The twenty-first century is not characterized by the search for new-ness, but by the proliferations of nostalgias.
(Svetlana Boym, late Russian-American philologist)
In the charged atmosphere of the populist insurgency, spectacle lynchings sent a message: Stay out of any politics that would divide whites and weaken white supremacy.
(Age of Betrayal 1865-1890, by Jack Beatty)
Why has it seemed so improbable to so many people that Donald Trump, the repulsive, narcissistic buffoon, could very well become the next president of the United States? Trump might well be the inevitable outcome—the poster child--of a country desperate to fail.
It's called American history
No, it's not new at all, regardless of whether or not assorted politicians and info-entertainers on television today purport to be presenting some fresh insight to an oftentimes uninformed electorate. The election year 2016 in the United States is depressingly familiar. We can, however, still make an attempt not to—once again—do the same stupid.
The Populist movement of the 1880s and 1890s had many themes familiar to us today, including the demands for economic fairness, equality and the end of political corruption. The movement exploded across the mid-west and the south in the 1880s brought on, as Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan recalled, by a “deep feeling of unrest.”
Small farmers and the relatively poor were especially hard hit by economic forces they had little control over and by decisions made in New York and Washington that more often than not had virtually nothing to do with the needs of the American people as a whole.
But by fearlessness, organizing and an education campaign, which started out in a remote part of Texas, the Populist movement became arguably the greatest mass movement in American history. By 1891 they were a powerful political force, quite capable of challenging the oligarchy, the status quo and possibly capturing the White House. By 1900, however, the Populist movement was virtually finished.
White racism, the sickness that was built into the founding of the United States, was certainly a major reason for the eventual collapse of the Populist movement. White Southerners especially were ultimately incapable of getting beyond their, uh, “cultural” heritage. The year 1892, when the Populist movement was at its pinnacle, was also the worst year for lynchings since 1868.
Once again white people, especially the rural poor and the powerless in the south, responded to the various “dog whistles,” employed so skillfully by the likes of the robber baron Jay Gould in New York or by some wealthy, politically connected plantation owner in Dixie.
The W.P.C., aka the white people's cult aka formerly known as the Republican party
The comedian Samantha Bee once referred to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as a “chinless dildo.” While McConnell can easily claim the mantel of mediocrity, he reflects reasonably well the cult, of which he is a leading member, and which the Donald, for the time being, is also an “honored” member.
The Karl Marx coloring book
In fairness to Karl Marx, Susan Sarandon and many of my Progressive friends, the times they are most certainly changing. WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE! Er, which workers might that be? There are the self-employed. Not all of them are rich lawyers and doctors that have set up their single-person corporation. And what about the growing number of temporary employees? They're workers. And yes, the monster under the bed. It's called automation and likely to grow.
The not-so-secret observation is that probably a majority of these “lost” jobs are never going to come back, here or from anywhere else, with or without Bernie Sanders, or the return of Malcolm X or Leon Trotsky.
Susan Sarandon, the well known actress, said a few months back that a Donald Trump presidency would likely speed up the “revolution.” Yes, we workers will all unite and storm the Winter Palace. We could though most definitely get noticeable change, but it will not be the kind that we want, and the majority of us will not be able to ride out the storm on the island of Majorca.
It's so hard and unfair
Yes, yes we did not get Bernie, we don't like Hillary, even though she's not remotely the devil incarnate that our 21st century Jay Goulds want Americans to believe. And once again the so-called white working class is mad because they've been duped and manipulated for, er ... well ... since the beginning of our republic, but Trump tells it like it is, and what about and so forth … imagine not standing for the National Anthem … what's climate change....
The original Populists got it right in the beginning: they knew it was about fearlessness, organizing and an education campaign, which was a full-time job with dignity. It's unfortunate we're having difficulty understanding this in 2016.