2016 election, amnesty, Charles Hugh Smith, Donald Trump, E.J. Dionne, Establishment Media, Fox News, globalization, Im-Politic, Immigration, National Journal, Open Borders, Ron Fournier, Steve Tobak, The Atlantic, Trade, Washington Post
Yesterday, I slammed America’s Big Media for the slobbering love affair many of its leading lights just revealed over failed Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush. The brazen gushing over this champion of job- and wage-killing mass immigration and offshoring-friendly trade policies once more exposed establishment journalists in general as virtual spokespeople for plutocrat interests – and active participants in the increasingly desperate effort to squash the presidential run of maverick businessman Donald Trump.
And yet, to every rule, there are exceptions, and sometimes important ones. So in the interests of fair and balanced blogging, here are some recent examples of major pundits who appear genuinely interested in understanding Trump’s growing support – and who, by extension, are (unknowingly, of course!) following my longstanding advice to Trump opponents: If you really want to put an end to Trump-ism in American politics, start responding seriously to the legitimate concerns of his supporters.
Just this morning, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne wrote that “If Trump’s campaign leaves behind one useful legacy, it will be a heightened awareness of the deep hurt among the Americans[who] have been brutally battered by globalization and technological change. So far, Trump’s Republican rivals have had little to say to these voters.”
I’d quibble with Dionne’s choice of words. As I’ve repeatedly written, the main international commerce problem is not some impersonal historical force called “globalization,” but a series of trade policies that have shortsightedly encouraged the offshoring or outright destruction by predatory foreign rivals of too much of the productive, industrial heart of the U.S. economy. In the process, these man-made measures not have not only battered working- and middle-class Americans. They’ve helped dangerously hook the entire economy on debt-led growth – or stagnation, as increasingly seems the case. Similarly, pro-amnesty immigration policies, for all the humanitarian arguments made on their behalf, can only have the effect of driving down the wages of native-born workers – that is, unless the laws of supply and demand have been repealed.
But at least Dionne is acknowledging the real and crucially important reasons behind the flow of such voters to Trump’s camp. And his approach contrasts strikingly with the anti-Trump screed just published by his paper’s editorial board – which not coincidentally keeps pounding the table for new trade deals based on failed models, and pays the flimsiest lip service to the idea of secure national borders.
Another national media mainstay deserving of praise in Ron Fournier of National Journal and The Atlantic. In an essay for the latter intriguingly titled “My Love-Hate Relationship with Donald Trump,” Fournier comes down hard on the GOP front-runner for exploiting people’s fears instead of appealing to their aspirations, their better angels. I hate how he gives people license to say hateful things. I understand why Trump’s backers are angry, and I don’t subscribe to the theory that most of them are bigots. But they are condoning bigotry.”
He continues (in a somewhat Dionne-ian vein), “I love his fist to the face of the establishment. In the last 10 years, Americans have weathered historic economic change, the biggest technological surge since the industrial revolution, a demographic makeover, and two major wars. Through it all, the nation’s institutions and their leaders have failed to adapt. Trump is the public’s middle finger wagging in the face of elites.”
And he confesses in conclusion, “I’m having trouble expressing my disdain for Trump without appearing to cast aspersions upon his supporters, or to be a defender of the establishment. So let me be clear. I loathe him. I respect his supporters. And I hope that after Trump is finished grinding the gears of the political machine in 2016 Americans find a better vehicle for change.”
The final mainstream media example of dealing responsibly with Trump comes from prominent management consultant Steve Tobak, who’s not exactly a pillar of the national media establishment, but who writes regularly for FoxNews.com. Tobak is no fan of Trump the person, either. The candidate’s penchant for bombast and sometimes flat-out self-contradiction, he writes,
“leaves us to wonder if the man with an increasingly decent chance of becoming the next resident of the White House just shoots off his mouth and asks questions later, or maybe he really is the type of leader who’s prone to Ready, Fire, Aim, in that order. If it’s the latter, is it not risky to have his finger on the proverbial button?”
Yet Tobak pointedly adds that the Trump movement – along with its Democratic party counterpart, the Bernie Sanders insurrection – reveals a new public “appetite for risk” that shows “just how done the electorate is with the status quo in Washington. This is what people do when you’ve pushed them too far for too long. If this isn’t a wake-up call to the permanent political class – that we’re willing to try almost anything rather than sit back and watch you muck up our country – then maybe it is time to throw the bums out and start over.”
Voices like this remain very much a tiny media minority. I’m hoping, however, that they demonstrate that the Big Media has not completely lost touch with Main Street America, or entirely forgotten its potential to call out a bipartisan political and policy establishment that is rapidly, and deservedly, losing its claim to legitimacy.
By the way, blogger Charles Hugh Smith definitely isn’t a member of the Mainstream Media, either. But his new post on “What the Pundits Don’t Get About Trump” should be must-reading in their ranks – and for you.