Neoliberal Identity Fetish and the long slide into unmediated brutality
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. — Hillary Clinton
Millions of neurotic saps toil away in cubicles across America, spoonfed a diet of Chipotle, Starbucks, and NPR. They take for granted that their outlook is rational and educated — they’ll go to histrionic extremes to express their savage hatred of organized religion, country music, and any area of the country with a Republican majority. With guilty consciences, they make sardonic quips about ghettoized neighborhoods. They’ve internalized and accepted the state sanctioned violence of drones dropping bombs on Pakistani children, but will froth at the mouth, in righteous indignation, at the slightest implication of homophobia or racism.
During the 2016 election, these scoffing, cynical middle managers were Hillary Clinton’s target audience and, unlike the tepid reception she received from most of the country, they lapped up her “isn’t-it-obvious-to-vote-for-me” rhetoric. After eight years of being soothed and buttered up with Obama-pablum, masses of bored, chronically repressed assholes stuck in business casual purgatory had something to get fired up about. Yep, Hillary sure knew how to play to her base. In fact, she allowed herself to be more exclusively associated with her base, her tribe, than she may have realized.
Positioning herself as the “adult in the room” was so dementedly uncompelling against someone like Trump. Anyone would be the adult in the room compared to that guy. The Democratic party’s fabled “big tent” wasn’t going to be conjured by poking fun at a con artist who had no qualms about playing to the fever dreams of a broken, nihilistic populace.
Instead of addressing Trump’s digs at the corporate Democrats’ globalist trade agreements and promotion of outsourced labor, she sought validation from the paranoid, neurotic world of her neoliberal elitist supporters. She would pay equivocal lip service to the economic disenfranchisement of millions in the same way that co-workers around the water cooler might ruefully mouth the word “gentrification.” Just like those soccer moms with their “support the troops” stickers, she would always stump for rampant militarism and pre-emptive scare mongering, reducing humanity to its lowest common denominator: survival. Check out her AIPAC speech and how she name dropped Israeli missile systems like the David Sling. Check out her pithy remark on Gadaffi’s brutal execution in Lybia: “We came. We saw. He died.”
To be fair, it’s not just the office pinheads and Hamilton-the-Musical lovers who are succumbing to mass paranoia and self-righteous, tribal indignation. We all know that maniacal racists and venal Christians are seeking to infiltrate our political system. We take it for granted that saying “Black Lives Matter” is a political statement. The Koch brothers are still an ongoing concern. If we’re so sure that barbarians are at the gate, we need to ask ourselves how they caught the scent of our wounded nation and how we are starting to explicitly identify with the barbarism and violence that American identity has always sought to repress.