Category Archives: GOP

Trumpism is Global

In a previous blog post, I laid down some thoughts regarding the phenomenon of Trump and how I feel like you can look at it through the lens of identity politics. Well, today I was reading an excellent interview by Foreign Affairs with the French ambassador Gérard Araud and he expressed a similar understanding regarding Europe when he was asked about the far-right party in France known as Front National:

It’s the same thing as Trump. Of course, Trump has his personal genius, but it’s basically the same crisis. The lower middle class feels frightened by globalization, frightened for the future of its children, frightened for its moral and social values. They have the impression that the elite are cut off from them. So they want to try something new. So it’s the Front National in France, or the extreme right in the Netherlands, or Mr. Trump. It’s the same solution: building walls, closing borders. And it’s the same scapegoat: the immigrant. It’s sad.”

Identity politics needs a scapegoat; an Other. As countries become more and more unequal as the share of income gains and wealth goes to a smaller and smaller slither of people you will see un-channeled rage that, demagogues like Trump, exploit for their own good to the continued detriment of almost everyone.

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Trump and Identity Politics

I argue that you can explain Trump’s rise through the lens of white identity politics, for one. It’s not what he is saying or even the individual himself; it’s that his base – white suburban disaffected ‘victims’ of globalization who are struggling – see themselves in him. It is projection against what they see as an elite harvard-educated political class who is waaaay too literate for their own good and who says things with nuance that they don’t understand. They want someone who is an outsider (like them) who isn’t P.C. (like them) and who thinks in black and white categories of good and evil; of up and down; of right and wrong (like they do.)

Imagine if you are a former factory worker employed during a time of rising incomes; pensions; good health care; and seeming security. Now imagine that this in fact was reality for millions upon millions of workers. Starting in the 1980s and continuing through the present day, tens of thousands of factories have been closed. In fact, over 42,000 factories have been closed JUST since 2001. Look at Trump through the lends of globalization.

If you are a laid off employee who is being pushed further and further down the income and skills ladder, who do you blame?
Everyone.
Everything.

The political class (Yep; and they would be correct here).
Corporations and their need for maximizing profits (Yep).
Minorities and immigrants (Yep; well, ‘yep’ as in many Americans do blame these fellow under-served people; they would be wrong here however and are blaming the symptom and not the cause).

[Now there is truth to the claim that corporations are benefiting from illegal and even legal immigration by capitalizing on unskilled and/or people without franchise or much legal reprieve; this does hurt working class Americans of all color; however, the fault of this goes to the government.]

The perceived and real impacts of globalization are at work here. Basically anyone with ANY government experience at all is considered an “insider” to Trump’ supporters. Any candidate with prestigious degrees from schools they have only tangentially heard of? Too qualified and self-interested and disconnected from the needs of the working class and the shrinking middle class. This is why occasionally war hungry conservatives do in fact accept anti-war arguments. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what the person says; what matters is the answer to the internal question people are asking themselves: is this person like me? Do I see myself in this person? If the answer is yes, then we are open to their opinion even if it is not one we are, theoretically, likely to support. If we consider them the Other; then it doesn’t matter what they say.

Politics are identity politics. I am of the mind that identity politics of all types are disastrous for any future left movement because, to generalize, they are built on a foundation of separateness and focus heavily on the individual. But I can unpack that later. [I want to write a short book on that actually.]

However, the most dangerous type of identity politics is white identity politics. Why? Because white Americans had an investment in this system that, for a long time, worked for them. People who never had wealth or prosperity can sometimes not have that impetus of hope to fight for change. They don’t see a world that works for them because it largely never has. People who had a middle class life but now see it slipping away? Oh, man. These people are dangerous and angry and look for demagogues that border on fascism. They know what its like to have abundant leisure; income and wealth; and self-actualization.

This phenomenon is not going away anytime soon because it is a product of worsening economic inequality. Political Scientist Inglehart, in the recently released Jan/Feb 2016 issue of Foreign Affairs makes this point while discussing the lack of support for redistribution:

Globalization and deindustrialization undermined the strength of unions. And the information revolution helped establish a winner-take-all economy. Together these eroded the political base for redistributive policies.” [Link]

What will the Trump of 2020 or 2024 look like if whoever wins the 2016 election doesn’t address worsening inequality?

#GOPDebate – The Second Night at the Clown House

I will be very brief here. I watched both of the 2016 U.S. Republican primary debates on CNN on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.

The first debate, featuring Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Jon Gilmore, and George Pataki, was more substantive and more revealing, in some ways. What did it reveal? Graham knows the demographic challenges of the GOP and he knows the chances of the GOP winning in 2016 are low if young people, single women, and people of color come out in the same numbers that they did in 2008. Graham’s responses were the most rooted in reality. This is scary because his comments were only loosely rooted in reality. It’s all relative when your talking about the GOP. However, No one candidate from the first debate has any real chance of becoming president. Also: Bobby Jindal said he was more angry at his party then the Democratic party. It’s become a truism that the left is divided and this is why it loses. However, ever since we saw the rise of the Tea Party wing of the GOP, we are totally seeing a deep fracture opening up full of infighting. Jindal embodies this divide in everything he says. Speaking of divide? Trump.

The second debate featured eleven candidates; too many to name them all right here because I promised myself – and you the reader – that this will be very brief. After a couple days of reflecting, here is who I think did the best and who did the worst.

I posted this on Facebook even before the debate was over:

“Who will gain in the polls? Fiorina, Christie, Kasich, Trump annnnnd maybe Rubio.

Who will lose? Jeb, Jeb, Jeb, Jeb, Carson

Who? Huckabee, Rand, Cruz, Walker.”

It looks like the consensus is that Fiorina won the debate and Jeb, Walker, and Huckabee did the worst. The latest polls show Carson gaining; Trump holding steady; and basically everyone else staying right where they were including Bush. In my opinion, Jeb Bush is the ultimate loser because, like I wrote regarding the first debate, Bush needs to crush it and he was embarrassing to watch.

My 2016 prediction that I have been saying to friends is a Rubio/Kasich ticket – I still think Rubio will be on the ticket, either as the presidential candidate or the vice president. Kasich? Eh. Probably not. I saw a couple of people mention a Rubio/Fiorina ticket which is horrifying because that might be their best chance. Ultimately, I don’t think any of these candidates can win a general election against any of the Democratic field. 2016 will we determined by who goes to the polls.