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Gordon Campbell on the middle class anger behind Trump

Gordon Campbell on the middle class anger behind the rise of Donald Trump

One of the best examples of the Alice Through The Looking Glass nature of US politics occurred on the weekend, when Donald Trump – in the course of a debate between the Republican Party contenders – roundly blamed George W. Bush for the Iraq invasion and the bungles that came in its wake, and further asserted that Bush had lied to the American people about the existence of weapons of mass destruction.

Nothing too remarkable about saying so, you might think. Yet here comes the Alice in Wonderland bit. Despite all of the vile things that Trump has said in the past 18 months, (about women, about Mexicans etc) nothing has been treated as quite so outrageous as this “ personal” attack on the Bush family. By and large, the media have strongly denounced Trump for his intemperate impertinence in blaming Bush and his entourage for the damage they’ve done to America’s interests and security, and the toll in death and wounds among its troops. (Not to mention the death and suffering inflicted on millions in the Middle East.) For his part, Jeb Bush has clanked into action as the knightly defender of the family honour.

I'm sick and tired of him going after my family," Bush said. "My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind. While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I'm proud of what he did.

Building a security apparatus to keep us safe… yeah right. In a nutshell, this kind of incident explains why Trump is riding so high in the polls. Like a political case of Tourette’s Syndrome, he just shoots with whatever is on his mind. It is often ugly or weird or grandiose or all three at once. But in naming and shaming Bush, Trump is saying baldly what the Victorian Gentlemen of the mainstream media have tiptoed around for the past decade, and rarely dared to mention. Namely, that the United States has paid a grievous price - and is still paying it in blood and treasure - for the avoidable mistakes of the Bush presidency. For all the tut-tutting and headshaking about Trump, we’ve already had one dunderhead in the White House, and he and his vice-President caused more damage than Trump is ever likely to be able to match.

My point isn’t to start a Trump fan club, or to recycle Bush’s sins, one more time. But there’s a set of reasons why people support Trump, and one of them is that he’s willing to lay blame for the bullshit outcomes of the grandiose promises in the 1990s by the captains of government and their shills in the media. As it turned out, free markets haven’t deliver wealth to everyone but only to a tiny few, in ways tghat are increasingly destructive to communities. Free trade deals didn’t create jobs at anything like the level promised : instead they destroyed the jobs and reduced the wages of millions of Americans, and put them in competition with Third World labour costs and conditions. Trump has become the voice of this betrayal of the American middle class. Instead of lamenting his rise, people should maybe be lamenting the reasons for it.

Here’s how the Chicago Tribune recently described the siren song of Trump’s CEO –in-the-White House schtick. Through the magical power of superior Trumpian deal-making, a better yesterday will arise from the ashes of the American dream.

For people who have felt powerless to control their fate, a cohort that bleeds from blue collars into white, he is holding out the promise of relief from the disruptive whims, destructive furies and basic unfairness of global capital. Under President Trump, you can exhale, relieved of the constant anxiety that paying the mortgage depends on whether the company you work for is pulling up stakes tomorrow.

Trump offers a cartoon version of how people robbed of breath and autonomy might picture the executive suites miles above their own cubicles. Congress doesn't exist in Trumpland, where Trump is all-powerful, and business lobbies are humble courtiers.

Even if the Trump campaign ultimately vanishes in a puff of smoke and bad polls, the anger of the US middle class at the charlatans who sold America on the supposed gains of globalization will remain. In one sense at least, the fact that Trump is still leading the Republican pack has an upside. It is forcing the media to swallow their distaste for Trump and do their job. This excellent Atlantic article for instance, tries to grapple with the sources of Republican anger.

Scalia, Again
After yesterday’s long-winded column about the life and works of Justice Antonia Scalia, I’d like to say this guy says it all in just 140 characters.

Beyonce, Twice

Have been meaning to run a clip of Beyonce’s “Formation” video before now, but luckily beforehand… here’s a panel discussing it. And since the panel includes Killer Mike of Run The Jewels, Mike (as usual) has some interesting things to say about white fear and black discourse. And Bill Maher for a change, is in top form.

The venom being directed at Beyonce this week by right wing troglodytes (Rush Limbaugh etc) was inspired by her Superbowl half time performance. But here is the original video which is surprisingly hard to find now in its (a)genuine (b) unsped up and (c) with images form on Youtube. But it is still visible in a few places, including via this link.

The copyright problem that appears to have triggered the mass takedowns was about the attribution and compensation for the imagery used. As the Genius rap lyric site says : “ Shots from the music video come directly from Chris Black and Abteen Bagheri’s 2012 That B.E.A.T., a bounce music documentary filmed in New Orleans. { Bounce is an uptempo form of hip hop] After some initial controversy, a rep for Beyoncé confirmed proper credit and compensation had been attributed to the film makers. “

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