Monday ReadsPosted: November 14, 2016
Well, I’m not sure what to say … still …
The first bad news is that Steven Bannon is the new Karl Rove. There will be a white nationalist who hates women in charge of policy strategy. This is from a petition at SPLC. Please consider signing it.
Bannon presided over a news empire where he, according to former staffers, ”aggressively pushed stories against immigrants, and supported linking minorities to terrorism and crime.”
“We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon said in July, using a term that is really just a rebranding of traditional white nationalism.
Under Bannon, Breitbart published a call to “hoist [the Confederate flag] high and fly it with pride” only two weeks after the Charleston massacre when the country was still reeling from the horrors of the murders.
Under Bannon, Breitbart published an extremist anti-Muslim tract where the author wrote that “rape culture” is “integral” to Islam.
Worse perhaps, Bannon personally insinuated that African Americans are “naturally aggressive and violent.”
The second bit is that Lamar White, Jr. is likely right that media theorist Neil Postman who wrote Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business was astoundingly prescient. Has America “amused itself to death”? The media played right into proving Postman’s hypothesis imho.
From the moment he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, bizarrely gliding down the escalator of his eponymous tower, America was hooked.
It didn’t matter how absurd he behaved or who he insulted; that was part of the fun, and instead of marginalizing him, it became a justification for the media to focus on him even more. He became must-see TV, not because he said anything substantive or even remotely realistic about domestic or foreign policy. In fact, he made it repeatedly clear that he had very little idea what he was talking about. According to non-partisan fact-checking organizations, more than 70% of what he said on the campaign trail was either mostly false or completely false. He lied far more often than he told the truth.
No, he became must-see TV, because like any good salesman and showman, Donald Trump understood his audience. He spoke in vague platitudes and pitched a slogan- “Make America Great Again”- that could fill in for an answer on any question. He surrounded himself with media professionals. His son-in-law owns The New York Observer, a paper that was more than happy to publish thinly-sourced gossip about his opponent as if it was gospel truth. He counted Sean Hannity, the conservative talk show radio host and FOX News celebrity, as a top adviser, along with Roger Ailes, the Republican political operative who built FOX News into a media empire before being forced to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment. And he hired Steve Bannon, the anti-Semitic editor of the popular conservative news website Breitbart, as his campaign’s chief executive.
In the immediate aftermath of his stunning victory, which shocked even Trump himself and which practically no one had predicted, there was a tendency to believe that Trump’s message of “economic populism” was the critical key to his success. He flipped enough working-class white voters in the Rust Belt because his message resonated with them.
This, I’m afraid, gives far too much credit to what truly motivated those voters, because Trump, despite all of his bluster about renegotiating trade deals and being the only person on the planet that could solve America’s problems, never had a serious plan to help the working class. His message was not about “economic populism;” it was about nativist resentment. It was not about inspiring “the forgotten man and woman,” as he suggested shortly after winning the presidency; it was about stoking their anger: Mexicans are illegally depriving you of a job; the Chinese are ripping us off; Muslims are terrorizing us; African-Americans are disrespecting “law and order” by protesting against police brutality; a global cabal of financiers are secretly conspiring to plunder our wealth (you shouldn’t need a history degree to figure out what that was about).
These Rust Belt voters, who determined the election despite the fact that Hillary Clinton is expected to win nationwide by at least 2 million votes, weren’t parsing through detailed policy papers from both candidates; they weren’t reading the objective economic analysis about the ways in which Clinton’s plans would add 10 million jobs to the workforce while Trump’s would result in a loss of 3 million jobs.
Please read the entire essay. You’ll be glad did.
Amanda Marcotte–writing for Salon–says “Yes, the white male anger that fueled Trump’s victory was real — but it isn’t valid.”
The anger that Donald Trump voters feel is very real. You don’t fling a proto-fascist pussy-grabbing monstrosity into the White House unless you really want to convey that fuck-you sentiment.
Because this anger is so real and so palpable, there’s been an unfortunate tendency in much of the media to assume that this anger must also be valid. The entire election cycle was a clusterfuck of articles demanding empathy for Trump voters, insisting that their rage must have some rational roots — perhaps economic insecurity?
The persistence of the “economic insecurity” angle in the face of overwhelming evidence against it was a testament to the power of hope over reason. If economic insecurity drives this rage, then something can be done about it. But if the rage is driven by less savory factors — unrepentant sexism and racism — then there is no way to mollify it without throwing women and people of color under the bus. It is also not for nothing that most “economic insecurity” theorists were themselves white men, perhaps eager for a narrative that makes people who look like them seem a little more sympathetic.
But wishing doesn’t make something true, or we’d be chatting about a President-elect Hillary Clinton today.
No doubt Trump supporters are people who felt they’ve lost something. But what they’ve lost is something that wasn’t rightly theirs to begin with: Unearned privilege. The Trump revolution was driven by white men who are watching women and people of color making gains that put them closer to equality. They are rebelling at the erosion of the sense that white men are better and more important than everyone else, simply because they exist.
Rebecca Solnit at The Guardian writes: “Don’t call Clinton a weak candidate: it took decades of scheming to beat her.”
Sometimes I think I have never seen anything as strong as Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t mean that I like and admire everything about her. I’m not here to argue about who she is, just to note what she did. I watched her plow through opposition and attacks the like of which no other candidate has ever faced and still win the popular vote. To defeat her it took an unholy cabal far beyond what Barack Obama faced when he was the campaign of change, swimming with the tide of disgust about the Bush administration. As the New York Times reported, “By the time all the ballots are counted, she seems likely to be ahead by more than 2m votes and more than 1.5 percentage points. She will have won by a wider percentage margin than not only Al Gore in 2000 but also Richard Nixon in 1968 and John F Kennedy in 1960.”
You can flip that and see that Trump was such a weak candidate it took decades of scheming and an extraordinary international roster of powerful players to lay the groundwork that made his election possible. Defeating Clinton in the electoral college took the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act by Republican appointees to the supreme court. It took vast Republican voter suppression laws and tactics set in place over many years. It took voter intimidation at many polling places. It took the long Republican campaign to blow up the boring bureaucratic irregularity of Clinton’s use of a private email server into a scandal that the media obediently picked up and reheated.
Kurt Eichenwald continues to be a voice worthy hearing. His Newsweek headline reads: “THE MYTHS DEMOCRATS SWALLOWED THAT COST THEM THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.”
A certain kind of liberal makes me sick. These people traffic in false equivalencies, always pretending that both nominees are the same, justifying their apathy and not voting or preening about their narcissistic purity as they cast their ballot for a person they know cannot win. I have no problem with anyone who voted for Trump, because they wanted a Trump presidency. I have an enormous problem with anyone who voted for Trump or Stein or Johnson—or who didn’t vote at all—and who now expresses horror about the outcome of this election. If you don’t like the consequences of your own actions, shut the hell up.
So, I could post dozens of links about stuff here but I think it’s best you share what resonates with you today. Meanwhile, just let a little bit of Maya’s wisdom wash all over you!!!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?