Conning Trump’s America

December 08,2016

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It was fitting that the most important struggle on the eve of the now-historic presidential election was the battle for Standing Rock. Even more than the Movement for Black Lives, the conflict between Native Americans and toxic corporations and their government allies (including President-elect Donald Trump) symbolises the ruined promises and outright lies that have always defined the United States’ treatment of its most violated and vulnerable inhabitants.

Many progressives have criticised working and middle-class Trump voters for being “conned” or “scammed” by a someone who will not (and in fact could not) deliver on his promises of white economic and political renewal.

But I think Trump voters are, in fact, a lot smarter than they’re being given credit, and that’s even scarier. A large share of the working and middle-class voters who have turned to Trump, in fact, see the world precisely as it is - stacked against them.

They realise that the promises of Democrats going back to Bill Clinton to help them adapt to the neoliberal global order whose basic contours and structures cannot be changed have proved empty.

It was fitting that the most important struggle on the eve of the now-historic presidential election was the battle for Standing Rock. Even more than the Movement for Black Lives, the conflict between Native Americans and toxic corporations and their government allies (including President-elect Donald Trump) symbolises the ruined promises and outright lies that have always defined the United States’ treatment of its most violated and vulnerable inhabitants.

Many progressives have criticised working and middle-class Trump voters for being “conned” or “scammed” by a someone who will not (and in fact could not) deliver on his promises of white economic and political renewal.

But I think Trump voters are, in fact, a lot smarter than they’re being given credit, and that’s even scarier. A large share of the working and middle-class voters who have turned to Trump, in fact, see the world precisely as it is - stacked against them.

They realise that the promises of Democrats going back to Bill Clinton to help them adapt to the neoliberal global order whose basic contours and structures cannot be changed have proved empty.

Its roots lie in the realisation by many working/middle-class whites that they’ve been put in a classic zero-sum situation: a global and US political economy that is never going to produce the kinds of jobs and lives for which they’ve long felt entitled, while at the same time other groups see improvements in their situations relative to historic white power and privilege.

And so, when Trump gave them a choice between an ersatz multiracial democracy in which they are increasingly disadvantaged and a return to the order and stability of white primacy, they made a logical choice: if the pie isn’t going to get any bigger (and in fact, is in some ways shrinking) then the only way they can keep, never mind increase, their share, is to make sure others get less.

If Trump can install two to four Supreme Court justices who will back such an agenda with the full force of the constitution, their superiority will be assured for decades, even after the demographic balance tips away from them.

Thus, voting for Trump was not voting for a con man - or at least most didn’t buy the con. Rather, it was a strategic action: a vote for the candidate who will push everyone else back and ensure they at least maintain their fragile superiority and privilege, such as it is, for as long as possible.

Put another way, Trump’s white legions understand that unless there is a radically new political order, they are simply never going to achieve a level of prosperity and security under neoliberal capitalism as they did under the post-War corporate welfare state.

This article has been excerpted from: ‘Who’s conning whom in Donald Trump’s America’. Courtesy: Aljazeera.com


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