The elites are mystified at the broad-based support for Donald Trump, presumptive Republican nominee for president. At this point, I’m even more bullish on Trump than Paul. I think there is almost no way he doesn’t win the nomination, barring him dying or just deciding he doesn’t want it anymore. The media doesn’t understand, the Tea Party and evangelical die-hards (which are different than the average person motivated by Tea Party sentiments) are shocked that a “progressive” like Trump is winning their party instead of Cruz or Rubio, the conservative elites are wishing for a Rick Perry third party run. But it’s really quite simple, as Jeb Lund points out. White people are really, really, really angry and they want a daddy to justify their anger. And the media struggles with this because they look down on working-class people.
Anger isn’t something that Beltway pundits recognize, let alone understand because everyone employed in media or in politics in and around Washington DC is pretty well off. Even ink-stained wretches pull down five-figures – and, unlike everywhere else in America, since journalism is built on documenting nonsense, there’s some real job security in documenting Washington. Television people fare even better, because TV money is stupid money. Thinktank malefactors reap great sums from the aggrieved heartland or from industries looking to build a canon of falsified data, and Congress and the attendant lobbying is a helluva racket.
Anger is pretty easy to miss when it’s something pretty difficult to feel. When you sit at the center of the world and are unlikely to ever lack for the basic materials of self-sufficiency, the idea of blind, gnawing resentment – let alone of feeding that resentment even with irrational aims – is ineluctably beyond your ken.
It’s harder still to understand that there are millions of people in America whose ambitions for a life of steadily improving conditions cratered sometime around nine years ago and have never recovered. If you can hardly imagine that you could follow the Horatio Alger script to the letter and still find yourself sinking in quicksand, you’re never going to understand why someone would be so contemptuous of the pieties of a system that only pays attention to you when doing soft-focus interviews in search of a journalism award or a campaign ad.
And anger isn’t something so easily ratiocinated. When your job is explaining world events, irrational phenomena lie fundamentally outside your brief. Explaining things with, “Well, people are angry!” is like surrender; it’s explaining badly resolved story lines in a TV show with, “A wizard did it.” Journalists learn to see the world in terms of the push/pull of conflicting ideologies and the necessary stratagems within a needlessly complicated governmental system; they’re necessarily going seek their explanations for seeming irrationality in the more elegant realms of philosophy and economics and political science.
Doing so fails them all the time. Look at the Tea Party, which the Beltway (at various points) tried desperately to explain as populist resentment of Business As Usual, or a new libertarian moment. Only recently has the media madding crowd come around to some kind of consensus about it just being racist as hell.
That wasn’t a difficult conclusion to reach, and it didn’t need to take seven years; all they had to do was look at their damn signage – all those placards of Obama as “Curious George” the monkey and signs like “OBAMA’S PLAN = WHITE SLAVERY” were kind of unambiguous.
Why are they angry? For lots of reasons. Some are of course just open racists who love a candidate who speaks their truths about white supremacy.
According to P.P.P., 70 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters in South Carolina wish the Confederate battle flag were still flying on their statehouse grounds. (It was removed last summer less than a month after a mass shooting at a black church in Charleston.) The polling firm says that 38 percent of them wish the South had won the Civil War. Only a quarter of Mr. Rubio’s supporters share that wish, and even fewer of Mr. Kasich’s and Mr. Carson’s do.
Nationally, the YouGov data show a similar trend: Nearly 20 percent of Mr. Trump’s voters disagreed with the freeing of slaves in Southern states after the Civil War. Only 5 percent of Mr. Rubio’s voters share this view.
But as Lund points out, this is not the entirety of it. Some of them are racists, others are sexists, most of them are authoritarians of some kind who are looking for a leader to tell them what to do. But none of this can be separated from a corporate-dominated politics and media that has kicked working people over and over again. As I’ve said before, if you send all the good jobs overseas, dooming the once-middle class to a lifetime of economic insecurity, you are opening the door for terrible domestic consequences, including the revival of open racism, violence, and fascism. If you want to argue that shipping good-paying jobs overseas is a morally correct choice even though you are dooming Americans to insecurity, that’s fine, but you have to be held responsible for the consequences. Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination using fascist stylings is very much one of those consequences. Own it because you helped create it.