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As everyone knows, Trump got himself elected by appealing to those who believed, because of their economic circumstances, that “Washington” had failed them.
His message during the campaign was not anti-war so much as it was isolationist. Again and again, in his semi-literate but effectively demagogic manner, he hammered home to poor and working-class whites that we had to turn our attention inward–to rebuild our infrastructure, to put people to work again, and, incidentally, to stop policing the world and spending trillions on foreign engagements like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. All this was encapsulated in his campaign slogan: Make America Great Again. He ran as the great outsider, and his inauguration speech–the most isolationist in the history of our country–put the cap on this theme.
Of course, at the same time that he was saying that we have to start caring about the needs of the country and its working people and not spending our treasure on foreign wars, he was also saying that the Democrats had allowed our military to become weak by not giving it the resources it needed. Toughness appeals to poor and working-class whites, and with Trump, it was never about the consistency or accuracy but always about the appeal–the classic carnival barker, professional wrestling schtick. Throw the bums out. Help out the average guy for a change. You need someone whose tough like me, who will drain the swamp, lock ‘er up, kick out those scary brown people. As Randy Newman put it in his wonderful song about Huey Long:
“Everybody, gather ’round.
Loosen up your suspenders.
Hunker down on the ground.
I’m a cracker. You are, too.
I’m gonna take good care of you.”
His message was that you and your wife both work, when you can, two crummy part-time jobs because the thieves in Washington and those scary brown people stole from you. [This candidate played the classic trump card of the populist demagogue–scapegoating.] But I have a deal for you. A trillion-dollar infrastructure package to rebuild this country and give you a real job again. A Yuuge wall. Step right up, for one thin dime. . . .
That message resonated. The shock wave of Trump’s roar was so loud that the already deaf Dempublicans, who have been quite content to serve the lords of the New Feudal Order, seem to have lost what hearing they had left.
Intellectuals of the United States, BTW, have totally failed working people by not learning to speak their language. This piece nails that: