GOP or WWE?
If you heard a sound bite of a raucous crowd, would you know if it was a Republican or professional wrestling event? Because sometimes they sound eerily similar…
A year ago today, most people thought we would already be discussing a Hillary Clinton presidency, and the Trump train would have turned and the joke would be tired. While the joke is tired, the Trump train is in full force. However, Clinton’s journey to the White House has been far from any coronation that many had predicted, and surging surprise candidate, Bernie Sanders, has been able to maintain a virtual tie ahead of the infamous March 1st “Super Tuesday”. But it’s also not helpful if you don’t know what a caucus or a primary is, or how these “super delegates” are giving a bleeding Clinton campaign so much needed assistance.
Lastly, it seems totally implausible, but the factors motivating people who #feelthebern for self-described Socialist-Democrat Bernie Sanders are often the same factors motivating Trumpeters. See how these outsider candidates are tapping into the very same frustrations in very different ways.
Majority Villain is a show working to podcast the shit out of democracy. Produced and hosted by Greg Haddock, co-hosted by Graham Rue with help from Andrea Schmidt. For a full list of today’s contributors visit majorityvillain.com or check out the show notes on your device. Find and like the show on Facebook and Twitter @majorityvillain and email firstname.lastname@example.org. Music provided by Blue Dot Sessions, Evil Bear Boris, Will Bangs, and Broke for Free from www.freemusicarchive.org under Creative Commons licensing.
Winning and the Rise of the Super American
A guide for “how-to self-interest”
Many of Donald Trump’s supporters are riveted by the type of raw honesty that Trump spouts. And who can blame them? His passionate disregard for social filters is filled with a tantalizing spirit for true “‘mericanism”. He says what is on his mind, he answers to no one, and best of all he promises vaguely to “make America great again”. How? No matter. Details are for pencil pushers and lily-pickers.
So why exactly do people like him? Here’s one telling response I personally received:
“I like Trump. I've read many of his books. Come on Self made Billionaire. Y'all pry voted for Obama, good job on that one. You have douche bag or turd sandwich with any politician. So I vote business man this time.”
According to Conor Friedersdorf in an Atlantic August 2015 article titled, “What Do Donald Trump Voters Actually Want?” a few of the more frequently occurring responses were management experience, appeal to white and middle class frustrations, security from terrorism and immigrants, and appeal to an ego that refrains not from political correctness or from aged-out traditions of traditional politics. By one account, “(Trump) is a collective middle finger to the establishment” (Friedersdorf). This all seems fairly reasonable. This same thinking is what causes one Trump supporter to tell me after a relatively peaceful exchange:
“Where the fuck did all you socialist tools come from? Was there an escape at the lunatic asylum I didn’t hear about? You Obama loving turds need a good ol’ 12 gauge rocksalt enema! Now run along jackasses your crack pipes are missin’ y’all!”
A majority of the responses had to do with favorability in how Trump is an alpha-male who doesn’t have patience for bureaucracy (think star football player in every teen movie ever made). Other supporters, feel like Heath Ledger’s Joker in the movie Batman who just “want to watch the world burn” (Friedersdorf). Others see him as a type of culture bomb who could only unleash ravishing chaos upon Washington. Evermore are the supporters who seem to simply like him because he is rich and famous. He’s a billionaire and he used to have his own show for Christ’ sake! What could go wrong?
Leaving aside any appeal to the blatant bigotry, racism and various prejudices Trump touts, a few of the more surprising answers came from liberals. Actually, there are a fairly large number of liberals who either support Bernie Sanders or have at least voted for Obama who expressed a real desire for an anti-establishment candidate who would wreck the place up. Some of those voices thought Trump would simply help America “win” again. Probably not a big surprise as we keep hearing that, but what does that mean exactly? It may surprise you, but as far as developed countries go, the United States consistently comes in as one of the worst in terms of healthcare: cost vs treatment, lifespan, quality of life, etc. (Trump actually supports a universal health plan), but we’re also talking terrible results in education as students fall further behind in math and science and the US’ crumbling infrastructure as we literally watch as our roads, bridges, and tunnels collapse into ruin. Then, depending on how you measure it - there are many would also say that the US economy could use a good dose of Charlie Sheen-style “winning”. And many Trump supporters see him as a financial manager who could facilitate this process.
In fact there is a whole other side of this story which is the way we humans simply abandon our principles at the moment where we feel like our ability to win simply overpowers any desire for decency and respect. Take for example the Denver Broncos. Those number 58-loving, Super Bowl 50-winning Broncos. Well, their fans really. Myself included. In very general terms, Broncos fans despise the New England Patriots. But it is not enough to just dislike the Patriots. Thou shall be swept up in memes comparing Tom Brady to a transgender woman, laugh at Patriots fan trapped inside tipped port-a-pottys, and chastise players’ reactions immediately following the biggest loss one will experience in this line of work: case-in-point, Panther’s quarterback Cam Newton. Hell, after you win you can even smash a few car windows and newspapers boxes before police shoot tear gas into the crowd (Hughes).
But this is really just par for the course, isn’t it? There is a disconnect between wanting success and maintaining ethics in the way we pursue that success. It’s not enough to just win anymore - one must destroy the opponent. We must sabotage connection for the sake of success. We want dominance at the cost of distance. We castrate respect for the price of privilege.
We choose that sweet sweet chaos over cooperation - and that is the difference between a Trump vote and a Sanders vote.
We are getting a bit ahead of ourselves at the moment, because Sanders is far from winning the Democratic nomination over Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump is well on his way to securing that of the Republican party. The question everybody is asking is how can two outsider candidates from totally opposite sides of the spectrum both be doing so well?
There is a tendency it seems in times of either absolute domination or in moments of utter defeat that it becomes completely appropriate to disregard humanity for the quest of chaos - primal, sensational, anarchic chaos.
If disagreement should be discarded so we can destroy those that stand in our way, we should want no part of it. It is clear the anger of many who are dissatisfied with current politics have every right to be. Even more, it is clear that Americans are working longer hours, are more in debt, and more unhappy than ever before. We are working zombies on the cusp of a 21st century depression. Everybody knows that they are working too damn hard for too damn little.
And there brings about the greatest difference between Sanders and Trump. Since the Great Recession of 2008 (and arguably beginning decades before that), people are channeling that frustration from a corrupt political system that has fucked them over for the last time. America is demanding a new path en masse, albeit from different ends of the same problem.
Yet the frustration seems to be constantly placed on the notion of a political establishment in Washington that we feel we have no control over. That’s a problem. That fuels a lot of rage without a lot of remedy. Furthermore, the inability to conceptualize our dispersed, but mutual control over our government is… well, trumped by a frustration of that which we see: the food-stamp mother at the store, the thief on the nightly news, our lazy co-worker who complains about his pay, the father who has stopped looking for work. We’ve been looking at the poor and lazy, the white and the black, the blues and the reds, GOPs and SOBs.
Meanwhile, as millions of us are liquidating our savings accounts, the “job-creators” we keep praising on television have only gotten richer. In fact, according to forbes.com, to be just the 400th member of the infamous billionaire’s Forbes 400 list of exceptional winners (of which Don Juan de Trump is an exclusive member) one must make at least $150 million more of what was required just last year (Dolan). At the same time, politicians in Washington from both the blue and the red sides are the richest they’ve ever been while doing less than ever.
The question one needs to ask is if dirty money in the hands of too few is what got us into this mess, why should we trust it to save us?
If it’s Socialism to elect somebody whose lifeline absolutely requires democratic participation of “takers”, somebody must explain to me how that is lazier than electing somebody who promises to make America great by doing it for us. We’ve been looking sideways and down for the answer to our problems. I think it’s time we start looking up.
Or you could just tell me: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” —even though my name is Greg. You know, whatever, it’s cool.
Dolan, Kerry A. and Luisa Kroll. “Inside the 2015 Forbes 400”. http://www.forbes.com/forbes-400/. September 29th, 2015.
Friedersdorf, Conor. Atlantic Magazine. “What Do Donald Trump Voters Actually Want?” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/donald-trump-voters/401408/. August 17th, 2015.
Hughes, Trevor. USAToday. “Broncos' fans celebrating Super Bowl win cause minor damage in Denver”. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2016/02/08/broncos-fans-celebrating-super-bowl-win-cause-minor-damage-denver/79995170/#. February 8th, 2016.