I didn’t have any trouble recognizing what happened w/ Trump coz it happens here. Every. Six. Years. It’s voter’s revenge. The neoliberal cows have come home to roost in the US — it’s now suffering from the very ills it’s inflicted on the developing world & becoming more of a 3rd-world country in the process. (That actually happened long ago, but a half-way competent political party can [or used to could, actually] maintain the illusion that credit card debt is actually prosperity.) No more…many American middle class people have privately considered themselves “poor” for decades.
Long-haul owner-operator truckers (one of the worlds I lived in) would bitch & moan constantly about how they just weren’t making any money — that freight rates were so low it was costing them pennies-per-mile just to keep their rigs on the road. These same people had a (mortgaged) home, put their kids through school (student loans), owned a (bank-financed) car for every member of the family, ate out, bought consumer goods & went on vacations (on their credit cards) & created the illusion of comfort & prosperity — but, man, they watched interest rates like they were the NFL playoffs!
What Obama did right was pop the trickle-down bubble — not a hard job, since no voters had seen a single drop of trickle since Reagan (if ever). So…thanks to the banking flop, they turned Dubya out to paint in his Texas pasture. (You’re right, we need more gov’t support for the arts — that might have made it possible for the Shrub to follow what is obviously his calling — seriously, the year I left America forever, the Reagan budget for all the arts and humanities wouldn’t pay for a single jet fighter plane.)
But American’s are impatient, neither Obama nor anyone else could “fix” the homecoming of neo-lib economics (that’s going to take a decade or more — once anyone makes up their mind to try), at exactly the time when “emotionally stimulating” talk radio morphed into social media hate mongering. It wasn’t pretty. Then Trump legitimized the alt-right & played into white cultural fears — and the deal was done.
I have intelligent friends whom I respect who are rabid Trump supporters. I mean, people who can use “neoliberalism” in a complete sentence & have it mean (approximately) the same thing it means when I say it. They’re mad about their money & they’re mad about their debt. And rightfully so. But just like they’ve had a whole pitcher of consumerist Kool-Aid in the form of advertising, they’ve also had an equal amount of straight-white-male-cultural-fear Kool-Aid manipulation.
They will swear to me — with the kind of trust afforded to another straight white male — that they are not racist, not sexist, not xenophobes, not macho gender cops &c, &c, &c…but the emotional appeals they use tell a different story — a story in which Trump himself is none of these things either. It’s also a story that can be traced right back to those highly effective alt-right emotional appeals.
They tell me that as a liberal, I’m completely out of touch with the true heart of America — a heart they genuinely believe Trump is somehow in touch with in a way I can never be. (Despite a Texas farmer/rancher heritage in which the common saying was, “Weallll ←(poor attempt at rendering the Texas triple-diphthong into print) I ain’t much innerested in politics, but all I know is that whenever the Democrats are in, poor folks have a chance. The ‘publicans is all about rich city people.”
Well yes, that’s been an outdated view since Clinton (The Bill) bit into the neo-lib apple — promising things would be good because, you know, Hayek. One of these guys is a missionary pastor who’s lived here almost as long as I have — has give his life to brown people. He’s not “a racist,” but kind of in the same way that the early proponents of eugenics weren’t racists & xenophobes — it’s a “seemed like a good idea at the time” kind of thing. Basically, he’s disappointed to discover I’m such a liberal snoot, too. One of our liberal “problems” is that we scruple at psychological manipulation, aren’t much good at talk radio type “emotional stimulation” & really, really suck at fake news. (We are, on the other hand pretty adept at slant & spin — our word for that is “advocacy” & (isn’t this just like us) has a solid ethical code of its own.
When I was tabbing the Chicken, I couldn’t help but notice that the resistance tag had racked up 2.8k uses (or what the hell ever that number represents) while the opposition tag had exactly 89. I hope to do some things about that — because resistance is reactionary, ephemeral & all-too-easy to drown out — especially for a party in power.
I have lots to say about millennial protest. On one hand, it’s great to see kids out in the street — who knows, they might provide the emotional core of an opposition. On the other hand, in both countries, they are profoundly unaware of what it was that all the butt-hurt voters that got us into this mess. This is exactly what I mean about how critical a unified opposition is. If people on the left don’t get that part of it together, either it’s likely to be Trumpism (instead of turtles) All. The. Way. Down.
Or else the anti-Trump faction of the GOP will bring down the Benito Cheeto themselves — which could actually be even worse — you wouldn’t know it from looking at Congress these days, but they’ve got some very competent politicians stashed away in there. (That’s a scary thought — President Pence. Gak!)
I also believe that millennials — having grown up in an over-moderated state that arguably approaches sensory deprivation — have a rather low “fun threshold.” And, thanks to today’s over-the-top application behaviorism, they are statistically guaranteed targets for manipulation. Like Mark Twain’s death, rumors of the demise of straight white male culture have been greatly exaggerated. Millennials believe in it too, except while the alt-right feeds on the fear of it arriving next week, millennials celebrate it with a certain amount of complacency.
In keeping with all this (and without any of the further ado I do so further) here’s my current favorite rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” In fact, I think this version would be a great 2018 opposition song. (This is what I mean by revenge!)
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