A `basket of deplorables’ or `strangers in their own land?’ On Trump’s `collective effervescence’

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(for an explanation of this meme, see the end of today’s First Reading)

 

Good day Austin:

Back during the Republican primaries, there was a suspicion voiced by some Cruz partisans and others that Donald Trump might be a Clinton stooge  – a plant, an asset, an operative – whose mission it was to wrest the Republican nomination from any candidate capable of defeating Hillary Clinton and then deliver the general election to Clinton by running a campaign so over the top and beyond the pale that few sane people would vote for him.

The only way Clinton could win, so the reasoning went, was to find an opponent even more unpopular than she was. And that was Trump.

But, after the last week, I have wondered whether this most cinematic campaign might end with a David Mamet Spanish Prisoner  double surprise twist, in which it turns out that it is Clinton who is throwing the election to Trump and not the other way around.

First, amid what seemed groundless and truly outrageous assertions from Rudy Giuliani and others that Clinton was not well, there was Clinton’s Labor Day coughing jag, in which her running mate, Tim Kaine, seated right behind her, seemed to be under instructions not to come to her aid under any circumstances.

And then on Sunday, there was Clinton’s swoon as she was being helped into her car after becoming overcome by the heat at a 9/11 observance, a disconcerting scene, but one which the Clinton campaign belatedly put in context by noting that Clinton had been diagnosed with pneumonia on Friday, explaining both the cough and the swoon.

But could it also explain her  basket of deplorable comments at a Friday night fundraiser?

Here is the context From PolitiFact:

The Donald Trump campaign is slamming Hillary Clinton for saying that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.”

Speaking at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016, Clinton said that Trump’s supporters were “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic.” Trump said the remarks showed “her true contempt for everyday Americans.”

We wanted to present Clinton’s comments in context to let readers judge for themselves. We also include her subsequent statement on her comments.

Clinton began the night with a standard welcome before criticizing Trump and the types of judges he might appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court if he were elected. She then noted that she had “a special commitment” to LGBT community and spoke in support of gay rights:

“In too many places still, LGBT Americans are singled out for harassment and violence. You can get married on Saturday, post your pictures on Sunday and get fired on Monday. That’s why we’ve got to continue the forward march of progress.”

“And we cannot do it alone. I cannot do it alone. I’m not like Donald Trump, who says, ‘I alone can fix it.’ I’ve never quite figured out what it is he alone can fix. But that’s not what you’ll hear from me. I think we have to do this together. So, together we’re gonna pass the Equality Act to guarantee full equality. We’re going to put comprehensive quality affordable healthcare within reach for more people, including for mental health and addiction. We’re going to take on youth homelessness, and as my wonderful, extraordinary, great daughter said, we are going to end the cruel and dangerous practice of conversion therapy. We’re going to keep working toward an AIDS-free generation, a goal that I set as secretary of state, and with your help we’re going to pass comprehensive gun laws. …”

“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy deverything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

“And what I hope is that in addition to your extraordinary generosity, you will go to our website, hillaryclinton.com, or text to join at 47246 to see how else you can get involved.”

Clinton continued to ask people to get involved with her campaign, then introduced singer Barbra Streisand.

 

From the Independent, with fuzzy video.

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Barbra Streisand has mocked Donald Trump with a reworked version of the classic song ‘Send In The Clowns’.

Appearing at an LBGT fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in New York on Friday, the 74-year-old ten-time Grammy-award winning singer changed the lyrics of the Stephen Sondheim tune to poke fun at the Republican presidential candidate’s refusal to release his tax returns so far.

“Is he that rich, maybe he’s poor, ’til he reveals his returns, who can be sure?” Streisand sang to a crowd of around 1,000.

“Something’s amiss, I don’t approve, if he were running the free world, where would we move? Name me a town? Just who is this clown?”

“And if by chance he gets to heaven, even up there, he’ll declare chapter 11. This sad, vulgar clown. You’re fired, you clown,” she added.

And from Zagat, a little context on the Cipriani Club 55, a stone’s throw from The Trump Building, where Clinton delivered her basket of deplorables remarks, and its sister restaurants.

“Air kisses” abound at these “posh” Italians where “pretty people”, “billionaires” and those wanting to “feel powerful” go for “well-prepared” Italian dishes at “absurdly expensive” tabs; all offer “chic” surrounds, including a columned terrace over Wall Street and a “spectacular” perch above Grand Central’s concourse.

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More from PolitiFact:

The next day, after facing criticism from the Trump campaign and others, Clinton issued this statement:

“Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half’ — that was wrong. But let’s be clear, what’s really ‘deplorable’ is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called ‘alt-right’ movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values.

“It’s deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people.

“It’s deplorable that he’s attacked a federal judge for his ‘Mexican heritage,’ bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black president is not a true American. So I won’t stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind.

“As I said, many of Trump’s supporters are hard-working Americans who just don’t feel like the economy or our political system are working for them.  I’m determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are ‘stronger together.’”

In other words, Clinton wasn’t backing off “basket of deplorables,” only the proportion of Trump supporters who belong in that basket.

Indeed, she had talked about the basket of deplorables on Thursday with an Israeli TV station – complete with Hebrew subtitles – without getting into what percentage of Trump supporters fell into the basket.

 

 

 

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From Meet the Press Sunday.

CHUCK TODD:

Audie, why is it, though, Donald Trump gets credit for being politically incorrect, telling it like it is? And Hillary Clinton, I think some of her supporters are saying, “Hey, she’s just doing what Trump does, she’s just telling it like it is.”

AUDIE CORNISH:

Right. I mean, I think we can put aside for a second that there is a segment of Trump supporters which surveys have shown do have beliefs that people can talk about as being Islamophobic or xenophobic. And he has retweeted white nationalists and we have had this discussion about the alt-right. But putting that aside for a second, what it does is it confirms what his supporters already believe, right? Which is that essentially he is this bulwark against so-called “PC-culture,” right? He is the one leading the charge against that and they are upset that their concerns are routinely dismissed out of hand as being racist or retrograde and he’s the person who’s been out there saying, “No, no, no, you’re perfectly normal, something is quote/unquote wrong here.” And she basically confirmed something they believe which is that Democrats don’t just think that they’re wrong, but like, look down on them.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, candidates should not be sociologists, they should not be pundits. They should not sit there at Cipriani in New York where the fundraiser was held looking down and making gross generalizations, not only about 50 percent, but about people.

CHUCK TODD:

Right.

DAVID BROOKS:

People, even the people that say repugnant things at Trump rallies, are complicated and they’re driven by complicated fears and anxieties to sometimes do some things, sometimes do beautiful things. And so, the truism that you hate the sin, but don’t hate the sinner applies to politics just as well and she was hating the sinner.

And, are there Trump supporters out there who are supposed to hear what Clinton said and think, `Well, she’s not talking about me, I’m not deplorable, it’s those other Trump supporters she’s talking about?”

I spoke Sunday with Arlie Russell Hochschild, an actual sociologist, one of the nation’s most esteemed, at the University of California at Berkeley, whose new book, Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right, could not be more timely.

Hochschild, a Berkeley liberal, spent five years in the furthest place politically from her hometown – embedding herself in the lives and thinking of tea party Republicans in Louisiana, people who loathe and reject the federal government even as their state, lurching from crisis to crisis, is among the most dependent on federal help and protection, in an attempt to surmount the empathy wall between their two worlds, with truly remarkable success.

 

 

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From her recent piece in Mother Jones: I Spent 5 Years With Some of Trump’s Biggest Fans. Here’s What They Won’t Tell You. How Donald Trump took a narrative of unfairness and twisted it to his advantage.

I wanted to leave my subnation of Berkeley, California, and enter another as far right as Berkeley is to the left. White Louisiana looked like it. In the 2012 election, 39 percent of white voters nationwide cast a ballot for President Barack Obama. That figure was 28 percent in the South, but about 11 percent in Louisiana.

To try to understand the tea party supporters I came to know—I interviewed 60 people in all—over the next five years I did a lot of “visiting,” as they call it. I asked people to show me where they’d grown up, been baptized, and attended school, and the cemetery where their parents had been buried. I perused high school yearbooks and photograph albums, played cards, and went fishing. I attended meetings of Republican Women of Southwest Louisiana and followed the campaign trails of two right-wing candidates running for Congress.

When I asked people what politics meant to them, they often answered by telling me what they believed (“I believe in freedom”) or who they’d vote for (“I was for Ted Cruz, but now I’m voting Trump”). But running beneath such beliefs like an underwater spring was what I’ve come to think of as a deep story. The deep story was a feels-as-if-it’s-true story, stripped of facts and judgments, that reflected the feelings underpinning opinions and votes. It was a story of unfairness and anxiety, stagnation and slippage—a story in which shame was the companion to need. Except Trump had opened a divide in how tea partiers felt this story should end.

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What the people I interviewed were drawn to was not necessarily the particulars of these theories. It was the deep story underlying them—an account of life as it feels to them. Some such account underlies all beliefs, right or left, I think. The deep story of the right goes like this:

You are patiently standing in the middle of a long line stretching toward the horizon, where the American Dream awaits. But as you wait, you see people cutting in line ahead of you. Many of these line-cutters are black—beneficiaries of affirmative action or welfare. Some are career-driven women pushing into jobs they never had before. Then you see immigrants, Mexicans, Somalis, the Syrian refugees yet to come. As you wait in this unmoving line, you’re being asked to feel sorry for them all. You have a good heart. But who is deciding who you should feel compassion for? Then you see President Barack Hussein Obama waving the line-cutters forward. He’s on their side. In fact, isn’t he a line-cutter too? How did this fatherless black guy pay for Harvard? As you wait your turn, Obama is using the money in your pocket to help the line-cutters. He and his liberal backers have removed the shame from taking. The government has become an instrument for redistributing your money to the undeserving. It’s not your government anymore; it’s theirs.

I checked this distillation with those I interviewed to see if this version of the deep story rang true. Some altered it a bit (“the line-waiters form a new line”) or emphasized a particular point (those in back are paying for the line-cutters). But all of them agreed it was their story. One man said, “I live your analogy.” Another said, “You read my mind.”

And, from another piece by Hochschild The Guardian

Normally when doing field research, a sociologist comes to a scene, then leaves it, and the scene itself remains unchanged. By my 10th visit with my core of white, middle-aged and older, Christian, married, blue- and white-collar Louisianans, I had discovered that virtually everyone I talked to embraced the same “feels-as-if” deep story. But by the end of my research, there had been a profound change.

I checked in with my new friends and acquaintances to see how they felt about Donald Trump. Looking back at my previous research, I see that the scene had been set for Trump’s rise, like kindling before a match is lit. Three elements had come together. Since 1980, virtually all those I talked with felt on shaky economic ground, a fact that made them brace at the very idea of “redistribution”. They also felt culturally marginalised: their views about abortion, gay marriage, gender roles, race, guns, and the Confederate flag all were held up to ridicule in the national media. They had begun to feel like a besieged minority. And to these feelings they added the cultural tendency to identify “up” the social ladder with the planter, the oil magnate, and to feel detached from those further down the ladder.

Trump is an “emotions candidate”. More than any other presidential candidate in decades, Trump focuses on eliciting and praising emotional responses from his fans rather than on detailed policy prescriptions. His speeches – evoking dominance, bravado, clarity, national pride, and personal uplift – inspire an emotional transformation. Then he points to that transformation. Not only does Trump evoke emotion, he makes an object of it, presenting it back to his fans as a sign of collective success.

His supporters have been in mourning for a lost way of life. Many have become discouraged, others depressed. They yearn to feel pride but instead have felt shame. Their land no longer feels like their own. Joined together with others like themselves, they feel greatly elated at Trump’s promise to deliver them unto a state in which they are no longer strangers in their own land.

From her book:

“Collective effervescence,” as the French sociologist Emile Durkheim called it in the The Elementary Forms of Religious Life, is a state of emotional excitation felt by those who join with others they take to be part of a moral or biological tribe. They gather to affirm their unity and, united, they feel secure and respected. While Durkheim was studying religious rites among indigenous tribes in Australia and elsewhere, much of what could be applied to the (Trump) rally at Lakefront Airport, as well as many others like it.

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 Seen through Durkheim’s eyes, the real function of the excited gathering around Donald Trump is to unify all the white, evangelical enthusiasts who fear that those` cutting ahead in line’ are about to become a terrible, strange, new, America. The source of the awe and excitement isn’t simply Trump himself; it is the unity of the great crowd of strangers gathered around him. If the rally itself could speak it would say, `We are a majority!’ Added to that is a potent promise – to be lifted up from bitterness, despair, depression. The `movement,’ as Trump has increasingly called his campaign, as a great antidepressant. Like other leaders promising rescue, Trump evokes a moral consciousness. But what he gives participants emotionally, is an ecstatic high.

 

The costumes, hats, signs, and symbols reaffirm this new sense of unity. To those who attend his rallies, the event itself symbolizes a larger rising tide. As the crowd exited the hangar fans were saying to one another, `See how many of us there are.’ It felt to them that Trump had captured the flag.”

Collective effervescence.

Hochschild’s description precisely described what I witnessed at the Trump rallies I’ve attended.

From the First Reading after Trump’s rally last month in Austin.

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I met Zachary Zenteno, in the photo at the top, while he was waiting on the enormous line to get into the rally at the Expo Center on Tuesday. I was drawn to talk to him by his outstanding Trump shirt, which I hadn’t seen before.

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Zenteno, 19, from Lockhart, cast his first vote ever for Trump in the March primary and would cast his second vote ever for Trump in November

“It’s cool to have a lot of people behind you, to be part of a group who support what you support,” Zenteno said.

Zenteno said he was drawn by Trump’s personality.

“He stands for what he believes in and won’t take no crap,” Zenteno said.

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This was, I think, my sixth Trump rally – having previously attended two in Dallas, two in Iowa and one in South Carolina.

I have written before about the buoyant spirit at the rallies, and the likability of the people I have met at all of them.

From a First Reading after attending a Trump rally  Myrtle Beach, S.C., ahead of the South Carolina primary.

Cruz may prevail.

But in the meantime, it’s time to get used to the idea of Trump Nation.

The good new is that Trump Nation is already readily accessible because they gather with one another in the thousands with great regularity.

The further good news is that, for all the anger and frustration that undergirds his populist nationalism, Trump Nation – at least when it gets together to hear from the man – seems like a pretty happy, even rollicking place.

Hochschild’s publicist sent Clinton a copy of her book.

“I don’t know if she has any time to read anything. I just wish, I just wish. I guess my aim in writing this book is to try to enlighten liberals and get them to reach out, and to make conservatives feel understood, and then to get us out of our enclaves, our geographical enclaves, our technological enclaves, our media enclaves. We’re in this strange schizophrenia because we read the paper, and look at the tube, and see tremendous acrimony, and then got out with our friends and family and everyone agrees with us so we don’t really know people to hash it out with.”

Of Clnton’s basket of deplorables comment, Hochschild said, “She’s got to walk that back. Oh my goodness. And shes’ got to come to Louisiana, I’d be happy to introduce her to my people.”

“She’s throwing it away,” Hochschild said.

“I don’t know what to compare it to other than Romney’s 47 percent,” Hochschild said.

 

 “I mean you just don’t do that,” Hochschild said. “If you’re going to be president you have to be president of everyone and you have to be very good at appealing to people’s good angels, and those good angels are there with this group too, that’s the point of my book.”

There was, also, of course, Obama in April 2008.

From The Guardian:

Obama was caught in an uncharacteristic moment of loose language. Referring to working-class voters in old industrial towns decimated by job losses, the presidential hopeful said: “They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

The comments were seized on by his rival for the Democratic party candidacy, Hillary Clinton, who saw in them the hope of reviving her flagging campaign by turning voters in the important Pennsylvania primary on April 22 against what she classed as Obama’s revealed “elitism”.

“I was taken aback by the demeaning remarks Senator Obama made about people in small-town America,” she said on Saturday. “His remarks are elitist and out of touch.” Clinton campaigners in North Carolina handed out stickers saying: “I’m not bitter.”

From Roger Cohen  in Sunday’s New York Times:  We Need ‘Somebody Spectacular’: Views From Trump Country. Appalachian voters know perfectly well the candidate is dangerous. But they’re desperate for change.

But the Trump magnetism goes deeper than resentment at Obama’s regretful tone from Havana to Hiroshima. It seems to go beyond the predictable Republican domination in this part of the country. There’s a sense, crystallized in coal’s steady demise, that, as the political scientist Norman Ornstein put it to me, “Somebody is taking everything you are used to and you had” — your steady middle-class existence, your values, your security. It’s not that the economy is bad in all of Kentucky; the arrival of the auto industry has been a boon, and the unemployment rate is just 4.9 percent. It’s that all the old certainties have vanished.

Far from the metropolitan hubs inhabited by the main beneficiaries of globalization’s churn, many people feel disenfranchised from both main political parties, angry at stagnant wages and growing inequality, and estranged from a prevailing liberal urban ethos. I heard a lot about how Obama has not been supportive enough of the police, of how white lives matter, too, and of how illegal — as in illegal immigrant — means illegal, just as robbing a bank is. For anyone used to New York chatter, or for that matter London or Paris chatter, Kentucky is a through-the-looking-glass experience. There are just as many certainties; they are simply the opposite ones, whether on immigration, police violence toward African-Americans, or guns. America is now tribal, with each tribe imbibing its own social-media-fed ranting.

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America is no longer white enough for that to be decisive, but it is significant. To these people, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is not the empty rhetoric of a media-savvy con artist from Queens but a last-ditch rallying cry for the soul of a changing land where minorities will be the majority by the middle of the century.

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Trump can’t reverse globalization. Nor is he likely to save coal in an era of cheap natural gas. His gratuitous insults, evident racism, hair-trigger temper and lack of preparation suggest he would be a reckless, even perilous, choice for the Oval Office. I don’t think he is a danger to the Republic because American institutions are stronger than Trump’s ego, but that the question even arises is troubling.

Still, in a climate where disruption is sought at any cost (whether political in Hazard or economic in Silicon Valley), it would be foolhardy to suggest that Trump cannot win. He can; and he can in part because of the liberal intellectual arrogance that dismisses the economic, social and cultural problems his rise has underscored. Whatever happens in November, these problems will persist, and it will take major public and private investment and an unlikely rebirth of bipartisanship in Washington to make any dent in them.

“Even if she wins what we’re talking about isn’t going away,” Hochschild said. “The bitter feelings and rivalry, that has to be handled carefully and understood to be a deep story.”

“I worry about the country getting into a fisticuffs.”

 

ABOUT THAT MEME

From Paulina Firozi at The Hill — Trump Jr. and top supporter share White nationalist image on social media:

The image includes photos of Stone, Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Eric Trump, vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), Donald Trump Jr., Infowars’s Alex Jones, conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos and a frog meme associated with the alt-right movement — all under a large heading that reads “The Deplorables.”  

The frog, called Pepe, is a white supremacist meme, the Southern Poverty Law Center told NBC News. 

“It’s constantly used in those circles,” said SPLC’s Heidi Beirich.

“The white nationalists are gonna love this because they’re gonna feel like, ‘Yeah we’re in there with Trump, there’s Pepe the Frog.'”

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