This last weekend I enjoyed the exchange between our family members. A number of us weighed in regarding an article on authoritarian factors as a measure of support for Donald Trump. I picked the article up on Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday show. http://wpo.st/aDQL1 I sent it out, and enjoyed the response and essays that were returned. The distance of the exchange was gigantic between Oregon, Kansas and South Africa. It would be tastier around a table eating chicken, potatoes, and green beans on a Sunday family lunch. But alas, it shall never be.
I read an article in the Guardian that my oldest daughter recommended in response to my offering and thought it insightful. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/07/donald-trump-why-americans-support As I read it, the story is of failed liberalism and sold-out actors. Our country has a parcel of folks that do not perceive any remedy to address their social and economic frustrations. The liberal institutions developed to provide them with a voice are at best an echo. In many cases they are seen as not having the flexibility to pivot to emerging economic issues, but instead are deeply invested in preserving historical liberal (I guess they now call it progressive) racial, environmental, sexual victories.
Because of their need to defend their acquired constituencies from these battles, there is difficulty by the liberals in pivoting to address legitimate new economic failures. Many Americans who see a need for change have profound feelings of second-class status and being left behind by the American economy.
Trade is often discussed and key because liberal forces embraced or accepted numerous free-trade initiatives. The result is perceived economic loss by many Americans. Donald Trump talks about politicians being about talk, not action. If he does not have the answers (no-one knows) at least he appears to hear many Americans and he is willing to offer action in which they can believe. This is supported by Donald Trump’s own financial success and glamour. Many of his admirers see him as the “real deal”. Both he and his wife use the word “elegant” often. He offers a glimpse at a world of elegant winners for those feeling left behind and helpless by liberal governmental initiatives.
So much of America feels they have been left behind, overlooked or used to advance others without adequate reward. My concern is rural America (on another day I will tell you stories), but this is also felt by many working class Americans, who feel they are essentially without options to get ahead. This is not a majority of our country, but it is a size able lot of Americans. On the one hand, their frustration could be lost in the ether, but during the election season, we see it every day on the 24/7 news cycle. Its most discordant elements are emphasized and rebroadcast and we know the power of persistent calls to action and vilifications from the extreme examples of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
So it is a strange phenomenon of reality magnified by perception and circumstances. Donald Trump is persistent, but I do not believe he is not predominant. Currently he is something more than a third of the Republicans. Because of the nature of the perceived grievances he addresses, he will pick up Democrats and independents and we will see whether his message is loud or he is potentially a majority movement. This is really doubtful, but it does not mean he will not have access to power. Abraham Lincoln was elected because of multiple “Democratic” contenders, and Bill Clinton got there because of Ross Perot. History is replete with examples of individuals who have assumed power because their opposition has been fractured. It is nearly a major lesson of history.
What I presented to the family is how attractive he is to those with authoritarian temperaments. The propensity to support more authoritarian action allows otherwise considered and conscientious Americans to overlook candidate flaws — even profound flaws. We will see how this works with Leader Trump. It should be quite a show to see whether he can empower those feeling profoundly left behind to direct, authoritarian action.