Noam Chomsky: Why It’s a Big Danger to Dismiss the Anger of Trump Voters

Lambert here: Howard Dean, back in 2003 and before he lost his mind, said: “I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. We can’t beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats.” Of course, such a gross violation of liberal class and cultural markers could not be permitted, and Dean was forced to grovel and apologize by the dominant identitarian wing of the Democrat Party and then, when his fifty-state strategy won Democrats control of Congress in 2006, instantly defenestrated by Rahm Emanuel, among others, and his organization gutted by Tim Kaine. When Chomsky asks “Why are we failing to organize these people?” he’s asking a question to which Dean already gave the answer.

Clinton, of course, thinks that organizing “these people” is a bad idea, which is why she called them “deplorable” and “irredeemable” (and if you’re a Christian, as Clinton purports to be, “irredeemable” means irredeemable). So do many of her supporters, who seem to labor under the twin delusions that (a) “these people” will go away on the morning of November 9, and that (b) calling them, in various ways, stupid is, as a strategy, full of #win. If Clinton wishes to fail during a legitimacy crisis, she and her supporters should go on exactly as they have begun. Personally, I’m not a “worse is better” guy (too much suffering), but I confess I see little prospect of the dominant faction in the Democrat Party changing its ways, Dean, Chomsky, or no.

By Alexandra Rosenmann, AlterNet associate editor. Originally published in Alternet.

In the past 15 months, Noam Chomsky has weighed in on the U.S. presidential race often. 

“There are differences in the parties,” he said in February, when asked if he’d even consider a Republican over Hillary Clinton. “Small differences [coupled with] great power can have enormous consequences.”

Chomsky initally favored Sanders over Clinton, but insisted Democrats must win at all costs. Because according to Chomsky, if Trump wins “the human species is in very deep trouble.

But as for Trump’s supporters, Chomsky’s not counting them out just yet. 

“I’m basically judging by what I see and read about them listening to talk radio and so on,” Chomsky admitted of the protests on the right. “But my strong impression is that these [right-wing protesters] are people with very real grievances.”

“They give the impression of being a hard-working serious people who think they’ve been doing everything right. They’ve been doing what they’re ‘supposed’ to do [as] god-fearing hard-working, gun-carrying, you know patriotic, Americans,”  Chomsky continued. 

“What are they doing wrong and how come their lives are so crummy?” Chomsky asked. 

It’s a question that has plagued the election. 

“They’re not getting answers,” Chomsky insisted. “The answers they are getting are not only crazy, but extremely dangerous, so the right response is to ask ourselves, why are we failing to organize these people?” 

There’s nothing partisan about losing money to Wall Street or lacking health insurance; issues at the forefront of protests from both sides for nearly a decade. 

“We have not succeeded in unifying people,” Chomsky noted. “It’s our fault.”


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. GlassHammer

    “Why It’s a Big Danger to Dismiss the Anger of Trump Voters”
    “Why It’s a Big Danger to Dismiss an Institutional Legitimacy Crisis and Focus on Angry Voters.”

    ^One of the above frames the issue around the effect and the other frames the issue around the cause. We need to refocus/reframe the issue.

    1. Yves Smith

      Agreed. We had a legitimacy crisis that was simmering. The latest FBI e-mail revelations (or prospect of revelations, hard to think Comey would have reopened this if there wasn’t some real dirt, and the latest WSJ story indicates that the staff had a look at some of the messages before they decided they needed a search warrant to tidy the legal status up) puts it on full boil.

      And IMHO the Clinton strategy of attacking the FBI will backfire. At best it will work only with loyal Dems who were gonna support Clinton regardless.

      First, it keeps the e-mail row in the headlines. The Dems should be trying to attack Trump on his weak points instead. But if they can’t get a new sexist/racist story with serious headline appeal out in the next two days, the lack of new ammo means it will be hard to whip up media interest.

      Second, the Clintons in their elitist bubble forget that in mainstream America, the FBI is treated with reverence in every crime/CSI drama. Trying to depict the FBI as corrupt runs against popular perceptions.

      And third, I suspect many Americans don’t like the press/government convention, even if it is also enshrined in law via the Hatch Act, of withholding information that would be of keen interest to citizens close to the election because it might sway voters. Responsible voters want to make an informed decision and have, or at least be able to have, all relevant information.

      1. Ignim Brites

        “…in mainstream America, the FBI is treated with reverence in every crime/CSI drama. Trying to depict the FBI as corrupt runs against popular perceptions.” Well, that was before the first Comey / Lynch decision.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          The crime/CSI dramas usually show lower level “G-men” [and woman] doing their jobs — not guys like Comey/Lynch. Many TV shows and movies make the higher ups the villains when good hard-working FBI people try to do their work for Justice. One recent example of this theme is all the speculation about the 9/11 event. The conspiracy theories often include lower level FBI people who saw stuff — called attention to it — and were ignored or silenced from above.

          However I do very much agree with your main point — the Comey/Lynch decision and their dealings with the Clintons and the Clinton Campaign will poison the public’s view of the DoJ and FBI “government”/management layer. They are playing out the dramas of our entertainments in real life.

          1. Binky

            The cigarette smoking man and his cabal make the real decisions. Even Director Skinner has to knuckle under. In the meantime, Krajchek.

            1. Ivy

              I used to want to believe, but this election cycle has caused a lot of erosion. Muller and Scully, a lonely nation turns its eyes to you now that Joe DiMaggio has left the stadium.

        2. WheresOurTeddy

          One of the more disappointing parts of our soft fascist state is the worshipful depiction of all police, fbi, first responders, intelligence agents in media.

          Jack Bauer is so superhuman that whilst saving the world continuously he never even had to use the bathroom once!

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Like astronauts — he wears a diaper with NSA approved extra extra absorbent gel beads — much improved over the diapers of our moon walkers.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I like that now even anonymous sources from within the “intelligence community” are to be assumed to be authoritative, per Harry Reid. (There have been “briefings.”)

            Critical thinking. One more thing to cross off the list of “Why Mommy is a Democrat,” I guess.

            Ow! My eyes! My brain!

      2. Furzy

        Excellent documentary by Chomsky, “Requiem for the American Dream” , 2015….on Netflix now…a lucid and simple exam of the factors that created our deep state of inequality, going back to the ’60’s.

      3. fajensen

        With the Clintons there is *always* another shoe dropping – just when one has sucked it up and decided that maybe this was the end of it and maybe one could vote for Hillary, Boink, another thing drops out.

        Every time, it reminds us that Imelda Marcos and Hillary Clinton has more in common than just shoes.

        1. exiled off mainstreet

          That is always my response to those claiming the harpy is “qualified”: that she has the same level of qualification as Imelda Marcos. She flunked the DC bar and was sacked from the impeachment committee staff for actions in violation of the rule of law. I also don’t see how Chomsky can claim she is less dangerous than Trump when she supports a no-fly zone on behalf of el qaeda and is a proven war criminal for her role in convincing Obama to go ahead with the Libya overthrow when her crony, Sidney Blumenthal emailed her that the raghead element was the likely victor. Her cackling brag “we came, we saw, he died” is up there with statements by historic thugs. The mass liquidation of black Africans in Sirte whom Khaddafi had allowed to settle there as part of his belief in African unity as “mercenaries” is a crime against humanity for which the harpy shares serious responsibility. This crime is corroborated by BBC articles at the time (since gone down the memory hole) and in articles from Parry and others in Consortiumnews, and mentions in articles by Danny Haiphong on blackagendareport. In my view, this election is a test of character, and anybody who supports the harpy under any circumstances in full knowledge of the facts, as Chomsky undoubtedly must possess, reveals a want of character, as Chomsky has done by advocating a vote for the harpy in “doubtful” states. My view is the opposite of Chomsky’s: support Stein in sure states, but support Trump in doubtful ones, since he is not a proven war criminal and advocates dealing with the Russians rather than going to war with them on behalf of el qaeda.

      4. dianne shatin

        Yves, given American voters want all the facts to make a responsible decision, do we postpone our election for 6 months, one year, or definitely until responsible voters can make ‘an informed decision’.
        How ironic; Hillary fixes her aide up with Weiner, they marry, Weiner is obsessed with his Weiner and girls, and low and behold, the FBI while conducting its investigation of “the Weiner” finds thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton on this same sexting machine used by his remarkable stupid wife, to just in time set off the October surprise of all surprises! Anyone with 1/2 a brain should be a skeptic about everything… particularly the utilisation of different groups within the FBI for different ends. Lets not forget about the courageous FBI officer in Minneapolis MN aware of Mousoui (sp?) but the Deputy Director was too concerned about his own ego to act and prevent (possibly) 011 from launching.
        Now, when our thinking caps are more important than ever, all kinds of equivocations and speculations are flabbering in the way of reality. No! Not again. It ain’t Clinton…it’s whether or not you want a facist regime. Applying rational thought to an irrationality will get you no further to the truth. We are talking FASCISM and Clinton ain’t no Neville Chamberlain, thank G*d for that.

      5. Ping

        I agree that Hillary & surrogates attacking the FBI is stupid and invites unintended consequences.

        Watching HRC manipulatively reframing the lawlessness of setting up a parallel communication system to facilitate a money laundering operation, AKA The Clinton Foundation, in order to attack the FBI tonight was appropriate for Halloween. All she needed was a broom.

        I get the sense that there are many participants in this drama that are tired of getting dirtied, suckered and played by the Clintons and maybe trashing the FBI, whom she put in an impossible position, will not be a good move.

    2. b.

      “We have not succeeded in unifying people,” Chomsky noted.

      Because it is so much easier and safer to go with the Lesser Evil, non-citizen lives be damned.

      This has been a wonderfully clarifying election.
      Chomsky is six months late and two admissions short to the bandwagon.

      Two of the doors have Judas goats behind them. If they show you one, do you insist on choosing the other?

    3. b.

      I’d go with
      “Why It Is [Foolish To Misrepresent] an Institutional Legitimacy Crisis …”

      Incredementialism: incrementalism for the demented credentialist
      “Small differences [coupled with] great power can have enormous consequences [for me and mine].”

  2. b-rar

    Individual Trump voters may have some specific legitimate grievances but that’s not the origin point for the collective anger that makes them so dangerous. As a group, they’re mad because their sense of identity is wrapped up in a white supremacist ideology that they took for granted and which went without any serious question or challenge until fairly recently. As soon as they had to think about it they retreated into the warm embrace of the racist right, so fuck ’em, basically. I don’t think there’s any hope of persuading them to join a big-tent leftish governing coalition.

    Once you fly the stars and bars on your truck you’re quite literally a lost cause.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Once you fly the stars and bars on your truck you’re quite literally a lost cause.

      In other words, “irredeemable” or “deplorable”. Natch.

      1. Anonymous

        Lambert: I think that was a wonderful preamble to the article.

        I was visiting with my cousin the other day and I noticed that he had the stars and bars not on his truck, but tattooed on his arm. It was not a small tattoo.

        There is a dumbing down of history at work in our world. It is evident in the efforts of newspapers and identity obsessed Democrats to denigrate the beliefs of the deplorables’ ancestors, many of whom gave their lives for their belief in small government. Once upon a time, we studied the lives of the great. Doing so is possible now only in a limited sense, as greatness is determined by who is politically acceptable, and who is not. There is a kinship between identity Democrats’ destruction of our national history and ISIS’s destruction of ancient sites in the Mid-East.

        When I was a child state employees could take off on Robert E. Lee’s birthday, Jefferson Davis’s birthday, or Stonewall Jackson’s, their choice. Currently, our local newspaper is lobbying to prevent the Sons of Confederate Veterans from holding their annual convention at the local technical college. Even ten years ago, it was difficult to find people willing to play Union soldiers in battle re-enactments. The paper gets smaller, and smaller, as it gets more and more shrill. One local paper that stopped publishing in December of 2014 was, in 1970, larger than today’s New York Times. What does that tell you about the decline of civic life?

        It is no accident that Henry Ford was the one who said, ‘History is bunk.’ Matthew 11:15

        1. susan the other

          I’ve been thinking this lately also because Empire is flaming out so disgracefully. The shocking destruction of the antiquities in the ME left me as sick as the flood of desperate refugees. Why all the pointless destruction? Because globalization. These tactics are not new. Been going’ on for a century. The textbooks tell us, without much shame, that the “CIA” promoted abstract expressionism as The American Art Form to push freedom and democracy, (aka capitalism), etc. But a more embraceable explanation is that romantic, nostalgic images with clear identities of community, history, etc were being erased to prevent opposition to a new absolutism – crazy.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          I can understand why the owners of large plots of land with lots of slaves might fight for the Confederacy. Why did the poor whites fight for the Confederacy? Any ideas? I’m a California boy so don’t ask me why the poor Northern city dwellers fought for the Union. I could never quite buy the grade school idea that they were fighting to abolish slavery.

          I can’t help recalling Goering’s statement “Naturally the common people don’t want war …”.

          I’ve seen the kind of Confederate boosterism you’ve described. If Sherman’s March through Georgia is emblematic of how the Union treated the conquered South I can readily understand the resentment I believe the “Stars and Bars”. encapsulates.

          1. Whine Country

            I’ve read that poor whites fought for the Confederacy as a matter of honor. In particular it was the Southern ladies who required it. Honor – how quaint.

          2. Whine Country

            …as to poor Northern boys – of course they were conscripted, and in many cases (Irish) immigrants. The wealthy were able to purchase a “deferment”. Mid 1800’s to mid 1900’s – same old, same old.

          3. Eclair

            “… don’t ask me why the Northern city dwellers fought for the Union.”

            Ummm. Because they were forced? The New York City draft riots were a bloody working class/immigrant insurrection against conscription. And, a race riot.

          4. Tom Bradford

            ““Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or fascist dictorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” Herman Goering.

            I would add that the ‘poor slobs’ on farms that Goering was talking about had lived through or heard graphic tales from their fathers of the ’14-18 war, and had no illusions about what they were being asked to do. The ‘poor slobs’ on their farms in 1860’s USA had a far less accurate idea of what they were getting into, and might even still have harboured some romanticism about it.

          5. Procopius

            Same reason American men fought in World War I and II and Korea and Vietnam. The Northern side in the Civil War, too. The law. If they didn’t enlist (and many did in the first year) they got drafted. There were lots of protests against Secession. Lots of freehold farmers who felt they had no stake in the fight. Look up the history of The Free State of Jones. I sometimes think it was a mistake to not treat the leaders of the rebellion as traitors, which by definition they were. It would have been a good idea to hang at least Jefferson Davis and Alexander Hamilton Stevens. As it is people forget they committed treason. Bobby Lee, too.

          6. Anonymous

            The short answer is that the poor white Southerners, mostly Scots-Irish, had been found wanting as laborers by the upper classes, who thought that African slaves would be more tractable and better workers. John C. Calhoun (who was, in fact, Scots-Irish himself) was adamant about it. So many of the poor whites moved to the mountains, became subsistence farmers, and declined generation after generation. They were fighting with the rage of Achilles against their own degradation. See James Agee’s and Walker Evans’s book, ‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.’

            I think we can make the same judgment about the Germans of the early 20th Century, who were ridiculed by other Europeans for centuries before WW1 and WW2. You could say the same about the Arabs today.

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          Not being able to take off Lee, Davis, or Jackson’s birthday? I’m playing the world’s smallest violin to commemorate the tragedy.

          In Germany it’s illegal to fly the flag or depict the symbol of their most embarrassing period.

          In America, it’s held up as something to be proud of. They were TRAITORS. Never forget that.

          1. RabidGandhi

            As harsh as I normally am on US policy, the one area in which the US is still a shining beacon is in its laws on freedom of expression (although now heavily being encroached under Bush Jr/Obama).

            If I were German the last thing I would want to boast about would be the country’s draconian laws on Nazi imagery and holocaust denial. The idea that state censorship can somehow eliminate bad ideas is precisely what the Nazis stood for, so in suppressing non-approved images/opinions, the modern German state is not erasing the Nazi past, but rather fulfilling it, as your “traitors” comment proves.

          2. Anonymous

            The trouble with the ‘traitors’ line is that Jefferson Davis was in US custody for two years, but was never tried. Why? Because there was fear that the Supreme Court would find that the South had the right to secede.

            Lee was never even arrested.

        4. Binky

          It is also no accident that Henry Ford and Charles Lindberg were the only two Americans to accept medals from Hitler.

        5. Morgan Phillips

          Holy hell. I can on some level understand a stars and bars as an ignorant but heartfelt rejection of the identity-politicking establishment of today, but that’s about it. Your position, however, is insane. I think you probably know that on some level as you chose to comment anonymously. Identity politics in its current form isn’t great. It’s a well meaning concept that’s been hijacked and turned into a sloppy cudgel to quell dissent and reinforce us vs. them tribalism. But it’s also not the tornado of slaughter, mayhem and sexual enslavement that is ISIS. I’m guessing you’re the type of guy (and you are definitely a guy) who thinks Quantrill’s Raiders don’t get the respect they deserve as cavalrymen. And you probably can’t figure out why people are STILL bringing up Nathan Bedford Forrest’s hand in starting the KKK. I mean, jeez, a guy starts one little club and that’s all anyone talks about. Like, get over it already, right? With eyes wide open the entire planter class of the south declared war on the United States to ensure their right to own human beings as slaves. And they killed hundreds of thousands of good Union men in pursuit of their disgraceful ends. The biggest mistake we ever made was failing to hang every one of their leaders and allowing this lost cause nonsense to fester. It doesn’t come along all that often, but there was a right side and a wrong side in the civil war. There was a side that ran death camps (just google Andersonville prisoner as an image search) and fought to enslave and own human beings and there was a side that didn’t. You’re either in way over your head or a confederate apologist, and either way it’s disgusting. To liken declining to celebrate racist slave-owning traitors with the wholesale madness and destruction of ISIS is a bad joke. Do better, or at least have the guts to espouse this garbage under your own name.

          1. Anonymous

            I comment anonymously because I don’t want left wing crazies coming to shoot me. I assume that most of the other people who post post with pseudonyms.

            All your prattling along the lines of ‘the the South equals racism’ is a testimony to my initial comment: there has been a dumbing down of history. No one knows it anymore. In 1860 a black man could not serve on a jury anywhere in the United States. Most of the anti-abolition riots of the 1830s occurred in the North, including one in 1835 in Boston in which five thousand people dragged (10% of the population), dragged William Lloyd Garrison through the streets of Boston with a noose around his neck. I’m not an expert on the Ku Klux Klan, but in our state, they served to balance the power of the Union League, a paramilitary organization, and the black regiments raised by the Reconstruction governor that burned the houses of whites–a different house every night in our county–in an effort at voter intimidation. I’m not mad at them, I just would like the record to reflect what actually happened.

            Secession was a stupid idea, but I agree with Jeff Davis that if the African population had been distributed throughout the country in proportion to the white population, there would never have been cause for dissension between the sections.

            At the time, however, the country and the industrialized world was dependent on cotton, and no one thought it could be grown except through slave labor. Wage labor had failed, and no one had thought about sharecropping–the eventual solution.

            The British were able to grow it with wage labor in India only after sending 250,000 troops there. Their methods eventually led to the starvation deaths of 29 million Indians.

            Oh, and see my comment about traitors above.

            1. OIFVet

              I comment anonymously because I don’t want left wing crazies coming to shoot me.

              Yes, they are quite the menace, aren’t they? I am pretty sure one of them just tried to poison me by leaving chemtrails over my bunker.

    2. Kulantan

      Individual Trump voter haters may have some specific legitimate grievances with specific Trump voters, but that’s not the origin point for the collective anger that makes them so dangerous. As a group, they’re mad because their sense of identity is wrapped up in a class based elitist ideology that they took for granted and which went without any serious question or challenge until fairly recently. As soon as they had to think about it they retreated into the warm embrace of the classist liberals, so fuck ’em, basically. I don’t think there’s any hope of persuading them that part of fighting for the working class is not reflexively taking a dump on them.

      The reaction to the Trump, Brexit and “the return of the revenge of the rise of Pauline Hanson” has been a showcase of classism. While none of those are good, screaming racism and discarding a class a deplorable is the least useful and worthwhile reaction.

      1. flora

        The entire Dem estab seems to be based on identity politics, where belonging to some particular slice of race/gender identity in the “big tent” becomes more important than overarching law and economics. Witness the corruption of the DoJ and the SEC as they refuse to prosecute TBTF banks and Wall St. Fraudulent foreclosures hit the poor and minority communities hardest. But apparently, that’s OK with the Dem estab. Identity politics itself becomes a way to distract from real financial and influence-peddling crimes.
        Some people who are voting for Trump may have anti-minority views. A lot of people voting for Trump have anti-corruption or anti-NAFTA/TPP or anti-establishment or anti-Clinton views, nothing to do with race. imo.

        1. sid_finster

          I met a lot of Trump voters in person while I was canvassing for Sanders. I only met one that seemed to be a racist.

          Some were black. All were polite and reasonable. Most of the Trump voters I “met ” on the internet were also reasonable, no more conspiracy minded than the general population.

        2. NotoriousJ

          This is because the gap between their stated and actual econic aims is so enormous that it’s important that these issues be incidental.

            1. WheresOurTeddy

              response to OWS?

              response to Bundy group (which was riddled with informants from the beginning)?

              draw your own conclusion.

      2. Eclair

        If I may take the remarks of both b-rar and Kulantan, pointing out the shattering of the myths of white-supremacy and class-based elitism as being partially responsible for the simmering anger of Trump supporters, as a jumping-off point, because the dominant narrative of our nation has been, almost since its inception, westward expansion, opportunity, unlimited land for those who only need to work hard to acquire it. And, government should keep to its few limited functions: providing an Army and a legal system to fight off those who occupy the land but just don’t work it efficiently (the Natives) and to protect the property rights of those who have acquired ‘ownership’ of the land under the US legal system. The Bundy family believes this myth, lock, stock and barrel.

        Even in my lifetime, heading out to California, where land was still cheap, was always an option. Unhappy or feeling undervalued in your job? Or, jobless? Head to the west coast (or, to Florida or Colorado or Alaska) land of opportunity. And, it was, throughout the 1940’s, through the 1970’s.

        But, the cheap land is gone (or it’s in Detroit or Jamestown, NY); that warm feeling that, if all else fails, one can pack up and head West and make a new life with only hard work and a faith in a higher power, has faded and been replaced by a sense of despair and hopelessness, that can manifest as retreat into drug addiction or into violence and anger. The myth of our nation as a land of opportunity and constant Westward Expansion has run up against the Pacific Ocean. And we as a people have not yet developed a new mythology, an optimistic narrative of how we can face life and the bringing of children into this world. A world that is increasingly crammed with humans, millions of whom are living in homelands that will be inundated with rising seas or parched by drought or bombed into uninhabitable rubble.

        There is no more ‘free’ land; there are no more wide open spaces where a person can re-invent herself. And, our national narrative of ‘westward expansion,’ a tide of white people spreading over the empty land, has turned into a flood of ‘others’ who are pouring into ‘our’ land, seeking refuge. This is our, and our children’s world. We can face facts and develop a new mythic narrative that enables us to thrive together, or we can descend into a hell of violence, hate, repression and inequality.

        And, our current crop of political ‘leaders’ are holding the course of the ship-of-state steady, right into the path of the (melting) iceberg, intent on grasping whatever power and riches they can acquire before the crash. If we wait for them to come up with solutions, we are doomed. (Yves, more elegantly, terms it a ‘legitimacy crisis.’)

      1. pretzelattack

        hmm most people aren’t going to know that difference, bigoted or not. why would they know it?

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          You must know the military minutae of the faction of rebel traitors who fought to preserve slavery from 150 years ago otherwise YOU’RE THE BIGOT! Get it?

          1. LarryB

            No, but it may not be a bad idea to learn what you’re talking about before you start condemning whole groups of people as racists, xenophobes, deplorables, etc. If nothing else, the people who display the battle flag know the difference, so if you want them to listen to you, maybe you should learn the difference, too, rather than trying to appear cool by referring to “The Stars and Bars”. BTW, most confederate soldiers weren’t traitors, their primary allegiance was to their states, though, not the Federal government.

            1. Morgan Phillips

              Larry’s right. Most weren’t traitors, ALL were traitors. But seriously, there’s no pedantry like neo-confederate pedantry. The war was about slavery. Full stop.

            2. Nelson Lowhim

              Well, quite a few of them are, (and yes a few aren’t) but that doesn’t make the statement false.

      2. Sandy

        Don’t really care; there’s too much idolization of war in this country. The Civil War should be a point of immense shame, not pride. Actually, I’m pretty sure the same can be said for the Revolutionary War.

      3. Jeremy Grimm

        I went to the Wiki page you linked to. I must have missed something there.

        The “Stars and Bars” — be it the battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia or not is the most used emblem representing the Confederacy in our media. Also, I don’t think the word “bigot” is particularly helpful.

        1. LarryB

          You may have went to the article, but you obviously didn’t read it. The “Stars and Bars”, AKA the first National Banner consists 3 equally space red and white bars with a blue canton containing a varying number of stars arranged in a circlet. It is not the battle flag based on the St. Andrews cross.

      4. jrs

        Well in order to know I’d ask black people (in the South mostly) what impression the flag made on them when they saw one, because that’s everything, what it communicates in the now, not the history. And yes after years of black slavery, legal oppression, discrimination, disenfranchisement, anyone displaying a flag that further insults blacks is a jerk. So I’m more interesting in what the blacks in the South think.

    3. Wyoming


      It is hard to respond to such cluelessness without resorting to words unacceptable here. I am quite sure you are just as racist as everyone else and have clearly demonstrated bigotry in your post. You may want to fuck ’em as you say and there has been a good solid effort to do just that over most of my lifetime. What you are seeing in their anger is that they are reaching their limits. Their anger is legitimate as anger is a legitimate response to getting screwed over and over again.

      I don’t personally think the collective ‘we’ own the ability to solve this situation without serious disruption to our national health. I would like to see some equity happen, but then I see posts like yours and think “What the fuck?” why bother if those are the kinds of people we have to deal with.

      As a former Sanders supporter I would surmise that folks like you probably think Sanders and Trump supporters don’t have more in common with each other than either do with folks like you. That would be a another mistake on your part.

    4. fajensen

      Once you fly the stars and bars on your truck you’re quite literally a lost cause.

      Well, once you decide that you want a multicultural society instead of a a “multi-racial” one, you somehow have to find a way to include all tribes on some kind of common ground. Logically, that common ground is something like: “obey the law”, “don’t inflict your tribal stuff on others”, “be gainfully employed” and so on, whatever counts as a good citizen.

      The wheels come off the happy multi-culti bandwagon once you start with the Value Judgement, that only people/tribes with certain values are allowed to prosper or even exist; people outside of the “gut-mensches” spectrum can be harassed, excluded, discriminated against even though they are behaving as good citizens.

      First it pisses people off on all sides, both the targets of the – shall we say – warmup to the real pogroms – and other people/tribes who know that they can just as easily be next. Second, it gives the nut-bags ideas, they see that shitty behavior and bullying is allowed as long as the target is one of the “deplorable”, so, why not have a go at the next tribe over also? Because according to the lore of *this* tribe, *that* tribe can be made deplorable enough with a little propaganda.

      Now you have the Democratic Republic of Congo … right on your doorstep. Which is maybe not what you wanted – you wanted orderly queues in fromt of the re-education camps!?

      It is easier, in my opinion, to accept that there will always be people in any society that one radically disagrees with but as long as they obey the law, don’t inflict their stupidity onto others, and so on – it is perhaps better to just accept that these people probably think the same way about me and just let it go. Worry more about what one controls than controlling the other?

    5. Matt

      “so fuck ’em”.

      Yes this belongs in the Clinton “deplorables” column. It ignores that the Clintonites too are white supremacists in practice. They’re just for *successful* whites, the ones that still make up the bulk of Corporate American management.

      If the deplorables that the Clintonites want to hand over to the ideologically hardened white supremacist political movements manage to get behind a serious candidate, rather than a self-promoting clown like Trump, watch liberal republican Corporate America and their suburban middle class yuppie hipster followers make their peace with this movement. With “the secular decline of Whitey”, the white supremacists know their window of opportunity is fast closing historically. That means the moment for them to act is NOW, and that makes this a very dangerous moment in history indeed.

      That is how the slave owners saw it in the 1850’s, and that makes it not only historically analogous, but historically connected. We need to have a conversation with the working class people being conned by the white supremacists over how and why race privilege doesn’t pay.

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      I usually interpret the “Stars and Bars” as a symbol of rebellion — not so much a symbol of white supremacy. I think white supremacists might adopt the “Stars and Bars” but they usually add a symbol or two from Nazi Germany.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        I live in rural CA. Guys with Stars N’ Bars on trucks, tattoos, you name it.

        Get 3 beers in them and let them talk and the Nazi sympathies come out.

        Some of them it doesn’t even take the 3 beers.

    7. Whine Country

      When you understand that the American Civil War was not fought over the romantic idea of abolishing slavery, which is nothing but propaganda, the fact that some people still respect their forebears and wish to honor their history is not only not scornful, but makes sense. The war between the states was about a member state’s right to suceed from the Union. If every state had accepted the 13th amendment and for whatever reason a state or states subsequently attempted to seceed, there would have been a similar confrontation. The Democrat Party has destroyed itself because of “triangulation”, first proposed by Dick Morris and instituted by Slick Willie. The simple answer as to why they act as they presently do is that they can, and it has so far worked. Basically their use of identity politics is a numbers game where they can pander to certain groups and then disown them once they have won. All of the groups that traditionally vote Democrat in large percentages continue to do so and then are thrown to the curb after the election. And those crooks decry “dumb rednecks” as they are snobbishly inclined to do. Go figure. Stupid is as stupid does goes the saying. No matter what you’re reasons for voting are, if Hillary wins, they will assume that it still works and continue until we get smart and stop them. Bernie was our chance and we blew it.

      1. Binky

        These are of course lies. then control+F search “slav” and ask yourself is it not sufficient that the people who wrote the articles of seccession explicitly stated anti-slavery as a main reason?

        We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

        For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

        Maybe Hillary is Lincoln? Maybe Trump is Lincoln? Who knows. But people have lost their rational faculties in this election when they demand the reality TV casino owner with mob connections to the moderately corrupt yuppie midwest Methodist gramma lady.

        1. Whine Country

          You miss my point. Your discussion deals with the reasons that states seceeded which is irrelevant to my position. The war was over the fact that they were attempting to seeceed not the reason they were doing so. The rest of your words are just too foolish to respond to so I will refrain, except to comment that saying Hillary Clinton resembles a gramma is an unforgivable insult to all grammas. Hillary Clinton resembles the north end of a southbound horse.

      2. Tom Allen

        This whitewashing of the causes of secession after the South’s defeat in the Civil War (honor! state’s rights! gentility! but certainly not slavery and the plantation system) has a name: it is quite literally called the Lost Cause of the Confederacy.

      3. Morgan Phillips

        Whine Country –
        “When you understand that the American Civil War was not fought over the romantic idea of abolishing slavery, which is nothing but propaganda . . .”

        Binky Insert Facts Here

        Whine Country –
        “You miss my point. Your discussion deals with the reasons that states seceeded which is irrelevant to my position. The war was over the fact that they were attempting to seeceed not the reason they were doing so.”

        Hahahahahahaha. How do these people exist?

    8. Adam Eran

      It’s worth remembering how ill treated the South was in the aftermath of the Civil War. Their money was no good, all their banks failed and one of their biggest assets (slaves) no longer existed. They were **poor**. One historian writes there was more currency in circulation in Connecticut than in the entire South.

      What happened? The precursor to payday loans: the “furnishing man”… shortened to “the man” more recently. Ordinary people in the South were subjected to debt peonage, and started some of the most progressive movements in U.S. history (The Farmer’s Alliance, the People’s Party). They elected congressmen and senators, and with William Jennings Bryan, made the case for abandoning gold-backed money dominated by Northern banks.

      Naturally, the elites used every trick in the book–including promoting racism–to divide and conquer them. But saying they’re a “lost cause” ignores the historical fact that, e.g., insanely red states like Oklahoma were once hotbeds of socialism. Saying history repeats is also nothing new.

    9. clarky90

      Homeless Black Female Trump Supporter Assaulted in Los Angeles (guess the identities of the assailants?)

      “A homeless black woman, a Trump supporter, was assaulted by gang of unruly liberal animals in Los Angeles, California recently as of October 28th, 2016. The woman was sitting guard directly beside Donald Trump’s star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, which is currently being repaired, maybe in an attempt to prevent further damage from vandals who have continuously targeted the star. She appeared to have all of her earthly possessions in one rolling type of cart that is common among people who are homeless, and in that cart, she had a few home made signs that supported Trump. One photograph of her showed her holding a sign that said something to the effect of “20 Million Illegals….Americans Sleep In Tents Outside.”

      Let us correct the narrative!

    10. evodevo

      It MIGHT be possible to “recruit” these voters, but I live among ’em, and their loyalty is highly emotion based, and as long as there is gay marriage, abortion rights and equal rights/welfare queen/BLM controversies, you’re not going to make much progress. Logic is NOT their strong suit. They WILL vote for blue-dog Dems, but only if the candidates espouse the conservative social mindset. We are locally in the middle of a “clean needle” controversy – it’s not looking favorable for the county public health officials who want to initiate a program, given Ky’s heroin epidemic and Hep C/HIV problems….maybe when the millennials are in the majority, it MIGHT happen, but that’s a ways off.

    11. exiled off mainstreet

      The real racists in practice are those who would support a candidate who herself shares responsibility for the mass murder of blacks in Libya as part of her spearheading the takeover of that country by el qaeda thugs who engaged in a real racist mass murder. Anyone supporting such a candidate in light of the knowledge of war crimes in Libya and Syria themselves reveal a lack of character and decency.

    12. aab

      So many errors here. Do you generally restrict your reading to Newsweek and Blue Nation Review?

      Trump voters =/= white nationalists, unless you want to categorize every citizen of the United States as a white nationalist — which could be a valid argument. We’re a racist nation. We have always been a racist nation, AT LEAST since we started breaking our treaty agreements with the First Nations and shipping slaves here from Africa. Our wealth is built on stealing land from other, non-white civilizations, and then making non-white people do unpaid labor on that land for which they received none of the benefits, for centuries.

      Those guys flying stars and bars — are they actually WORSE than the politely liberal Clintons, who will hire and help a select handful of people of color while starving and killing millions of others? Some dude driving around in a pick-up certainly benefited from racism, but why is he worse than the people at the top of the system who created that ideology, reinforced that ideology, and profit off that ideology massively, while being far more directly implicated in the exploitation, suffering and murder of people of color? Who’s worse, dude flying a stars and bars who says vile things and does vile things one on one — let’s set aside murder and stick other bad stuff, like threatening people, physical confrontations, refusing to treat people of color in schools and businesses as equal — all very bad things that magnified across the population are extremely damaging. But WORSE than the people who made drug laws so that white people could use recreation drugs while black people are incarcerated for it, and then robbed of their right to vote and forced into very near slavery, with these prison “jobs” for pennies an hour delivering massive profits to the corporations, private prisons, and politicians who take donations from both?

      Reminder that Hillary Clinton promoted laws in the 90s that took the food out of black babies mouths, while jailing their fathers and making them these semi-slaves. She’s complicit in the racist exploitation of Haiti. I could go on. She is VERY racist, and is complicit in the exploitation and murder of MILLIONS of people of color. But you’re focusing on some guy driving around in a pick-up truck being a nasty thug. Maybe if we treated those guys with dignity and gave EVERY citizen universal benefits, he’d take down his stars and bars. Who’s stopping that? Hint: not someone driving a pick-up truck.

    13. Lambert Strether Post author

      What’s your solution? Split the union and go our separate ways? Deny the vote to people with the wrong sort of public anger? Identity tests for public services? What, exactly?

      > I don’t think there’s any hope of persuading them to join a big-tent leftish governing coalition.

      I don’t claim that West Virginia is representative, but “In fact, 39 percent of Sanders voters said they would vote for Trump over Sanders in the fall. For Clinton, nine percent of her voters say they plan to come out for Trump in the general election.” And before anybody deploys the toothless KKKer card, that means they’re voting for a Socialist Jew, and a Yankee. So I’d Sander’s platform made the difference, and if they can’t have Sanders, they’ll shake up the system that’s killing them some other way.

  3. BecauseTradition

    (and if you’re a Christian, as Clinton purports to be, “irredeemable” means irredeemable) Lambert

    1) She should not judge who’s “irredeemable.” While people live, at least, God has not given up on them.
    2) A Christian who communes* with the dead (Eleanor Roosevelt)? At most a deplorable one, then.
    3) One cannot serve both God and money**.
    4) Christians don’t habitually lie, at least non-deplorable ones don’t.

    *contra Isaiah 8:19, 1 Samuel 28:3-20
    **Matthew 6:24

    1. Katharine

      Judge not that ye be not judged.
      Likewise, as you mete shall it be meted unto you, and that full measure, pressed down.

      However, I know of no reason a Christian should not commune with the dead. The meaning of “familiar spirits” in the verses you cite is obscure. But anyone who thinks he is getting messages from the dead needs to be a bit circumspect: the source is at best uncertain, and the content should be weighed against fundamental principles. It’s not as if you should expect to get an exemption by saying some ghost told you to do something execrable.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        “Maybe “irredeemable” actually means “droneable””.

        No. But, I’m pretty sure it means foreclosable, imprisonable and bankruptable. Clinton is not looking to change things you know. And I say this as someone who is going to vote for her, because I’m not giving the White House to the Donald.

  4. der

    Recommended reading for the Innovators, Influencers and Deciders of the DLC-New Democrat Clinton Wing: Arlie Russell Hochschild’s “Strangers in Their Own Land”, Marc Lamont Hill’s “Nobody” and Thomas Frank’s “Listen Liberal”. The Professional Class Democrat has been running things and helping to run things (cough, Jim Comey) with across the aisle help (and helpers to) for 30 years on and what we have is a Shit is Fucked Up and Bullshit divided state that they are more responsible for than Joe 6-pack and his-her tribe.

    It is an impossible task, though, for Democrats (that is Liberal-Socialist-Satan worshiping Communist Big Government Godless Leftists) to convert many Republican supporters, just because it has been and will always be, they should understand why.

    1. JSM

      It’s not impossible. Dean showed that. If people are willing to reflect on the Trump phenomenon, Trump shows that. Upon observation, the No. 1 driver of support for Trump appears to be that he is not a politician. Full stop. These voters have judged/weighed the system, and found it entirely wanting.

      There is absolutely no vision on the left (hopefully there will be in the ‘Spirit of Liberalism’ post.) What was needed was a President who was willing to take his case to the American people, and do so repeatedly. Instead we got a spineless, visionless whiner who was only capable of complaining about the meanies on the right. (Believe Thomas Frank expounds upon this symptom/syndrome of gutlessness in his Listen, Liberal.)

      This election is the result of that failure.

      1. Ivy

        Variations of the political and agency legitimacy crisis play out across the country. The LA Times has a page 1 article today about the increasing deficit in public employee pension obligations. Combine that with the ongoing water problems and California has growing risks that it appears unwilling and unable to understand or address. The only bright spot so far is the NC-induced focus on CalPERS and CalSTRS. Contact your representatives to get them to take a stand.

      2. Matt

        Don’t forget Jesse Jackson in the 1980’s. The most alarming thing about Jackson for the liberal republican elite of both parties was of course not the “Hymietown” nonsense, but that a “Black” candidate could have pull among white Midwestern working class people. Here we can note a difference between the Midwest and Northeast. We saw an echo of that in the Sanders campaign, except that Trump worked to Clinton’s advantage in pulling working class votes away from Sanders. (Aside: See the potential for the Clinton/Obama liberal republican alliance with the white supremacists? It’s as old as the postbellum Republic itself, when liberal republican New Yorker Horace Greeley figuratively shook political hands with the redeemer Ku Klux Klan and ended Reconstruction.)

        In both the Jackson and Sanders cases the “shutdown” hinged on New York State. New York, New York, Northern state with the largest slave population, the last Northern state to abolish slavery, with a city that got rich and fat off of the trade in slave-picked cotton with England, and the inventor of liberal republican identity politics, has always been pivotal to the maintenance of white supremacy in the USA. Down to this day.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Excellent point on Jesse Jackson. From the NYT in 1988:

          Mr. Dukakis won fewer than 200,000 black votes, with most of the rest of his vote, about 3.5 million ballots, coming from white Protestants.

          The study found that Mr. Jackson doubled his overall primary vote – 6.6 million ballots this year as against 3.15 million in comparable primaries four years ago – by increasing his strength among both whites and blacks.

          Mr. Jackson won about 2.1 million white votes this year, compared with 650,000 in 1984. In 1988, Mr. Jackson got 12 percent of the white votes cast; in 1984, he took 5 percent of the white vote.

          In 1984, Mr. Jackson received 77 percent of the black vote, which translated into a total of 2.3 million ballots. In 1988, Mr. Jackson won a larger share of a bigger black vote. He got 92 percent of all ballots cast by blacks this year.

          The import of the study was that the ”Jackson phenomenon” of 1988 is made of two parts.

          Mr. Jackson clearly made something of a breakthrough among whites, more than doubling his share of the white vote. Looked at the figures another way, 31 percent of the total ballots cast for Mr. Jackson this year came from white voters, compared to 20 percent his 1984 ballots.

          Can’t have that. You can see the Democrat establishment knew they’d have to stuff Jackson back in his box; what happens if he doubles his vote again? So, instead we get “the first Black President,” Bill Clinton, and then an actual Black President, Obama, also a neoliberal.

          I still remember Jackson’s “they work every day” speech. It’s the most moving speech I’ve ever heard. I felt he was speaking directly to me.

          Then we got Dukakis, “competence not ideology,” and got ideology, just Reagan’s.

  5. Merf56

    “How come their lives are so crummy?”
    Many ARE in the midst of long term joblessness, lost their homes, staggering medical bill or kids they cannot afford to send to further education.
    But how does that explain the dozens of Trump signs am seeing in my ‘neighborhood’ and beyond around prosperous suburban Montgomery County PA- – in suburban Philadelphia? Signs in front of 3,000 sq ft plus homes with pools in the back yard and three or four newish higher end SUVs parked in the driveway. Not wealthy people at all – just secure middle and upper middle class families. Clear NOT hurting yet not rich enough to seriously benefit from tax havens etc.
    It blows my mind…

    1. toshiro_mifune

      just secure middle and upper middle class families

      Because they are not secure, they only have the appearance of such.

      1. Merf56

        No, I know many of these people well long term neighbors and friends. Same schools for our kids Church, community organizations. I am fairly observant and I have seen or heard no signs of any financial difficulties in a twenty five year plus aquaintance with many of them. And frankly I would pick up on that as I tend to be the quiet one everyone tells their troubles to!
        I have never heard a racist or white nationalist nonsense out of any of them either. Most of their kids who are young adults are working – granted not all in fast track high income jobs like their parents but most are on their own in apts or own townhouses. I am truly puzzled why they are pessimistic enough that they would even think twice about voting for a demagogic buffoon like Trump.
        For more antecdotal context – the area I refer to is about 2/3 Republican but more the Rockerfeller type and definitely NOT social conservatives and 1/3 Dems( of the moderate left variety). Many of these people of either party had no problem with Bill Clinton and padded their accounts well during his terms and have said so much often.
        Sorry – just frustrated I cannot seem to get a handle on why so many people I thought I knew would be so enthusiastically voting for Trump….. when I ask why the answers I most often get are simplistic- the country is a mess, the world hates us and we need a change. When asked to elaborate they shrug and say a lot of nothing

        1. PQS

          Merf56 – you took the words right out of my mouth. I can sympathize with the downtrodden Trump supporter – any port in a storm, as they say, and he offers simple solutions to complex problems, which are always appealing, and these days even more so.

          But the friends and relatives in my FB feed aren’t downtrodden. Neither are their kids or grandkids. They have secure retirements, (and, it should be noted – ARE RETIRED), paid-off homes, are on Medicare, and most of them take nice (albeit not expensive) vacations (which they post on FB all the time). Most of them have adult kids in “government jobs” (Many teachers and administrators….among others). Their grandkids are, “above-average” and living the American middle-class lifestyle. None of them are scratching out a living in the Rust Belt, none of them live in ratty homes or have kids on heroin, so I have to wonder, “why are THEY so angry?” When they say why they’re voting for Trump, it’s mostly standard-issue Republican TPs: “lower taxes, hate Obamacare, hate abortion, REALLY HATE HILLARY”, etc. Nothing new or earthshattering. And lots and lots of conspiracy theories about the Clintons, Obama, etc.

          None of them, I would note, apart from some occasional anti-Muslim posts, is racist or bigoted. These are people I’ve known for 25 years. I thought I knew them more than this. I guess not – and we are people who talk about issues when we get together.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Suburban types are the most conservative lot out there. The whole idea of “moderate” surburban Republicans is fallacious. Rural voters might swing*, but surburban Republicans are “moderate” in the sense they don’t like cross burnings because it makes such a mess.

      *Distance makes direct contact with potential voters very hard in an individual cycle.

      1. Socal Rhino

        Can’t speak for all suburbs, but on my street (in Orange County, CA) some of my neighbors remind me of that warren in Watership Down, the one where rabbits suddenly disappeared and the others pretended not to notice.

    3. John Wright

      Re: it blows my mind about “secure middle and upper middle class families” supporting Trump.

      The extended families may well be feeling the pain, perhaps three or four newish vehicles indicate many are living at this house, maybe with car payments and poor job prospects.

      Look at the median wealth of American families and no group is doing well (white, black, Hispanic), with whites not quite able to pay off the median priced house, and black, hispanic far behind.

      Look at the median retirement savings for American families.

      “The median working-age couple had $5,000 in a retirement savings account as of the most recent data. The top 10% of savers had accumulated $274,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute analysis of Federal Reserve survey data.”

      You may be seeing rather insecure families “keeping up appearances”.

    4. Sandy

      I know very successful business people, immigrants in fact, who are now quite disillusioned because they’ve seen their children struggle with adulthood in ways they did not expect, especially after they invested so much in them. So even though they live in mansions and have a comfortable net worth, they have a desire to shake things up and are getting behind Trump.

      1. exiled off mainstreet

        Trump’s positions are to the left of the harpy’s on so-called “trade” pacts which really are betrayals of the public interest selling out regulation to corrupt corporate arbitration tribunals, and the harpy is more likely to “restructure” Social Security” than Trump. Because of the so-called “trade pacts” arbitration tribunals, even Trump’s position on global warming is less odious in practice than the harpy’s so-called liberalism on the issue. Meanwhile, I would like to thank the harpy’s failure in developing the obamacare model when she attempted to “reform” health care in the 90s. As a result, as a dual national, I opted eventually to relocate to Canada, where I have real medicare now even though I’m only 63.

    5. Dave D'Rave

      I used to be like your neighbors. I had a four-bedroom house with a view in Sonoma County, California.
      After Bill Clinton signed the H1-B Visa bill, my income dropped to something like 20% of what it had been in the year 2000. I lost the house. My son was able to go to college, but it was close and required help from Grandma.

      Over a million Americans lost good jobs because of H1-B. I want thousands of people to go to jail for this. Let me be clear: I want 1% law enforcement. 1,400,000 American college graduates have lost jobs because of H1-B. I want to see 14,000 Americans go to jail, and I do not want them to be able to hire Indians to go to jail in their place.

      What is the deal with your neighbors? They think that they might be next.

      Details on request.

      1. Ivy

        The greater LA area is going through its own H1-B visa troubles. Many IT workers and others have been displaced after training their replacements, and service has gone down along with incomes. That situation is repeated elsewhere across the country, especially where there are higher paying jobs to hit. Any people wonder why company loyalty has disappeared along with the last shreds of respect for media.

        1. Anonymous

          A friend of mine is a legal immigrant from India. He has sent money to Trump. He says that his sister-in-law, also Indian, who then held a Green card and is now a citizen, went to school fifteen years ago and got a degree in computer science in the US. Recruiters were very interested in her until they found out her legal status–that she was legal–and would be ineligible for H1-B status. Why? Because the employers can demand anything of the H1-B holders, and the H1-B people have no recourse. She eventually found a job, but being a legal American resident was a big negative.

          The middle men are getting rich off this. According to him, a bank might get charged $100 an hour, the H1-B holder gets $30 an hour, and the recruiter pockets $70 an hour. These prices are gradually coming down a little, but great fortunes have been made through these practices.

          Many of the H1-B holders come from Andhra Pradesh or Telangana (Hyderabad is there). They typically don’t speak Hindi as a first language.

          1. animalogic

            H1B is a grotesque injustice against working people. The mind boggles at the sheer OBVIOUSNESS of its class bias. It alone could explain a Trump like reaction.

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      Alliance between the working class and their local oligarchy, perhaps. They prefer to be f*cked over by the “near enemy” rather than the “far enemy.”

      And let’s not use euphemisms like “crummy.” The excess death rate among older white working class people in the Rust Belt approaches AIDS levels. (It would be interesting to compare voting for Trump to ACT-UP, in a way.)

      Adding, this is life and death stuff. You don’t inflict that level of organic damage on a population without incurring a political reaction.

    1. abynormal

      THAT caught my attention immediately…he’s fighting bi-polarism!
      ‘these people’ reflected Chomsky’s writing for decades…blows my mind he can’t hear it.

      i have come to reside in a forced upon bi-polar world.
      i’m experiencing and living among a disenfranchised, unrepresented, steaming mad, populace. the differences are i don’t carry a gun so i’m not paranoid someone will take it away, i support transgender recognition, consider the confederate flag hate speech, and understand jobs are not being taken by ‘illegals because they’ve been out sourced by trade ‘agreement$’……..these are real issues that can be resolved through sound leadership. unfortunately, they only grow into boiling trouble…i.e wedge issues…..a compounding mess used to keep the disenfranchised busy while more of their world is chipped away.

      Labels of hate speaks volumes for Trump supporter because they want a quick fix…it ain’t gonna happen. Trump doesn’t even know where to begin…BUT Clinton adding coal to the fiery hell we reside in will send the disenfranchised to wars and allow the rest to be used for Corporate cannon fodder…rendering ‘them’ to the Pharmaceutical Industry for Bi-polar meds.

      “why are we failing to organize these people?” …Noam, your entire works are heading for the trash heap…amazing times but i’ve always said, ‘when the times get hard it’s drop drawer and see who has what’…an extremely painful psychological period indeed.

    2. Detroit Dan

      “these people” is just plain English for the people that were being discussed previously. It’s a shortcut, so that he doesn’t have to repeat the whole description. Sheesh (c:

      1. abynormal

        “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”
        Noam Chomsky

        Are you related?…because passive aggression seems to run in YOUR FRAMILY

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I must be passive aggressive too — not sure what the really means — sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I agree with Detroit Dan “plain English”. Is there some proper non-spectrum-of debate-limiting and non-passive aggressive way to express that common usage?

  6. BecauseTradition

    “… and how come their lives are so crummy?” Chomsky asked.

    Because, while we’ve had material progress, it hasn’t been ethically financed – so they’ve been left out, financially speaking and by design apparently:

    “The few who understand the system will either be so interested in its profits or be so dependent upon its favours that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.” The Rothschild brothers of London writing to associates in New York, 1863. from * [bold added]

    *Not necessarily an endorsement of that site but it has some great quotes wrt money and banking.

  7. Jack

    One big reason so many people support Trump is because he is not Clinton. I don’t think Clinton and her supporters understand the revulsion that many voters feel toward Hillary Clinton. Another reason is because Trump is not perceived to be of the establishment, whether that is true or not. The guy does claim to be a billionaire. But I think Noam Chomsky is right. Many Americans understand they are being screwed by the powers that be and they want it to stop. They will latch on to whomever they think will make things better and bring the Washington establishment to task. Look at the support Sanders had among Republicans. If he had gotten the nomination this election wouldn’t even be close.

    1. rusti

      I don’t think Clinton and her supporters understand the revulsion that many voters feel toward Hillary Clinton.

      Maybe this is actually good news for Wall Street Democrats? If they can squeak out a win in 2016, there’s probably a roadmap forward. If Hillary/Kaine get through a full term, she could step down for health reasons and they could find another charismatic frontman like Obama for 2020 and ride out demographic changes and urbanization, assuming the Republican party isn’t able to find anyone with appeal to Hispanic/Black voters.

      Even if there actually are armed insurrections from the irredeemables, there’s certainly a lot of hardware in place to violently squash those for a while.

      Just trying to think positive!

      1. abynormal

        “Just trying to think positive!”…you most certainly are!
        if Wall St. encompasses a Democrat, they’re donating to the strongest Republican Party, it has Ever Known. remember it was Bill Clinton that busted the only protection we had against Wall St. Vampires…The Glass Segal Act.
        yep, Bill was the strongest Republican that party has known to date…Dick Chaney was a party unto hisCrustyOleself.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a lot of hardware in place

        Looks like the powers that be decided not to test their toys on the Bundy occupation in Malheur. But they’re certainly doing so on #NoDAPL.

  8. SoCal Rhino

    When the Berners realize how much they agree with many Trump supporters, then it will get interesting. Hey, you don’t think that’s got anything to do with all this liberal dog whistling?

  9. jake

    How exactly do you talk to religious fanatics? Militia members? Bundy supporters? Persons who get their news from Sean Hannity? Would they really have voted for Bernie Sanders?

    The fact that “these people” have legitimate grievances doesn’t make them reasonable or approachable. Just try it some time.

    1. BecauseTradition

      I’d say there’s a pretty broad consensus wrt to “Thou shall not steal” so a principled anti-bank coalition should be feasible – especially if it includes restitution.*

      *E.g. how many “fanatics” sent back their “stimulus checks”?

    2. Tobin Paz

      The characterization you make of the “deplorables” can be applied to many Clinton supporters. And the groups you single out are a minority, especially compared to Democrats that will not except anything less than a Clinton coronation.

      If you disagree with them you are labeled a right wing troll, Putin lover, communist, etc. They have made any kind of discourse impossible. Go to Dailykos for an example.

    3. Katharine

      You have to know them long-term and have an established basis of mutual respect and concern. How are the kids, what happened with that health issue, you paid off the mortgage? that’s wonderful!

      In all probability some of “these people” are part of your own extended family. It’s one of many reasons, besides simple affection and family feeling, staying in touch can be a good thing. You learn when to speak your piece and when to laugh and drop the argument. You won’t always get the results you’d like, by any means, but you’ll up the odds and meanwhile sustain the mutual recognition of your common humanity, without which we’re all sunk.

    4. Matt

      We don’t talk to the hardened ideologues and their political orgs. We talk to the regular people voting and listening to them.

    5. sid_finster

      I do it all the time. Try talking to The Flyover People. It will broaden your horizons.

      Why is it that so many progressives love humanity but can’t stand people?

      1. jake


        I grew up in “flyover country”, in the southern portion of a mid-western state which could have been Alabama.

        How many biblical literalists or 2nd amendment obsessives have you converted with rational discourse?

        1. Kurt Sperry

          So you don’t talk guns with a gun lover and you don’t talk about religion with the other. Big deal. Just like they might be smart enough not to bring up the subject of your favorite author or philosopher or band or poet or economist or whatever. How does it make sense to say if you have a strong disagreement in one area, you can’t calmly discuss all other areas? You really are just begging to be divided and conquered that way, and if you aren’t smart enough to see it, those who would use it for their own advantage are.

          1. jake

            If it’s so easy, why haven’t you done it? Why hasn’t Chomsky done it? Or Ralph Nader? It’s not as if they haven’t talked it about it for many years…..

            Whatever the facts of the matter, this view of a benign if benighted electorate is oblivious to the dynamics of a mass society.

              1. jake

                I mean “do” in the sense, change the political economy. What are the institutional means of reaching people who won’t read your preferred newspapers, listen to your chosen speakers, and visit your cherished websites?

                When a majority of America’s voting age population can’t identify the major claimed policies of either party and tens of millions of apparently functioning adults believe in “facts” which are indisputably false, where do you begin?

    6. Hierophant

      It’s always the other side that is unreasonable. smh. You talk to people with compassion, it’s really that easy.

      1. Tim

        No, it’s even easier than that: Empathy, no emotion of sympathy required

        Listen and put yourself in their shoes, the world looks pretty different pretty fast just cognitively speaking.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Would they really have voted for Bernie Sanders?

      Not all of them, but those aren’t really commensurate categories, are they?

      Again, I ask the proponents of the “irredeemable” view, what’s your plan? Benign neglect? Malign neglect, as with the opioid epidemic? Border checks at the Red States? So far as I can tell, there’s no alternative to opening communications (as Dean urged, and Sanders proved could be done).

  10. Anonymous

    I don’t think Sanders could have won the election. His tax plans–which Hillary has in large part adopted–had effective tax rates such as we’ve never seen in America. Even Trump would have been able to point out that in order to have a productive society, we have to have a mix of capital and labor, and Bernie’s plans pretty much guaranteed a capital strike.

    Many of the deplorables were taken in by the plans for educational reform that arose during the Reagan administration. There was an implicit agreement that the country would move towards greater trade liberalization–after all, the spectacle of Japanese cars clearly superior to the home grown product was fresh in everyone’s minds–but only if American workers were educated for something better and higher paying than working in factories. Trouble was that we got more schooling, but it has, as measured by test scores, been entirely ineffective. We may have even damaged labor productivity by discouraging kids from working in high school. We’ve decided that spending more hours in a classroom is better for them than learning a work ethic and on the job skills. So far, no evidence I’m aware of supports this view.

    1. pretzelattack

      do you have a link showing that sanders’ tax plans involved effective tax rates that have never been see in america? or that the balance between capital and labor somehow is to labor’s advantage? or that the unemployment problem is due to a lack of work ethic and job skills for american workers? or that the schooling we got (teaching to the test) has been more useful than traditional teaching?

      1. Anonymous

        I’ve taken a vow not to explain the difference between marginal and effective tax rates anymore. I’ll never get those breaths, or that time back. Suffice it to say that there were people with very high incomes in the ’50s and ’60s that paid zero in Federal income taxes because deductions–primarily real estate deductions, but also oil and gas–were so generous. Everything down to Howard Hughe’s pistachio ice cream was deducted. A chart doesn’t exist that compares effective rates between the ’50s and today, but I am given to believe that average effective tax rates were about the same as now, though they are definitely far more progressive these days, thanks to the EITC, etcetera.

        Bernie’s plan was to have relatively high rates–for incomes over $250,000–but cut back on deductions and exemptions, particularly for capital gains. Capital gains and dividends would be taxed at ordinary income rates on incomes of over $250,000. The rate was to be 37% for incomes between $250,000 and $500,000, plus, the payroll tax would be added to all incomes over $250,000. (This meant there would be an exemption between $118,000 and $250,000. This adds 6.2% to the 37%, for a total of 43.2% Federal. I presume the 1.45% Medicare tax was on top of that. There were three brackets on top of this, topping out just under 60% federal (including payroll and medicare) on incomes over $10 million. No real estate deductions to speak of, so this would be the highest effective rate in history.

        Where Bernie was really going to kick behind was with the estate tax. He was going to reduce the current $5.45M credit to $3.5M, and increase rates to a maximum of 55% (from 40%) Federal on very large estates. (Hillary has one upped him, and is planning a 65% rate on very large estates–$500 million plus). Both his plan and hers did away with the capital gains basis step up, which, combined with the increase in rates, amounts to slow motion confiscation of very large estates, even in those states that don’t have a state estate or inheritance tax.

        The moral of this story is that we defeated the Soviet Union, but not the Communists. People don’t like that word these days, but I say that if it walks like a duck, it probably is one.

        1. pretzelattack

          i didnt ask you about the difference between marginal and effective tax rates. i asked you for a supporting link showing that sanders was proposing the highest effective tax rates ever seen in america. or any of your other claims for that matter. ironically, the hard right continues to claim clinton is a communist while she blames russia. i don’t care what you are “given to believe”. if you have no evidence your sweeping assertions aren’t worth reading.

          1. Anonymous

            You apparently haven’t read Bernie’s tax proposals. I don’t know how to make my explication of them any clearer.

            Clinton has proposed some policies that are in fact communist. You just have to understand simple math to get that that level of income redistribution takes virtually all the money. Do you consider that ‘progressive’ and not ‘communist?’ Then we can argue about definitions, but not about the effect, which is a consequence of arithmetic.

        2. animalogic

          “We” defeated the Soviet Union ? Really ? Yes….what a victory !
          Oh, and a progressive tax system is not “communist”…nor is it a duck, a creature I think I much prefer to you. At least they are amusing…

      1. UserFriendly

        Seriously, Till Reagan turned the war on poverty into the war on the poor it was between 70% and 93%.

          1. Anonymous

            Again, that’s the marginal tax rate. The question was about the effective tax rate. Look up the difference.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      No, Bernie would have mopped the floor with Trump, all one need do is look at the unambiguous polling data.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      If Clinton, having adopted as you say Sanders tax plan, can win, why couldn’t Sanders?

      > Bernie’s plans pretty much guaranteed a capital strike

      As I keep saying, this has been a wonderfully clarifying election.

      Bring it, say I.

      1. Anonymous

        People knew Bernie was serious. They assume Hillary is lying in order to get some of Bernie’s voters. Like Obama, she talks the talk–I think it’s called shaking the money tree–but doesn’t walk the walk.

  11. EoinW

    We need to lose the left-right narrative. It’s from last century. Time to come into the 21st century!

    Taking a look back to the 1990s, up in Canada Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative party introduced the GST – a 7% tax on many purchases. Mulroney then headed for the hills, leaving Kim Campbell and the PCs to be wiped out in the election which followed. A majority government reduced to about 6 seats! A few years later, the PCs, John A. MacDonald’s founding party of Canada, had ceased to exist. All this simply because Canadians saw a 7% tax every time they went shopping and they got angry. The tax was hardly a threat to their standard of living but they got mad anyway and killed the party responsible for it.

    Now I don’t know exactly how Obamacare is impacting Americans. I do have one friend who tells me her insurance premium has doubled and she now pays $600 a month. I just about died hearing that. All my fixed expenses(property tax, utilities etc…) only amount to just over $600 a month. And that’s Canadian dollars! She’s shelling out $600 US dollars a month and that’s before she even gets into the basic expenses one faces just to stay alive.

    Given that, plus all the talk about premiums rising everywhere, I have to believe Obamacare is the only issue that matters to most people. Not just the working class barely able to make the ends meet. Even the upper middle class will see the hit their budgets are taking. Even if they can afford it, they’re still paying extra for something they were promised would be cheaper. Just like Canadians and that 7% sales tax, people get angry and then they focus on punishing those they blame for what’s angered them.

    That all might be simplistic, and I’d be interested in hearing what Americans who are experiencing Obamacare think, however it’s why I have predicted a Trump landslide win ever since Clinton got the nomination.

        1. pretzelattack

          yeah i think the 600 a month is more along the lines of a catastrophic illness hedge, with a 5k deductible so you don’t actually use it for the most part (but still send in those monthly premiums kaching).

    1. Art Eclectic

      What you fail to realize is that insurance rates would have gone up with our without the ACA. They’ve been rising and doubling for years. Health insurance is peaking at the same levels as housing prices, they keep rising as long as there is a buyer.

      The average person is now priced out of home ownership in every major city in this country. The average person is also priced out of health insurance everywhere. Employers have been absorbing the cost increases for the past 20 years and passing that back down to employees in the form of declining wages and skimpier benefits. The ACA is not the problem, the long term escalation of health insurance pricing is. The ACA was a half-formed attempt to slow the tide because a socialized system that contained costs was, and is still, politically out of reach.

      This crisis is not going away and something has to be done about drug costs and health care costs. The ACA just the ball rolling.

      1. pretzelattack

        the aca guaranteed buyers, at least so far as the penalty can do that. and lots of people are worse off than before.

      2. OIFVet

        The ACA was a half-formed attempt to slow the tide because a socialized system that contained costs was, and is still, politically out of reach.

        I call BS on this statement. Just take a look at all of the signs screaming “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” Seems to me that money is used to nurture ignorance, thus providing the thinnest of justifications to claim that single payer is not feasible politically. That’s particularly useful for the Democrat Party, as it provides a convenient excuse for the clusterf*ck that is 0bamacare. They used budget reconciliation to pass it, and could have just as easily used budget reconciliation to pass single payer. Lack of will is purely financial, not political.

      3. RabidGandhi

        Health insurance is peaking at the same levels as housing prices, they keep rising as long as there is a buyer.

        Exactly. Disproves your point. The prices will rise as long as there is a buyer, ACA ensures that everyone must buy. You laid out the problem. ACA does not solve it, it rather exacerbates it.

        The ACA was a half-formed attempt to slow the tide because a socialized system that contained costs was, and is still, politically out of reach.

        “Politically out of reach”. WTF does that even mean? “Never ever because our overlords said so”? That’s totally back-asswards. The way politics work is the overlords respond to pressure. If the pressure does not come from below (because of the “out of reach” cop out) then they will respond to concentrated capital. You choose.

  12. Ulysses

    “We may have even damaged labor productivity by discouraging kids from working in high school.”

    Huh?!? What does this even mean? Many millions of U.S. high-schoolers are working today. In many cases, their meager wages, combined with a tiny food-stamp allowance and other remnants of the “safety-net,” are absolutely essential to prevent their family starving in the streets.

    Is this comment a call to abolish child-labor laws entirely? Please help me out here!

    1. Anonymous

      I think the percentage of high school students with part time jobs has fallen by half since 1990. And that’s to 2012. I believe it has declined more since then.

      This is partly because adults are taking those jobs. Remember when McDonald’s employees and baggers in the grocery store were invariably young people? It’s a different story today. Also, when I was a student, kids drove the school buses. Nobody would think that a good idea now, though I don’t think we had any problems whatever. There was, of course, a lot less traffic then.

      But school is also requiring much more of students’ time. When I finished high school, during the Carter years, we only required eighteen credits to graduate. Now they require twenty four credits, so the hours of academic participation in school has increased by a third. To get there they’ve had to eliminate study hall. This means that kids have to do their homework at home: and there is much more homework now than there was then. In short, they don’t have time to work.

      So are students better prepared for college now that we’re demanding so much more academic preparation out of them? It doesn’t appear so, either by anecdote or test scores.

  13. Carla

    In my experience, people at the far ends of the political spectrum often agree on what the problems are, but seldom on what the solutions could be.

    That said, I do personally know folks here in NE Ohio who said they would vote for either Bernie or Trump in the general election and are now Trump voters.

    1. Starveling

      This was me. Bernie appealed to my humanity and asked me to see us all in this together. He offered a platform that combines aspects of the interests of my group with those of all other Americans. Trump is the dark side of the coin- he is still speaking to the interests of me and mine, but without all the niceties of some others.

      I know several Berners who either pulled/will pull for Trump or are going with the third party option out of disgust at what the Dems have become.

      Politics in a multiethnic state is tribal by definition. If we can’t all be the same and if our differences are to be so pronounced? Turns out my people, Amerikaners, are all Deplorables (I’ve seen this as a badge of pride on more than one auto down here in Cinci), and the Dems no longer want to even pretend to represent us.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        `Rural CA voter here.

        STRONG Bernie support among under-40s and Democrats.

        I would guess 20-40% of them are voting Trump on the ABC (Anybody But Clinton) Principle.

        Direct quote from a friend & (D) for 50 YEARS(!): “We just can’t sanction her acting this way. She has to go.”

  14. juliania

    I think people are realizing that just as Barack Obama was more of the same George Bush, George Bush himself was more of the same Bill Clinton. This has led to the collective memory of the Clinton years taking in austerity in its infancy, sleazy behavior, and last but not least the ‘presidential pardons’ and outrageous spending (where did that come from?) on daughter’s wedding. No way, no way! any of us really want a repeat of that old ditty.

    Even back then, George Bush probably wouldn’t have succeeded if it hadn’t been an effort to change policy on the part of the voters. So, Clinton disaffection was already a big factor, setting aside the questionable voting machines and all that malarkey with the Supreme Court.

    I’ll date myself by saying the process so far this century has been Laurel and Hardy, and this is a nice mess you two have gotten us into. Really, isn’t it time. past time, to grow up? Jill Stein is on the ballot. Let’s outdo Iceland. Looking at it pragmatically, the French stormed the Bastille and executed Marie Antoinette; we have the (admittedly fragile) opportunity to dethrone the clowns peacefully.

    1. John Wright

      If we look at the elections beginning in 2000, the electorate has chosen the candidate (Bush, Obama) with a slimmest resume’.

      Obama also had the advantage of running against McCain-Palin, while Bush had a full resume’ Al Gore

      Voters have projected their hopes that these candidates would “do the right thing” in their eyes.

      Once in office, the voters were reluctant to vote them out.

      I believe the hope candidate this election is, quite surprisingly, Donald Trump, as President HRC implies continuity with the recent past, which has not been good for many voters..

      Woodrow Wilson pushed for the USA to enter WWI in 1917, or almost 100 years ago, asserting the USA needed to make the world “safe for democracy”.

      And the USA has devolved to these two “deplorable” (hat tip to HRC) candidates.

  15. Watt4Bob

    The ‘divide’ between the Berners, and the Trump supporters is the same ‘divide’ that we speak of when we mention “Divide and Conquer”.

    We’ve been trained for so long, and so completely to understand all our discomforts as being related somehow to the existence of the ‘other‘, that even as we wake to the fact that our masters have carefully nurtured this ‘divide’, we cannot seem to drop our counter-productive finger-pointing, and reflexive salivating when the dog-whistles blow.

    It should be obvious, because of the rhetoric, that America’s subliminal, alternate national anthem is “I’ve Been Hating You So Long, It’s Too Late To Stop Now”

    Everybody, on ‘both’ sides is singing it, everybody, on ‘both’ sides is teaching it, but nobody, so far has really come to grips with the reality that the folks who wrote and promote that song, will continue to abuse us all, as long as we start singing when the dog-whistle blows.

    We may even have noticed that both Rahm Emanuel, and Mitch McConnell are both promoting the same tune, but rather than admit there’s something wrong with this situation, we just think the ‘other’ guys are bad singers.

    We all insist, loudly, and in great detail, that it’s our individual, color-coded grievances that really matter, all the time collectively humming that same rotten tune that drowns-out the alternative message, that We’ve Got to Live Together.

    1. flora

      “We may even have noticed that both Rahm Emanuel, and Mitch McConnell are both promoting the same tune,.. ”

      Yes. The words to that tune are: “Vote for us or the monsters* will get you.”

      (*monsters. Not to include billionaires or TBTF who crashed the global economy, sent jobs overseas, stole your house, stole your savings, are looting treasuries, etc, etc,…)

  16. PWC, Raleigh

    So I listened to the recorded interview segment. Sure, it was interesting, and while Chomsky did address the subject of anger among Trump supporters — and the legitimacy thereof — the larger topics of the interview were the domination of our political-economy by predatory FIRE sector players — leaving damaged persons, households, and communities in their wake — and the cult of corporatism as privileged social policy (read: part of neoliberalism as dogma).

    Dismiss the anger of Trump voters, or don’t dismiss it — we are all in Big Danger, whether Trump voter or no, for reasons well-examined on this blog for many years now.

    The so-called “winners” is the current system built on foundations of hubris and bullshit have accumulated a very real body count in terms of people (and other living things) harmed, injured, and killed. The long coiling march of history suggests it will get worse before (if) it gets better.

    Also too, on the notion that “We have failed at unifying people. It’s our fault.” — Lord, have mercy. Has he even *met* said people, or observed the cacophony? He might as well have said, “We pissed in the ocean but we have failed to turn it yellow. It’s our fault.”

  17. Foppe

    Seems like Chomsky has yet to read Listen, Liberal. That aside, I can’t really say I understand why people are so enamored with him; e.g. in that Alternet ‘interview’ concerning ‘small differences with yuge consequences’, why doesn’t he offer even a single example, let alone indicate how that stacks up against, say, triangulation / Hillz going to Russia/China/etc.? I’m so tired of this habit of stating opinions without indications what considerations were used as input.
    Secondly, how did he get through life without learning about the subject of political economy, when he’s so lauded as a “critic”? Or is that lacuna the reason why he’s so lauded?

    1. Alejandro

      This interview seems from 2008 (sarah palin reference), yet seems as relevant today, maybe even more so. In this roughly eight minute excerpt, he mentions as an example—“The idea that healthcare should be determined by ‘wealth’ and not need is profoundly immoral”…and when engaged honestly, only sociopaths would disagree that healthcare should be a basic human right and not a privilege of ‘wealth’…seems both “political” and “economic”…

      He also seems to allude to the broader questions of—Who or what DOES the power of government(state) work for?… AND…Who or what SHOULD the power of government(state) work for?

      1. /L

        “Williams: Bernie Sanders has been quite outspoken about breaking up banks that are “too big to fail.””
        [then he referred to a Rolling Stone article speculating it might do more harm than good.]
        “What is your opinion on this? Do you think banks that are “too big” should be broken up?
        Chomsky: The consequences should be carefully explored. I haven’t done so.”

        Financialization and private money making have ben the centerpiece of neoliberal revolution the last 35-40 years. Then main tool to change society. And Chomsky doesn’t even have any general opinion?
        Many established leftists seems to bee entrenched in neoliberal narrative on money, loanable funds and the household narrative. Have they ever read anything about MMT or M Hudsons points on neo-feudal financialization?

        1. Alejandro

          There’s plenty controvertible, but I don’t see how universal healthcare as a basic human right can be. Certainly the power of government(state) can move in this direction, and certainly mmt has shown that finance is not the constraint.

          I personally don’t subscribe to the cultish veneration of any individual, past or present, nor ‘its’ flip-side of obsessive demonization/vilification of any individual, past or present. Don’t see much truth or value, in either side of that coin—a false dichotomy, imho. I do subscribe to the notion that context matters, and good-bad, left-right, right-wrong are relative terms, and I don’t see how ‘they’ can be absolutes, no matter how “objective” “we” may try to be…adding that no individual, past or present, can possibly have all the answers/solutions, and ‘satisfice’ anybody’s conjured purity standard.

    2. RabidGandhi

      The problem you cite is due to how Alternet *framed* the interview (and I mean framed in the foulest sense of the word). Alternet cites Chomsky as saying that Democrats must be elected at all costs, something Chomsky has never said. This framing fits Alternet’s HRC cheerleading but is a far cry from the points Chomsky himself consistently repeats: (1) that elections are a fixed PR show, we should focus on grassroots organising instead; and (2) that the threats to civilised life are climate change and nuclear holocaust.

      What Alternet does is fish through hours of Chomsky interviews to find a Chomsky point that supports their agenda. This explains why you did not hear (a) Chomsky’s inputs, or (b) his understanding of political economy. Alternet photoshops them out of the picture because Chomsky’s consistent condemnation of the Democrat Party does not suit their HRC cheerleading.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        As you stated Chomsky identifies Climate Change and Nuclear Holocaust as the greatest threats to civilized life. And Alternet does seem heavily biased in favoring Hillary. And though Chomsky never says “Democrats must be elected at all costs” he does very plainly say that the Republican party is the most dangerous organization in the world and their policies amount to a race to the precipice
        Noam Chomsky: The Alien perspective on humanity – Jung & Naiv: Episode 284 around minute 17:00. [I thought the title of Lambert’s Post “A Martian Looks at Election Day” strangely serendipitous.]

        I have difficulty figuring out when some of these video sources on youtube were recorded and that certainly affects the context for topical commentaries. The Chomsky interview I linked to along with a few other recent(?) youtube videos of Chomsky speaking — paint the Republicans as the greatest evil — though they hardly endorse Hillary and the Democrats. I have very high regard for Chomsky so his view of the Republican party greatly troubled me given my own view that Hillary presents the greater and more immediate danger — nuclear brinkmanship — opposed to the Trump’s endorsements for destroying Climate as quickly as possible. Do Democrats have a much better record on acting to forestall Climate Change than the Republicans? To me, choosing between Republicans and Democrats we have the choice of going to hell in a speedster or going to hell in a haycart — or worse a speedster tricked out to look like a haycart. Are there compelling reasons to believe Trump’s would be more dangerous in pursuing opportunities for nuclear brinkmanship than Hillary?

        1. RabidGandhi

          I agree. I too hold Chomsky in high regard and I think he is wrong to assume that HRC is slightly less evil than Trump.

          But if you read/listen to Chomsky, he has absolutely nothing positive to say about the Dems, and his overriding concern is mass organisation; he does not see elections (in their current form) as very worthwhile. This goes diametrically against Alternet’s talking points that (1) this election is yuge! and (2) Dems are the best alternative to Repubs. Therefore, the shills at Alternet have to completely distort what Chomsky is saying in order to make their point.

          Personally, I think Chomsky is right to point out just how evil the R’s are, regardless of the fact that HRC is probably worse– in fact he would be derelict of his duty not to highlight how radically bad both groups are for the future of the species. And Chomsky does call out both consistently, so it should not be a surprise when hacks on either side take his criticisms out of context to claim he is on their side. And even more importantly, he calls them out whilst emphasising (over and over again) his contention that politics is about organising, not about reality shows posing as elections.

          So in sum my point is really against Alternet for cherrypicking Chomsky to further an argument that he would not endorse, thus resulting in Foppe’s confusion.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Thanks! I plan to vote and even though my one vote for President is like tears in the rain or a drop in the ocean [references to two favorite movies]. I cannot in good conscience vote for Trump nor can I vote for Hillary.

            I intend to vote for Jill in the hopes the Greens might somehow get their act together and offer a place where a second party might root and grow. I worry that a Hillary presidency might tip all bets off the table. Movements and second parties take time. Both the Nuclear Threat and the Global Warming threat seem to be eating up the clock and I thought the Warming threat left a little more time. Chomsky’s stand on the Republican party gave me pause. If I were in a swing state — I’m not — I would be torn by the lesser evils argument. How can I chose when offered two potentially lethal choices and the possibility that not choosing either means one or the other will win?

            As for Alternet — I quit going to that site a long time ago mainly on account of what I thought was skinny content.

  18. Michael C.

    Lambert: “but I confess I see little prospect of the dominant faction in the Democrat Party changing its ways, Dean, Chomsky, or no.”

    And no, they will not change their ways because their ways are exactly who they are. Though a good case could be made for neither party ever being about “the people,” The Democratic Party has changed in devolved in the last 40 years from any principled stance on the working class and the poor, and has put all of its eggs in the basket of the corporate elite–with much of the help of the DLC, the Clintons, the Rahm Emanuels’ of this world, that it has now replaced what the Republican Party once was, while the Republican Party has fallen off an extremist cliff. I use to call myself and in fact was a liberal, until I watched and learned how liberals only want to protect their elite position in society, their economic position, and the comfort they have received by being an elitist class (think Paul Krugman here). Any nods to the working class and poor of America only came so as to protect their position in society. Marx got it right when he called out those who destroyed the revolutions around 1848 in Europe. They are in truth a reactionary force that in the end always sell out the working class and poor when push comes to shove. I am no longer a liberal, nor do I see liberals through the false perspective I once did. We need a real political revolution–and the vision to counter the counter revolution that will ensue–and we will get no revolution if we do not break with the Democrats and build a mass, principled movement that results in a new party that has instruments in it to hold the elected to the platform. If anyone thinks Clinton will be better than Trump, the latter an idiot, then they do not really understand who she is at her core and who she represents.

    1. Art Eclectic

      Politics is never about The People. Politics is about protecting entrenched interests. Both parties are given over to protecting entrenched market leaders and donors. How they appeal to voter bases is mostly around social causes (person freedom vs religious domination). After that, both parties are busy protecting the financial position of themselves, friends, donors, and professional connections.

      In that respect, Trump is really no different. He’s one of them. The powers that actually run this county won’t let anyone this close to the oval office unless they know full well that their interests will be protected.

  19. Sound of the Suburbs

    “Testifying before Congress in 1997, Greenspan attributed the “extraordinary’” and “exceptional” performance of the nineties economy to “a heightened sense of job insecurity” among workers “and, as a consequence, subdued wages.”

    After being traumatized for 25 years US workers got a little upset.

    Alan Greenspan’s traumatized worker is today’s Trump supporter.

    What do the Democrats have to offer?
    More trauma.

  20. Paid Minion

    Let me get this straight………

    If someone doesn’t buy in 100% to the official “liberal” platform, you are “irredeamable/deplorable” and unsalvagable as a human being?

    Then throw in a few “white privlege” stinkbombs?

    Good luck winning elections with that attitude. Seems to me like a more effective plan would be to point out the fact that middle class and lower Americans have the same problems. And the only color that really matters in this country is “green”.

    1. EoinW

      Democracy is not feasible in super states. Whether the population is 30 million or 300 million we’ve got a lifetime of proof – our lifetimes – that such size kills democracy. Such size also makes governments too powerful for the good of the average citizen. Ultimately such governments work for the good of the government, not the good of the people. None of our problems will be fixed until the super states are broken up.

      1. JEHR

        I sympathize with your ideas that size matters. We are a country of 35+ million people and were (are?) on the verge of big changes as we grow larger. The last government was conservative and made many changes to the social aspects of our country such as getting rid of environmental protection of our water, creating private/public partnerships, making many “free trade” deals that attack governance, and so on. The government we now have has left some of these changes in place perhaps for their own benefit. And that makes for changes that do not have the public interest at heart. We, too, are slowly undergoing a change to the right ideologically and who knows where that will end.

        There seems to be some correlation between size of a country and its governance. You can see some of these changes within the European Union as it keepst on adding more and more countries as it seems less and less able to govern effectively.

  21. Katharine

    >Democracy is not feasible in super states.

    You can’t prove a negative. Your “proof” is merely evidence things have been going extremely badly in our lifetimes, not evidence that the size of the state is the cause.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    Why don’t the Dems go after the Confederate flag guys as the pre-insane Dean suggested?

    IMO it’s all about the kayfabe.

    If the Dems got all the poor white males back in their camp along with the current demographic they lay claim to by actually producing policies that helped all those people, they would have a yuuuuge majority of voters. The other party would be reduced to cranky filthy rich white guys who are a small minority of all voters.

    If that were to happen, how would the two major parties continue their identity politics which is about all they trot out every election cycle? The Repubs are gonna take away your abortions!!!! The Dems are gonna take away your guns!!!!!

    Lots of political class/establishment rice bowls would get broken if that were to happen. Imagine if some of these pundits and political hangers-on actually had to do some productive work for a living rather than raking in the big bucks for spewing falsehoods on the TV and interwebs all day long? The horror, the horror….

    My guess is the Dems will start paying attention to the poor white guys just as soon as their current demographic starts switching to the Republicans and not a minute sooner. Then they can all start the same game over again but with different labels.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Yep, the kayfabe requires that neither party gain enough control to become accountable. The whole scam is exposed if either “side” doesn’t have a plausible blame object.

  23. Minnie Mouse

    “The guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks” lost jobs and factories just like the northern rust belters and African Americans. Nothing works better to unite America than an outside enemy. Perhaps everybody agrees that economic globalism stinks.

  24. GlenO

    I bet a lot of Trump voters are actually either anti-Clinton voters or anti-status-quo voters. Both candidates having such low approval indicates a total failure of our electoral system. Demonizing Trump voters doesn’t help, and only distracts from this sad state of affairs.

  25. RabidGandhi

    Related to this post, I just read Greenwald on the PSOL’s loss in yesterday’s Río runoff election. (I’d translate it but my Portuguese is not up to snuff). In it, he asks why PSOL (a party to the left of B. Sanders) has such a hard time garnering votes amongst the poor and social minorities (the groups PSOL claims to champion), and reaches the conclusion that Lula and the leaders of the Workers Party (PT) were able to reach their base because they were like them– Lula was a factory worker, whereas most left leaders (eg Bernie Sanders) come from a different class– richer, more educated, more priviledged.

    In this regard, when was the last time the popular classes in the US had a leader whom they could recognise as one of their own? In fact the Trump candidacy shows some evidence of this. While Trump is clearly not a working man, nevertheless his whole branding has been to market himself as an everyday guy. Conversely, the R’s (Romney, McCain, Jeb…) and D’s (Obama, Pelosi, HRC, Kerry) have had the exact opposite marketing. In fact the R’s have at least paid some lip service to this point by running GWB and Trump as squillionaires you’d wanna have a beer with. Team Blue, on the other hand, has been running the exact opposite campaign for several cycles: attacking the base as deplorables, clinging to guns and bibles and thoroughly deprecating anyone less educated than themselves. And furthermore they have the policies to match: Nafta, Grand Bargain, TPP….

    Chomsky is right to call for organising deplorables (of which I am one), and that organisation will not be successful unless it has deplorables as leaders.

    1. Synoia

      Well that give new meaning to D voters.

      No, I’m not a Democrat, I’m a Deplorable.

      One can only succeed as a Deplorable if one believes in the Common Good over Self Actualization.

      Take that Maslow!

  26. altandmain

    Their lives were destroyed by neoliberalism and the corrupt Washington class.

    I do not agree with their racism, but as Chomsky hints, they have real economic grievances. Racism and economic despair feed off each other.

    Ultimately, no matter how the Clinton base wants to portray them, this is the core of their anger. They are not dumb as the Clinton campaign thinks. They know that politicians like Clinton are heavily responsible for their economic problems. Democrats often complain that poor whites vote against their own interests.

    The problem with that argument is that the Democrats often do support things like free trade that are against their interests. With Sanders out of the Presidential race, you could make the case that unless people vote Green, they are voting against their own interests. Certainly there may be a few principled true progressives, but they are few and under siege.

    Rather, there is a darker part of it. It is the Democrats, attempting to patronize people who do not support them. Not saying the Republicans are any better (frankly the Establishment GOP does the same thing and serves the same donor class), but the myths that the Democrats serve the people or that Trump supporters are 100% ignorant has to die.

    1. Winston Smith

      Heartily agree!

      Was going to mention this as well, but found your reply. Trump supporters like him, not because he says racist or misogynist things, but because their jobs have been sent overseas or down to Mexico. They’re probably sick and tired of some mealy-mouthed technocrat telling them that they have to suck it up while they lose their livelihood so the rest of us can fill our carts with Chinese made junk.

  27. voltaic

    This trump following of angry, racist white men is hypocritical. When minorities have a tough time economically, they can’t find living wage work, they can’t afford housing, they lack healthcare, then it’s their fault for not being up to snuff. When whitey has those same issues it’s the fault of the system.

    Republicans have given trumpsters 30 years of voodoo economics that heavily favor the wealthy and they still pull the R lever. Their grievances are often justified but the culprit rests in their mirror.

    1. aab

      You’re being sloppy. Not all Trump voters are male, white or racist. They’re definitely all angry. He has consolidated most of the Republican party, so yes, a lot of people are voting for their oppressors by voting for the party, and some of his policy positions are typical Republican policy. But a lot of people are just voting for the only change available, or voting because he’s promising to change trade policy — cancelling TPP and NAFTA, if he actually does as he promises (unlike Obama) would be a BIG change.

      I’m tired of blaming the voters who have been lied to, manipulated, propagandized and in many cases, apparently had their votes stolen. What may have been the matter with Kansas was vote rigging, you know. Yes, people need to wake up. But they’re still the victims, not the perpetrators. It’s like blaming rape victims for the clothes they wear or where they walk.

  28. Temporarily Sane

    I’m not with Chomsky on this one. HRC’s track record, her sociopathic displays and bellicose warhawk rhetoric plus the shady dealings of Bubba and the CF add up to one massive and potentily radioactive shit pile. Chomsky is too weded to his old school “Dems are least worst by default” ways. The world has changed a lot since Obama won in 2008 and this is no longer a reliable guide.

    Chomsky comes across as quite conservative in his own way and I get a feeling (and I concede that I might be way off base here) that he also looks down his nose at the rural working class. Chomsky analysis of US foreign policy and the media propaganda model is spot on but his weighing in on elections usually amounts to “vote Democrat”.

  29. Outsourced & Deplorable

    “I’m basically judging by what I see and read about them listening to talk radio and so on,” Chomsky admitted of the protests on the right. “But my strong impression is that these [right-wing protesters] are people with very real grievances.”

    Gee, ya think! Not too Ivory-tower right? 100m out of the labor force; likely unemployment rate 23% (ShadowStats); 7 in 10 with less than $1,000 in savings; ZIRP wiped out retirement savings and pensions to save the banks; epidemic up-tick in prime working-age suicide, alcohol and drug deaths; inflation everywhere that counts; constant out-sourcing and off-shoring of professional and manufacturing jobs (you know, that livelihood/self-esteem thingy); the list goes on and on. I’m glad he has a radio though, otherwise he would be all like, “Trump? … tell me about this Trump you speak?”

    Watch the PBS documentary “Two American Families” and tell me again where Trump came from.

    1. Yves Smith

      We’ve said repeatedly that Shadow Stat’s alternative measures are not credible. Please do not invoke them. John Williams has done a good job of compiling how statistical measures have changed over time but he has zero expertise in this sort of statistical work and it shows.

  30. /L

    Who is ”we”, that hasn’t succeeded in unifying people? Is Chomsky member of some organization that can unify/organize people? Or is that some random group of mainly university intellectuals/academia that share some leftist viewpoints?
    To unify there have to be “boots on the ground” and an organization, that’s how it was done in previous times.
    These “we” is usually fairly well of people grown up in some sort of middle class. As some old progressive American journalist said, in the past there used to be blue collar intellectuals in MSM that was straight out of working class. Today there is only the better of middle class born and raised in the same middle class, they have had a comfortable life there nothing was missing. To them there is no big faults of the system, life is fine, the faults is minor and they can be adjusted inside the system, give the “deplorable” some hand out.
    His actual take on Trump seems to be all about that Trump is climate “denier” and that will sort of eradicate humanity. What I’ve heard he carefully avoid Trumps Nafta and Wall Street critic and so on. Scaremongering to push people to vote HRC?

    Does anyone honestly believe that 4 or 8 years with Trump or Clinton will in any meaningful way change global CO2 emissions? 80-85% of all electric production is still by fossil fuels, Tesla won’t change that.

  31. JTFaraday

    A few years back the NYT was yelling and screaming about the evangelical Christian takeover of America. Today it looks more like its last gasp.


  32. Roland

    #19 Michael C:

    I used to call myself and in fact was a liberal, until I watched and learned how liberals only want to protect their elite position in society, their economic position, and the comfort they have received by being an elitist class (think Paul Krugman here). Any nods to the working class and poor of America only came so as to protect their position in society. Marx got it right when he called out those who destroyed the revolutions around 1848 in Europe. They are in truth a reactionary force that in the end always sell out the working class and poor when push comes to shove. I am no longer a liberal, nor do I see liberals through the false perspective I once did. We need a real political revolution, and the vision to counter the counter revolution that will ensue…

    I used to self-identify as “liberal,” too. I still retain many liberal attitudes, but I parted ways with most other liberals over the issues of property and capital.

    In the end, the only freedom that bourgeois liberals really care about is their freedom to control more and more capital.

    It’s a class matter. Both proletariat and bourgeoisie are classes whose members tend to have a secular and individualistic world view. The problem is, for as long as the bourgeoisie control all the capital, most of the benefits of a liberal society can be enjoyed only by the bourgeoisie.o

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