No idea how he’s done it, but he’s managed to perform the following mental acrobatics:
He starts with the undeniably true premise: “The mainstream media/political elites look down on you commoners. And they also look down on Me for being a vulgar sneering demagogue.”
And then takes it to an insane conclusion: “Therefore any attack on Me for ANY reason is really an attack on YOU-ALL for not being Coastal Elite enough.”
The beauty of this is, IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE TO THE TRUMP SUPPORTER IF THE ACCUSATIONS AGAINST TRUMP ARE DEMONSTRABLY TRUE OR SIMPLE NAME-CALLING. It’s irrelevant! “Hey they think they’re better than us! They’re not better than us, therefore [insert criticism of Trump du jour] cannot logically be true! Therefore Trump is NOT a vulgar sneering demagogue, therefore he DOES deserve to be POTUS. QED.”
Of course it doesn’t hurt him that anti-Trump people prefer to belittle his supporters as ONLY racists/xenophobes/poor white trash, rather than victims of neoliberal economics who happen to lash out at scapegoats out of desperation. If they had money and healthcare and education for their kids, maybe they wouldn’t need scapegoats so much.
But it’s a vicious circle: guy is broke, feels that America has turned its back on him, blames immigrants, gets told he’s a trailer-park racist so he deserves no economic relief, gets more broke, feels more alienated from How Mericuh Used To Be, gets more mad at immigrants, etc…
It’s easy for liberals to see how stupid that is when you apply it to Dubya: Muslims attacked us, so I’ll piss the INNOCENT ONES off by racially profiling them at home and blowing them up randomly abroad, which makes them madder and more violent, which I use to justify more profiling/blowing up. But LIBERALS DO THE SAME EXACT THING TO TRUMP SUPPORTERS. And wonder why he’s still polling well. Must be because his supporters are SO stupid and red-necked they refuse to listen to reason! White-trash morons! Ha ha ha.
TL;DR: you can’t just tell Donny fans to JUST SAY NO like you were Nancy Reagan, you have to give them something to say YES to. Bernie is trying to do that, he’s said so in interviews, but Bernie fans haven’t really caught on, and we’re not helping him with our knee-jerk trailer-tin-foil bashing.
Also the other key to Donny’s appeal is the sort of reasoning you see with pop entertainers: “OK you are not rich or famous, but you can VICARIOUSLY BASK IN MY SHINE. THE MORE I SHINE, THE MORE YOU SHINE, SO HELP ME SHINE MORE, GUYS.” That makes sense in pop, which is about escapism from reality.
The other place you see that tactic is in 3d world countries like Argentina or Philipines, where the Perons or the Marcoses were popular with a lot of poor peasants, who bought the ‘you shine through me’ argument BECAUSE THEY ACCEPTED THAT THEY HAD NO SOCIAL MOBILITY.
The other place you see that is – surprise – HRC’s campaign, which distinguishes itself from Sanders’ in 2 ways:
1) ‘Sorry but in RL the government can’t solve your problems like Bernie says. That’s not gonna happen.’ (the Peron/Marcos version) but . . .
2) I’m an intersectional feminist, and I feel your pain! if I get elected, then ALL minorities get elected. (the pop-star version).
Hillary deploys both types of ‘vicarious shine’ rhetoric in place of actual policies that would help people. So the lesson is, I guess, as the American empire declines, and social mobility goes extinct, politicians try to manage our expectations by turning politics into a personality-driven, YOU WILL SHINE THROUGH ME festival.
After all if neither party cares, elections are just escapism, like pop music. and if we have all given up on trying to make ends meet, let alone that government should help us in that regard, then politics is all about personalities and narratives and momentum and that shit.2 comments