Wow, what a set of nauseating choices we have here.
There are plenty of observers who are baffled by the success Trump has had on the campaign trail.
In the meantime, my Facebook feed, post the Democratic convention, is filled with both Obama apologetic praise for how much better things are, and Obama condemnation for how worse things are (both camps have data to spin their narrative). Hillary, meantime, is loathed and tolerated by much of her own supporters, particularly those who backed Bernie, but feel they “have no other choice” to prevent Trump. Of course, there are those who always loved the Clinton regime, and those who always loved it. There are even Bush apologists, believe it or not.
The Bush haters, though, have just nominated the woman Andrew Sullivan famously called “Dick Cheney in a pantsuit”. Michigan House representative Justin Amash reminded us of this in a tweet yesterday, “@HillaryClinton is practically Dick Cheney on foreign policy. Only partisanship can explain Democrats’ indifference to this reality.”
Also in my Facebook feed is constant handwringing about how vile our choices in this election are. I don’t see this election as terribly different from the others. More blatant, sure.
In both the Trump and Bernie camps, as there was with the Brexit vote, there is a brewing sense: the status quo is busted. Government doesn’t represent how their supporters feel. This is not a new phenomenon, but an accelerating emotion since the financial crisis in 2007/2008.
That gave rise to the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Movements. In both cases there was a strong something-is-very-wrong sentiment, but different diagnoses as to what and why, and how to fix it. It was easy to pick apart the inconsistency between the Tea Party’s taxed-enough-already and hands-off-my-medicare anti-Obamacare message.
There was also the Ron Paul 2008 and 2012 candidacies, which attracted large followings and support with a mixture of anti-establishment message plus its “just follow the constitutional restrictions on government” messages.
So we have a number of populist revolts growing, without a strong consensus, but nonetheless strong convictions to the inconsistent narratives. Government as it stands does not represent us; we demand change.
With Trump, it’s the Mexicans and the Chinese who are the villains, but with a dash of what-are-we-doing with NATO anyway and how our foreign policy has failed, albeit quite inconsistently. Part of me thinks Trump’s incoherent babbling is merely a hat-tip as well as a thumb-nosing exaggeration to the spin doctoring of the establishment, who want to couch their message on their terms and manage the media. He has perfected getting support without really saying anything.
Is this really new? When has there not been major opposition to the President? My take on history is that only during early wartime, when Nationalism can take over, and people support overwhelmingly how government is protecting our interests. Pearl Harbor. 9/11. Remember the Lusitania. It’s pretty easy to mobilize the people against a common, unambiguous enemy. But the villain is the hero of his own story, and has his own supporters. Pockets of people become easily persuaded to vilify another camps’ hero.