Thursday, January 07, 2016

How Will History Handle Herr Trumpf? Or Is He Already Destined For The Trash Heap Of History?


In the clip above, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka puts the whole Trumpf phenomenon that's been roiling the political waters since the summer into a perspective familiar to anyone who understands the history of the labor movement and the history of the divisiveness capital has always used to divide and conquer. I suspect the blue collar workers dancing to Trumpf's siren song are not unionized workers. The stunning historical film about plutocracy at the bottom of this post is a much longer version of what Trumka is telling his members. If you have a couple hours to spare, I highly recommend it.

David Granger became the editor-in-chief of Esquire just shy of two decades ago and his tenure has been the magazine's most successful period in its history. Today he teased the February issue's cover story on Herr Trumpf, Hater In Chief, which will be available next week. It sounds like Granger is on social terms with Herr, although it's doubtful he will be after the GOP frontrunner reads what Granger had to see about him. It doesn't sound like Granger-- ant more than Trumka-- imagines Trumpf will make it to the White House,a though Granger sees him as "a useful tool" who has stymied (for now at least) the effect of Citizens United, which flooded our politics with money from oligarchs eager to buy government leaders" and has forced political leaders to reassess how essential to our political culture tolerance is. Hmmm... are Cruz and Rubio and Huckabee reassessing? Christie? Fiorina? Not so sure about that, but the rest of his prequel is pretty spot on, and more personal. Like many observers, Granger doesn't see a lot of introspection or self-awareness in Herr.
I don't think Donald has any real idea of the effect he's having on the country beyond the cheering crowds and the newspaper headlines. But, for him, that's plenty. He's an entertainer; he's giving his audience what it wants. The idea that his words have consequences never penetrates. The idea that Open Carry members' harassment of mosques in Texas could have something to do with him just never occurs to him. During his unusual interview with Scott Raab (which goes live on Esquire Classic tomorrow)-- which took place a few days after he first suggested registering Muslims and shutting down mosques, and the same week that a protester got roughed up at one of his rallies-- he was strangely disconnected from politics. It was business as usual inside Trump Tower, and he broke off the interview right in the middle to give me a call.

After he bragged that he had "destroyed" Ben Carson ("I had to do it"), he was off on a conversation very much like the one I wrote about in my editor's letter two months ago. Here's how it ended this time:

"Yeah. So good to talk to you, man. So good. Hey, call me, like, in Florida or something; we'll play. You know, I have Doral, I have Palm Beach, so whenever you're down there, call me and we'll play, okay? Or you'll play with some friends. But call me, okay? You take care of yourself, David. Have a good time, thanks."

This is not a man who is planning to occupy the White House. This is not the man who personifies the rage that is rippling through our culture. When you talk with Donald, you get the distinct impression that he's enjoying this other person, this fellow named Donald Trump, out there tuning up the rubes.

So who is responding to the outrageous and offensive utterances that fall unconsidered from his mouth? For this issue, we worked with our friends at NBC News and SurveyMonkey on a sprawling piece of original research intended to identify the roots of the rage that seems so rampant across so much of the country. The survey illuminates the darker precincts of the American psyche like never before. Why are we so angry, and what are we so angry about? Among the many surprises is that black Americans are now more optimistic about the country than white Americans. The angriest and most pessimistic of our countrymen are overwhelmingly Caucasian, overwhelmingly working- or middle-class, and overwhelmingly middle-aged or older.

These are the Americans-- this dwindling demographic-- who are shaping the presidential circus right now. And as we move past the primaries and the Republicans settle on a nominee, what this rage politics will further yield remains to be seen. Is it a passing wave or a rising tide? If the Republicans know what's good for them, the irresponsible talk will have to abate over the summer; the rage will have to recede from center stage. And Donald Trump will be back in Trump Tower, conducting his business as usual.

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At 4:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a union member myself, I'm incredibly sorry to have to say that I believe Richard Trumka to be a useless morsel of feces. He rolled over and played dead when PATCO was under attack, and now he thinks of himself as a labor leader? He can't tie the shoelaces of the likes of Walter Reuther, John L. Lewis, or George Meany. Even the shady and likely corrupt Jimmy Hoffa Sr did more for workers than Trumka ever did.


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