A note from the Editor…

A note from the Editor...


Love him or hate him, there’s no denying it: Donald Trump is at the forefront of this election cycle. Our collective gaze is fixed upon him, mesmerized by the absurdity of it all.

What is driving his popularity? What is it about this historical moment that allows a man like Trump to dominate one of the two major American political parties?

As far as I can tell, three major factors are at play:
First: you have the unfavorable economic situation of the American populace. The post-recession recovery has been highly uneven with most of the gains going to the wealthy while stagnation — and even decline — is the order of the day for the majority. Decades of polices designed to shrink welfare benefits, expose the workforce to the turbulent winds of the global market, and increase law enforcement and prison capacity/populations have made the lives of a wide swath of the overall population quite precarious. Trump answers their worries with promises of better trade deals, bringing jobs home, and generally making America “win” and be “great again.”

Second: the changing demographics of the country. Many whites are feeling the presence of non-whites more than ever before. While it will take until approximately 2050 before whites lose their status as the absolute majority, and decades after that before they lose the relative majority, they feel American becoming more and more multicultural — and a significant portion doesn’t like it. The loss of historically favorable treatment makes many white Americans subjectively consider themselves to be more oppressed than black or hispanic Americans. Trump answers them by slandering immigrants as “rapists” and “murderers,” while promising to “build a wall” on the Mexican border. Further, he promises to ban muslims from entering the country — at least until we “figure out” what’s going on “over there.”

Third: profit-driven trends in news media going back decades has perverted the character of the news. The news media have abandoned almost wholesale their lofty aims of informing citizens for the benefit of democracy, instead seeking merely to entertain consumers for the benefit of their shareholders. The boundary between entertaining narrative and objective reality has blurred to a truly dangerous extent. Trump, the reality-TV candidate, fully comprehends this transformation and takes advantage of it with considerable skill. Guy Debord’s “Society of the Spectacle” is the United States of America in 2016.

Don’t doubt that there will be consequences. If Trump is elected, the dangers are clear. For one thing, the very ability of modern civilization to adequately respond to global warming is utterly dependent on the USA beginning to take drastic action to reduce its massive greenhouse gas emissions. This will not happen with a president who says global warming is “a problem that I don’t think in any major fashion exists.” For another, the people who exist inside-yet-outside of the traditional nation-state — refugees, immigrants, etc. — can become the merciless targets of state and ‘civil’ violence in the blink of an eye. People who look, act or even think differently have something to fear with a Provacateur-in-Chief in the White House.

However, even if he isn’t elected, his mere presence as a major candidate for the presidency radically damages American democracy. Trump true-believers are forming in under-educated, over-medicated, broken-down, abandoned, fly-over America. If we continue on this path, much like lemmings over a cliff, a Trump or Trump-like presidency is truly not just a matter of if, but when.

–Sam Hartley, Editor-in-Chief