יום רביעי, 9 במרץ 2016

Trumps of Doom

Eight months of radio silence, and the first thing I upload here is - gasp - a rambling post on foreign politics. For shame. But worry not, dear imaginary readers: I plan to return to the really important stuff, such as the question of free will in the works of Isaac Asimov or Christian theology in TV and comics, soon enough. (Due to the foreign politics and foreign journalism, this one is in English.)

We were wondering here about the profile of Trump voters (somehow we never really get to talk to them over here - the closest we get are Israeli sympathizers, and they don't really matter), and then this article comes along. Let's see what we have here:

Someone who praises Trump's brave stand against un-American PC. Said Israeli sympathizers usually go with the same line. Trump is True to His Terrible Self, unlike those hypocritical bastard Social Justice Warriors. The same can be seen over here with the constant accusations of "hypocrisy" against the battered left, or, on the other side of the political map and the Atlantic, the support of good ol' fellow traveler Jeremy Corbyn, who haven't changed his political views since 70's, regardless of the actual world changing around him. The mysterious cult of Authenticity strikes again. 

"Making America Strong", doesn't like Muslims, wishes for tight borders. Actually seems to hate everything not American enough in a generalized sort of way. Could be pegged down as a genus of non-interventionism.

Oh. Oh my God. Things are beginning to get interesting. 
"...I began plotting to vote Republican in hopes that the party would send the country so far in the direction of complete unrestricted neoliberalism and libertarian free market superstition that Americans would come to recognize the dangers of these ideologies and eventually reject them."
Really, man? Really? "The worse, the better"? The Lenin argument? This never, ever, works. The worse is just, well, worse. So one Misguided Radical Caricature, check. "My interest in politics did not truly develop into an intellectually mature form until 2011". Ha ha, good one.
Also, "as Martin Heidegger proclaimed in his famous Der Speigel interview, although for slightly different reasons, 'Only a God can save us.'" Great choice of source! Remember the subtle Hitler comparison - it will become important later. 

"I am a Democrat but will vote for Trump, because he is not bought and paid for by anyone. We the American people are tired of politicians owing favors to rich businessmen, bankers, oil companies and stock markets. It should be against the law to have lobbyists involved with government." 
Aha, House of Cards syndrome! I knew it! Complete mistrust of both sides of the political map due to what is conceived as corrupt, all-encompassing power structure, which leads to willingness to embrace dodgy candidates as long as they're perceived as not being part of the system. No fun but predictable.

"Bernie is a breath of fresh air, but I’m not sure he can beat Hillary. In a match between Bernie and Donald, I’d vote for the former. In a match between Hillary and Donald, I’d vote for the latter. It isn’t a vote for Trump, but rather a vote against the political establishment (which must be removed from office at any cost – even if it means electing a reality TV star for president). The stakes are too high. Hillary cannot win or the oligarchy will continue unabated."
Same as 4, using a slightly different vocabulary. 
Also, "I bet a lot of pragmatic sorts are in the same boat ...". I don't think that word means what you think it means.

A blend of 3 and 5. Will vote Bernie before Trump but Trump before Clinton, because oligarchy -> fascist plutocracy. Again, more radical lingo here, along with another, more patriotic version of the "worse is better" thing: "I believe that it is too late for a conventional cure. So, there is Trump. He is indeed a buffoon and a recipe for disaster. If he were to do half of the horrific things he says he would, he would be a catastrophe. He could be a blend of Hitler and Hirohito. That’s why I would vote for him. The last time we crossed paths with a Hitler and/or Hirohito, the country woke up and fought. And won! He might supply us with the shock we need in order to wake up and fight."
Dude, you didn't *vote* for Hitler and/or Hirohito. And you didn't let them run the country during wartime. This comparison is all wrong, and quite disturbing at that. How bad does it have to be for someone to take this line of thinking?

House of Cards syndrome meets flavor no. 1, PC Backlash. Campus PC culture as seen from afar does seem to be getting exceptionally silly lately; in the same way that some anti-smokers make you want to start smoking just as not to be in the same nominal side as them, so do various trigger-warners, anti-sushi-appropriators and microagresees cause an automatic need to be as far away from them as possible. But then you read, say, this article, and find yourself siding with Cecil Rhodes - but
Cecil Rhodes was a gross imperialist and terrible racist. You know that, deep down, but it seems that this time it's just not enough. "My main reason to vote Trump is to see the looks on your faces when he wins."

Right-wing, patriotic anti-establishment man, of that classic and uniquely American flavor that opposes all things Washington on principle. Dash of anti-elitism, probably. Political and social sympathies stronger than religious obligations. Whiff of House of Cards syndrome, but probably rooted in a stronger antipathy towards the government to begin with. 

This one goes from backlash to a sort of upside-down PC – he feels discriminated against for being old, male and white, in a society that seems to automatically scorn those things. It was already observed as one danger of current identity politics and privilege discourse: that groups accused of being privileged due to "factors over which [they] have no control", as our man says here, are feeling under attack, and will try and form their own identity group based on distrust towards the progressive discourse that seemingly oppresses them. This can easily slide into "The villainy you teach me I will execute" attitude, which voting for a loud, crass, vaguely racist and very rich white man can certainly help with. In other words, "people look at me and assume I think in a certain way. I am tired of being looked at with these assumptions in mind. I may as well join the Trump bandwagon simply because that is how I look and am treated."
Also, again with the worrying comparisons: "a president Trump could be as bad as Hitler, but if he shocks some good people in both the Republican and Democratic parties into realizing that they are ignoring legitimate concerns of a sizable minority, then let him have his four years." Seems that the Shock to the System approach is a thing.

An oddly cynical version of the "Trump is awful but will force America to wake up" argument: Trump is a master manipulator of the masses, and only his disastrous success can teach said dumb masses a lesson about believing people like him. It's a strange line of argument, really – similar to complaining about corruption while encouraging more corruption so that everyone will really see how corrupt everything is – and more befitting a Batman villain than a thoughtful citizen, in my opinion; but it does reflect that same despair we've already seen above. Unlike others here, this one doesn't believe in Sanders, either – both his and Trump's agendas will be "dead on arrival". The only hope lies in renewed public understanding of the American democracy as a whole, as opposed to it hinging on the election of a single person – but even this a "foolish hope". 

Anti-immigration immigrant. Arrived as a child, Made It, and will not have other immigrants coming en-masse and spoiling it for everybody. It happens. 

So, what do we have? While taking into account that these samples may not be representative (as it is made of people who know and voluntarily write to The Guardian, a left-leaning British paper), we can see a few clear trends, which can mostly be traced to disgust towards the established political systems both left and right. Trump is (mostly – no. 1 seems to indeed see him as a genuinely good person) pictured here as a protest vote – people think he's no good, but that everything is so rotten that it doesn't matter anymore. This motivation diverges into a number of paths, mostly characterized by various mixes of utter despair of the current political system and a desire to create a shockwave that will bring America back to its senses – with the situation viewed as so extreme that only the apocalyptic-sized threat of the Trump administration can do the trick. 

Compared to Obama's "Hope" message on the 2008 campaign, which resonated powerfully with the desire for new politics after the 2008 economic crash, the main message of the Trump voters presented here is "Despair" – of the system, the economy, those goddamn SJWs, and contemporary America in general. There are not many mindsets more dangerous to the well-being of a Democratic society than this one; hopefully, this trend (and its over-the-top harbinger) can still be stopped before decadence really sets in.

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