Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Trump Mythologized

Trump Mythologized
P. Schultz

“Donald Trump is a bad casino act, yes. He is a classic demagogue with a mean streak. He is also the catalyst of yeoman America’s ongoing political pushback to globalism, diversity, and progressive dogma. How could this happen, the nation’s elites are wondering. They still have no idea how their arrogance spawned Trumpism or why someone with so many defects has kept against all odds trending up.”

            This is a quote from the first paragraph of an article entitled, “Donald Trump and the Ghost of Christopher Lasch,” a link to which can be found below. Basically, the article is arguing that the “Trump phenomenon” is a reflection of “blowback” against the “revolt of the elites” that Lasch described in a book published after his death, by that title, in 1995. And, as with other such articles, usually written from “the right,” this one includes the assertion that our elites are worried about this phenomenon and how it could upset the stability – and allegedly the decency – of the current regime or political establishment. So, Trump is dangerous and must be stopped, preferably by those who will look after the middle class and its allegedly racist, fundamentalist, homophobic, and nationalistic values.

            Now, while in part persuasive, the problem with this argument is that it fails to see that Trump is hardly a danger to the reigning elites and, in fact, is a gift to them in that his presence, his alleged dangerousness, helps to renew their legitimacy even after they have led the nation into the jackpot it is in. The ruling elites are not afraid of Trump – or even Cruz for that matter - because they know these politicians, when they lose, as the elites will ensure they do, will also help to destroy the insurgency of populism that is feeding Trump’s – and by the way, Sanders’ – popularity. This is the same game plan used by LBJ and Richard Nixon in the late 60s when another popular insurgency was abroad in the land, and also used during Carter’s presidency when the Democrats savaged his presidency and his re-election before coalescing around Reagan, who was said to have a “mandate.” And it is the same game plan that has been used in the face of other popular insurgencies as well.

            Hence, articles like the one cited here also serve the same purpose of reinforcing the ruling elites while pretending to do otherwise. To quote another article along the same lines:

“To the establishment, this breakdown looks like chaos. It looks like savagery. It looks like a man with a flamethrowing guitar playing death metal going a hundred miles an hour down Fury Road. But to the American people, it looks like democracy. Something new will replace the old order, and there are a host of smart, young leaders on all sides who must prove they have the capability to figure out how to create or retrofit institutions that can represent and channel this new energy.”

Note that this is not an argument against “an establishment,” but just the reverse. The “new establishment” will be controlled by “a host of smart, young leaders on all sides who . . . create or retrofit institutions that can represent and channel this new energy.” So, apparently, the American people think of “democracy” as changing one establishment for another and not as undermining establishments in general, which is exactly what those in Washington mean when they say that our government if “broken.”

            But the people aren’t concerned about the government as “broken;” they are concerned about a government, a regime, that is oligarchic, controlled by a few for the benefit of the few. Hence, changing those in charge of the oligarchy will not address the people’s concerns, their anger, whether those in charge are “smart, young leaders” or not. And this is another reason, the Trump phenomenon does not scare the established regime: Because this phenomenon merely serves to reinforce the all-too-common idea that a change of “leadership” will rectify our situation, an idea that the Obama presidency ought to have laid to rest. Hence, unlike the myth the media and mainstream politicians are pushing, the establishment knows that Trump, so far from creating chaos, is merely preparing the way for the reinforcement and extension of the prevailing regime.

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