Danny Cardwell's picture

    What The Left Refuses To Accept About Trump

    "Let me go over that again: Reagan’s popularity was popular. When you went through the various traits of Reagan and what Reagan stood for and his policies and so on vast numbers of people disliked nearly all of them. What was popular was his popularity and I don’t think that Reagan’s alone in this."           

    --Rick Roderick 

    In lecture eight of The Self Under Siege series professor Rick Roderick used Ronald Reagan's presidency to explain Jean Baudrillard's notion of the Hyperreal. The Hyperreal, as theorized by Baudrillard, is any image of reality that can replace reality. The perception of Reagan was so great that it morphed into a creation of its own. In reality President Reagan was dealing with early stages of Alzheimer's disease, but the perception was that he single handedly ended the Cold War, saved capitalism, and restored America's status as the global hegemon. Claims that on the surface hold just enough truth and have been repeated so often that they are socially accepted statements of fact. There were several significant factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, but to understand those factors one would have to engage in a lot of reading and thinking- two pastimes that seem to be falling by the wayside. Critically thinking about tough issues is a time consuming process. It's easier to watch a half-hour news cast than read three or four different accounts about a single issue.  

    Our country's fascination with celebrity combined with the media's TMZ style guerrilla coverage of everything Donald Trump has replaced the reality of the Trump candidacy: many of his policies are unpopular, unconstitutional or impossible to implement. The myth of Donald Trump, for many, has killed the reality of Donald Trump. Even when he goes full Trump and makes ignorant and thoughtless statements it doesn't faze his supporters; for them, Donald Trump manifests an Uber machismo version of the American Dream: It's Rich, It's Powerful, It doesn't answer to anyone, and it's relentless. Conservatives love celebrities who identify with their beliefs. Forget all of their anti-Hollywood rhetoric over the years. The right loves celebrity; Clint Eastwood, Dennis Miller, and a slew of country music artists have filled that void for them, but Trump is a super celebrity candidate who feeds on attention and uses it to normalize anger and resentment. 

    I've read dozens of articles written by men and women much more credentialed than I am. Many of those early articles predicted Donald Trump would fade out and be an after thought. In the last few weeks many of those same writers have accepted the reality that Trump will be part of the process for the foreseeable future, and some have come to grips with the reality that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination. The last three election cycles have been very different from previous election cycles. Every conventional wisdom from the past has been more wrong than right when it comes to handicapping the nomination process. It's fair to say that a majority of the experts damage their credibility every time they appear on the Sunday shows pretending to know the electorate they cover. If you're looking at past trends as a guidepost for what's to come then you risk making the same mistake our pundit class is making: attempting to normalize a process that has broken away from normality. 

    Donald Trump is to the far-right what President Obama was to the far-left: a personality who transcends the political process while simultaneously commanding the media's attention. The same conservatives who were upset about the media's treatment of President Obama in 2008 have gone quiet in the face of Donald Trump's media domination. The myth of a left-wing mainstream media was shattered long ago by Dr. Michael Parenti, but ABC news covering Donald Trump for 81 minutes compared to the less than 30 seconds of coverage for Bernie Sanders is a tacit admission that equally covering political campaigns falls behind ratings on the list of journalistic priorities. 

    Too many people are waiting for Donald Trump to have his Howard Dean moment: it's not going to happen. Too many political strategist on the left and right are waiting for his lack of specificity to catch up with him: it won't. There's not a set of historically verifiable and empirically accurate facts that can make journalists find the courage to fact check him on the spot when he makes false statements, or force his supporters to believe them if they do. Donald Trump is seen as vile, racist, and misogynistic by some, but he's genuinely liked by his supporters- some of them exclusively- for his statements. It seems like a lifetime ago when "binders full of women" got Mitt Romney in trouble. The 2016 race is happening without the "experts". It's quite possible we could see, in real time, YouTube shows originating from the Trump campaign chronicling his march towards Super Tuesday and maybe the GOP convention. If he wins one of he early contests the last six months will seem calm compared to what could happen next.


    Nice post... Thanks...

    Now just wait until things get real eccentric...

    We aren't even close to the true silly season (Next July through Labor Day) of this election cycle.

    Keep in mind, it's about the general election and is a particular candidate likable to the 43-45% of self-identifying independents come next November?

    And ... There are 312 days until the general election.



    I agree 100%. Happy New Year's! Thanks for reading and commenting on this post.

    Great post.  Trump is not going to fix himself.  I am somewhat enjoying watching people who take politics seriously trying to contend with the Trumpmentum.  "Surely," they think, "Republican voters will realize that they are acting irresponsibly and will turn back to Rubio or Bush."


    Trump knows what this audience wants and he is kind of what they deserve.  If do hope that the Republicans pull some shenanigans to deny him the nomination because you know he won't forgive and will be a vocal thorn in the side of the nominee for... well, forever.

    Happy New Year to you and yours. Thanks for reaching out to me; I look forward to the ups and downs that will fill 2016. Peace!

    Great post, Danny. I'm especially pleased to have someone who's not me explain Baudrillard on Dag.

    I agree with you that Trump's not going away. He's got a plurality of Republican voters on his side. I don't think he will win the nomination,  but he's not going to just fizzle and vanish.

    I don't think he's running a  conventional campaign, and that might matter if things go down to the wire. I also don't think he has any actual plans for what he would do if elected.

    I've actually begun wondering if we're going to see a divided Republican convention, where 3 or more candidates go to (ahem) Cleveland with big chunks of delegates but no one has a majority. Then things will get crazy, and the nuts-and-bolts part (who would Trump's delegates be? How could he select them?) might matter,

    About Baudrillard's hyperreality...

    I have long thought of reality as merely ones own perception filtered through the prism of their naive wishes.

    And from where do I think we get these so-called realities? I penned this in 1966.

    From: Silly as it Seems - Page 8


    Happy New Year! Thanks!

    I know it's schadenfreude, but I'm hoping for a brokered convention. I have some vacation time I'm saving for the Republican party convention just in case. Happy New Year Doc!

    2 comments: 1) Trump's already had a number of Dean moments - they just don't count if you're Republican. Acting vain, stupid and primitive is core to the Republican play book - Trump's basking in it, speaking "honestly" like a drunk high schooler telling off his dad, mano-a-mano style. Just part of the obnoxious continuum. 2) Reagan's pressure had a large impact on ending the Cold War and bringing down the wall. "single--handedly" is a red herring. There's a lot Reagan did wrong, but attacking him on Soviet relations is pretty futile.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I appreciate your perspective. The only thing I would add for clarification is that I never intended to attack President Reagan. The myth sold to the American people about his presidency is the focus of my critique. I agree that "single-handedly is a bit strong, but if you peruse right-wing literature over the last 25 years you can find that my claim is just a reflection of the narrative Conservatives have been selling. Again, thanks for your time! Happy New Year!

    Understand - I was bringing up what I think is a weak point on our side, not trying to be critical. The Reagan myth on the right is of course largely laughable and largely contradicts the values they claim to be championing as they shift to outrageous. Happy New Years

    Yes, perhaps you explain Reagan's popularity. Or perhaps it was due to

    o good marketing.  If you can make buyers believe that Budweiser tastes good you can make them believe RR was a  wise , successful President.

    o he implemented the tax cuts finally eliminating the very high rates from WWII

    o he was personally pleasant.

    o after the misguided involvement in Beirut he limited further use of  boots on the ground to the the comic opera invasion of a tiny Caribbean nation..

    What's not to like?


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