Jaded by the Trump Chatter

I did not go to the women’s march nor feel inspired by it, and I have been trying to work out why. At first I thought it was because I’d been to a feminist protest the week before and needed a break – but there’s more to it.

I am jaded by the way Trump conversation is unfolding – even in the publications that normally offer us some perspective. I recently opened the London Book Review of January 18th and discovered that the first-page article is yet another outline of how misogynistic Trump is. It feels like the new paradigm is simply to keep reminding each other of how angry we are about it. Is it only now that we are angry? Only now, when we see this particular ignorant rich buffoon on our screens on a daily basis? The world was full of misogynistic people in power before Trump. Why didn’t all these people care about that beforehand?

If we reflected for a moment, we might discover that we have more in common with Trump voters than we think. In his article from January 17th, John Pilger reiterates his view that ‘identity politics’ are the scourge of our age. He believes that they are leveraged by transnational capitalism to obscure class, and end up demonising white working-class men who have nothing to turn to but neo-nationalism to make sense of their woes.

He somewhat undermines this argument by referring to Chelsea Manning as ‘he’, making it sound like his opinion is coming from a rather reactionary place. Still, I believe that Pilger has a point: working-class white men are also an oppressed group, and in the conversations about intersectional struggles, not many folks are speaking up for them any more. This is how Trump happened.

Pilger calls out today’s writers for not speaking out against the mechanisms of power. He lambasts journalists for not taking risks, not challenging the status quo, not stepping back and calling out the awkward truths. In particular, he accuses journalists of using identity politics to relieve themselves of the burden of speaking up for somebody, and failing to dig down into the things that are actually uncomfortable: namely, the effects of corporate transnationalism, and the gap between rich and poor in America. In other words, the inequality that the educated liberal ‘elites’ – and often the journalists themselves – benefit from.

The idea that ‘we’ are using identity politics to obscure the issues of class and inequality that we are a part of – that needs to be more widely heard. There is a certain comfort that ‘we’ are taking in reassuring each other that we think it is all quite terrible and shocking and that something must be done. It keeps the focus on Trump and his misogyny. It enables us to avoid asking ourselves awkward questions.

I didn’t go to that particular women’s march because I felt that its politics were ‘misorientated’; they focused too heavily on one (admittedly powerful) misogynist and thereby wilfully obscured part of the issue. I feel that this is a time for a unified approach to liberation. The ‘other’ disenfranchised, those who voted for Trump, would have seen it as a march against them. But what we need is for the disenfranchised to come together and recognise each other’s oppression. This is unlikely to happen because that requires each side to recognise that they are also an oppressor.

 

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4 thoughts on “Jaded by the Trump Chatter

  1. Thanks for writing about this. I didn’t go either. In trying to explain why to a friend the best I could come up with is that I don’t feel comfortable being spoon fed who the boogie man is. I think you did a great job of explaining a different point of view.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is more of a problem with Trump than just empathizing with other voters. There is also the worry of those that feel that they and their families can be deported any minute, just a matter of time before the order comes and before we are added to the list of the undocumented us citizens. There are does of us that look at four years from now and wonder where this nation will be. There are those of us that feel that war with whomever is eminent, because the political machine is broken and we have a nut hitting it with a sledge hammer.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There is more of a problem with Trump than just empathizing with other voters. There is also the worry of those that feel that they and their families can be deported any minute, just a matter of time before the order comes and before we are added to the list of the undocumented us citizens. There are those of us that look at four years from now and wonder where this nation will be. There are those of us that feel that war with whomever is eminent, because the political machine is broken and we have a nut hitting it with a sledge hammer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Siobhan, I understand your arguments saying that Women’s March of January 21 was too focused on Trump’s misogyny. That the “other disenfranchised”, who voted for Trump, must have seen that march against them is more than plausible. Nevertheless, modern feminism has been and is luckily evolving into intersectional feminism, which puts together all the different issues that affect us all, human beings: “If feminism is advocating for women’s rights and equality between the sexes, intersectional feminism is the understanding of how women’s overlapping identities — including race, class, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation — impact the way they experience oppression and discrimination.” (taken from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/01/19/feminism-intersectionality-racism-sexism-class/96633750/). According to this definition those Trump voters — not the ones coming from America’s rich oligarchy — but the really disenfranchised, were included in the march. It is only that they could not perceive it as real and fake news have intermingled thanks to the media that have supported Trump. They have made people believe he was telling the truth. Consequently, those voters have sadly believed Trump’s lies.

    Liked by 1 person

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