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Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Forget about the floor fight that did not happen.   Forget about the Campaign Chair, Paul Manafort, kicking off the opening day of the Republican Convention in Cleveland, Ohio by dissing the enormously popular governor of this crucial battleground state, John Kasich.  Last night, the wheels came off the Trump bus.

Melania Trump, the gorgeous third wife of Mr. Trump, gave the premier speech of the first night, to thunderous applause, only to have it surface that she, or rather the speech writers, plagiarized sections of the speech given by Michelle Obama to the 2008 Democratic Convention.  Take a moment to watch this.

I cannot wait to see how Trump responds.,  He is the Alpha Male, the Big Dog.  His wife has just been made to look ridiculous on national TV.  He cannot allow this to pass.  Manafort has already blamed Hillary Clinton!!

This campaign may turn out to be more fun than I imagined.


Chris said...

She's a professional model born in Yugoslavia, and English is not her first language. Sometimes, although English is my first language, I get nervous in front of students teaching a 'radical' text (often In Defense of Anarchism), and I've been speaking in front of people for years! Yes plagiarism is bad, but I don't think she should be mocked or laughed at. I would be having a crippling panic attack if I was in her position, and my bloviating husband had somehow conned me into giving a speech in front of a host of aggressive white guys, and perhaps the whole world. It's not like we should expect a non-native speaker, who recently moved here, to be able to wax poetic.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

It is not she who is the object of my ridicule!! She is the victim here. It is Trump.

s. wallerstein said...

The Trump campaign people either believe that people are very very stupid and have very very short memories or Hillary has a mole in the Trump campaign organization.

Possibly, Trump and his gang have deceived so many fools for so long that they forget that not everyone is a fool. You can't fool all of the people all of the time, as someone said.

Chris said...

Let me make this clear before I comment: I am not a Trump supporter, and he terrifies me. I hope he never becomes president, and I'm horrified at what he represents in America (my worst fears).

However, these sentiments are, in my opinion, the reason he is doing so well:

"Possibly, Trump and his gang have deceived so many fools for so long that they forget that not everyone is a fool."

My take on politics, for whatever it is worth, is that the reason Trump has so many working class people backing him (i.e., what's the matter with Kansas, why vote against your interests?) is that liberal-democrats have written off disgruntled working class sectors as stupid, ignorant, not in touch, unable to understand science, unable to read the news, etc. Whereas Republicans at least talk to them and give the illusion it's a party among equals, where their opinion is valued. They see Trump and they think "at least this guy hears me, at least he's listening, at least he doesn't discount me", and they are in a way right. Anything left of republican just writes off a whole sector of the population as daft, and then implores us to vote Democrat - a part which, let's be clear, is also giving the illusion of being among equals, and also doesn't a damn what regular people's economic interests are, escaping into the realm of identity politics.

We NEED a way for the left to talk to the working class right, that is not belittling or condescending. Just because someone votes Trump it doesn't follow that they are dumb (they can be hyper intelligent in their respective field, but bad at policy analysis), just as someone being hyper intelligent in democratic policy, doesn't mean they are very good at anything else.

Sorry for the rant.

Jerry Fresia said...

Whites have been ripping off Blacks forever.

How ironic, and poetic, that it is the Trump team doing it this time.

s. wallerstein said...


This article by Thomas Frank supports your thesis.

Your Pal Garret said...

It turns out that when a complete fraud runs for president, his campaign behaves in completely fraudulent ways. Who knew?

Chris said...

I actually just got done reading his book "Listen Liberal", which was a real breath of fresh air from an overall card carrying Democrat.

Democrats abandoned the working class some time ago, and have since embraced a form of Reaganism in regards to trickle down economics. Let's let the best tech and finance savvy people rise to the top via merit, and that will ensure a lifting of all boats. Which is just capitalist class bullshit, but supposed "left" dems eat it up, and if you call it bad politics, and suggest the dems are corporatists, you're a 'dumb republican'.


James Schmidt said...

While I suppose that I shouldn't gloat over the failings of the current Mrs. Trump, I prefer my Schadenfreude straight, with no chaser.

Unknown said...

I was born and raised in a working class family. Went to a blue collar working class high school. Most of my high school classmates are Trump supporters. They are also closet (and sometimes overt) racists. They understand fear and violence, things advocated by Trump. They don't understand reasoned argument. This is not a new phenomenon. Shortly after WWII the working class abandoned the Democratic Party and the result was Taft-Hartley, which took back the progressive elements of the Wagner Act. The Roosevelt era was a freak accident, and the working class has returned to their racist ignorance. R.I.P. the liberal dream of a progressive working class.

Tom Cathcart said...

A lot of pundits, including Thomas Frank, have talked about how the Democrats have abandoned the working class. It's a partial truth. Tom Llewellyn reminds us of the converse in the '40s. That was followed by the hard hats who opposed the anti-Vietnam War protesters, the workers who opposed school bussing, the blue collar backlash against environmentalism, etc., etc. It's complicated.

s. wallerstein said...

It is complicated.

The working class is as responsible for their foolish decisions as you and I are. If they decide to support a proto-fascist like Trump, they have their reasons, undoubtedly bad or foolish ones, for doing so.

And if the working class has been so brainwashed by the media that they are no longer responsible for their political decisions, well, that implies that they are more easily brainwashed than you and I are, since I suppose that you and I are responsible for our political decisions as well as our personal decisions. I don't think that we want to say that the working class is more easily brainwashed than you and I are, do we?

So if they chose Trump, they chose him. Of course we could deny that anyone is responsible for their decisions and just sit back and watch the show.

Chris said...

These are some fairly ridiculous forms of analysis people, come on. I thought we were all vaguely versed in Marxism and left-wing work. Ideology is a thing. False consciousness is a thing. Social conditioning is a thing. Cultural influence is a thing. No one chose trump a priori, and Trump did not have the resources, and social-political-and-monterary capital to run for office on merit, and his candidacy is not ex nihilo.

The working class does not 'choose' candidates. Candidates with the capital to run present themselves, often after being vetted by the class of people capable of running candidates, and then working class picks among them. The order of operations here is inverted in your scenario wallerstein. Under your criteria we have two options, they are absolutely stupid people BASED STRICTLY ON POLITICAL CHOICE, or they are absolutely determined. Hmm, false disjunctive maybe?

Again, this is why the working class wants nothing to do with the left, we are too condescending, and haughty. Don't like my candidate? Ipso facto you're dumb (as if supporting democrats is some superior action - all the while they run rightward too). You cannot reduce someone to foolishness strictly on political acumen, just as you cannot raise someone to hyper intelligence based on political acumen. There are other avenues for creativity, intellect, and personal expression in society beyond the voting booth.

But sure, let's keep calling the working class stupid, and throw our hands up in confusion why those stupid people are voting against their 'interests'. And meanwhile keep advocating democrats win elections, all the while the total political spectrum shifts rightward every 4-8 years. Great plans. Real track record... Or maybe Chomsky is right when he points out those ignorant stupid working class people are aware of some basic real facts: jobs are leaving, their income is stagnant, their political process isn't working for them, and life is less secure. Okay, so they have some political acumen, then they look for answers, and a whole sector of people calls them stupid (haughty democrats). So justifiably they brush off that sector. Then they look for answers in the republican party, who gives them false answers (mexicans etc., are taking your jobs!), but actually talks to them about their concerns and makes them feel welcome. Is it REALLY so stupid that they vote Republican....?

s. wallerstein said...

Hi Chris,

First of all, I didn't call working class people "stupid". I said that those working class people who vote for Trump are "foolish". There's a difference between being "stupid" and being "foolish".

I am aware of the concepts of false consciousness and ideology, but they don't always convince me.

Isn't there a Green Party on the ballots in the U.S.? I have an old friend in California, chicano, from a working class background, became a high school teacher, teacher's union activist, and several times unsuccessful Green Party candidate to city council. Didn't he make good choices? And if he made good choices, don't others make bad choices? If he made wise decisions in life, as I believe he did, don't others make foolish decisions?

Chris said...

[note although I wasn't explicit some of my comments were aimed at Tom L, who called them ignorant categorically, and the people gloating in their schadenfreude]

Okay, if you want to qualify it that they are foolish but not stupid, fine. I think that's a semantics game...but alright, let's accept your premise.

What I am saying is that although the judgment is ultimately wrong, they are not foolish for supporting Trump [I'm not endorsing Trump, I vote green party]. Again, I think they know are leaving, 2. retirement is insecure, 3. wages are stagnant, and that 4. they are working hard and not achieving mobility or security. A sector of the population is listening to them, and providing them 5. (false) answers, another sector is laughing at them (e.g., bill maher, the daily show, the colbert report, etc.), and so they accept the republican talking points.

If they are right about 1-4, and wrong about 5, I just don't see them as foolish. I don't think laughing at them helps. I don't think laughing at their candidate helps. I think the left is in serious trouble if we can't figure out how to communicate with them in a respectful and dignified way, that alleviates their fears, without lampooning them.

For perhaps a more articulate version of my argument, the following article is helpful:

Trump terrifies me, but we seriously need a new game plan beyond mocking, and the lesser of two evils approach.

s. wallerstein said...

"Foolish" is the opposite of "wise". "Stupid" is the opposite of "intelligent".

Intelligent people can be very foolish and people who are not especially intelligent (I'm avoiding the word "stupid" because it has derogatory connotations) can be wise insofar as they know their limits and themselves.

I recall seeing a definition of "wisdom" as "understanding what matters or what counts and understanding how to get there or at least how to try to get there". Something like that.

"Foolish" would then be "not understanding what matters...". It seems to me that working class people who vote for Trump do not understand what matters.

What matters, among other things, is constructing a more just society, call it "socialism" if you want and you're not going to get there voting for Trump.

I understand that if there is a segment of the population who is laughing at them (I do not know the TV programs which you refer to because I don't watch television, but I'll accept your description of them), some working class people may want to vote for Trump to spite those who mock them and him. That is very infantile and foolish behavior.

You say that you're voting Green. Fine. Why can't others do the same? The idea of constructing a left alternative in the U.S. maybe through the Green Party, maybe through the movement which Sanders promises to organize, seems very wise and not at all infantile and foolish.

Unknown said...

The main point then is that the reason some people "don't understand what matters" is that the democrats are not giving them answers - false or true - that address the issues THEY face.
Bernie tried, and a few other people try, but a very wide gulf has been formed because for a long time, working-class people have perceived the choice they have as being between people who don't even want to speak to them and people who are giving answers to address their issues.

If people don't have meaningful access to GOOD responses to their issues - if nobody on the left is speaking to them - it is perfectly reasonable that between democrats and republicans, they would choose the republicans.

A few people will have the background or enough interested in politics to find a way leftward, but with the media being largely right-wing and many on the left and centre-left despising them, it is understandable they would choose the republican option.

Chris said...

And that's why Bernie wins all match up polls against Trump, and a large sector of his voters went to Trump. Because only most politicians people think he's genuinely listening (he is), and his intentions are to help them (they are). No one can correctly say the same about Hillary.

s. wallerstein said...

Good Morning Chris,

I agree that liberals can be unbearably smug and self-righteously comfortable. That's why I stopped reading the New York Times columnists, except Krugman, who although he can be smug at least knows about economics.

I also agree that the left must make an effort to reach white working class voters, although I suspect that their efforts should be directed towards the white working class young, since older people are generally frozen in their attitudes.

However, Trump is a racist, misogynist, xenophobic and proto-fascist candidate and those who support him are responsible for endorsing those views. You seem to blame the fact that white working class people support Trump on the failures of smug elite liberals. That attitude implies that white working class people do not or cannot make the same kind of deliberate political decisions that we bourgeois leftists do. I see no excuses for supporting a racist, misogynist, xenophobic and proto-fascist candidate like Trump, although I see many explanations. However, explanations are not excuses. The rightwing turn of the white working class is a long-term phenomenon: Marcuse identified it in the early 60's in his book, One Dimensional Man. The fascist who bashes in your or my head may be a working class guy and once again, I see no excuses for that. I also see no excuses for the smugness of elite liberals nor for my many own failings in life.

Chris said...

Good Morning to you too ;)
I'm not sure I can categorically accept the following:

"However, Trump is a racist, misogynist, xenophobic and proto-fascist candidate and those who support him are responsible for endorsing those views."

I have an anecdotal rejection. My wife's mom is working class, as is her father. The father is no doubt a racist, misogynist, xenophobe, who gets all his news from strictly Rush Limbaugh. The mom is certainly not progressive, but votes based on what the Dad tells her. Given that the Mom is Mexican, and the Dad white, the Dad carefully feeds her selected good bits of Trump leaving out the bad. Thus, she is not responsible for endorsing those views. [For instance when my wife tried to tell her the Mexicans are rapist comment this week, she hadn't heard it before].

"That attitude implies that white working class people do not or cannot make the same kind of deliberate political decisions that we bourgeois leftists do. "

That's not my implication. Remember, I said given 1-4, when explained by 5, give a 'reasonable' justification for accepting 5. It's an incorrect one, but it's not outside the domain of reasonable justification (just like a child is not foolish for believing in Santa, when all the presented evidence suggests Santa is real). Republicans do have an explanation for their economic misery, albeit incorrect. Democrats don’t really cater to economic misery anymore, instead focusing on identity politics.

I see no moral excuse for the Republican Party elites, and their backers. Nor the Dems. But that's a class separate from their voters. I blame the party for Trump's rise, not the working class voters. That, in a purely Marxist way, is almost all economic (1-4).

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