Silly me. I thought that a January Marketwatch.com column blaming working- and middle-class supporters of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy for their economic plight would mark the high-water mark of the establishment media’s brazen elitism during this political annus mirabilis. It turns out that the Marketwatch columnist, Tim Mullaney, can’t hold a candle to David Rothkopf. According to Rothkopf, Editor of FOREIGN POLICY magazine, bigots, outright racists, proto-fascists and the like aren’t simply found on the fringes of the Trump constituency. They make up the majority.
Some truth in advertising first: I spent four great years working at FOREIGN POLICY in the 1980s, when it was a very different publication, and I’m no great fan of its metamorphosis since then. So maybe that’s giving this criticism an unusual edge. And even by journalism’s increasingly debased standards, Rothkopf is anything but a typical scribe, having crossed over from the world of offshoring-focused government and business activity. All the same, as a result, he’s increasingly representative of a hybrid national political/chattering class that’s ever more dependent on plutocrats’ funding, and therefore ever more determined to protect their interests. And he looks increasingly typical of this privileged class’ desperation to stop Trump.
If Rothkopf is the bellwether I think he is, America’s oligarchs have grown so terrified of a Trump triumph that they’ve decided to stop even shedding crocodile tears about the stagnating living standards and related social stresses undermining Main Street USA. Indeed, they’ll go beyond simply blaming the victims and start demonizing them.
Thus, Rothkopf doesn’t even pay lip service to the idea that Trump supporters have any valid reason to be angry at America’s recent and current leaders. The author allows that
“things seem worse [for them] now as we live at the tipping point when by a a few decades’ time minority populations will outnumber the former majority and where economic growth no longer seems to be creating the kind of jobs that once were the bread and butter of the middle class — notably those in our atrophying manufacturing sector — and the richest keep getting richer and leaving everyone else farther and farther behind.”
But he insists that
“The world was never a particularly kind place to these alienated working and middle class voters or their forebears, even if they were white and male. They are nostalgic for a time that didn’t really exist. Because class issues always left their antecedents feeling disenfranchised, out of the club, angry at the establishment. ”
More important, to hear Rothkopf tell it, Trump supporters are not only delusional, they’re positively dangerous to all who love freedom, democracy, and the American Way. And although other analysts have noted “authoritarian tendencies” in the Trump camp, they have at least linked them to genuine concerns, like fears of foreign and domestic terrorism. Not Rothkopf. As he sees it, Trump voters
“will be a force in American politics for years as the changing demographics and economic models of this country and the likelihood of continuing dysfunction in Washington will continue to feed the anxiety that triggers their bitterness, irrationality, and irresponsibility.” [Emphasis added.]
Indeed, because they “evolve from feelings of disaffection and alienation like those in Europe today and in the past” they “are capable of horrors as they have so often proven.” Therefore, acknowledging their views will invite “the rise of forces that are a greater threat to our country — and its values — than any of the terrorists or foreign bogeymen that have dominated the conversations in our presidential debates to date.”
Given this alarmism, you’d think that Rothkopf would be full of advice as to what American leaders should do to fend off this threat, or at least full of recommendations as to which presidential candidates look like the most effective anti-Trump champions. But you’d be wrong. In other words, although Rothkopf heaps scorn on those who justify their support for Trump by claiming that “anything else” is better than “the corruption and dysfunction of Washington,” his position seems to be the equally empty (but intrinsically pro-status quo “anyone is better than Trump.”
When Trump’s jaw-dropping campaign began, I wrote that Trump-haters who aren’t simply in favor of Ruling Class positions or actively fronting for them should focus less on hurling invective and more on seriously addressing the legitimate economic grievances of Trump’s supporters. Well, the plutocrats and their henchmen are obviously stepping up their game. What are the other Trump critics waiting for?