we got we got to sit down in the front04:56row there were three empty seats are my04:58sister and my friend and I we were all05:00there and we sat there for four or five05:02hours watching the debate and in the05:05vote and I’m telling you it’s not likeit is on c-spanthese fan is such a you knowtwo-dimensional flattens everything outvery strictly framed you don’t get theperipheral vision on c-span one of the05:19things I tell my crew and I if I if I’m05:23allowed to when I’m invited to the film05:25schools to talk to students I always05:27tell them that you’re gonna find more05:29truth in the peripheral hmm then in the05:32in the spot-on because in the spot-on05:34you’re getting the official story you’re05:37getting me you know whatever it is they05:40want you to report but what’s going on05:42over here what’s going on around you if05:44you have a sense of trying to pay05:46attention to that you’ll find these05:47things that that you’ll never see in a05:50documentary or in a movie or on the05:52nightly news and so what I saw from that05:57front row of the gallery last Wednesday05:59was both a bit exhilarating and06:04frightening exhilarating in the sense06:06that you could see that on the06:08Democratic side that they many of them06:11had found the courage of their06:13convictions had found their their soul06:15their guts to stand up for this even06:18though the polls show it’s kind of a06:2150/50 in the country on impeachment a06:23little more in favor of it but06:26nonetheless a risky proposition06:28especially for a number of Democrats in06:30swing districts the fact that they would06:32take that stand in such a profound way29:13electoral states remember Hillary only29:14lost Michigan by two votes per precinct29:18that’s it and it’s not because lunch29:20bucket Joe stayed home you know or voted29:24for Trump it’s it’s because the the when29:28they talk about the working-class Amy I29:29just accessorize me crazy oh you know29:31Trump won all these working-class votes29:32in Michigan in Pennsylvania no what29:35happened was is that the Democratic29:36Party didn’t stand up in the way that29:40they should have for what the youth29:41wanted for what people of color neededand and the the there are 90,000 peoplein Michigan almost 90,000 who went tothe polls mostly Democrats and verylarge numbers of them in Detroit FlintPontiac Saginaw all these are all blackcities majority black they stood in linein the cold for two to three hours tovote they went in there and they votedfor state Rep state Senate CountyCommission we don’t have dogcatcher wehave drain commissioner the person incharge of the sewage that’s the lowestname on the ballotthey stood there they voted for theDemocrats all down ballot and left thetop box blank 19th only lost Michigan by10 11 thousand votes 90,000wanted to send a message to theDemocratic Party you forgot us a longtime ago out here and we will not put upwith us anymore we’re not gonna vote forTrump but we’re not gonna we’re not30:36going to tolerate you sending us another30:38Republican White Democrat if we go that30:42route if we go that route it’s30:44guaranteed we will lose the electoral30:46college we will win when we put somebody30:48on that ballot that excites the base30:51women people of color young people when30:55they wake up that morning they feel the30:56way that many of us many of you watching30:57felt the morning that you were gonna in30:592008 and you were gonna get to go and31:01vote for Barack Obama and you couldn’t
The Wire is one of the most brilliant and significant TV shows ever created. In this video I talk about the creators of the show and the techniques used that make is so great.
–2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang exposes the primary debates as completely rigged, something we’ve been saying for a long time
How our president and our mass shooters are connected to the same dark psychic forces.
What links Donald Trump to the men who massacred innocents in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend? Note that I said both men: the one with the white-nationalist manifesto and the one with some kind of atheist-socialist politics; the one whose ranting about a “Hispanic invasion” echoed Trump’s own rhetoric and the one who was anti-Trump and also apparently the lead singer in a “pornogrind” band.
Bringing up their differing worldviews can be a way for Trump-supporting or anti-anti-Trump conservatives to diminish or dismiss the president’s connection to these shootings. That’s not what I’m doing. I think Trump is deeply connected to what happened last weekend, deeply connected to both massacres. Not because his immigration rhetoric drove the El Paso shooter to mass murder in some direct and simple way; life and radicalism and violence are all more complicated than that. But because Trump participates in the general cultural miasma that generates mass shooters, and having a participant as president makes the problem worse.
The president’s bigoted rhetoric is obviously part of this. Marianne Williamson put it best, in the last Democratic debate: There really is a dark psychic force generated by Trump’s political approach, which from its birther beginnings has consistently encouraged and fed on a fevered and paranoid form of right-wing politics, and dissolved quarantines around toxic and dehumanizing ideas. And the possibility that Trump’s zest for demonization can feed a demonic element in the wider culture is something the many religious people who voted for the president should be especially willing to consider.
But the connection between the president and the young men with guns extends beyond Trump’s race-baiting to encompass a more essential feature of his public self — which is not the rhetoric or ideology that he deploys, but the obvious moral vacuum, the profound spiritual black hole, that lies beneath his persona and career.
Here I would dissent, mildly, from the desire to tell a mostly ideological story in the aftermath of El Paso, and declare war on “white nationalism” — a war the left wants because it has decided that all conservatism can be reduced to white supremacy, and the right wants as a way of rebutting and rejecting that reductionism.
By all means disable 8Chan and give the F.B.I. new marching orders; by all means condemn racism more vigorously than this compromised president can do. But recognize we’re dealing with a pattern of mass shootings, encompassing both the weekend’s horrors, where the personal commonalities between the shooters are clearly more important than the political ones. Which suggests that the white nationalism of internet failsons is like the allegiance to an imaginary caliphate that motivated the terrorists whose depredations helped get Trump elected in the first place. It’s often just a carapace, a flag of convenience, a performance for the vast TV-and-online audience that now attends these grisly spectacles, with a malignant narcissism and nihilism underneath.
And this is what really links Trump to all these empty male killers, white nationalists and pornogrind singers alike. Like them he is a creature of our late-modern anti-culture, our internet-accelerated dissolution of normal human bonds. Like them he plainly believes in nothing but his ego, his vanity, his sense of spite and grievance, and the self he sees reflected in the mirror of television, mass media, online.
Because he is rich and famous and powerful, he can get that attention with a tweet about his enemies, and then experience the rush of a cable-news segment about him. He doesn’t need to plot some great crime to lead the news; he just has to run for president. But having him as president — having him as a political exemplar for his party, and a cultural exemplar of manhood for his supporters and opponents both — is a constant ratification of the idea that we exist as celebrities or influencers or we don’t exist at all, and that our common life is essentially a form of reality television where it doesn’t matter if you’re the heel or hero so long as you’re the star.
One recurring question taken up in this column is whether something good might come out of the Trump era. I keep returning to this issue because unlike many conservatives who opposed him in 2016, I actually agree with, or am sympathetic toward, versions of ideas that Trump has championed — the idea of a
- more populist and worker-friendly conservative economics, the idea of a
- foreign policy with a more realpolitik and anti-interventionist spirit, the idea that
- decelerating low-skilled immigration would benefit the common good, the idea that
- our meritocratic, faux-cosmopolitan elite has badly misgoverned the republic.
But to take this view, and to reject the liberal claim that any adaptation to populism only does the devil’s work, imposes a special obligation to recognize the profound emptiness at the heart of Trump himself. It’s not as if you could carve away his race-baiting and discover a healthier populism instead, or analyze him the way you might analyze his more complex antecedents, a Richard Nixon or a Ross Perot. To analyze Trump is to discover only bottomless appetite and need, and to carve at him is like carving at an online troll: The only thing to discover is the void.
So in trying to construct a new conservatism on the ideological outline of Trumpism, you have to be aware that you’re building around a sinkhole and that your building might fall in.
The same goes for any conservative response to the specific riddle of mass shootings. Cultural conservatives get a lot of grief when they respond to these massacres by citing moral and spiritual issues, rather than leaping straight to gun policy (or in this case, racist ideology). But to look at the trend in these massacres, the spikes of narcissistic acting-out in a time of generally-declining violence, the shared bravado and nihilism driving shooters of many different ideological persuasions, is to necessarily encounter a moral and spiritual problem, not just a technocratic one.
But the dilemma that conservatives have to confront is that you can chase this cultural problem all the way down to its source in lonely egomania and alienated narcissism, and you’ll still find Donald Trump’s face staring back to you.