Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Using Kafka to Describe Trump

My latest for The American Prospect, on the Trump candidacy as a hideous metamorphosis of the Republican Party.


Mitch Guthman said...

ery well said! On the subject of legitimate grievances like trade and inequality, I think you put your finger on an important point. The faithful followers of brother John Birch who now constitute the base of the party can’t see how inane and insane they appear to the rest of us; the political class of the GOP can’t afford to tell them and, as you say, for whatever reason, the media doesn’t want to.

The interesting thing is that because Trump seems incapable of disengaging from the freak show and making sustained, reasoned arguments about those grievances, the freak show is both repelling voters outside of the GOP base and drowning out a message that might actually resonate with a broad portion of the American electorate. This is an important contrast with someone like Marine Le Pen who has worked hard to tone down the crazy and keep it locked away in the attic until the time when it’s safe for the FN trolls to come out into the light.

FrédéricLN said...

Thanks for the column. The way my children react to Mr Trump's rise: scared, shocked. My reaction so far: jaded "we have already seen so much of this", including with Mr Sarkozy. Cynicism is not only the enemy, against which Mr Obama often warns, it is also common knowledge "that high".

So voters will have to choose between specialists in machine politics who always tried to reach some valuable objectives, and "démagogues".

The point with grievances is quite deep too — citizens can and should always have grievances, but neither America nor France is much worse off than in the 30's or the mid-70's. Thus the grievance might not be as much against the situation itself, but against a political class/milieu that would just not share the expectations of the people. That may be right to some extent.

brent said...

I share your utter disgust with Trump, and find the analogy to Gregor Samsa quite apt. You do however come perilously close to Brecht (channeling Stalin) and his 'solution' to "dissolve the people/And elect another." Yes, Trump has brought to light some deplorable attitudes, but he didn't create them. Isn't the responsibility shared with all the far more 'respectable' figures, starting with Hillary Clinton's failure to present an appealing alternative? And the craven party apparatchiks who unanimously took the safe road by endorsing her? And how about her husband who set the table for the financial predators (starting with his own Treasury secretary)? And the financiers themselves who in their way are at least as disgusting as Trump? In the face of this moral collapse at the summit, can the excluded middle classes bear all the blame if they opt for irrational and even lunatic responses?

ledocs said...

Didn't you write a recent post in which Trump is depicted as more of a joke and a clown than as a real menace? One is allowed to change one's mind, obviously, but it's a good idea to take note of the change and to explain it.

Art Goldhammer said...

No, in fact, I didn't. In a previous post I tried to explain Trump's support as a consequence of identification with celebrity. I never suggested he wasn't a menace, and I haven't changed my mind on that point.