By ann summers
Do voters subscribe easily to Personality Cults? And can one base entire political candidacies on them as signalling and identify them by their discourse?
Are they examples of pro-/con- discourse games as the Democratic candidates spar towards Philly and opportunistic mischief-makers try to drive wedges into party solidarity? Can the GOP as a recent op-ed in WaPo pleaded resist the tRump candidacy?
Like the term “stochastic terrorism”(sic) making random acts of violence sound more social-scientistic and hence predictable due to propaganda effects, have we yet reached the limits of neologisms during this election season? Probably not until we get this season’s “Joe the (non-) Plumber”.
We know them when we see them tweeting from places like Malheur Wildlife Refuge – the often tweetable rhetorical memes now called “virtue signalling” that comprise a regular feature of the Trump campaign’s recent successes. As Trump said a couple of days ago “I love the poorly educated”. So now virtue signalling is the pejorative euphemism for the DBAD comment.
Trump supporters, like WWE audiences, don’t care whether politics and its actors, like pro wrestling, is sport or entertainment (see teflon St. Ronnie). Trumpian audiences just want to have fun, and participate however vicariously in the spectacle of excess that is US electoral politics. Like the gimmick of miked-up player-referee discourse in MacMahon’s late XFL football, Trump’s rhetoric is that of a squared circle on Monday Raw.
The claim by many like CNN is that Trump’s victories are due to “new voters”, independents(sic), and/or Reagan Democrats. BillO has tried to reference them as angry anti-elitists in the Laura Ingraham lexicon rather than as embittered, self-marginalized reactionaries.
Some have even tried to resurrect the Nixonian “Silent Majority” to describe this population of LoFo LIVs. Are they more authentic because they claim to eschew virtue signaling and reveal themselves in online comment sections, often not reading the stories themselves, simply opening their veins for apparently “stochastic” reasons.
One of the most prominent self-styled Reagan Democrats includes Virginia Senator Jim Webb, whom columnist David Paul Kuhn asserts is the quintessential Reagan Democrat and one of the last of an ‘endangered species’ within the Democratic Party.
Conservative commentator George Will, noting the long-term movements of partisanship, said in 2012 that: “White voters without college education—economically anxious and culturally conservative—were called “Reagan Democrats” when they were considered only seasonal Republicans because of Ronald Reagan. Today they are called the Republican base.”
But are they the GOP base?
But who are Trump’s voters? Many are voters who identify as evangelicals to pollsters, but have very weak attachments — if any — to church communities. They are less pro-life than traditional social conservatives or establishment-oriented Republicans. They are less likely to have a college degree than either of those other sets of voters too. They hate political correctness. Why? For some because it is an impediment to their expressions of bigotry, sure. For others, because it is a bewildering and exclusionary set of virtue signals, ones that they have neither the time or skill to acquire. They are people who don’t participate in electoral politics often.
And if they’re “not Reagan Democrats”, why are some media now framing Trump as an anti-elite populist(sic) in the mold of Ronald Reagan – that penultimate virtue signal unfettered by false consciousness and reenacted as the exemplar-pretenders of the Reagan Revolution. Like shopping at Home Despot, The Donald has become his own plumber.
One narrative that has made the rounds is that Donald Trump is much like Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan is a hero to many modern Conservatives. Like Trump, he was a celebrity prior to his political career. Like Trump, he identified with the Democratic Party prior to running as a Republican. Like Trump, he challenged the establishment of the Republican Party. Like Trump, Reagan promised to restore American greatness. Recently, Trump’s success has been compared to Reagan’s. Although Trump has invoked Reagan in this campaign, The Donald was critical of The Gipper when he was in the White House. In 1987, Trump went so far as to question whether “there was anything beneath that smile.”…
If people wish to be entertained regardless of where that entertainment ultimately takes the country, then Donald Trump is your guy. In this important way, Donald Trump is not like Ronald Reagan. At least with Reagan, voters had a comprehensible idea of where he wished to take the country. The same cannot be said for Donald Trump.