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Donald Trump’s Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites
Posted on Mar 5, 2017
By Chris Hedges
At first the press, especially the television press, could not get enough of Trump. He received 23 times the coverage of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who spoke about things that do not make for great television—inequality and corporate corruption. Trump brought in the advertising dollars. 2016 was CNN’s most profitable year. Then, alarmed at Trump’s ascendancy, the press set out to destroy him. The press applied its Darth Vader Force choke. It did not work. They tried it again and again. The Force had deserted them.
“When a candidate makes a mistake and steps in it—[2004 presidential hopeful] Howard Dean is the classic example, the scream—then they [TV news shows] replay it every hour, 100 times a day,” Taibbi said. “The critical part is that Dean was already in violation leading up to that moment. He was not the right person because he was anti-war. He got his donations from the wrong people. He makes the mistake. The press pig-piles on the person just instinctively. All this negative attention. The candidate freaks out and apologizes. He disappears for a while. He tries to soldier on. The next thing you know, there’s a Page 16 story: Candidate exits the race. It’s a script. But it didn’t work with Trump.”
The press, like the Democratic Party, is an appendage of the consumer society. These institutions are not about politics or news. They are about imparting an experience. They create political personalities, marketed as celebrities, to make us feel good about candidates. These manufactured emotions, the product of the dark arts of the public relations industry, determine how we vote. Issues and policies are irrelevant. It is marketing and entertainment. Trump is a skillful marketer of his fictitious self.
“When you work in that environment long enough you unconsciously become an agent for whatever that commercial strategy is,” Taibbi said of the press in our corporate-run political theater.
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The pseudo-events on television displace reality. This is how a reality star becomes president. Sixty million people think Trump’s manufactured persona—the predominate tycoon—on “The Apprentice” is real. Our perception of the truth is determined by what appears on the screen. If an event is never broadcast, it somehow never happened. The electronic image is the word of God. The corporate state controls most of what is seen and heard on television, what ideas and events can be discussed in the mainstream media and what orthodoxies, including neoliberalism and the war industry, must never be questioned. We suffer an intellectual tyranny as pervasive as that imposed by fascism and communism. Trump, who is as gullible as the most habitual television viewer, exemplifies our cultural and political death. He is no more “authentic” than Hillary Clinton. But he appears on our screens as more authentic because he is more deeply embedded in the medium that controls our thoughts. He is what is vomited up from the perverted zeitgeist of a nation entranced and dominated by electronic hallucinations.
“People have this idea that Trump has no connection with the ‘common man,’ but he does,” Taibbi said. “He has exactly the same media habits that ordinary people have. He believes the stuff that he reads on the internet and watches on television implicitly and unquestioningly. That is what gives him that connection with people. He thinks like they do. He has the same habits they have. A classic example is the thing with the so-called 3 million illegal … voters. He reads that, probably in an Infowars story, it’s policy like two minutes later. He doesn’t go through the process of asking himself if it’s untrue. He’s a perfect consumer in that respect. That’s what makes him so dangerous.”
“[George W.] Bush was child’s play compared to what we’re dealing with now,” Taibbi said. “Bush was a puppet. He was a vehicle for a very familiar form of right-wing capitalist politics. This Trump thing is totally different. Trump really is the actual engine behind this phenomenon during the entire campaign. There were no people behind the man, I don’t think. The presidential campaign has no relation to the issue of whether or not you can govern effectively. The campaign is a television show. The values that decide whether a person becomes a candidate or can’t become a candidate are more or less arbitrary. It has a lot to do with the commercial value of the candidate. You can’t have an unentertaining candidate because the press needs to make money. They will unconsciously gravitate towards someone who does what Trump does, which is get [website] hits and eyeballs and ratings.”
Trump’s popularity increased the more the establishment condemned him. This would have sent a profound and disturbing message to anyone not as clueless as our liberal elites. They did not get it. They thought they could trot out Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Hollywood celebrities and get the rubes to fall for their routine one more time. They thought the country would again obey.
The liberal class, by embracing neoliberalism and refusing to challenge the imperial wars, empowered the economic and political structures that destroyed our democracy and gave rise to Trump. Multiculturalism, when it means, to use the words of Cornel West, nothing more than having a president who is a “black mascot for Wall Street,” betrays the disenfranchised and endows the ruling elites with a false progressivism, a false humanism and a false inclusiveness.
Hillary and Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and the current Democratic Party leadership designed and built the massive system of imprisonment, essentially ended welfare, expanded our wars and pushed through NAFTA. They destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class families and are responsible for the mounds of corpses in the Middle East. Yet these liberal elites speak as if they are champions of racial and economic justice. They appear in choreographed pseudo-events to demonstrate a faux compassion. Now they have been exposed as fakes.
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