Friday 26 June 2020

Doubling-Down On Donald Trump's Dream.

Willing Victims: What would all those Americans in MAGA hats be left with if they abandoned Trump? Just the sick feeling of having been cheated. Just the knowledge that the man in the White House is nothing more than a shape-shifting New York grifter; and that they have always been his “marks” – the hapless victims of his con.

WHY DO THEY stay with him? What keeps all those guys with the rolled-brim MAGA caps coming back for more? Why is it that nothing: not facts, not ridicule, not the scorn of sensible women, hell, not even Covid-19, can break the faith of Donald Trump’s followers? The world keeps posing the question, but Trump’s people won’t, or can’t, answer.

The historian in me comes back with a question of his own: “Why did the working-class of the Soviet Union stay with Joseph Stalin? He’d laid them waste like a field of corn, but the surviving stubble kept cheering him on. Not the NKVD, not the gulags, not even all those pistol shots in the back of their neighbours’ skulls were enough to keep the workers’ tears at bay when the monster finally died.

Could it be that the story he told them, like Trump’s, was so compelling, so empowering, that they couldn’t let it go?

Stalin called them the most important people on the planet: the beating heart of a great experiment that was changing the world. No, they weren’t clever intellectuals like Trotsky. They weren’t ambitious climbers like the party apparatchiks. They certainly weren’t hard-hearted money-grubbers like the rich peasants. No, they were just the hard-working toilers of hand and brain – the ones left standing after the Party had shot all the others. Ordinary, decent proletarians: the soul of the Revolution.

And doesn’t all of that sound oddly familiar? Not all the stuff about Trotsky, apparatchiks and proletarians – the American working-class has never bought into all that socialist mumbo-jumbo – but the bit about being the most important people on the planet. That’s the key: Trump’s promise that, as hard-working White Americans they constitute the rock-solid core of the world’s greatest, most exceptional and indispensable nation.

They may not be as clever as all those talking pointy-heads on CNN. They’re not cold-eyed bureaucrats like the people on the other side of the welfare counters. And they’re certainly not crawlers like the guys who always seem to escape being laid-off when the economy turns sour. No, they’re nothing like that. They’re just the hard-working, hard-drinking, working-class sons-of-bitches who want to make America great again.

To abandon Trump makes no more sense to these good ole boys than abandoning Stalin would have made to the long-suffering Russian worker. Were they to do that it would mean that it had all been an almighty con. All those assurances about them being the soul of the revolution; the bedrock of the American dream; would have been lies.

It would have meant that all the clever people, the ambitious people, the successful people: the ones with the ideals and talents to transform Russia; the people the Party had murdered in their millions; had died for nothing. Just as, turning to the contemporary USA, it would mean that all the promises to bring the factories back from China – along with steady jobs, living wages and good health plans – were never meant seriously. That they were always just words rolling-up on the teleprompter of some obscene political game show.

What would all those guys in MAGA hats be left with then? Just the sick feeling of having been cheated. Just the knowledge that the man in the White House is everything seven-out-of-ten of the women in their lives have been saying he is for the past four years. That Trump is nothing more than a shape-shifting New York grifter; and that they have always been his “marks” – the hapless victims of his con.

And if they were forced to admit that, then they would also have to admit that all the cultural and racial furies Trump has aroused – mostly within people like themselves – were nothing more that the profoundly disreputable means employed to secure the Republican Party’s equally disreputable ends. Worse still, it would mean that 120,000 of their fellow Americans – twice the number that died in Vietnam – have perished needlessly. That the worst depression since the 1930s, into whose twilight their beloved country is fast descending, could have been avoided.

Like all those stunned Russian workers forced to watch their precious Soviet Union simply blip-off History’s screen, Trump’s working-class American followers would be left with an agonising existential choice. Give up the illusion, or double-down on the dream.

Russia chose Putin. Who will America choose?

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 26 June 2020.


Anonymous said...

Probably a gross generalisation however people across the world tend to remember the past fondly; which their cultural entertainment (the religion of the masses, along with sport in some countries) reinforces the old stereotypes & norms through rosy glasses, unlike the future changes unknown & uncertain. So people will stick with the old under a new name unless & until incremental or revolutionary change has tipped over the historical model. Their leadership models sometimes seem to reflect these older cultural types in a contemporary guise.

Europe likes it's monarchies, titles, class & old families. It doesn't like faces that don't fit.
Russian serfs genuflect to the new Tsar with his KGB, just like the old Tsar with his Cossacks.
China kowtows to the new Emperor who has given himself absolute power & the belief that China is again the centre of the world.
USA believes in it's exceptionalism; cowboys, guns & superheroes will solve all their problems for them.
Oz believes the USA will solve all it's problems for them (climate change might have other ideas).

NZdrs in their little isolated village at the other end of the world are still a bit too new world however COVID19 has demonstrated we still believe we can fix most things with todays version of No8 wire if we work together constructively & help each other. We also know we will be able to survive even if it's a while before we can thrive again.

David Stone said...

It still looks like Trump is trying to bring the jobs back from China. There is plenty of tariff activity going on. It is reasonable to continue to believe he is trying to get an economy back, aside from the arms industry. And the continuous "Russiagate " and "Bidengate/Ukraingate farcical attempts to impeach throughout the period of his presidency provide him with a readily applied victimhood . Which is not without merit and certainly not without the determined if not desperate effort on behalf of the Democrat opposition, which is becoming increasingly associated with the deep state/ establishment that has been screwing those cap wearing deplorables for decades.
And there is the question of choice . Biden? For god's sake! Surely! The takeout has to be they don't want the presidency , they are managing just fine doing exactly as they always wanted to, and Trump gets the blame for it all. Simultaneously being ridiculed for stupidity and for despotism. An idiot is never likely to become all powerful even in the USA. Either he is one or the other . he can't be both.
The analysis might be that the MEGA caps vaguely see through it all. Not perhaps in minute detail, but the net reality, An independent political maverick with no establishment connections in the political fraternity has broken through the system and got to be president against all expectation and the best laid plans. The establishment has been beside itself from the first moment of horror and has acted accordingly . Eliminating his choices of advisors and assistants from the moment of go and leaving him with the likes of Pompeo, Bolton , and Mad Dog Mattis to manage his antiestablishment tendencies , like normalising relations with Russia, pulling troops out of Afghanistan and Syria , and reaching out to Kim Jong Un . And all the other foreign policy that might reduce the apparent need for the massive military budget.
And perhaps they don't see how any other president would have been able to make the slightest difference to how Covid 19 effected the country. Like every bad thing that happens in the US it must be Trump's fault to those who are his enemy which includes the MSM. Perhaps they see through it all those deplorables.

Philip said...

The reason Trump is popular still with the group you outlined and indeed with me, is that he steadfastly promotes and actually implements what he says he will do. He does not bow down to media pressure or crazy claims of racism like so many other politicians do. Sure some of the things he says are not what most of us would say, but he does turn up to pro-life rallies (never before done by any President), he opposes rioting in the streets and the attempts to remove statues, he says and does things that that we believe are common sense, not some dreamed up crack pot idea from someone who has too much time on their hands to think about all the ways words could be taken offensively.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

There is reason – and obvious reason – and some support for Trump. I went to an evangelical website and ask them why they would support someone who's values are pretty much the opposite of Christian values. The values they like to tout anyway. They said that they wanted rid of Roe versus Wade. And Trump had promised them conservative judges. Some of them are swallowing a dead rat, some of them have persuaded themselves to believe that Trump is a reincarnation of Cyrus or a "baby Christian" and has been forgiven his transgressions. It's amazing what they'll tell you if you ask politely. I mean there were peripheral things about Hillary being a witch allegedly and not a Christian or something but that was their main thrust. That's the religious right anyway.
I don't pretend to know as much about the rest of them, who seemed to be pretty much religious anyway so maybe that's part of it. But the working class feel neglected – with some justification, they want to stick it to the "Eastern elites", and they are racist as buggery. There's not a great deal of reason there, considering he's shafted them over and over again. And unfortunately you can't reason someone out of a position they haven't reasoned themselves into.

Tom Hunter said...

At this stage they know what they will be left with: a Democrat Party that hates their guts and blames them for Amrica's problems.

They'd already begin to give up on the Democrats in the 1980's when they voted for Reagan. More so by 2016 when they voted for Trump in those Blue Collar parts of MidWestern swing states, and whatever his failures they also saw an economy roaring away and actually delivering the first solid wage increases they'd seen in more than a decade.

Until COVID appeared.

And what have the Democrats done in response to that vote? Made it clear to these people that they're now more hated than ever. All 63 million of them, and that includes huge numbers of woman who voted for Trump.

As Trump himself has cleverly said: it's not really him the US Left hates, it's his voters, and once he's out of the way, they'll be next. And the Democrats recent spinelessness in coopting BLM and Antifa to trash cities controlled for decades by Democrats has only reinforced that feeling of their entire lives and the lives of their families under total and systemic attack.

Oh - and it should be noted that most of the US corporates, especially the information and high-tech giants of Google, Amazon, Facebook and others are doing extraordinarly well in this climate and are filled to the brim with staff who fully support the Democrats and the BLM/Antifa activists. So much for that aspect of the theory of Class Warfare.

It still is Class Warfare though, which in the USA is disguised as a Culture War - and the targets of the Democrats, US Academics (90%+ Left) and the Media - are Trump voters.

Wayne Mapp said...

A very perceptive analysis.

Go back 45 years and think of "Robs Mob". Similar impulses there. The great majority of his supporters, particularly those not university educated, stayed with him till the end. They were the privates and NCO's who fought WW2. They saw in him a man like themselves. In fact Muldoon was literally an NCO in 2 NZ Div. Who certainly showed up the officer class of Jack Marshall. So not just in wider NZ, but also in the National Party, dominant for a decade.

All of us of a certain age knew plenty of men who fitted that mould. And we rebelled against them.

sumsuch said...

They are in an entirely complete other world. And the powerful keep on getting better at varnishing it up to look like something real. It has fended off Covid 19 and unemployment in main part, for the moment, and the moment is the powerful's only thing.

Reality must have a solid foundation for me, but their desperate grasps for solidity in this rapidly changing social environment unite them to snake-oilism. No 'immediate' solution has much reality beyond its surface.

No child of a good, and intelligent, family goes for the manufactury of consent for the rich's rule.


Kat said...

"Stalin called them the most important people on the planet......"

Sounds familiar to our very own political slogan "hard working Kiwis......."
National and Act love to trot that one out.

"Russia chose Putin. Who will America choose?

Most likely, by way of a shoe horn, a women president and a coloured one at that.......

Anonymous said...

"That they were always just words rolling-up on the teleprompter of some obscene political game show"

"Give up the illusion, or double-down on the dream"

Jesus Chris, I write in about once a year when you really, really nail it, even by your standards. This for me is that column. Thank you.

Flaneuse said...

"Russia chose Putin. Who will America choose?". More than likely it will be the person that Putin decides should be POTUS.

sumsuch said...

Anonymous 13.37 your quote captures Edmund Gosse's prominent biologist (and evangelistic) father's reaction to Darwin's 1860 revelation of evolution. He doubled down. There'd be no Christians if some Ataturk enforced Gosse's 'Father and Son'.

Tom Hunter said...

“It is not enough to simply beat Trump. He must be destroyed thoroughly. His kind must not rise again.” - David Plouffe Tweet, senior advisor to Obama's 2008 & 2012 campaigns. Prominent Democrat.

His kind.

Nick J said...

Wayne, Robs mob certainly were as you described. I once called one of my friends fathers a fascist because he voted for Rob. He showed greater wisdom and taught me a lesson I have not forgotten. His reply was, "Get it right Nick, I'm a right wing fascist reactionary pig". We may have been critical of them but they were from a generation raised in depression and war who knew a good thing (for them) when they saw it.