Keeping you updated about America’s non-partisan populism, I feel like a bit of a broken record of late. That’s one reason why, beginning a week from today, this blog will feature some very dramatically different content, like nothing I’ve ever presented here before. Anyway, until then, once more into the breach:
First, read Matt Bai’s column from yesterday, where my man makes several excellent points. I love Matt Bai. He’s independent, he’s not beholden to any major media outlet (Yahoo! only thinks of itself as major), and he sees things that many other writers miss.
For example, Bai sees the apoplectic rage Americans are feeling against the Democrats and the Republicans.
You never hear about this in the columns at The New York Times, National Review, or almost any of the other sites/sources linked at the home page of realclearpolitics.com. You hear that Trump is an “outsider.” You hear that the electorate is feeling a little “antiestablishment.”
“Antiestablishment” is a term that partisan journalists (read: most of them) use because they don’t like facing a truth they find uncomfortable. I mean, heck, we’re all antiestablishment. Alexander Hamilton is antiestablishment in the first act of “Hamilton.” We’re all renegade maverick upstarts, right?
When columnists tell you that Americans are feeling “antiestablishment,” you might think that voters are angry with Wal-Mart, Starbucks, GE, Levi’s, the NBA, Walgreen’s, Google Chrome, Chevrolet, Marvel Studios, and whoever makes those red Solo cups.
Nope. People aren’t upset with any of that. Those names represent companies that have proved their value in the marketplace the hard way.
People are upset not with the “establishment” per se, but with the Democrats and the Republicans, which are groups that have not proved their value in any fair marketplace, but instead rigged the game for themselves, sticking us with bipartisan chestnuts like: the Iraq War, a suspension of the Fourth Amendment, pro-Wall Street policies that led to a meltdown that destroyed half of middle-class home values, a pro-Wall Street recovery that ensured that Obama-era gains would go solely to the 1%, government shutdowns, corporate welfare, offshore tax havens, Citizens United…one set of rules for the wealthy and another set for everyone else.
Most of the press still doesn’t characterize Americans as mad at parties over this, partly because, being partisan, they can’t believe that anyone would assign any blame to their treasured party for any little policy speed bumps of the 21st century!
This week’s big example of cluelessness was in the way the media covered the week’s big story, the ongoing détente-a-tete between Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, as each side supposedly finds a way to realize they need each other. Every…single…major…press….source…wrote…about…this story.
And if more of them were non-partisan, if more of them understood the real populist frustration that has actually fueled Trump’s (and Sanders’) rise, then Matt Bai’s column wouldn’t have been necessary. But they aren’t, and it was. As Donald Trump’s tweets often end: Sad!
Let me make it clear that I don’t want Donald Trump to become president. But to make that less likely, to defuse some of the tension still growing in America, the press could start by naming things correctly. Not “antiestablishment,” but anti-this-particular-group-of-Democrats-and-Republicans. A little wordy, I realize, but reporters have got plenty of digital space to fill. Sure, it won’t be easy to say on establishment-run TV News Shows (Fox, CNN), but maybe, just for a change, the press should stop writing as an audition for those.
Matt Bai’s not the only one making sense, of course. I like Peggy Noonan lately. Granted, this is anecdotal, but I still like this paragraph she published yesterday:
As to the matter of rage, it’s more like disrespect for those who’ve been calling the shots. If you know Trump people in real life as opposed to through social media, if they are your friends and family members, you understand that “rage” doesn’t do them justice. They dislike the Republican Party, which they believe has consistently betrayed them, but Trump people in person are just about the only cheerful people in politics this year. They actually have hope—the system needs a hard electric shock, he’s just the man to do it, and if it doesn’t work they’ll fire him. They’re having a good time. Here I throw in a moment I had in Manhattan Thursday afternoon. I was standing on a corner on York Avenue in the 60s when a cab screeched across two lanes to stop in front of me. “I am voting for Trump!” the driver yelled through an open window. “You want to know why? He is neither right or left!” He then laughed and sped on. Not all Trump supporters are quiet about it.
The other day, when asked about “pivoting” to the general election, Donald Trump said, “You win the pennant and now you’re in the World Series — you gonna change? People like the way I’m doing.”
Donald Trump says so much nonsense that it’s sometimes hard to notice when he’s making sense. This was one such case.
Bad writes, “Trump should already understand that the party elite is way more useful to him as a disgruntled foil than it could ever be as an ally.”
Absolutely right. If Trump is smart, he’ll keep foiling the GOP and their friends and dire enemies in the mainstream media. If the media is smart, it’ll stop being used as a foil.
As Bai says, Trump can’t win office as a “normal” Republican. But he just might win as a (proud) Republican-in-Name-Only who promises to treat both parties as a rhino, or RINO, would treat a wedding cake.
And when that happens, the mostly partisan media, blindsided for months now, will be blindsided again. Sad!