Robert Reich examines Trump’s dark vision for America, and how to create a progressive message for the future.
- Heroic Individual
- Benevolent Community
- Mob at the Gate
- Rot at the Top
Imagine you’re a member of the American elite. The poor and middle-class members of your society are suffering in a variety of ways: income stagnation, outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, increasing rates of opioid addiction, decreasing age of mortality – the list goes on and on. Meanwhile, life has never been better for you and your peers.
In such a situation, you might expect that the less well-off members of your society start feeling anger toward you. After all, you and your peers are the ones who control the dominant institutions of society – so if things are going badly, you must also be the ones to blame!
Short of actually fixing people’s problems, what do you do? Well, you need to redirect their anger away from you. And one of the easiest ways to do that is to convince them to redirect it at one another. Split them apart and set them against each other before they can rise up and unite against you. Divide and conquer.
And how do you do that? Well, Carlson argues that racism is one of the main ways in which the American elite have divided their subjects against each other. But this is not racism against people of color. To the contrary, it is a form of reverse racism against white Americans that is causing the division.
White people – especially working-class white men – are being demonized and scapegoated for nearly all of American society’s problems by the US media and academia.
This can be seen in media headlines that refer to white people in negative terms. For example, the progressive news and opinion website Salon published headlines that declared that “White Men Are the Face of Terror” and “White Guys Are Killing Us.”
This is my summary and reworking of Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory. I have tried to explain it a way that is accessible to the average person. This theory helps you understand yourself, Scripture, your relationships, and also politics, economics, current events, history, culture, and pretty much everything else in life. So if you want to understand Mimetic theory, or maybe have struggled through a few books by Rene Girard, try watching this video to see if my explanation helps make sense of the importance of these ideas.
During the past two years, Trump has learned to modulate his anti-immigrant rhetoric in official settings—to dress it up in the bureaucratic language of federal policy. But, on Tuesday, he offered unfiltered immigrant scapegoating, laying practically all the sins of the country at immigrants’ feet. “Working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration,” Trump declared. “Reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.” Insecure jobs, stagnant wages, underfunded schools and safety-net programs, an embarrassing health-care system, crime rates—immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, are responsible for none of these problems. But here was the President of the United States telling those people willing to hear it that they were. “Year after year,” Trump said, “countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens.” This is untrue. There is no undocumented-immigrant murder wave.
Trump can dress up his demand for a wall all he wants. On Tuesday he also spoke of a “smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier,” and about a “common-sense proposal.” But Trump’s border wall wasn’t born as a common-sense proposal; it was campaign-rally red meat. It was an imagined monument to anti-immigrant sentiment, telling people outside the U.S. to stay out. Trump’s shutdown was fomented not by any “crisis” on the actual border but by a political crisis involving Trump’s base, which had taken Trump at his word about the wall and what it would be. No amount of fear-mongering should distract from that.