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Posted by on May 9, 2016 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Politics | 2 comments

How did Trump happen?

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Trump also grasped what Republican élites are still struggling to fathom: the ideology that has gripped their Party since the late nineteen-seventies—anti-government, pro-business, nominally pious—has little appeal for millions of ordinary Republicans. The base of the Party, the middle-aged white working class, has suffered at least as much as any demographic group because of globalization, low-wage immigrant labor, and free trade. Trump sensed the rage that flared from this pain and made it the fuel of his campaign. Conservative orthodoxy, already weakened by its own extremism—the latest, least appealing standard-bearer was Ted Cruz—has suffered a stunning defeat from within. And Trump has replaced it with something more dangerous: white identity politics. …GeorgePacker,NewYorker

Some see Trump as a weapon against Obama’s “extremism”– apparently connected to his skin color.

There have been some conservative writers who have tried to hang Trump’s success on the current president, pointing to his putatively extreme positions. But in most respects, Obama is a conventional politician—well within the center-left of the Democratic Party. Or at least, he’s governed in that mode, with an agenda that sits safely in the mainstream. Laws like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Affordable Care Act weren’t impositions from the far left; they were built out of proposals from the right and left, passed by a majority of Congress that was elected to pursue solutions on health care and the economy. Barack Obama is many things, but conservative rhetoric aside, he’s no radical.

We can’t say the same for Obama as a political symbol, however. In a nation shaped and defined by a rigid racial hierarchy, his election was very much a radical event, in which a man from one of the nation’s lowest castes ascended to the summit of its political landscape. ...JamelleBouie,Slate

I wouldn’t call Obama’s background “lowest caste.” His mother was an anthropologist, daughter of middle class parents. His father was a middle-class, highly educated Kenyan (Phi Beta, graduate fellowship, Harvard etc.). Obama had a pretty comfortable middle-class upbringing and education.

Trump’s background is all business. He had the good luck to inherit money and a full-blown business and a fantasy that he did it all by himself.

Some see echoes of Ross Perot:

If the Trump phenomenon seems new and strange, it may be because John D. Rockefeller never ran for president. Nor did Vanderbilt, Edison, Disney, Hearst, Westinghouse or Henry Ford. Neither, in more modern times, have Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Carl Icahn or Bill Gates. As of Tuesday, neither had billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the three-term Gotham mayor. So, except for the success of businessman Ross Perot in 1992—he “succeeded” only in splitting the Republican vote and handing the White House to Bill Clinton—there is scant history here of tycoons deigning to enter the lesser game of politics.

“Would this have happened if Kim Kardashian had run, or Caitlyn Jenner, or Octomom?” Maclean’s asked Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at SMU. “No, because mere celebrity is not enough,” he replied. “Some people believe that celebrity, combined with accomplishment in another field like neurosurgery or developing real estate, can translate into politics. Those people are wrong.”…Allen Abel,Maclean’s

Without the media, that zephyr we call “celebrity” wouldn’t exist.

So let’s come out and say it: Donald Trump is — as much as anything — a creature of the media. Irresponsible media? Sure.

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

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