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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Nihilism isn't holding up Trump, Professor Hanson

Why do the angry white poor and working class support the unlikely populist Donald Trump — a spoiled bully who made and lost fortunes in part by gaming the system, who seems to take gratuitous rudeness and cruelty as a birthright, whose lifestyle is symptomatic of American excess, and who for the last half-century has embraced no ideology other than Trump, Inc.? 
Perhaps it’s because Trump is a phantasm. He is not a flesh-and-blood candidate judged as crude or acceptable on the basis of the usual criteria. His attraction rests on about 100 sound bites over the last year that shattered taboos and attacked elite sacred cows, in a manner that no candidate has done in the past — or is likely to do in the future. Trumpism is nihilism.
You should read the whole thing but I don’t think Hanson (whose work I like very much) quite gets Trump even now.  Or maybe he just doesn’t realize how important those "100 sound bites" are to millions of Americans.  And I certainly don’t agree with the last sentence in the quote.  Yes, Trump supporters are angry, even furious.  I agree some of them seem kind of nuts.  (On the other hand, it’s on-line politics in 2016, and lots of people seem kind of nuts.)

I wonder if maybe, to his supporters, Trump might be like Boris Yeltsin climbing on that tank.



Trump doesn’t have to be the best man in the world; maybe he doesn’t even have to be a particularly good man.  Maybe he just has to be the first man that says, “Alright, that’s just about enough.”  Remember, Trump electrified this presidential campaign not simply by being viciously rude, but by being viciously rude about the injustice of illegal immigration - 'illegal' is right there in the term! - having become that sacred cow to our self-appointed betters.  Trump climbed on the tank and said "No Más. Bitch."

Yes, the TrumpTrain is running hot, but I think it’s a mistake to believe everybody on it just wants to 'burn it all down'.  The two main trump mottoes are “Build the wall”, and “Make America great again”.  These are not nihilistic expressions.  A lot of Americans – millions upon millions – wanted somebody to stand up for them, to stop the madness of our own leadership seeming to want to dissolve the very notion of a United States of America.  Trump did that, and it should be no surprise he is being rewarded by their loyalty.

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