Self Pocket Picking
Charles Blow in the New York Times helps us again as we try to make sense of the mess we have gotten ourselves into….
Describing a recently televised one-hour policy meeting on immigration where the president demonstrated his lack of skill, Blow concludes that the meeting paints a picture of…
“a man who had absolutely no idea what he was talking about; a man who says things that are 180 degrees from the things he has said before; a man who has no clear line of reasoning; a man who is clearly out of his depth and willing to do and say anything to please the people in front of him.
He demonstrated once again that he is a man without principle, interested only in how good he can make himself look and how much money he can make.”
Blow notes that (to the degree possible) if we guess at what policy might emerge from the meeting and the president does what he seemed to say he would do, the president would betray his base yet again. He will demonstrate that he is willing to say “anything to keep them angry,” including lying to his base, and “once again, they won’t care.”
“That is because…Trumpism is a religion founded on patriarchy and white supremacy.
It is the belief that even the least qualified man is a better choice than the most qualified woman and a belief that the most vile, anti-intellectual, scandal-plagued simpleton of a white man is sufficient to follow in the presidential footsteps of the best educated, most eloquent, most affable black man."
Blow reminds us that this is not new, quoting President Johnson to describe what has been called the ‘Southern Strategy’ of pitting white workers against black workers so their division and distraction frees up non-workers to take advantage of both, riding a wave of white working class support to electoral victory.
“As President in the 1960s to a young Bill Moyers: ‘If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.’”
Anger does seem to be a common denominator among Trump supporters. A deep seated anger easily redirected into hatred and violence, but an anger also based on this pocket-picking that has steadily diminished their quality of life. Rather than see the plutocrat pocket pickers as the enemy, however, this anger is satisfied with racial self-righteousness.
“…Donald Trump represents white people’s right to be wrong and still be right.”
Frustration as declining control over our own lives fuels an expressive response designed by pocket pickers to empower pocket pickers, instead of fueling an effective counter-mobilization (by design). And we all suffer as a result, though some of us suffer a lot more.
“For white supremacy to be made perfect, the lowest white man must be exalted above those who are black.
No matter how much of an embarrassment and a failure Trump proves to be, his exploits must be judged a success. He must be deemed a correction to Barack Obama and a superior choice to Hillary Clinton. White supremacy demands it. Patriarchy demands it. Trump’s supporters demand it.”
In this sense, every Trump lie is heard by his base as vindication, experienced as a joyful celebration of a pocket picker masquerading as someone finally standing up for them.