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Donald Trump’s “liberal” support

Donald TrumpThere is little Donald Trump can say to shock any more. Friday night’s implication that his underwear packs something beastly is a case in point. I must admit, it raised a chuckle here. As the Republican party takes a dark turn that won’t end well for millions of Americans, not least those supporting Trump, sometimes laughter is the only response you can muster as all the rules about US politics is dumped in a skip, and for something more coarse, more dangerous to rise in its place.

I would hope that Hillary Clinton, as the likely Democrat nominee, would be able to crush Trump in the presidential election, though I still am of the opinion that Bernie Sanders would be an even safer bet. Yet neither are dead certs as Trump is drawing deep from a well poisoned by decades of prejudice, resentment, alienation, entitlement and, yes, that old warhorse anxiety. As many commentators have already observed, Mitt Romney’s “unprecedented” intervention was only going to shore up Trump’s support, as per His Blairness and his courtiers vis a vis Jeremy Corbyn.

In this respect, The Graun has provided a service inviting us to peer into the minds of “secret” Donald Trump supporters. Some of it is typical hard right bullshit, but lest we forget that bullshit is taken deadly seriously by millions of Americans. But most intriguing (or depressing) are the self-styled liberals, progressives, and in one case an apparent anti-capitalist who are lining up to support his ticket.

  • One describes himself as a “patriotic socialist” who likes Trump’s idea of stopping all Muslim immigration. Another would support Sanders in a heartbeat, but believes Trump is the lesser evil to Hillary’s oligarchy-as-usual policies.
  • Another thinks a Trump presidency would shake the American people out of their torpor, seeing as Hitler did the same. A “left-liberal college professor” is supporting Trump because he wants to piss off his lefty students.
  • Another is an unemployed licensed attorney who thinks Trump will shake things up, even if he’s “as bad as Hitler”.
  • And perhaps the most ridiculous and short-sighted comes from a young gay Muslim who thinks he’d be okay under a Trump presidency because The Donald just wants to get the “bad” Saudi-backed Wahhabi Muslims.

Each of these people are either deeply stupid, short-sighted to the point of blindness, or both. But millions supporting Trump for similar, albeit less articulate reasons, isn’t something you can put down to individual stupidity.

It is a social phenomenon, and need to be grasped, analysed, and responded to as such. What’s common in all these “left” rationalisations is a sense of fatalism and powerless. Each of them have effectively given up on collective action to change things, not that each and every one of them have been active in the activist sense. They don’t think to look to themselves and others in a similar position to work together around a set of political and social objectives.

As American politics has redoubled its oligarchical character, so their individual situations are rendered external and irrelevant to Beltway concerns, or at least so it appears to them. Hence feeling isolated and unwilling/unable to engage in politics to solve their own problems, they latch onto a billionaire saviour who threatens the whole system with a hard reset – and all without having to do much more than fill out a piece of paper.

The problem is their fatalism is also premised on it’s-not-going-to-happen-to-me-ism. Trump wants to demolish establishment politics, but that wrecking ball will crash through the heartlands of those now flocking to support him, just as it has done under previous conservative presidencies.

 

This article first appeared at All that is Solid

Image credit: Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign stop at Bluffs, Iowa by Matt Johnson CC BY 2.0

5 Comments

  1. John Penney says:

    What on earth is the pint of this superficial article ? A few, totally non-representative examples are provided of eccentric pro-Trump voting choices by a handful of marginal Americans . So what ? Do these aberrant individuals represent some sort of general breakout of Trump and his very familiar Right wing populism from the broad cohort of lumpen “Redneck”/Tea Party support forever gathered under the traditional Republican Party umbrella ? Nope.

    Trump’s demagogic, xenophobic, populist appeal, in an era of generally catastrophic falling living standards for all but the top 1% of the US population, where the profound corruption of the existing political structures is evident to almost everyone, should surprise no-one. The astonishing (much more astonishing I the US context than the “Barry Goldwater – esque” Right populist Trump “insurgency” ) success of self-professed “Democratic Socialist”, Bernie Sanders, is a reflection of the same mass discontent with the failure of US capitalism to deliver its promise of , “trickle down” prosperity for all – once the superrich have had their fill, over the last 30 years.

    The huge success of the French National Front in recent years with its populist mix of “anti establishment” rhetoric, pseudo “Left” economic” critiques (far to the Left of Trump of course) and racism/xenophobia , is also a facet of the disintegration of the entire post 1945 political consensus – never mind the collapse specifically of the consensus on the neoliberal narrative and methodologies of the last 30 years, across Europe and now the Us heartland itself.

    That being said, what useful conclusions or useful advice for the Left does this article offer ? None that I can see. It just seems to be a wail of impotent despair. This at a time when, as a mirror image of Far right populist advance, we on the Left are at last making great gains too across Europe, and in the Sanders case in the USA – a political advance which is unprecedented.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I agree. I don’t know why Left Futures is publishing so many pieces like this when we have so many challenges that are not being addressed in left-Labour politics. Informing LF readers that Trump will disappoint many of those attracted by his “anti-establishment” rhetoric opens no political debate and doesn’t help us in anyway to deal with the challenges we face (quite apart from being tediously trivial).

  2. James Martin says:

    Just when you think he has hit the bottom of nasty/stupid he manages to stoop even lower. If Hollywood had produced a film about a presidential race like this a decade ago no one would have believed it possible, but it is happening and you can see the mighty USA fracturing before your eyes, with racist isolationist populist Trump on the one side and socialist populist Sanders on the other, while in the middle the business as usual candidates are failing to sell.

    How to explain such a thing? You start with the economy. Except for the very rich living standards for the vast majority have either fallen or stagnated for decades. The US is still has the most powerful military in the world, but it is a power of empire which is crumbling from within. In a nation of over 300 million for one of the main political parties to only find idiots and buffoons for its Presidential candidate is revealing of the political disconnect. There is a real risk of a populist far-right fascist movement in the USA (based on guns, religion and money), and while Trump is unlikely to be the leader of it his anti-immigrant Tea Party racism builds its foundations.

  3. Chris says:

    I’m assuming you don’t follow US conservative media, but I do and I note that many people on the American right actually think Trump is a liberal. If that’s not the case, it’s certainly true he’s not an ideological conservative like Ted Cruz.

    1. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

      I’d pretty much agree with you and there is nothing new at all about Trump’s typically American, (Americans as god’s special chosen people,) American xenophobia, racism, intolerance, paranoia, etc………….

      But this always comes to the fore during periods of severe an prolonged economic depression as was for example in the 1930’s it when it was her immigrants, (the, “not really one of us,” crew,) and particularly then the Irish who attracted this all to familiar opprobrium and of course blacks, (that almost goes without saying,) but then abolishing slavery never really equated with abolishing racism even at the time and even among the abolitionists.

      But as you rightly point out, to anyone who has grown up in any country like the UK that has benefited from socialism to the extent that we have as have most, (post WW II European countries,) or has never bothered to take an interest in the history and the development of the modern US or who simply does not read the US media; the reality of the strength of these American attitudes and prejudices can be unnerving.

      It should be.

      The bottom line for most Americas, is that anyone who fails to support them completely and without question or reservation is against them and its really no more complicated than that.

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