Certainly, the notion that Trump’s rise, however long it lasts, is a product of a special skill, or circumstance, or a new national “mood,” is absurd. Trumpism is a permanent part of American life—in one form or another, with one voice or another blaring it out. At any moment in our modern history, some form of populist nationalism has always held some significant share—whether five or ten per cent – of the population. Among embittered white men, Trump’s “base,” it has often held a share much larger than that. Trump is not offering anything that was not offered before him, often in identical language and with a similarly incoherent political program, by Pat Buchanan or Ross Perot, by George Wallace or Barry Goldwater, or way back when by Father Coughlin or Huey Long. Populist nationalism is not an eruptive response to a new condition of 2015—it is a perennial ideological position, deeply rooted in the nature of modernity: a social class sees its perceived displacement as the result of a double conspiracy of outsiders and élitists. The outsiders are swamping us, and the insiders are mocking us—this ideology alters its local color as circumstances change, but the essential core is always there. They look down on us and they have no right to look down on us.
the politics of Trump, far from being in any way new, are exactly the politics of Huck Finn’s drunken father in “Huckleberry Finn”: “Call this a govment! Just look at it and see what it’s like . . . . A man can’t get his rights in a govment like this.” Widespread dissatisfaction with all professional politicians, a certainty of having been “sold out,” a feeling of complete alienation from both political parties—“Not a dime’s worth of difference between them” was George Wallace’s formulation, a half century ago—these are permanent intuitions of the American aggrieved. The feelings may be somewhat aggravated by bad times, or alleviated by good ones, but at the height of the prosperous fifties a significant proportion of Americans were persuaded that the entire government was in the hands of saboteurs and traitors at the pay of a foreign power, while in the still more prosperous nineties a similar faction was persuaded that the liberal President was actually a coke dealer who had murdered a friend.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.