Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Samantha Bee And Glenn Greenwald Look At Why Brexit And Trump Are The Same-- And Different


One thing we can all pretty much agree on: in democracies, political elites, by their very nature, pretty much fail the voters who elect them. We're at a high-water mark of that phenomena right now and the support for Trump-- at least among Republicans-- here and the 17,410,742 votes (51.9) to 16,141,241 votes (48.1%) margin among U.K. voters to leave the E.U. (Brexit) demonstrate that very viscerally. The newest NBC News poll-- released this morning-- shows Trump with 41% support from registered voters, pretty high for a crackpot and sociopath. Only 30% of Republicans want the GOP convention to deny the party's nomination to Trump and among white evangelicals Trump, despite his loud and obvious anti-Christian world view leads Hillary by 53 points-- 72-19%! That's just sick and these voters are probably the same kind of people who enrolled in Trump University and didn't know they were being fleeced.

"Even," said Samantha, "a brain-damaged baboon couldn't miss the parallels between the U.S. and Britain." She also pointed out the parallels between Austerity advocates Paul Ryan and David Cameron, the two out-of-touch ring-wing politicians who's marketing techniques for pushing class warfare against working people is what is fueling this populist revolt. (Big difference is the U.K.is 87% white-- depending if you count, which U.K. racists don't, Poles as being white-- while America isn't even close... just over 60% white now, Poles included.)

Of course, if Ryan is the bubbling idiot American version of Cameron, no one doubts that Trump and clownish former London mayor Boris Johnson-- a likely successor to Cameron, who is resigning-- are cut from the same cloth. Or, as Samantha put it, "basically, he's Trump with his hair on backwards." And... like Trump, Boris has an affinity for Putin and prefers him over Obama. The biggest applause line of the segment came when she told the audience, "It's not enough for Trump to lose... It has to be a fucking landslide 50 state repudiation of this."

It's worth keeping in mind Glenn Greenwald's Intercept essay about western elites from last week that explains Brexit (and Trump) popularity in terms of "a glaring repudiation of the wisdom and relevance of elite political and media institutions that-- for once-- their failures have become a prominent part of the storyline. Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting their own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-Leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility. Virtually every reaction that falls into the former category emphasizes the profound failures of Western establishment factions; these institutions have spawned pervasive misery and inequality, only to spew condescending scorn at their victims when they object."
Corrupt elites always try to persuade people to continue to submit to their dominance in exchange for protection from forces that are even worse. That’s their game. But at some point, they themselves, and their prevailing order, become so destructive, so deceitful, so toxic, that their victims are willing to gamble that the alternatives will not be worse, or at least, they decide to embrace the satisfaction of spitting in the faces of those who have displayed nothing but contempt and condescension for them.

There is no single, unifying explanation for Brexit, Trumpism, or the growing extremism of various stripes throughout the West, but this sense of angry impotence-- an inability to see any option other than smashing those responsible for their plight-- is undoubtedly a major factor. As Bevins put it, supporters of Trump, Brexit, and other anti-establishment movements “are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU” to those they believe (with very good reason) have failed them.

Obviously, those who are the target of this anti-establishment rage-- political, economic, and media elites-- are desperate to exonerate themselves, to demonstrate that they bear no responsibility for the suffering masses that are now refusing to be compliant and silent. The easiest course to achieve that goal is simply to demonize those with little power, wealth, or possibility as stupid and racist: This is only happening because they are primitive and ignorant and hateful, not because they have any legitimate grievances or because I or my friends or my elite institutions have done anything wrong.

...Because that reaction is so self-protective and self-glorifying, many U.S. media elites-- including those who knew almost nothing about Brexit until 48 hours ago-- instantly adopted it as their preferred narrative for explaining what happened, just as they’ve done with Trump, Corbyn, Sanders, and any number of other instances where their entitlement to rule has been disregarded. They are so persuaded of their own natural superiority that any factions who refuse to see it and submit to it prove themselves, by definition, to be regressive, stunted, and amoral.

Indeed, media reaction to the Brexit vote-- filled with unreflective rage, condescension, and contempt toward those who voted wrong-- perfectly illustrates the dynamics that caused all of this in the first place. Media elites, by virtue of their position, adore the status quo. It rewards them, vests them with prestige and position, welcomes them into exclusive circles, allows them to be close to (if not wield) great power while traveling their country and the world, provides them with a platform, and fills them with esteem and purpose. The same is true of academic elites, financial elites, and political elites. Elites love the status quo that has given them, and then protected, their elite position.

Because of how generally satisfied they are with their lot, they regard with affection and respect the internationalist institutions that safeguard the West’s prevailing order: the World Bank and IMF, NATO and the West’s military forces, the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, the EU. While they express some piecemeal criticisms of each, they literally cannot comprehend how anyone would be fundamentally disillusioned by and angry with these institutions, let alone want to break from them. They are far removed from the suffering that causes those anti-establishment sentiments. So they search and search in vain for some rationale that could explain something like Brexit-- or the establishment-condemning movements on the right and left-- and can find only one way to process it: These people are not motivated by any legitimate grievances or economic suffering, but instead they are just broken, ungrateful, immoral, hateful, racist, and ignorant.

...Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, [western elites] are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to delegitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home