|Boris Johnson leading the Leave side: Look familiar?|
I found an interesting article in The Telegraph explaining Donald Trump as he appears across the pond.
Trump taps into that same strand of patriotic populism – "let’s make America great again" – but he roots his appeal in the anger of white working-class voters dislocated economically by globalisation. Free trade, off-shoring, immigration – all aspects and impacts of globalisation – have left them bewildered by change and often worse off too. Their rage against the elites is the fuel that has supercharged Trump’s campaign. But the "values" politics has always had a racial inflection. Mainly a dog-whistle, though in Republican strategist Lee Atwater’s infamous Willie Horton attack ad on Michael Dukakis – highlighting a Massachusetts furlough policy that released the murderer to escape and rape – it was more like a bugle call. Trump’s wall between the US and Mexico (paid for by the Mexican government) and the ban on Muslims coming to the country are firmly in an ignoble Republican tradition.We think THIS IS TRUMP, but in reality it's recycled Republicanism. Who knew? (Hint: We should have.)
We see it differently here in the U.S. (Er, same only different.) Here's Neal Gabler in Salon:
Even so, you don’t hear much about PC in the political coverage of the election except when Trump is attacking it. One of his big applause lines is, “I’m so tired of this political correctness crap.” And there is a good reason why the media don’t like talking about this, even though Trump has been, in Nicholas Kristof’s words, “mainstreaming hate,” and even though Trump’s anti-PC scourge may be one of the lasting effects of the campaign. The reason is that the media have been anti-PC too. Now that Trump has tossed etiquette aside, they seem to be having second thoughts about what an anti-PC society looks like. Here’s the problem: It looks like Trump.
Given all the grave problems that beset us, political correctness would seem to be a rather slender one. That is the media’s assessment, too. Just about every political analyst and just about every political survey concurs that this election pits disaffected older working-class white males, largely without college degrees, against a cohort of the young, women, minorities and college-educated whites — a sort of “last gasp” election of a declining group against a bundle of ascendant ones.These articles are bookends in different points in time. The Telegraph article was from last spring, before the Brexit vote and just as it was becoming clear how things were turning out in the U.S. primaries. Said Telegraph writer John McTernan:
The performance of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the primaries shows that the activist base of their party doesn’t care. Come the presidential election they will reap the whirlwind."Reap the whirlwind." Wow, how prescient. Is that what we're seeing now? Oh my. Back in the UK, Boris Johnson rode the Brexit vote to the curb of 10 Downing St. He was denied entrance, perhaps because he was too crass. Is that Donald's fate, that he tears down the walls of civility while claiming to want to a build different one? Something's falling down, that's for sure.
Why are blue-collar whites angry? The media have an answer for that, too — essentially that these folks have been the primary casualties of globalization and immigration, Trump’s twin bugaboos. But a recent paper by Gallup senior economist Johnathan Rothwell challenges this assumption. From Rothwell’s data, those who view Trump most favorably were not particularly battered by globalization or immigration. In fact, they were surprisingly well-off financially — better off than those who supported Trump’s Republican rivals. Maybe that is why Trump hasn’t really talked much about his economic plan. He knows it doesn’t matter much to his base.
What Rothwell discovered is that those who view Trump favorably are racially isolated as well as isolated from immigrants. Their grievances aren’t so much economic or even sociological as psychological. These older whites are a group in despair — shrouded by a cloud of pessimism, loss and disempowerment, as Rothwell describes the nationalist tide in other countries similar to the one that is now bearing Trump.The Brits thought the immigrants were coming to steal their way of life and had a spasm of fear that led to Brexit. The day after the vote, there was a spasm of wanting a do-over, saying it was a protest vote, as if they didn't really mean it. Well, actually they did, in their fear and anxiety. Now they have to suffer the fear and anxiety of being outside of Europe, and they don't know what's coming. They'll soon find out.
Over here, Donald Trump is igniting the same fear and anxiety. We can't leave the North American continent, but we can build walls. We haven't had our Brexit vote yet. Hopefully, we won't wake up on November 9th wondering how we elected Trump, saying it was a protest vote, wanting our own do-over. We won't get one either. Will we reap the whirlwind? Heaven help us, it didn't help our friends across the pond.
Update. I just caught news of this on Breitbart (shouldn't go there, truly odious!):
They will soon be calling me MR. BREXIT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2016