I look at the rise of the far right wing in Europe and around the world – particularly when one considers the rise of the ‘alt-right’ in the United States and how the media has decided to cover this along with how mainstream political parties have decided to response to an unorthodox rag tag group of conflicting alliances that are hell bent on ‘raging against the machine’. What has been frustrating is the mainstream media’s response particularly when the likes of CNN attempt to blame someone like Milo for ‘bringing it up on themselves’ when a group of mouth breathing morons go out to protest and riot – destroying public property all whilst claiming it is all done in the name of ‘freedom of speech’. Here is an interview with Milo after the riot at the UC Berkeley campus and sit there as you watch the video and reflect on how an ordinary person with little or no knowledge of political trends will interpret what took place:
What we see is the media, rather than reporting on the fact that there are violent rioters who consciously decided to violently riot, what ended up occurring is CNN playing the game of claiming that the rioters were ‘forced’ into behaving violently merely by virtue of Milo’s presence – that apparently these rioters have no self control over what they do, they’re just automatons that blindly react to stimuli and as a result they had no choice but to behave violently when Milo appeared. Really, is that the level of analysis that CNN is now engaging in where a speaker is now held responsible for the actions of some idiots who cannot exercise self control and protest peacefully? What is the term we call for such behaviour that CNN displayed? That’s right – victim blaming.
What makes the situation even worse is, as Milo notes, there were people who went along to the talk just to find out what all the hubbub was all about. Thanks to the violent protesters from the far left and the lack of any serious condemnation by the mainstream left for such behaviour by fellow travellers there is a high likelihood that those who were once on the fence are now a lot more open to what Milo has to say. The net result of the far left’s violent stupidity has been the pushing of people who would have otherwise been centrist to the right.
Back to the previous paragraph, what frustrates me about the reporting is the deliberate distortion because it reminds me of what I experienced down in Christchurch when I was interviewed by ‘The Press’ where, out of an hour conversation the author made the elaborate connection between me, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Chaney, Neo-Conservatism and the war in Iraq all on the basis that I have some criticism of Islam and I have read some Leo Strauss writings. Oh, and the best one was the claim that I supported polygamy because I believe marriage should be turned into a civil contract then I flippantly said if people wanted have multiple wives or multiple husband I wouldn’t care either way. Yeah, reminds me of what Hamza Yusuf said regarding the news – it isn’t until you hear about yourself in a newspaper when you realise how much of what is reported on is inaccurate or just flat out deliberate lies.
What angers me after all of what has happened with Trump and the rise of the alt- right that there has been no structured reply from the left or mainstream right in response to this other than to call people whom you disagree as being racist, xenophobic or that well quoted Clintonism ‘basket of deplorables’. The reason why the alt-right has risen is because of the chronic failure the mainstream right and the left to address their respective sides failures. The left has turned into an autocratic movement hell bent on tarring and feathering anyone who dares say or do the wrong thing. Bill Maher on his own show encapsulated that wonderfully in a few of his more recent monologues:
White working class, and I’d say working class folks in general, look at the left and think, “why the fuck would I want to associate myself with them? They don’t see my issues as real, I’m mocked and ridiculed, and then I’m told to shut up when I want to voice an opinion that the coastal elite consider triggering and mansplaining”. They’ve moved the political discussion into the realm of ‘freaks and weirdos’ to the point that the important issues such as health, education, social welfare, infrastructure, national defence and so on are no longer discussed in any great detail but rather the political rallies revolve around feelings and vacuous statements that leave the audience knowing less than when they originally came in.
When Hillary Clinton said, “but we’re already great” – what is that telling the worker who just lost their job at the local coal mine or steel mill? A complete disconnection from the day to day reality that many Americans face was the message that she sent. When Hillary was harping on about how it was ‘her turn now’ sent the message that by virtue of being a women she should be given the job. Hillary also claimed not to be part of the establishment and yet had the WHOLE establishment apparatus behind her – from the head of the DNC through to pop culture icons and the media outlets willing to give her mountains of free coverage then how can one really claim to be anti-establishment?
The right on the other hand believe that they’ve got something that’ll keep them in power but they ignore the fact that most of what Trump talks about goes completely against Republican orthodoxy – he is against multilateral free-trade agreements but in the past Republicans were always for them, he has shown little or no concern regarding the size of the deficit and said in an interview that deficits don’t matter because we control our currency hence ‘we won’t end up like Greece’, and that doesn’t touch on the larger issue of Roe vs. Wade where the latest Supreme Court pick seems a lot more moderate than Antonin Scalia so at best if the religious right were looking for the ruling to be overturned then they’re going to be disappointed – expect nothing more than the status quo being upheld. So is the future of the Republican Party an ‘American first’ nationalist populist party with little regard for the kinds of conservative values that have sat at the heart of the establishment Republican world view? Are the Republican Party willing to throw ideology under the bus for the sake of holding onto power or will they quickly realise that power without the ability to actually change the country in the direction they want is ultimately just as bad as being in opposition.
The failure of the right and the left to address the concerns of ‘ordinary people’ in a meaningful way has resulted in the rise of Trump, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and so on because neither side offered a compelling set of solutions other than the same reheated ideas that have failed in the past plus the lack of candidates who could actually speak to the genuine concerns of the average working class Joe and Jane Sixpack who simply want a good job, a home, good school for the kids to go to, infrastructure that is reliable, a safety net in case the worse case scenario occurs and a superannuation/pension to support when they retire. The problem is that the party that is supposed to be advocating on behalf of Joe and Jane Sixpack has been off in left field with the social justice warriors and other cranks instead of actually advocating for ordinary people which has left an opening for Trump. The result has been that Trump has has come in and firstly communicated to Joe and Jane Sixpack that he understands and empathises with them (as seen in the speech at the RNC and the swearing in ceremony) and then secondly picks at a few key issues which all ties together the narrative that America is weak because of weak leadership which has resulted in out of control immigration (both legal and illegal) as well as shonky trade deals that don’t benefit the American worker – whether it is right or wrong, to the average Joe and Jane Sixpack they see someone who is decisive in identifying the problems without the layers of political correctness drizzled on top.
In conclusion, the election of Donald Trump has been the result of both the right and the left failing to the concerns of ordinary people seriously and the rise of charismatic populist leaders to tap into that unhappiness. For someone like me, who looks into the US political arena, I don’t expect the right to come up with a solution but I do expect the Democratic Party to at the very least be able to answer the grievances of the working class with more than just re-heated politically correct rhetoric and demonising those who don’t happen to 100% line with with every single social issue right off the bat. Bernie Sanders realised the need to build alliances when he walked into the ‘belly of the beast’ when he gave the presentation at Liberty University where he appealed across the isle to at least work on those common ground issues such as healthcare reform to provide a sustainable and affordable healthcare system for all. So whilst Hillary was patting herself on the back you had Bernie Sanders building the bridges just as he is building them today – in other words doing the hard yards rather than just turning up and hoping some buzzwords will get the folks out to vote. The net result? He lost the primary because too many Democrats convinced themselves that ‘Hillary was more electable’ but when you look at the polling regarding her against Trump you’d see that she was neck for neck with Trump where as Bernie Sanders was comfortably beating Trump even once you take into account the margin of error.
On a good side there is a movement developing that is addressing the short comings of the Democratic Party but it appears that the establishment aka ‘Third Way Democrats’ are fighting tooth and nail through it’s media backers. The big question is whether, rather than resorting to identity politics, the resurgence social democrats within the Democratic Party bring back the party to its working class roots. On the right there are also forces at work but it is less public such as the displeasure being voiced by Lindsey Graham and John McCain but the rumour has it that many of those who are unhappy are buying their time. The reason for this buying their time is when Trump fails and fails hard there won’t be the ability for Trump and his backers to claim that his presidency was sabotaged. If the Trump presidency fails the last thing those on the right want his Trump claiming a conspiracy occurred against him and that his ideas were perfect if it weren’t for the rebellious senators/congressmen so instead many are standing back and allowing the train wreck to occur and then when it does occur that collective sanity is restored. It reminds me of Al Franken where he said that ‘impeachment is months and months and months away’, the fact that he didn’t outright reject the proposition tells me that for any sort of impeachment to occur it would require the co-operation of Republican members as well so it appears that Trump’s detractors are buying their time – a game of chess where one has to think 2-3 or 4 move ahead.
All in all I’m hoping for the best but I’m preparing for the worst because ultimately it requires American’s taking ownership of the problem and dealing with it because unfortunately if it isn’t dealt with then the rest of the world have to deal with the fall out.