is ending.

      • Jim__L

        It’s easy enough to view Trump as a symptom of the failure of the Blue Model. Mead may well airily dismiss Trump’s posturing as trying to order the tides back.

        However, I think Trump is going to try all the same.

        Trump’s OODA loop involves following the applause lines, following the ratings. If one could keep an open mind about where those applause lines are likely to be and get there first to shape the debate, you could lead Trump around by the nose.

        The problem with our elites is that they can’t shape the debate anymore, because the elite 10% has alienated themselves from the 90% on so many issues (disruptive innovation, political correctness, immigration, trade, and yes, gay “marriage”). Trump’s success shows that the Elites have hit their high water mark.

        Where things go from here is anyone’s guess.

    • Nevis07

      This is a pretty good assessment. I don’t like Trump’s style, but I absolutely agree with you about a frustration of Americans increasingly feeling like second hand citizens in their own country and from their own supposed leadership.

    • f1b0nacc1

      I have mixed feelings about this.
      I suspect that you have identified the nature of the problem with your usual depth and perception, well and good. I doubt, however, that Trump is the solution, or even a particularly desirable alternative. With that said, if the choice is between Trump and Hillary/Bernie, then Trump it shall be, however reluctant I am to embrace him.
      Let us hope it doesn’t come to that.

      • Nevis07

        Yes, I feel similar about the guy. I have sympathy for what he is saying much of the time. But on the other hand, does he plan on tearing up NAFTA just because we have a trade deficit with Mexico, for example? The problem with populists is that they tend to be reactionary (i.e. what tends to get a crowd applause, hence the term). Trump loves attention and applause and I suspect he keep searching for answers just like how he stumbled upon the hot-button immigration issue and then pressed his advantage on it and never let up. But governing a country is not so simple as checking poll statistics. Trump is best at what he does when he’s feeling good, but what happens when he gets his ego bruised? When he’s attacked on the campaign trail he nearly loses his head. What’s going to happen if China decides to ram a US vessel on a freedom of navigation patrol for example? Will he gets us into a nuclear standoff with China?

        What I think is refreshing about Trump is that he offers an approach to difficult issues with what is effectively a paradigm shift in policy. For example, instead of both political parties basically having policy fights over the relatively insignificant concepts of visa laws, Trump’s approach starts from the beginning and asks fundamental questions about what we want our future culture to look like rather than just how much big business benefits.

        Still, Trump is the ultimate wildcard president. One can easiliy imagine him winning far more favorable diplomatic conditions from trading partners as one can imagining him effectively setting up fenced-in deportation camps.

        I would feel far more comfortable with the idea of Trump as president if he were to offer more realistic in-practice policy concepts rather than just all of the bluster.

        • Jim__L

          “Trump is the ultimate wildcard president. One can [as] easily imagine him
          winning far more favorable diplomatic conditions from trading partners
          as one can imagine him effectively setting up fenced-in deportation

          Yeah, that about sums it up.

          Millions of Americans are getting desperate enough to roll those dice.

        • Jim__L

          Shouldn’t we start thinking about plans to organize resistance against any overreach Trump may attempt as president? That should be at least as high a priority as trying to get the man elected.

          • Nevis07

            Simple answer, Jim? Yes. But then I’ve for a long time been of the opinion that a vast number of America’s problems could be solved with giving power back to states by removing it from congressional and executive hands. It’s only that more important today, with a potential socialist (I suspect communist) Bernie Sanders, a power hungry corrupt and connected elite Hillary, or a potential billionaire populist becoming president. If ever there were a time to pull back power from the executive office and return it to more local levels, now would be the time. Unfortunately, any time either party gains the upper-hand in congress and the white house, they can’t but help themselves take just a bit more each congressional session. More precedents of executive overreach/action has deteriorated the democratic process – all because they don’t like how democracy works.

          • ljgude

            We do have James Madison for that with his checks and balances. If Trump does something the majority of people don’t want – like Obamacare – then the people will elect a Democratic congress in a flash. I admit the system isn’t slowing down Obama all that well because Republicans caved, but I think there are still strong moderating forces built into the system that will face either a President Trump or Sanders. And yes I too think Wig Wag explains the 35% of NH Trump voters very well indeed.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Well put…I believe we share very similar hopes and concerns about what Trump might mean. I am still hoping for a better alternative, but the time is fast approaching where that might not be an option.

      • GS

        Well, I support him without any reluctance you profess. As far as it is known, he is not a criminal, nor a syphialist. The capitalist notion of the property rights should be deeply ingrained in him – no “you have not built this!” baboomery from him. indeed, how many people could think “I wish I had several billions and were capable of doing and saying what he says and does”? Each of such people is a potential Trump enthusiast.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Trump is a crony capitalist of the first order, just take a look at his abuse of eminent domain to feather his own nest. He is better than Hillary or Bernie, but that is something akin to being the best ballerina in Galveston, an accomplishment in only the most limited sense.

          • GS

            And so what? He is a fighter, and a fighter is what the country needs. He could, and would, get at hillary who is hiding behind her… er, anatomy… and hopes that nobody would reach for her there.

          • f1b0nacc1

            But what is he fighting for?…
            Look, I am NOT suggesting that either Hillary or Bernie would be preferable to Trump, if the time comes, I will pull the lever for him. With that said, I won’t do it happily, and I will do it with a great deal of concern about just what exactly I will be getting.
            Of course being unsure about Trump is preferable to being sure about Hillary/Bernie

          • Ellen

            Good analogy, but sadly that is where we are today. Being the best ballerina in Galveston may be better than being the best businessman in Novosibirsk. That is how far we have declined. Putin is eating the lunch of Obama and his sycophants. How pathetic. Didn’t the US win the Cold War?

          • WigWag

            There’s one other thought worth adding to the discussion and it has to do with race. The only politically correct racism still permitted in the United States is the racism against working class whites. We’re talking about the people who Charles Murray wrote his most recent book about. In an era where identity politics dominate, the only demographic group that can be disparaged at will is the working class white demographic. Obama ridiculed them for clinging to their guns and their religion. Romney ridiculed them for being lazy “takers” instead of hard-working “makers.”

            As a country, we’ve spent the better part of the past 50 years trying to make up for the sin of slavery; it was a good thing to do. From affirmative action to subsidized housing to the voting rights act, our country has made an expensive and vigorous effort to empower African Americans. No one criticizes African American voters for pursuit what they perceive as their self interest in maintaining and even expanding the Great Society programs that they are staunch supporters of. Hillary Clinton genuflects to the likes of Al Sharpton and so does Bernie Sanders. Racial hucksters like Ta-Nahesi Coates are prominently mentioned in political journals of all types, including the American Interest. Movements like “Black Lives Matter” are granted deference by Democratic and Republican elites alike. No one has a problem with Black Americans sticking up for their interests or voting for candidates who support those interests.

            We see the same thing with the fastest growing identity group in America; Latinos. Democrats have been genuflecting to the interests of Latinos for decades; they’ve supported bilingual education; they’ve insisted that ballots and other governmental documents include Spanish translations and most importantly, they’ve supported increased legal immigration and immunity for undocumented immigrants. So anxious have Republican elites been to win the political affection of Latinos that they’ve seen and raised the Democrats when it comes to policies considered to be Latino-friendly. No one criticizes Latinos for supporting candidates who support their interests.

            Upper class whites know exactly how to support candidates who support them. Billionaires and multi-millionaires make enormous political donations to insure that the issues that they care about are well-attended to. Other than some mild snorting by the press, all of this is seen as perfectly normal. The billionaires have tons of money to give; we live in a free country. Why shouldn’t they support the candidates of their choice? It’s the same with upper-middle class whites; when they support candidates who support the gentry-liberal policies that they upper-middle class supports, that’s seen as democracy at its best. Whether its Obama, Clinton or Sanders, there’s no one who disparages upper middle class whites for voting for these candidates who believe what their constituents believe.

            When it comes to working class white people, everything changes. Trump supports policies that while not necessarily good for elite Americans, and certainly not good for the Chinese Japanese or Mexicans, would protect this vulnerable group. Unlike most of the other presidential candidates he’s against free trade; unlike all of the other GOP candidates he supports entitlements, unlike other candidates in both parties, he genuinely opposes a lax immigration policy. Yet when working class white people support the candidate who supports them, they’re disparaged in the most obnoxious and even racist way. They’re called yahoos; they called zombies; they’re called low-information voters; they’re called rednecks; they’re called uneducated; they’re called stupid and they’re called cretins.

            Why is it perfectly acceptable for blacks, Latinos and upper class whites to vote for candidates who back policies the they like while its considered damnable for working class white people to do the same thing?

            I think there is a reason and that the reason is racism.

            White is the new black, at least if the whites in question don’t have a lot of money.

          • Ellen

            Totally correct Wigwag. The revolt of working class whites has been a long time coming and it will destroy the Democratic Party permanently, if you ask me. More than half of the Hispanic population is actually “white”, if you classify them racially. They marry whites and their children will be even whiter. So, the idea that Hispanics will be a permanent nonwhite population is nonsense.

            Half of them will be added to the white column in the next generation, and they will vote for Trump. They want opportunity in America, not quotas set aside for them in jobs they cannot perform well, as with the blacks. This idiotic classification scheme – classifying a cultural/linguistic group by a racial category – will come back to haunt the DP and its stupid liberal elites who invented this scheme for political reasons.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Essentially you are making the argument that Marxists have made for years….racism is all about class. I don’t disagree, despite the fact that Marxists have said this…after all, a stopped clock is right twice a day and all that…

          • Anthony

            It may come as a surprise to some of your readers, but there is a marked relationship between economic power and political power – how does the American political system work and for what purpose. Simply labeling American interests as black, Latino, white, Jewish, etc. defaults to the pluralist theory and superimposes division by construct of race (I recognize its sociologically intent), et al. Doing so ignores that our civic arrangement often represents the privileged few color shadings not withstanding. Specifically, participating in elections and the activities of political candidates (Parties) as well as exercising the right to speak out are insufficient measures against the influences of systemic (corporate) wealth – it’s not Charles Murray’s whites nor Beyonce’s safe militant posturing and ESL dynamics that are truly in conflict. Our polity operates chiefly with an undemocratic effect and all that you cite (though relevant) shields the “interests” (haves) at the expense of the many – and all manner of human susceptibilities are utilized to carry on said arrangement.

            Trump as others before him, when incomes overall are stagnant, taps into a resentment. I proffer that, though the resentment is real, it may be displaced. Racial linguistics are both too easy and a tried and true default.

          • WigWag

            Your argument may or may not be right; I’m not unsympathetic to some of the points you make. Nevertheless, the tremendous emphasis on the importance of identity politics doesn’t come from me or from the ideological right; it comes from the ideological left. It’s progressive blacks and movements like “Black Lives Matter” that pushes identity politics as a way forward for blacks. It’s feminists who insist that women are less politically powerful and the victims of rank bigotry merely because of gender. We see the same phenomenon with Latinos, gays and any other group that feels aggrieved.

            Identity politics is the new normal; both political parties genuflect to it. It’s never called racist when it’s practiced by blacks and it’s never called sexist when it’s practiced by women. But if working class whites seek to protect their interests by supporting a candidate who advocates policies that might help them, they’re branded as bigots and so is the candidate who is on their side.

            As I said, white is the new black.

          • Jim__L

            What was that quote about Bobby Fischer? “He’s an a**hole, but he’s our a**hole”.

            Trump is a reaction not to race particularly, but to cosmopolitanism. Trump supporters want the rising tide to lift *their* boats, not just float the boats of the Davoisie. It just hasn’t, in recent years. Trump is surfing the tide of resentment over what most Americans have experienced in recent years. The elites don’t get it because they haven’t lived it.

            Our elites keep saying, “Oh dear, structural unemployment, nothing we can do about that.” “Oh dear, American decline, nothing we can do about that either.” “Oh dear, wages for another kind of job have collapsed after another flood immigrants in the labor market, nothing we can do about that either.” The fact that these problems are often directly caused by policies that directly favor our elites — even if it’s just allowing them to duck out of situations in which they embarrassingly badly, as is the case in the Middle East — is what’s driving that tide. The fact that elites can shield themselves from these problems just makes the resentment worse.

            All that said, I don’t think Trump has hit upon the most productive and constructive ways of correcting the problems he correctly decries. I don’t think he has the temperament to do so. He’s Malcolm X, when what we need is a Martin Luther King. (I’m still wondering if Carson couldn’t fill that role, here.)

            What we need is to drop the tunnel-vision focus on disruptive technologies that put people out of work, and emphasize development of expansive technologies that will enable new kinds of productivity — *that Middle Americans can participate in*. New frontiers, guys! They’re still out there!

            What we need is to recognize that any government that does not see to the interests of its own citizens — “if government becomes destructive of those ends” — is going to see its citizens rise up and overthrow the establishment. (Thank God we can do this peaceably.)

            What we need is some level of protectionism to counter China’s blatantly Mercantilist policies — or at least the credible threat of such protectionism, to effect the elimination of China’s Mercantilist policies.

            And yes, we need some limits on migration, and some enforcement of those laws. Good walls make good neighbors.

            We need a military that is strong enough to fight for America’s interests overseas — not a military that weakens itself for the sake of PC social engineering experiments. Also a diplomatic corps that is competent enough to support America’s interests overseas — not one that weakens itself for the sake of PC social engineering experiments (e.g., Hillary Clinton, Julian Assange).

            If Trump is the only guy up there willing to do ANY of this, he’s going to win by default. If he can convince voters that he’s the BEST guy to do this, he wins fair and square.

            This is why Trump is winning the GOP nomination — and why he could win the Presidency. All a voter has to do is consider him or herself an American, that has a right to ask his or her government to put his or her interests over ideology, elites, or the rest of the world, and Trump has another supporter. Race and gender don’t matter, only interests matter. And Trump nails that narrative like no other.

          • Anthony

            Let me ponder, as an American of long descent, concept of identity politics. Well, here in America Identity politics begins with the idea “white” and perhaps from your perspective others have now presumed their constructed (women excluded) identity entitles entry into the arrangement.

            As to 21st century version (identity politics as you label them) and its convenient and fashionable usage, we are probably in agreement regarding its balkanizing shortcomings; even so, that’s your argument and was not a factor in my initial reply. That said, I avoid facilely analogizing (“white is the new black”) contrivances that further service a divisive American interpretation of our societal arrangements.

            Furthermore and relative to post, I am not prepared to define, categorized, label, caricature, dismiss, and generalize about Donald Trump’s supporters. But I will observe as an interested American patterns, attitudes, demographics, commentary, etc. that manifests from, not just Trump’s supporters, electorate as whole vis-a-vis campaigns.

          • f1b0nacc1

            As you might have noticed, Obama is quite skilled in throwing away hard-won victories

          • Jim__L

            Most admirable of the Soviet Premiers, more like.

    • JR

      Agree with you 100% on identifying the problem. You hit it out of the park. But is Trump the solution? He very well may be, but history teaches us to beware of populists. Their ideals often lead to some pretty shittastic situations. See Venezuela for the latest example.

    • Jacksonian_Libertarian

      Good analysis of Trump’s supporters, much better than Via Meadia’s failed attempt.
      None of the politicians running, seems to understand why the economies all over the world are performing so badly (We are 8 years into “Great Depression 2.0”).
      I prefer Cruz to Trump because he is focused on returning the Federal Government back inside the limits of the Constitution. But, Trump is my second choice, even if he doesn’t cut down the Federal Government, he will at least deal with the festering infection of massive legal and illegal immigration. I worry however that he will continue usurping to the Federal Government the powers that rightly belong to the States and the People. I wonder if he will get rid of Obamacare, and throw healthcare back to the free market where it belongs. I don’t think Trump recognizes that China’s currency manipulations for the last 40 years, presents more of an opportunity for America, than an injustice that needs to be remedied.

      • ARMSTROB

        I agree with your views of Trump. Maybe that is because I feel our biggest problem is the size of the federal government and the unelected bureaucracy running it. In my opinion Trump is part of it and the governments intrusion is how he made a name for himself and I believe Cruz would attack it especially if he Fiorina, who knows how to deal with the bureaucracy and is not afraid to get rid of waste by firing people, as his V.P. I also liked the article here at Am. Int. by Blankenhorn, ” Trump’s America” about Trump being a magnifico, perfect.

  • Dale Fayda

    Donald Trump is a putz. He’s certainly no Conservative; he’s barely even a Republican. He has no problem with Big Government; he just thinks (I have no idea why) he can make it run better by putting “the best people in all the right positions”. His words, not mine.

    Not for a minute do I buy the notion that Trump really wants to deal with the unrelenting daily grind of being the Chief Executive of the United States; the battles with Congress, the unresolvable foreign affairs conundrums, the constant press scrutiny and the immense responsibility of having the buck for the well-being of this country stop at his desk. I don’t believe that he’s up to the task of the extremely heavy and unpleasant political lifting which a Republican president would necessarily have to do to get this country to change its ruinous course.

    I do believe he’s rendering this country a tremendous service by loudly bringing up issues which our gutless ruling class refuses to countenance and by showing the Republicans, who typically live in abject fear of the media, that it can be taken on and beaten.

    Do I think he would be a very good, let alone great president? No, I do not. Do I think he would be a better president than Bernie “Dr. Demento” Sanders or Hillary “That’s What They Offered” Clinton? Absolutely! Would I vote for him over either one of those two hooples? In a heartbeat! But he’ll still be a putz.

    • Jim__L

      He’s not capable of dealing with many of these issues, so he won’t.

      On the other hand, screwing them up too badly would make him look bad, so he’s likely to delegate these issues to subordinates, who may or may not be “the best people”, and whether or not they are “the best people”, they may not have the right answers (because there may not be any right answers).

      On the other hand, he’ll shake things up a LOT, which could be a blessing or a curse. I have no idea at this point. I’m convinced that most of the time-servers in DC could stand to be fired, but I don’t think anyone knows what comes next after that — least of all, Trump.

      Also on that hand, even if there are no “right” answers, there may be a “best answer for the interests of America”, and I would say that for the mere prospect of continued applause, Trump is at least as likely to pursue that as anyone up there.

  • Dhako


    What really beggars belief is that you are this clueless about the real motivation of your average Joe Six-packs in the fly-over-states, particularly those who thrill to the thought of voting Donald Trump. And, yet, you never allow a single day to pass without given tendentious lectures about how US should fix this country or sort out that country, if only that is, Obama would listen the pearly wisdom you are so charitable mind as to be offering practically free in this rag-sheet of yours.

    Now, do you know why I was quoting that biblical proverb the other day, particularly the one that says: “why do you notice the log in other’s eye, when you are practically blind by the sharp mote that is in yours”.

    Of course, for this is what I had in mind, since, you really couldn’t be more at sea in describing what Trump is all about. And what is even more shocking to observe is that, even, I, as a observing foreigner of the going-on of the US, from afar, can easily tell you that you really couldn’t be more wrong about what motivates the average Trump’s voter even if you try it.

    Perhaps, a searingly and immersing reality of living within the town of down-and-out in the Rest-Belt America, could refresh your glib assertion of what is going on in here, particularly given the fact, that your tone is quite close to the notion of saying “why-don’t-they-eat-cake” view of the world where Trump’s supporters are concern.

    Or failing that, then, perhaps, you could do worse than George Orwell in 1930s, who took it as his personnel mission to understand the down-and-out of England’s industrial towns in Lancashire and Yorkshire, during the great-after-the-effects of the great Depression, which resulted his first book of “The Road to Wigan Pier”, and therefore, like him (were you to emulate him) you could learn one or two sociological lessons as to why the denizens of Rest-Belt’s USA, may be incline to vote for character like Trump.

    Hence, here is hoping, that, next-time before you detain us with a shallow reading of what is happening in the USA, particularly all that is crawling under US’s political firmament, you will at least have some detail and “first-hand-exposure” of why Joe Six-packs is in the revolting mood that he is in at the moment.


      A lot of words and not much of a message. Do you really think Trumps base is only the Joe Six packs of the US?

  • Anthony

    “There is an important but often over looked divide that runs throughout modern western history…A divide between what we might call cultural cosmopolitanism and cultural traditionalism (the more loaded term is modernism v. anti-modernism)….Trump gets the cosmopolitan/traditionalist divide.”

    In the same way, “both Sanders and Trump have challenged the main assumptions that have knit together American politics over the last 35 years. Some European political scientists describe these as a neoliberal consensus, but there has not really been consensus – it’s more a case of a dominant or hegemonic view – and the term “neoliberal” has sometimes been applied indiscriminately. So let me use the term “market liberalism” – a cross between thirdway liberalism among Democrats and Cato Institute libertarianism among Republicans – to describe this point of view: That is, from 1930s through the 1960s, American politics revolved around a New Deal liberal view that stressed managed capitalism, labor-business cooperation, and political pluralism.

    Additionally during the 1970s, that prior view began to be displaced by one that stressed the superiority of market self-regulation and the extension of market relations to global capitalism, particularly with respect to trade, immigration, and foreign investment. Moreover, government regulation and taxes were increasingly seen as hampering growth. To that end, government’s role was to remove regulations on business and get rid of barriers that prevented immigration, tariffs, and foreign investment. In sum, economic policies over the past 35 years while embracing many of these objectives help to induced a Trump moment” – or better still an environment for both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders to appeal.

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