‘The last thing many voters wanted was a continuation of the status quo’


Saturday Night Live, NBC

From The New Statesman:

No doubt the staffers and cabinet members whom Wolff reports as describing Trump as an “idiot” or “moron” have reason to think of him in this way. Dealing with an “ultimate executive” who turns briefing sessions into rambling monologues and is unwilling or unable to read even half a page cannot be easy. It may be, as Wolff suggests, that Trump “seemed incapable of performing what would be essential tasks in his new job”. Yet a man who destroyed two American political dynasties – the Clintons and the Bushes – and saw off professional politicians such as Ted Cruz, John Kasich and Marco Rubio cannot be a mere fool who became POTUS by accident.

Whatever his intellectual deficiencies, Trump grasped a truth America’s political classes couldn’t handle: the last thing many voters wanted was a continuation of the status quo. Despairing at the decades of neglect they had suffered, enraged at how their economic grievances were dismissed as racist and seething at having their values and identities demeaned as backward and stupid, voters from America’s post-industrial wastelands stuck two fingers up at the established political classes.

Channelling the fury of this third of the population, Trump aimed to use the campaign to realise his ambition of founding a new television network and becoming the most famous person in the world. He ended up as supposedly the most powerful, only to discover that in many contexts he was practically impotent.

On its current trajectory, the US looks set to become an oligarchical and illiberal democracy not unlike the kinds that have emerged in post-communist Europe. Against the background of this ongoing regime shift, Donald Trump himself – however gruesomely fascinating he may be – is not much more than a distraction.

“Inside the madhouse: why the American oligarchy won’t let Trump fail – yet”, John Gray, The New Statesman