A Wall To Keep Them Out? Or Hold Us In?

Trump and Bannon. Populists? Or dictator wannabes?

I voted for Clinton but when Trump won I thought, “At least he’s a populist” and hoped he would at least help working people.

But over time I’ve worried more and more since he is looking pretty UNpopulist:

  • His healthcare bill took healthcare from (predominantly) his own voters and gave huge tax cuts to the wealthy.
  • His tax plan helps the rich much more than the working class.
  • Solar employs more workers than coal+oil+natural gas — yet he’s pushing fossil fuels.
  • Labor Secretaries are charged with ensuring workers are well-paid. Yet DJT’s first nominee was sued for wage theft, and he sought to automate jobs and get rid of workers?
  • One of his first executive orders was to deregulate Wall Street. Expect Main Street to bail out Wall Street again. Or worse.

Meanwhile, the Carrier deal got a lot of publicity for keeping jobs in America. But only about 700 jobs were saved. That’s not a broad policy.

Bannon/Trump: Using fear to amass power?

Not sure what to make of Donald Trump’s and Steve Bannon’s “populism.”

Steven Bannon reportedly pushes populism. Yet he worked hard, trying to pass a healthcare bill that harmed working people and helped the rich.

Do Trump and Bannon merely sound populist so that people will follow them — no matter what? I mean, DJT’s defenders defend him even when he fails to help them.

Meanwhile, Bannon is obsessed with “The Fourth Turning” (1997) by two amateur historians who say that every 80 years the world faces a major crises… And the US is soon headed for catastrophe.

The risk of catastrophe will be high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule.

Or succumb to authoritarian rule?

Does Bannon want to save us from crises? Or create crises in order to gain personal power?

A power grab could explain Trump’s scare tactics — hyping crime rates, terrorist attacks and weak border control.

Actually, crime is low — and so is your personal risk of terror victimization. And nowadays Mexicans are mostly returning to Mexico.

But fear can create felt need for a strong-arm ruler: Trump, of course, the “only one,” as he said, who can save us.

Trump wanted missiles in his inaugural parade. Just like dictators do.

Resist and be punished

“The Fourth Turning” authors imagine that anyone who resists the new regime will be severely punished.

If you don’t want to be misjudged, don’t act in a way that might provoke Crisis-era authority to deem you guilty. If you belong to a racial or ethnic minority, brace for a nativist backlash from an assertive (and possibly authoritarian) majority.

Dictators censoring thought

In dictator-like moves Trump seeks to suppress thought.

  • Don’t listen to mainstream media. Trust only him.
  • Defund the most trusted news sources: PBS and NPR
  • Defund the Arts (National Endowment for the Arts) which shed light and clarify vision.

Dictator quirks?

DJT actually has a number of dictator-like quirks.

  • Likes dictators and strong-arm men
  • Scapegoats minorities
  • Lies so often you can’t keep track
  • Tries to discredit the press and create propaganda
  • His rallies are scary
  • He wanted missiles in his inaugural parade — like dictators do
  • He wants higher military spending
  • He wants to build a wall (like the Berlin Wall?)

A wall to hold us in?

The Handmaid’s Tale book cover (1985).

Is that wall that Trump so badly wants meant to keep “them” out — or keep us in?…

It reminds me of the post-apocalyptic America portrayed in The Handmaid’s Tale when the new dictatorial regime builds a wall to keep a terrorist threat out.

But the wall acts to keep oppressed people in.

How to fight dictator wannabes

Timothy Snyder is a Yale University professor of history who recommends the following to stop dictators:

  • Don’t obey in advance.
  • Believe in truth. Fake news won’t save you. It will manipulate you. The US is under attack by fake news like Russian trolls and other made-up media. Even some right-wingers are beginning to worry about the alternate reality of fake news they created. Read more here and here.
  • Support institutions. We must support them, rather than expect them to support us. Especially when Steve Bannon is trying to destroy them.
    • Deregulate Wall Street –> Gov refuses to bail out the banks –> Economy crashes –> We yearn for strong-arm Dictator Bannon.
  • Don’t let chaos be an excuse to restrict our rights. The Muslim ban might be intended to spark terrorism — by making us look like the Muslim-haters ISIL makes us out to be. Protest and mobilize to fight for our rights

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on April 14, 2017, in politics/class inequality and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I don’t really get into politics too much, but I actually feel scared for how our country will turn out with Trump as out President, as I am a first generation Latino in this country it is horrible to see how Trump disrepects people both men and women of different races. How he labels so many people is just worng in my opinion and he needs to change the way he says thing and portrays his ideals.

  2. You voted for Clinton? Broadblog, our relationship has already gotten off to shaky start. Admitting that I voted against her hubby’s opponent twice (I never voted For Bill), the last time I voted Dem was for Obama twice, not knowing either time he was a faux Democrat aka neoliberal Republican Lite.

    The only thing Trump knows about populism is that he thinks it had something to do with Andy Warhol in the late ’60s.

  3. Populism is as much some sort of representation of “vox populis”, as moralism is moral.

    Many a dictator were popular populists before they could become dictators. Populists are politicians who appeal to the tribal mob spirit of the people. That is wy so many populist political agendas are nationalist. They also offer us tribal moralism. Simple solutions to the simpletons. The simplicity of their offer is often enough, that they alone are the cure to any problems. Most of those problems are invented and popularized by them, and include the tribal hatred and fear of the outsider, be it the Jew, the Communist, or the Muslim. But the populist rarely has any actual solutions to the real problems of the people. That is why they need to secure their power base during the short term of political power and responsibility they have or fall, come the next election.

  4. I don’t understand much of politics but the way you put it across makes sense to me. Thanks for the enlightenment.

  5. Reblogged this on Rcooley123's Blog and commented:
    Despite the appearance that Bannon may be losing clout in the White House and the fact that Trump seems to be flip-flopping on a number of issues, this article does an excellent jobs of framing many of the issues of concern for many in dealing with this administration.

    • Thank you. I hope he’s on his way out. Wonder how much he’s convinced Trump that he could be the next Dictator if he destroys the administrative state and people end up scared and desperate? We’ll see what he does going forward.

  6. In retrospect, the current events appear to be an outcome of democrats’ disconnect with ordinary white Americans, in not effectively driving home the ways in which liberal policies and governance ultimately benefited all segments of society. Protectionist measures will not develop but only serve to insulate countries from positive influences obtainable only through continually interactive connect with other countries in a globalising and interdependent world. Fortunately, extreme right wing conservatism and xenophobic agendas are apparently failing to lure vast majorities of countries, thus a Trumping America and a Brexiting UK may just be aberrations that will clearly lose pace for want of momentum. While the US has the option to correct course after four years, Britain runs the risk of attenuating into an increasingly insignificant piece of the continent.

    • I meet with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and Dems actually do much more to help working-class whites:

      *Wall St. regulations so Main St. won’t bail out Wall St.
      *Obama regulations for good pay and safety — that Trump quickly got rid of
      *Earned Income Tax Credit (brings income above poverty level) — GOP has recently gotten on board with that
      *Healthcare that actually helps more people than Republican “pay more get less” scheme with hidden tax cuts for the rich
      *Education and training

      GOP has a history of only helping elites — something Trump campaigned on. But working class whites have still voted Republican (GOP) because right-wing media makes it seem that Dems help “Black/Brown people, not you.” Or “women, not you.”

      And much of the working class will only read right-wing media and don’t hear both sides.

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