“The four cornerstones of the American political psyche are 1) emotion substituted for thought, 2) fear, 3) ignorance and 4) propaganda”
– Joe Bageant, “Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War”, 2008
To be fair to our American friends and cousins, the above quote can reasonably be attributed to every single nation on Earth; from fair, gentle Sweden through to the iron hammer style of politicking as practiced in both the current and former Soviet states (“In Soviet Russia, president assassinates you!”).
People are, to our eternal detriment, much more emotionally driven than we are logical; forever trapped in four key states of:
1) Hungry, 2)Horny, 3) Tired and 4) Emotionally needy.
We already know Trump is an on-fire-garbage-can of a human being. I’ve written about him before, and preaching to the choir and/or online echo chamber of identical viewpoints hasn’t helped us get along, has it?
Is everyone on my Facebook who agrees with me not representative of the thoughts and experiences of an entire nation? Let’s look at what else might have happened….
Who would have known a populist would be so darn popular?
In the cold, cold wake of Trump’s unexpected election victory, much has been made of commentators who didn’t find it (or wouldn’t have found it) unexpected at all.
The most credible go to documentary maker, Michael Moore’s blog post from July, an October piece by Jason Pargin, editor of Cracked.com who writes under the screen name of David Wong, and the afore quoted Vietnam veteran and former columnist, Joe Bageant who passed away in 2011.
All three are left-leaning commentators who, unlike most other left-leaning commentators (or even left-leaning people) were born and raised in America’s “white poverty” “Rust Belt” counties, and so can claim to have actually seen “the other side.”
To them, Trump voters aren’t uneducated, red-necked bigots. They’re under-educated bigots that they’re related to, and even friends with, though they disagree on some “stuff”. They grew up in a middle America which, not unlike rural Australia and post-industrial Britain, arguably peaked in the 1950’s.
A time when the townspeople all worked at The Factory (there was only ever one) from teen to tombstone, attended the same place of worship, read the same newspaper, believed all the same things (Jesus is real but the Gays are not, God is watching and rock & roll music is a dirty, commie plot)
and held annual family reunions; as much to guard against incest as for want of anything better to do.
Cracked.com’s David Wong, formerly of Lawrenceville, Illinois, listed on Lawrenceville’s Wikipedia page as its most famous person, which tells you possibly everything about its current prospects, can’t be dismissive or ignorant of townships still climbing out of the bomb crater that was the local factory and sole reason for the towns’ existence as we all were. He has to visit it at Christmas and Skype it on weekends. I highly recommend you read his post.
I’ve checked the Politico map, and 75% of Lawrence County voters voted for Trump. If Wong hadn’t moved he’s certain he would have gone with Trump too. He knows the sense of helplessness these places have, the sky high suicide rates, the crushing depression that comes from not having anything to do and the sure knowledge that your children have no prospects.
He knows, that these people feel forgotten about, and spoken down to by everyone not from there: Liberal think tanks, metropolitan media, Hollywood, and politicians who for years have called them inbred/ backward/ stupid/ deplorable, and dismissed their plight as unimportant.
Problem is, though these towns are dying the people are still there, increasing in population whilst becoming more and more pissed off every day. Most don’t share Trump’s stupefying level of bigotry, but they voted for him in spite of it just because he said he’d take them seriously. It was a backlash against perceived city snobbery, or as some have called it, a “white lash”.
“White people” seems a bit broad and not actually an “identity”, so I see it more as a mass Eric Cartman moment of “Respect my authori-tah!”
They felt bullied, so they picked a bigger bully to do their fighting for them.
It doesn’t make it right. It’s a childish response, but probably born out of being spoken to like a child. Of course you can tell them that all sorts of minority groups have it really tough. But knowing that other people have shitty lives doesn’t make your shitty life any less shitty.
How dare you be a white male in this day and age! Aren’t we past that?
The problem with saying anything bad about political correctness is that it’s politically incorrect to say so, and already I know that there are people on my Facebook declaring me as some sort of deplorable for only being 95% as socially progressive as they are. People who call “racist” even though they are white and I am not. I’m mixed race. Do you see how your argument is full of holes? I know your intentions are good, but you have got to tone down the race stuff. It’s not helping.
Labeling someone as a “racist” is a heavy charge to level, and the term is thrown around more than it deserves. If someone is heling Hitler or telling a brown person to “go back where they came from” then the charge is fair.
But a white person in dreadlocks is probably not racist. All the ones I’ve know were just campus hippies. They weren’t racists, they were vegan. Can you even say the n-word and then immediately bite into a tofu dog or would the earth’s polarity suddenly reverse itself? Surely that’s not a thing.
Believing Asians are good at maths? We are good at maths! I’m not going to be offended by that. Not good at sports? Maybe relative to black people… Small pe… HEY! That’s racist. For more information and evidence to the contrary please subscribe to my Snapchat.
Before calling ‘racism’ leave some fucking wiggle room, because shutting down a debate is not the same as winning it.
It’s like saying that you love lamp. Do you really “love” lamp or are you overusing a highly emotive word to the point that it’s lost its original meaning?
I think – I think – that it’s this sort of incessant nannying that motivated the more short-sited of the rural white to say “Wouldn’t it be fun to make these precious, privileged, Starbucks sipping, judgmental, college kids cry?” If they didn’t want it they certainly got it.
But, they’ve made their bed and now they have to lie in it. They successfully elected a gassy, bigoted, narcissistic troll to be in charge of everything and he’s going to let them down.
It’ll be OK though, right? Guys?
The age of the one factory town is gone because that’s not up to Trump. He can’t stop globalization any more than he can limit automation. As a classic capitalist, he’s actually complicit. He lied to them. His wall is already being downgraded to a ‘fence.’ In four years it may be less a wall and a more a “state of mind.”
Closing borders doesn’t save Americans from American crime, or the 30,000 gun deaths a year of which he’s apathetic. His proposed tax cuts put a $6 trillion hole in projects that could potentially help the poorest. It benefits rich people though. Rich people like Trump who stands to gain back $1m every year.
Much of what Joe Bageant wrote was centered around why the poor, rural white, his kin, have a habit of electing the person or party most likely to do them harm, instead of a progressive socialist like Bernie Sanders who could actually help set them on their feet. They continue that tradition in Trump:
“Nearly all of these successful folks have made it in the business world by sticking with the free market ideal of survival of the fittest over everything else. They believe in giving no quarter, and consequently they are anti-union, pro-death penalty, and pro-war- … This is America, where greed is christened “drive” and is deemed a virtue. ” – Joe Bageant.
Only four years to go…