Monday, November 28, 2016

We've been Trumped

Now that the dust is starting to settle (if it ever can - especially given his latest ill-advised tweets), how to react to Trump's presidency? (In a way that doesn't involve enthusiastically daubing swastikas on a children's playground in the park dedicated to the memory of late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, that is.)

If you're New Yorker editor David Remnick, by following up a heartfelt lament for "a tragedy for the American republic" with an exceptional account of the seismic shockwaves Trump's victory sent through the incumbent administration and in particular how Barack Obama himself has reacted to developments. There is a sense that some in the Democrat Party were too complacent during the election campaign, but, in conversation with Remnick, the man who has held office since 2008 argued that Trump "is not an outlier" but "a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years" who "tapped into something" ("He's able to distill the anger and resentment and the sense of aggrievement") and who "understands the new ecosystem, in which facts and truth don't matter".

Since the result came in, Obama seems to have somehow managed to retain his characteristic optimism and cool and diplomatic manner, seeing his role as being to reassure White House staff - and non-Trump voters across the nation, and indeed people around the world - that "this is not the apocalypse" despite understandable fears to the contrary, as well as to ease the transition between administrations. There's no doubting the handover will be awkward, though, with Remnick confirming that Obama's meeting with Trump underlined that the incoming president's grasp of the basics of procedure and policy is "modest at best".

Like Obama, the Guardian's George Monbiot is convinced that the election of Donald Trump (or someone like him) has been coming for some time, the inevitable consequence of the enthusiastic embrace of economist Friedrich Hayek's brand of neoliberalism by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s - elements of which were then adopted by their centre-left successors Tony Blair and Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The disempowerment and disenfranchisement of the electorate as a result of neoliberal ideology and its translation into policy has resulted in the rise of "a virulent anti-politics in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation". Enter Trump, Nigel Farage et al.

Monbiot is in no mood to sit back, though - he's clear about the need to fight back, to convince people of the fact that "the atomisation and self-interested behaviour neoliberalism promotes runs counter to much of what comprises human nature". Naturally, he cites the evidence of "modern psychology and neuroscience" to support the claim that Hayek's view of people has been comprehensively debunked. But at a time when he himself concedes that experts are viewed with suspicion if not mockery and scientific fact is routinely dismissed in favour of overheated appeals to the emotions and baser instincts, his optimism is sadly hard to share.

Stewart Lee has argued that now is not the time to be building bridges, and New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow would certainly agree, having given spectacularly short shrift to Trump's post-election attempts to sound conciliatory - rightly so, after a campaign in which he established himself as "a demagogue who preyed on racial, ethnic and religious hostilities". Blow doesn't just thrust Trump's weaselly olive branch back at him, but whips him around the head with it: "No, Mr Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity - and certainly this columnist - have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn".

Azealia Banks aside, the response from the music community suggests that countless bands and artists will be more than happy to fulfil that obligation. Take Green Day, for instance, who protested from the stage of the American Music Awards, chanting "No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!" - a line adapted from MDC's 'Born To Die' - in the middle of a performance of 'Bang Bang'. And then there's the venomous rant posted by Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste, in which he savaged all those whose votes helped to put Trump into the White House.

Meanwhile, one Tumblr user's response to Trump (albeit created before the election result) was simple but arguably among the most eloquent and effective: a portrait of him made up of 500 pictures of dicks.

No comments: