Friday 4 March 2016

Donald Trump's "Liberal" Support

There is little Donald Trump can say to shock any more. Last night's implication that his underwear packs something beastly is a case in point. I must admit, it raised a chuckle here. As the Republican party takes a dark turn that won't end well for millions of Americans, not least those supporting Trump, sometimes laughter is the only response you can muster as all the rules about US politics is dumped in a skip, and for something more coarse, more dangerous to rise in its place.

I would hope that Hillary Clinton, as the likely Democrat nominee would be able to crush Trump in the presidential election, though I still am of the opinion that Bernie Sanders would be an even safer bet. Yet neither are dead certs as Trump is drawing deep from a well poisoned by decades of prejudice, resentment, alienation, entitlement and, yes, that old warhorse anxiety. As many commentators have already observed, Mitt Romney's "unprecedented" intervention was only going to shore up Trump's support, as per His Blairness and his courtiers vis a vis Jeremy Corbyn.

In this respect, The Graun has provided a service inviting us to peer into the minds of "secret" Donald Trump supporters. Some of it is typical hard right bullshit, but lest we forget that bullshit is taken deadly seriously by millions of Americans. But most intriguing (or depressing) are the self-styled liberals, progressives, and in one case an apparent anti-capitalist who are lining up to support his ticket.

One describes himself as a "patriotic socialist" who likes Trump's idea of stopping all Muslim immigration. Another would support Sanders in a heartbeat, but believes Trump is the lesser evil to Hillary's oligarchy-as-usual policies. Another thinks a Trump presidency would shake the American people out of their torpor, seeing as Hitler did the same. A "left-liberal college professor" is supporting Trump because he wants to piss off his lefty students. Another is an unemployed licensed attorney who thinks Trump will shake things up, even if he's "as bad as Hitler". And perhaps the most ridiculous and short-sighted comes from a young gay Muslim who thinks he'd be okay under a Trump presidency because The Donald just wants to get the "bad" Saudi-backed Wahhabi Muslims.

Each of these people are either deeply stupid, short-sighted to the point of blindness, or both. But millions supporting Trump for similar, albeit less articulate reasons, isn't something you can put down to individual stupidity. It is a social phenomenon, and need to be grasped, analysed, and responded to as such. What's common in all these "left" rationalisations is a sense of fatalism and powerless. Each of them have effectively given up on collective action to change things, not that each and every one of them have been active in the activist sense. They don't think to look to themselves and others in a similar position to work together around a set of political and social objectives. As American politics has redoubled its oligarchical character, so their individual situations are rendered external and irrelevant to Beltway concerns, or at least so it appears to them. Hence feeling isolated and unwilling/unable to engage in politics to solve their own problems, they latch onto a billionaire saviour who threatens the whole system with a hard reset - and all without having to do much more than fill out a piece of paper.

The problem is their fatalism is also premised on it's-not-going-to-happen-to-me-ism. Trump wants to demolish establishment politics, but that wrecking ball will crash through the heartlands of those now flocking to support him, just as it has done under previous conservative presidencies.


Steven said...

Such a shame that Hillary was allowed to be the establishment standard bearer, given she was compromised even before the email scandal. I think, even if he can't pull his own ratings high enough to win, Trump in a GE would be able to tear Hillary's credibility to shreds, so the best she can hope for is to stumble over the line by default, with next to no credibility or support. Her candidacy was an act of gross negligence from the democratic elites, and the sooner the page is turned on the whole era the better.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Hillary win, but I do think she will have been humiliated in the course of the campaign, gravely, and would arrive in office with the lowest approval rating of any new president.

It is such, such, such a shame that Warren didn't run, as I think she would have been able to harness Bernie's coalition without representing such a leap of faith in terms of electability - which is a requirement with Bernie, regardless of what the polls say. Had she run I think she would have won for sure. Her obvious sincerity, consistency and platform would have made her a hard target for Trump, and she would have been able to unify the party without being stuck too much with an establishment card. If November results in a Trump presidency I think Warren running will be the biggest what if since the Florida recount, or maybe even since Ted's primary challenge.

Trump's victory speech on Tuesday is worth watching in full - and made me think for the first time that he can win. He very clearly road tests a new demeanour - calm, avuncular (believe it or not), which I suspect would be the default mode in the GE. He took some surprising swerves (including praise for planned parenthood). He made it obvious that, in the GE, his plan is going to be to run at Hillary from the left, tailoring his pitch to democratic base, but with hard right populism, like on islam and immigration, thrown into the mix. The Trump that dominated the campaign isn't intended to be the Trump we're going to be seeing in the general.

Speedy said...

As an amateur psephologist you may be interested in this analysis that suggests Trump-Clinton may not be as clean cut as you imagine.

Chris said...

You hope Hillary ,"Walmart, Iraq, Ricky Ray Rector" Clinton would beat Trump?

I'd rather drink poison than vote for either of them.

asquith said...

(And others from the same author & magazine)

Worrabout Gary Johnson? If it's a third party you're after.

asquith said...

What I'm saying is I won't be supporting the Donald but Ted Cruz and Marco Runio are a hell of a lot worse. Talking about the cynicism and negativity coming from the Cruz Crew and the disinterred corpse of neoconservatism.

I appreciate the criticism of Hillary and her support for illegal wars and questionable judgment, I've been cooling towards her for this. But at the same time you can't expect me to feel the bern, especially given all the "intersectionality" "activists" around him.

Hillary and "mainstream" Rethugs enjoy having the Donald around but who said they were any better? They aren't as entertaining but they are as sinister or more, especially Cruz.

Chris said...

I think most of the "intersectionality" activists are actually going for Clinton (and she is welcome to them).

BCFG said...

The true liberal position is well reflected in this article. Support the establishment lackey, but the one who says nice things and ticks the the right boxes. Yes, its time for a woman now! Next its a Mexican and after that a one legged lesbian. A scruffy and ugly midget will never be tolerated however!

Hilary or Donald, there really is previous little difference between the 2, despite all the liberal bluster.

The liberal ignores the real trends arising in the USA, home foreclosures, the cuts to public services, increased use of spying, pauperisation of the sections of society ect and just focuses on which candidate best suits the liberal identikit.

The real position of liberals is support the status quo, the real liberal fatalism goes on.

asquith said...

I've found the Donald's these tune.