Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Why is Donald Trump winning? The answer might surprise..
So why is Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination in the run up to the US Presidential election? He's vulgar, brash, narcissistic, racist, misogynist, a born rich billionaire businessman with a lousy labor relations record and he appeals to blue collar voters.. What in Hades is going on? And why did the media and liberal political pundits not see this coming? (Aren't they payed to read the entrails of the political beast?)
Iconoclastic political analyst Thomas Frank was recently interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program, "The Current". Frank shares a view with myself on why Trump is trumping all comers and why the liberal media and commentators got it all wrong.
Frank's hypothesis is simple. The free trade agreements of the last four decades - beginning with the opening of trade with China under the Nixon administration - have not benefited the American working class. Of course they didn't! They were proposed by multinational corporations and enacted by compliant Western governments mesmerized by Free Market ideology in order to maximize the profits of the multinationals. Workers in the industrialized world were played off against cheap labor in the third world. The result: off shoring of blue collar (and some lower echelon white collar) jobs to third world countries with low wages, few social safety nets, poor - sometimes horrific - working conditions and little environmental protection legislation. North American workers have payed heavily for the North American Free Trade Agreement: ask Canadian, American and (even!) Mexican workers. Workers have payed with unemployment (and all the miseries it entails), wage stagnation (hence effective wage roll backs due to inflation), real wage roll backs, loss of benefits and job precarity. Many who lost good paying blue collar jobs have been forced to accept precarious, low wage "Mcjobs" in service industries, slapping hamburgers or selling cheap, inferior quality made-in-China ware. Many have retrained and become self-employed contract workers (some have done well, others not so..) But it is the rich who really benefited from Free Trade and, to a large degree, so did the upper middle class (professionals). And that's all that really matters for neoconservative Free Market ideology..
Frank is "iconoclastic" in the sense that he has chosen to see what the self-imposed tunnel vision of the liberal media, pundits and politicians has prevented them from seeing. The blue collars are mad, really mad; they've been frustrated for a long time, no one has listened to them. They see the American dream steadily retreat. Many families require two adults working either to have a crack at the American dream (sending their kids to college) or simply to make ends meet. In both Canada and the US, parties from both sides of the political spectrum - mesmerized by the neoconservative Free Market ideology - have implemented Free Trade deals on the backs of the laboring masses, even against their wishes (Canada).
The (demonic) genius of Trump is his demogogic appeal to the anger, frustration, fear and humiliation of the common people. He projects the meme of deep and abiding solidarity with their anger, frustration, fear and humiliation. The liberals and the Democrats, says Frank, have lost contact with the "masses" long ago. Over the years, more and more blue collars vote Republican. The Democrats are no longer the Party of the People. But Trump knows how to stir up and then ride the wave of rage and bottled up frustration and fear. And this, says Frank, is why Trump trumps his opponents who are seen as part of the Establishment that hold the common folk in deep contempt.
The following is the podcast of the CBC interview with author Thomas Frank (16 March, 2016):
Analysis of an evil, corrupt system: the source of blue collar rage. Various versions of the Carrier air conditioner company layoff video have been seen by about 3 million youtube viewers - yet it was published only a MONTH ago! According to Frank, a very popular video with Donald Trump supporters.
Thomas Frank's most recent book - hot off the press - on what's wrong with the American Left (or "what passes for the Left in America" as he put it in the interview with Anna Maria Tremonti).
Frank has published several studies of the rise of the New Right in America. Google Thomas Frank for more titles.