According to many professional political pundits, Donald Trump was never meant to get this far.
Almost unanimously, they dubbed him the joke candidate. Now, they are the joke.
So much political discourse today centres on playing the identity, rather than the issue. A rich white man with an awkward haircut and trophy wife presents to a dumbed down analyst as a soft kill. A largely distracted and disinterested audience should lap up the simplified, ‘comic book villain narrative with little objection, or so they thought.
He was just a living meme, worthy of ridicule and debasement only. His deluded supporters, merely uneducated and confused souls unwittingly enabling a bigot. If he wasn’t ‘promoting fear’, and whipping up white supremacists, then he was only running to promote his brand, apparently whilst engaging in divisive ‘hate speech‘. Oh well, not to worry, its all irrelevant because there’s no way he can beat Hillary Clinton, he’s just not progressive enough.
A recent poll conducted by Associated Press found that just 6% of Americans trust the mainstream media. In regards to the Trump campaign, its not hard to see why. The months of failed predictions, misleading reporting and ‘gotcha’ clickbait, highlight a potentially gaping chasm between media perceptions, and observable reality.
Following landslide victories in 7 seven consecutive states including New York and Indiana, major news outlets and party elites were forced to eat humble pie as Trumps remaining opponents bowed out of the race.
Trump represents a groundswell of rising mistrust and intolerance with the political class, and it’s sycophantic agents in the mainstream media. A manifestation of the shifting cultural zeitgeist. His style, endorsed in record numbers through the nomination process, points to the growing resistance against creeping political correctness. The American middle class continues to be squeezed. Government grows as industry and wages shrink. Porous borders undermine security and drawn out wars in the Middle East grind down on the collective American psyche. Anger, despair and disenfranchisement spreads throughout the body politic like bushfire in wild wind. Legitimate concerns are dismissed as petty racism or ignorance by the commentators who have gotten every prediction and analysis wrong from the outset. Trump is the personification of Americas rude awakening.
This somewhat arrogant irreverence is perhaps exemplified by New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. His recent performance on Lateline was little more than a series of baseless ad-hominem attacks, the likes of which could be matched in terms of insight by the most troglodytic Twitter user. After rattling off school yard prose and threatening nuclear fallout, Cohen continued on referring to Trump supporters to a mere ‘mob’, perhaps ironically as anti-Trump protests continue to turn violent. Despite Cohen’s employer running at a 14 million dollar loss through the first quarter of 2016, the insult to the intelligence of the audience continued, when Cohen revealed the depths of his impartiality by casually mentioning Hillary Clinton may have ‘trust issues’. Which is one way of describing the current FBI investigationinto her private email affairs.
One wonders why such a discredited muck slinger was sought for comment at all, let alone on the national broadcaster.
If the rise of Donald Trump has revealed one thing, its the exposure of the once trusted, and established media players. Now shown to be little more than glorified spin doctors and hit men. Losing readers, viewers, credibility and relevance with each passing editorial.
There is more to this groundswell than mere red team vs blue team diatribe. There is an opposition to globalisation, free trade, campaign finance and political correctness that go beyond traditional party lines with a number of Democrat voters seemingly prepared to back Trump. Whilst many outlets were content to discuss how offended some people may be, the Republican party machine did all it could to further widen the gap between themselves and voters.
In March, GOP power broker Curly Haugland showed the party’s hand, and the lengths they would go to in order to halt the progress of the Trump campaign, by stating in a television interview;
“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here,”
Unfortunately for Curly, he was not able to create the perception that votes are irrelevant to the democratic process. Trump has since romped to the nomination despite many party personalities hell bent on preventing him and thus, defying the wishes of their constituents.
Between an agenda driven, dumbed down media, regurgitating inane talking points and labelling Trump supporters with whichever ‘ism’ fits most easily, to the Republican party itself dismissing the choice of the voters with reckless abandon, Trump supporters have every reason to express their discontent at the ballot box.
With every disrespectful accusation of their motivations, the Trump ‘mob’ get one step closer to securing their candidate in the white house. With every attempt to shame them, the mainstream commentators like Roger Cohen fade further into the background.
Now largely operating in an echo chamber, ignored by the masses and audience dwindling by the day, if Cohen and co wish to remain relevant in the post-popularism era, they best start treating their audience with respect.