MODERATOR: Good evening and welcome back to Clash of Worldviews, the show in which we try to get to the bottom of big issues. You may have heard that President-Elect Donald Trump is a charlatan and an ogre, and that Hillary Clinton is crooked and phony. But Trump’s election has cast doubt on so much of our conventional wisdom that we’re still wondering—as though lost in a wasteland—just what the true meaning of Trump’s election might be. To help answer that question, we’ve asked Adam Garnett, famed liberal humanist and Hillary Clinton supporter, and Fred Fogarty, a Donald Trump supporter and self-described member of the alt-right to be with us to discuss the matter. Gentlemen, who would like to begin? What is Trumpism all about?
ADAM: In a word, Trump is about himself, while his supporters are about having a laugh at the country’s expense. They’re not downtrodden, these older white working class folks; they’re just venting because they’ve fared badly under globalization, they know the days of exclusive white power or imperialism are over, and they mean to take the country down with them. If they can’t rule any longer like they used to in the first half of the last century, they’re going to pollute the discourse with their vulgarity and send a bull into the china shop.
FRED: So “they’re not downtrodden,” but they’ve also “fared badly under globalization”? Which is it, I wonder? You see how the elites can’t even think straight? No wonder they were ripe for being humiliated by Trump and by the rise of the alt-right!
ADAM: I meant that these Trumpists have benefited from governmental support. They’re part of the middle class, but they’d like to blow up the social system, thus committing collective suicide by voting against their economic interest. Trump, in other words, isn’t an expression of revolt against the powers that be. Instead, he’s a rogue power, an agent of anarchy.
FRED: Keep telling yourself that, Adam! Keep patting yourself on the back. You’re one of the good guys, right? Not some useful idiot to plutocrats.
ADAM: And who are you, Freddy? What vile hate speech will you treat us to this evening? I can hardly wait to plug my ears.
FRED: Yeah, because you’re a feminized liberal who can’t stomach the naked truth. You think Trump’s supporters are all morons and only liberals have reason on their side. That’s where you’re wrong. Many of Trump’s voters aren’t highly uneducated, but that doesn’t make them stupid. Just look at what foolishness was wrought by Clinton’s neoliberal class of professionals: they’re the Ivy Leaguers but they got it all wrong. Their polls, their history lessons, their self-serving analyses were so many paper tigers squashed by the juggernaut Trump. You think Hillary Clinton deserved to win, because she was the more rational and responsible candidate. That’s what that euphemism was about: Trump supposedly lacked “the demeanor to be president.” But you know what Hillary Clinton lacked? An honest bone in her body. She couldn’t speak the unpopular truth to the public and she lost because hardly anyone trusted that she would change the United States for the better.
ADAM: And what will Trump do? Wave his magic wand and make American great again? Is that supposed to be some profound truth he told?
FRED: Trump doesn’t speak in fancy academic double-talk. I’ll grant you that. His language is seldom precise, but the essence of his diagnosis was highly negative and thus accurate. Trump’s view of America’s standing in the world is apocalyptic, as even the Democrats pointed out. Maybe Trump exaggerates for rhetorical effect, but his main point is that the United States isn’t doing well on the whole. That’s the truth that Hillary Clinton couldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, because she had to own Obama’s legacy. The public no longer respects the system, they were disappointed by Obama who ran falsely as a change candidate, and they wanted a leader from outside the corrupt establishment who would at least have a fighting chance of effecting radical change.
ADAM: Who is supposed to benefit from Trump’s administration? Surely you don’t mean the older blue collar whites who have been misled by Republicans for decades. Surely you’re aware that the Republicans have used social wedge issues to stir up animosities and compel these folks to vote against their economic interest. Surely you understand that trickle-down economics just further enriches the top one percent while everyone else falls further behind, that a smaller government with fewer taxes gets out of the way only of giant corporations which are already as powerful as some entire countries, but that the little guy may need government support if he’s going to survive globalization.
FRED: But he’s not going to survive globalization. Again, that’s the sort of dark truth you don’t want to hear. The system that maintains the economic status quo is rigged against him. That’s the system that Obama and Hillary defend as the technocratic managers they are. That’s the system we want Trump to destroy.