The meaning of “heading in the wrong direction”
Yes. It’s true that the incumbent party candidate is in trouble when polls say that most people feel the “country is heading in the wrong direction.”
The reason workers are angry is that our government has been helping international capital rather than local labor. The solution to the current problem—lots of poor people who are being worked to death and being paid nothing—is to work them less and give them more money, or to give them more work or better work, or to pay for their doctor bills, or to give them a stipend. The solution, that is, is to move government policy to the left, which means increasing the amount of money flowing to workers.
Improving conditions for workers is the role of the Democratic Party. It hasn’t happened under Obama because Congress is full of Republicans and because Obama thought that being nice to them by compromising would pay off.
In this election, the Republican Party’s Donald Trump—a poster child for any parody of the “principles” of capitalism—is criticizing the Democratic Party for not being properly socialist. He, of course, would make things even worse for workers; but his criticism is correct—the last Democratic presidents haven’t improved conditions for American workers.
When the party of the Left has moved to the right, the solution is not to vote for the part of the Right. But this is the current insane situation. The Democratic Party is currently on the right; the Republican Party, on the far right. Wages have fallen and poor people are really pissed. Well, logic says that if A is not working, then we should vote for not-A—which is true! If A is increasing suffering and you want that to stop, then you vote for not-A. But what if the only available not-A is B, and B is even worse than A? Should you still vote for B?
Voting for B is exactly what poor white people—well, the uneducated ones at least—are doing. Are they crazy? No, the system is rigged. The only alternative to A—the only viable not-A—really is B. Because Trump is from B, and B is the only not-A, Trump is the only logical choice.
To repeat and clarify: A is poisonous, and we should stop drinking it. The only alternative to A is B. Incredibly, B is even more poisonous. No matter, it’s the only alternative. This shows that our democracy is only a pseudo-democracy. Democracy cannot help you if your choices are pre-chosen.
Left vs Marlboro Man
The Democratic Party is supposed to help people who own the labor power of their own bodies. The Republican Party is supposed to help people who own capital.
According to the Left, humans are basically good and should be supported. According to the Right, humans are basically evil and should be exploited and policed (though this does not extend to the exploiters and the police). The Left helps the workers and the right helps the rulers.
Our political system works exactly like the good cop/bad cop routine. The Democratic Party uses the language of the left, so they sound like human beings. The Republican Party assaults white workers but talks like a redneck and promises to hurt blacks, gays, etc. in order to distract their white victims as they’re being pummeled. Vote for us and we promise to rough up the darkies, queers, wetbacks, and women who enjoy sex. It claims to hate democratic drugs—psychedelics, drugs that invoke mystery and soften healthy fanaticism. It claims to hate weird sex—that is, sex enjoyed by other people. In short, the Republican Party feeds the envy of poor whites instead of actually feeding them. It promises to make a visible and suffering underclass of non-white, non-straight, etc. others for poor whites to enjoy looking at. “Again.”
But that’s just to get votes. The ruling class and their Republican helpers actually don’t care about darkies, gays, and abortions. They definitely don’t want to stem the tide of immigrants. Cheap labor is as valuable as gold because it is gold. No, the real goal of capital and its human representatives is to move money from labor to capital by lowering taxes for the rich, increasing taxes for the poor, keeping wages low, and making unions illegal. Selling these things is simple—just wear a cowboy hat and say
We are millionaires who work for billionaires. True. But these are white billionaires—our people! And who doesn’t want to be rich? We’re on your side, we hate darkies too. And fags. While our economic policies do look tough on y’all, we promise to make things much worse for the Others, which will make you feel better. If we’re easy on y’all, we gotta be easy on the darkies, and you don’t want that. Also, fucking y’all over will toughen you up and give you a hearty hatred that you can vent on the darkies. Only pussies are nice to poor folk. Also, darkies will be hurt more by these policies than y’all—that’s the most important thing. Also, as y’all already know, there’s more pleasure in watching other people suffer than being better off yourselves. The pleasure that you feel now from the suffering of poor blacks is the same pleasure we feel from your suffering. If you ever rise to the top you’d want to taste the delights of policy sadism just the same. The chief joy of being rich is seeing the misery of the poor. So, yeah, we’re fucking you over. But we’re really gonna fuck over the blacks and gays. That’s our promise!
We would rather make less money than see others make more
(For the full depressing list of human misanthropy studies, click here: Hurting others.)
The rednecks think the point of the Republican Party is the victory of flag, family, cowboy hat, gun, and Bible over black, gay, and Muslim. But the real goal of the Right is the victory of capital over worker—the perpetual funneling of value that sustains a class of non-workers.
Occasionally, workers put on the They Live! glasses and see things clearly. Then they will vote Democrat. But the Democrat that gets nominated will always be a closet Republican about the stuff that really matters (money). However, there are some good side-effects. Abortions will be safer. Education will be better. Air will be cleaner. Trannies can chose the proper bathroom. But that’s about it.
Very rarely, an actual Democrat will run for the Democratic nomination. Bernie would have been the best president in history and the only candidate who would have moved things to the left. But the DNC isn’t actually composed of workers, it’s just the Good Cop party knows how to talk to workers while still fucking them over but allowing the gay ones to get married. It is the party of rulers who strive to sound empathic.
Unlike Hillary, Bernie has Leftism built into his actual intellect, actual character, and actual proclivities. He was the anti-Hillary and would have saved us. Now we’re stuck with having to embrace Trump as the anti-Hillary.
The Bad Cop is denounced by the Good Cop, and the Good Cop is denounced by the Actually Decent Person. Now, it is well known that Hillary is a Good Cop. But who now is in the position of Actually Decent Person to criticize her? Trump—the Bad Cop! Hillary is to Trump as Bernie is to Hillary. But Bernie is gone, so the only person to criticize Hillary is … Trump.
Trump is the very essence of the shittiness of the anti-labor and pro-capital “government” that has created the current level of suffering. Trump is the very distilled essence of the shittiness that workers want to get away from. He had the smarts to talk like a socialist in the debates, and Hillary didn’t, so there’s a real chance of him winning.
For the first time in history, a Republican candidate actually took the side of labor on an issue in a Presidential Debate. Trump pretended to be a socialist (for a minute) and pointed out Hillary’s support of NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These policies help capital (and Trump) and hurt workers. If you were writing sci-fi and included this bit, your editor would have crossed it out. But it actually happened in the real universe/matrix.
The good thing about Trump
The good thing about Trump is that he is the Eric Cartman of American politics. If you were ever unconvinced that the Republican Party tricked workers into voting against themselves with the old “I promise to grow and punish a underclass of darkies, gays, and whatever it is that you Evangelicals hate. I represent your hate! We are on the same team!” trick, Trump makes this crystal clear. The only thing that white people hate more than being poor is black people being rich, gays being happy, and women enjoying sex (with other people, of course). If you promise to hurt blacks—or whatever the favorite non-white group is in your area—you can get uneducated whites to vote for you. Even if you are ridiculous. And even if you are their utmost class enemy.
There are rich people who are philanthropists and who really do want to improve general conditions, that are happy to pay higher taxes, that are happy to take a profit cut to make sure that others’ lives are not hellish. These “class traitors” actually exist. But Trump is the opposite of this. His empty and desire to improve things for others is zero—less than zero, actually. He is a pro-actively antisocial. But that element, if he can steer it into being merely race hatred, could turn white workers on enough to make him look like a hero, a new Hitler to exterminate the blacks, Mexicans, and Muslims.
Being the most privileged presidential candidate in Earth history, Trump has never lived among blacks and so does not know the depths of their pain first-hand. But he does know of it. In his speeches, he can remind whites of how scared they are of black people. (For the utterly untrained, the dog whistles he uses sound like We need to support our police.)
Another trick the the Right likes to use is Let’s all get along and Let’s stop being divisive and We’re really all the same. The Right like to pretend that there is no polarity. Awareness of difference is the enemy of the privileged. And the best weapon against dangerous difference is the denial that difference even exists. Even the terms Left and Right are erased. The Right denies that the left–right spectrum is meaningful, they say, because it is “damaging to unity” (this being the unity of the baton as it indents a black man’s skull). The Left, however, seeking to decrease exploitation, murder, and suffering, promote the distinction.
As Émile-Auguste Chartier said, “When people ask me if the division between parties of the Right and parties of the Left, men of the Right and men of the Left, still makes sense, the first thing that comes to mind is that the person asking the question is certainly not a man of the Left.”
The Right defends the interests of the upper or dominant classes, while the Left fights for the lower economic or social classes, and in the centre are the middle classes—workers who would be poor if they stopped, but who envy the rich and believe that sucking-up will elevate their class status. Historically this is correct: the conservative Right has defended entrenched prerogatives, privileges and powers; the Left has attacked them. The Right has been more favorable to the aristocratic position, to the hierarchy of birth or of wealth; the left has fought for the equalization of advantage or of opportunity, for the claims of the less advantaged. Rhetoric from the Right pretend to fight for disembodied and classless principles.
The imaginary Bold Redneck Cowboy is an advertising gimmick. The ruling rich don’t look like the Marlboro Man, they don’t even smoke, they’re not down home, and they don’t care about working people. Those are advertising images.
Upshot: Images are more powerful than facts.
Side note: Perhaps the weirdest thing of all is that Trump himself is no more monstrous than the average ethically retarded self-worshipping apolitical “consumer”. I know Trump personally, he’s worked with my grandmother at charity events. He is no more racist than the average white liberal. He doesn’t hate blacks or Mexicans—he hates poor people whose existence delegitimizes his parasitic wealth. He doesn’t want to stem immigration at all—that’s his cheap labor pool. He doesn’t hate Muslims—he doesn’t know anything about any religion. He doesn’t even intend to try to build that wall—it’s just a prank meant to excite the dumbest of the rednecks and Ann Coulter. He has no problems at all with gays or gay marriage, and is thoroughly pro-choice, although every father is pro-choice when it comes to his own daughters. He, like W. before him, is pretending to be a NASCAR redneck to get votes from uneducated poor whites. Period. His white supremacy is not a well thought-out position. His racism is ordinary, structuralist variety—based on privilege, ignorance, class position, and acute misanthropy and inability to zoom out and think, like Rawls, “Jeez. I could have been born black, or Mexican, or female, or gay.” So he’s not a grand wizard of race hatred, but just an overly-empowered, empathy-incapable, entitled, shallow, hateful, bitter person who wants more than anything to be admired and esteemed by people whose opinions matter: famous scientists, artists, actors, directors, professors, Nobel laureates, and the educated and urbane rich, generally. His dream is to be loved by people like Itzhak Perlman, John Kenneth Galbraith, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and—the most honorable of all living Americans—Noam Chomsky.
But this is impossible, and it pains him deeply to know it. He knows that he cannot get their respect, because his character and intellect thoroughly disqualify him. So he does his standup routine for people he despises—dirt-poor hillbillies, anti-sex Evangelicals, and race obsessed rednecks that he’d never hang out with freely. That his approval audience is made of people he despises disgusts him and makes his anger and misanthropy even more intense. Performing for idiots you hate, but still wanting their applause, is a tragic and nauseating position to be in.
Like the Republicans before him, Trump knows that he cannot not win on the fundamentals—food, wages, healthcare, free transportation, and all the things that make a land decent and pleasant. He can only win by promising the joyous spectacle of dead blacks, dead Mexicans, suicidal transexuals, miserable gays, and failed abortions.
Trump’s strategy is to promise a spectacle of increased suffering of some group of fake others. Happiness really is relative, and you really can increase it by seeing that other people are more miserable. Nothing makes miserable people happier than public executions. “Ah! My hatred could be in power! Hell, they might even start shooting black people on TV every night. Whites can be great again!”
That has been the Republican strategy since Reagan—to embrace “social conservatism” and race/gender misanthropy. Trump’s “genius” is to take the brakes of the hate, and combine it—amazingly—with America-first socialist posturing.
In conclusion, Trump is popular not because he is a principled white supremacist or “racialist” or “race separationist,” but because he is authentically miserable, insecure, paranoid, resentful, status-conscious, and self-loathing. He already embodies the pathologies of his base, and they can feel it. He can easily channel his quivering hatred of the worldly and educated into the mania for hurting blacks, Mexicans, gays, and women felt by his audience—the audience that he despises and would never hang out with. No matter—hate is a transitive quantity, and its real presence in him secrets a redneck-attracting ooze that Jeb Bush and other “soft” or “middling” racists could never produce.
Real misery—and its correlate, real hatred—is the value-added that Trump’s standup at the podium supplies. It’s really there, and really miserable people experience it as the most “refreshing” thing in the history of politics.