• Better Understanding Trump, A Man of His Times

    October 9, 2015

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Democracy, Post-Constitution America


    Demagogues come and go, and are certainly nothing new in politics in general (Hitler) and American politics in the specific (nearly every Republican candidate.)

    But Trump is special, a man of his times, as if evolution created him in match with his environment.

    Trump is a top-level predator, not smart enough to understand but somehow evolved enough to know: the myth of the American Dream is falling apart, and the angry low and middle class people who are experiencing the collapse are unable to understand what is happening to them, essentially that they got played in one of the grandest long cons in the history of grifting. Trump senses this, and tells them it is not their fault. Blame the immigrants, blame the Muslims and, even though the Dream dumped even harder on them, why not, blame the Blacks. It’s not you, folks. The deck is stacked, says Trump.

    Trump is of course right — the deck is stacked. But not in the way he says it is.

    The American Dream

    The myth of the American Dream has been the dominating factor in keeping most people mostly complacent in the United States for 150 years, and allowing most of us to blame a minority of us for shortcomings. You know it — work hard, and your life will improve. Well, maybe not your life, but your kids’, or at least your grandkids’. If that doesn’t happen, you probably didn’t work hard enough, try again next generation and it’ll most likely stick. And if that doesn’t work, it was the fault of the Irish immigrants, or the damn Chinese, or those welfare freeloaders.

    The thing that made the myth so powerful was that 10 percent of the truth that proves the 90 percent lie. As long as near-constant growth could be assured, enough pieces would fall to the the lower and middle classes to keep the Dream alive in their minds. It helped that a kindly media would promote the hell out of every exception, whether it was the shoeshine boy in the late 19th century who went to college, or the plucky guys who invented some new tech in their garage and became billionaires.

    Things did slip up from time to time, culminating in the Great Depression in the United States. The old economy, the heavy metal machinery and industrial one, had maxed out and financial scamming by the one percent of the day hit the tipping point. But some social programs to tamp down any real sense of rebellion and a timely world war reset the Dream. And better yet, the outcome of that war, with the U.S. emerging as the only superpower and the only intact economy, virtually in control of all the world’s natural resources, the newly-created monetary and trade system and, for a few years, as the sole possessor of the Bomb, created a new cycle of growth never before seen in human history.

    Growth Via Consumerism

    The new growth, based on all of the factors above, was fueled by consumerism, not big iron; the Dream would be succored by the recycling of the lower and middle classes’ own wages, upward of course. Earn more, spend more, need more, buy more. That sucking sound heard between 1950 until around 1975 was money moving upward, leaving a little trail of bread crumbly growth in its wake, just enough, but not too much.

    But a straight line is a straight line, and that movement of money had an end point, now fast approaching, where in 2015 one percent of Americans own some 43 percent of the wealth and through that, nearly all of the power. The cycle is accelerating, because, as proven by Thomas Piketty, wealth in capital form grows faster than wages. The race to one percent owning 99.9999999 percent is on.

    Now under certain circumstances such a situation would have people at the barricades armed with pitchforks. But myths die hard, and especially when the basic American Dream myth is backed by the additional proviso that if you are falling behind it is a) because you are not working hard enough or b) somebody is messing with your piece of the pie.

    No politician plans to tell lower and middle class people they aren’t working hard enough, though such prescriptions are nearly required to be spouted at folks already poor. Instead, it is that second part, blaming someone else, that has always been the tool smart pols use to cage votes.

    What is New

    No nothing new, right? Wrong.

    What is new is not the message Trump is promoting, but the America in which he is promoting it. It has become impossible for the lower and middle classes to not see that they are slipping behind. The industrial jobs are gone. People have been talked out of most union jobs, convinced somehow that organizing was not in their own interest. Food stamps and other need-based programs are finding more and more middle class audiences, as suburban people who once donated to charities are now lining up out front of them. The snowball is accelerating, downhill.

    And so there is Trump, a man of his times, telling people who still want to believe that it is OK to believe. Trump made it, so can they. America is f*cked up, just look around, but it is not your fault, voters. And it is certainly not Trump’s, squarely in the one percent, fault. Nope, it is someone else’s fault, and to people desperate to Believe, that is very, very powerful medicine.

    Watch out for this guy, Trump. He has tapped into something deep and fearful and motivating.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • jim hruska said...


      I’ve lived in the deep south my entire adult life and not a single working class person can tell me why they vote republican.
      Not 1.
      The same is for union membership. The south is piss poor but they hate unions across the board.
      Both of the above is a hatred of blacks that they cannot openly express with their Baptist code of christian love.
      Their cheese grit eating mouths can’t express hatred on Blacks, so they attack unions because they see them as being institutions that help blacks.
      jim hruska

      10/9/15 10:46 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      The key to both parties’ successes, as well as the 1%, has been to convince Americans to willingly vote and act against their own self-interest. It is evil but brilliant.

      10/9/15 10:58 AM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      SomeOne percenters’ messing US with TPP (Their Piece of the Pie)! Trump deserves the guillotine;
      but I’d settle for his haircut, down to size!!

      10/9/15 11:06 AM | Comment Link

    • b. traven said...


      Peter..A powerful and absolutely on target analysis of the American fantasy. There was a short period of abut 25 years following WW II where poor boys who served during the war were subsidized into the middle class by the “GI Bill”. Jobs were aplenty and if you couldn’t find one you could join the 52-20 Club which gave you $20 a week for a year.
      ( that sounds like nothing today but at that time you could rent a room for $5 a week and get a meal for 50 cents)
      Another part of the GI Bill gave veterans a $10,000 subsidy to buy a home or $200 a month to go to college.
      Along came Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan and both political partys gave away our jobs and broke our unions and the long decline into perpetual war and tearing apart the social contract of the post war era.

      10/9/15 11:11 AM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...


      “Watch out for this guy.”

      Shades of “The Dead Zone,” that’s what Anthony Zerbe said about Greg Stillson.

      I had the opportunity to talk with The Donald when we were waiting for an hour with his first wife for Gorbachev to arrive at the diplomatic entrance at Main State. Donald considered himself a man of destiny, as he said he had to meet with Gorby because the world was a big mess, and he knew how to straighten it out. Just like today he was short in the details but big in his conviction. We will all be wondering in the DEAD ZONE: Hell, who are you?

      10/9/15 12:15 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Jim- Joe Bageant (Deer Hunting with Jesus) was likewise baffled at the voting habits of the poor.

      The problem isn’t that the poor and so called disadvantaged are mostly uneducated but contrary to what Jesus wants us to believe- they are not “nicer” and in fact are no different in their appetites for wealth and finding a quick way to easy street than the 1%. When the banks holding their mortgage told them their crummy little bungalow had miracuously risen in value they gleefully bought into the bank’s scam to get them to borrow on that sprinkled fairy dust equity.

      10/9/15 12:19 PM | Comment Link

    • Bruce said...


      For US average Joes, its mostly serendipity. Back in ’88, I couldn’t get an S&L subprime loan for love or Marvin (when I needed it for a glorified conch house in Poppy’s bonefishin’ backyard). Still, the one for which I settled still sold for double before the bubble burst, and allowed the purchase of a quarter price home in retirement, with the excess for savings’ cushion. $o regretably yes, if I’d gotten that original subprimer I needed; I’d be a half $M (floatin’ on air) by now! Yellen BERNANK$TER$, who needzm? (P.S., their qualifying credit scores are another absolute $cam; unless you’ve gotcha own equity to cover a bigger loan it jest Don’t MATTER, even if It’s PERFECT!)

      10/9/15 4:26 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...


      Bruce- serendipity it is then in some cases and I’m happy for you but I maintain the banks make money loaning money and so they needed to have people take out loans. What better scam than to tell mortgage holders they had untapped equity in their homes? The appraisers went along of course. So they conspired to artificially inflate the value of many homes thus encouraging those home owners to borrow against their windfall equity. That poonzi scheme worked well until the pool of qualified borrowers dried up. They sure were going to let the real estate market tank so they gave loans to anyone since it would keep housing prices continually escalting.

      By the way- things are pretty pathetic that Democrats are cheering Biden to run. So the backup to Hillary is Joe Biden? Another sleeze pol?
      Where are the new guys? Democrats are stuck in the 70s at best- the Republicans in the 50s.

      10/9/15 4:37 PM | Comment Link

    • RICH BAUER said...


      Anyone living in the DEAD Zone still believes the Democratic Party is not just another wing of the WAR PARTY–see Obama’s decision that Hillary made a simple mistake using her private email server and was not a threat to national security. Peter links to a WEBSITE – is fired – and that is considered a threat, while the Conniving cunt uses an unsecure email server for all her emails. Whether THE DONALD or the CONNIVING CUNT is our next presidense, the WAR PARTY remains in power.

      10/12/15 2:27 PM | Comment Link

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