Donald Trump’s mortal enemies in mainstream politics and media have shifted strategy. In the ramp-up to the Iowa caucuses, Feb. 1, the culprits have been pushing presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio onto a defiant Republican base. The Cartel has taken to discussing Trump as a nightmare from which they’ll soon awaken. Candidate Trump’s energetic, politically pertinent speeches and near daily rallies – packed to the rafters with supporters – are covered by media only to condemn this or the other colorful altercation. Ted Cruz, we’re being lectured, is poised to topple Trump in Iowa.
But what do you know? On the eve of Jan. 12, as if in recoil to the concentrated toxicity of Barack Obama’s last State of Disunion address, featuring the divisive Nikki Haley in the GOP’s corner, Trump punched through the lattice of lies. The media-political-complex was caught trousers down again. National polls have Trump at 36 percent, Reuters at 39 percent. A CBS/NYT poll placed him 17 points ahead of Ted Cruz, his closest rival. In Iowa, Trump leads Cruz 28 to 26 percent.
The central conceit that currently defines media’s self-serving surmises is that the Trump Revolution is confined to the right and is thus self-limiting. While the right is always more courageous in bucking sclerotic authority, the Trump Revolution isn’t exclusively Republican or rightist.
I get the distinct impression that this Revolution encompasses left and right; Democrats, Republicans and Independents. As The Atlantic magazine cautioned, the polls are underestimating Trump’s support. The slow kids of media have yet to discover the flaws inherent in survey methodology. Subjects are more likely to reply truthfully in anonymous, online surveys than in face-to-face or telephonic questionnaires. As if to confirm that Trumpites are coming out of the closet, a Jan. 13, YouGov.com poll, courtesy of the Washington Examiner, catapulted Mr. Trump to near 50 percent.
Something else has made the special-needs media boil with bile: It’s the role of America’s much-maligned white majority – 65 percent and rapidly declining – in Trump’s meteoric ascent. Trump’s supporters are disenfranchised whites, left, right and center (or in an ideological no-man’s land). The silent majority that dare not speak its name – other than to flagellate for collective sins and perceived privilege – is still the largest demographic bloc in the U.S.
Working class whites, in particular, have been led down a political cul-de-sac.
Omitted at last year’s Fox Business presidential debate Nov. 10 were two loudly whispered secrets. The one was Marco Rubio’s expensing the Republican Party for personal spending. The other: Terrifying data that a large segment of white America was … dying.
“Mortality among middle-aged Americans with a high-school degree or less increased by 134 deaths per 100,000 people between 1999 and 2013,” wrote Olga Khazan of The Atlantic. Mortality among working-class white Americans has risen by half a percent a year. “That means ‘half a million people are dead who should not be dead.'” Since these whites are dying from “suicide, alcohol and drug poisonings, and alcohol-related liver disease,” Khazan concluded sadly that, “Middle-aged white Americans are dying of despair.” Otherwise, nobody has probed deeper than to advance reductive economic and educational causes.
My sense is that, “while Americans in their 40s and 50s don’t have enough money saved for retirement,” there’s more afoot than money.
Most of us have come across emaciated, gaunt, poor white men and women in our communities; middle-aged, often younger whites standing on the curb, begging for change. Indeed, we members of the informal White Lives Matter movement notice that poor whites in America are very badly off.
But a political whiteout prohibits the candid discussion of their plight. Unless they’re being dubbed throw-away racists, bigots, or has-beens who can’t let go of white privilege – white, working-class America is invisible. It has been so for decades.
Consider what befell Martin O’Malley, Democrat for president, at the Netroots Nation conference, in Phoenix. “Black lives matter, black lives matter,” activists chanted at O’Malley, who dared to respond with the catchphrase, “Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter.”
The maniacal reaction to O’Malley’s truism was so vociferous that soon he and the Democrats were denouncing the notion that all lives mattered, and apologizing to blacks for daring to imply that white lives mattered, too. A weak Bernie Sanders was practically chased off a Seattle stage by two Black Lives Matter women, and has since been silent about poor whites, except to promise proxy wars on Wal-Mart and Wall Street.
Politically, at least, white lives are forfeit.
Bernie is full of humanist bromides. This Democratic candidate’s immigration plank, however, is “humane” to migrants and inhumane to their poor white American hosts. Sanders managed to discuss the plight of working-class white America with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, without once mentioning immigration. Or the decimation of the coal industry in West Virginia, courtesy of Obama policies that saw 332 coal mines shuttered. These working-class white men came to D.C., hard hats in hand, to beg for their jobs. Nobody listened until Trump.
Stuff happens, poor whites are told. Quit being racist.
If you’re working-class and white, you’re invisible. You have been for decades. You used to be the backbone of the economy. No more. You’re still the backbone of the U.S. military, more likely to die in the service of The State in far-flung countries.
Your love of country is sanctioned provided it is confined to dying in the wars launched by Rome-on-the-Potomac. You may find belonging only by risking your life abroad in the service of strangers, or opening your home to them, stateside. If you survive the combat-to-coffin career path, your love of community will need to encompass a million immigrants, each and every year, who’ll have the run of your schools, hospitals, libraries, parks and workplace. Destined to fight against subsistence farmers in foreign lands, you find yourself harassed on your homesteaded land, at home, never free from federal aggression.
As a share of America’s adult population, Donald Trump’s invisible, white army likely forms less than 48 percent. To them could be added other whites who favor borders and hanker after closely-knit communities and such Burkean peculiarities. I would imagine ranchers Hammond and Bundy are eager to hear from the one candidate who has not called them terrorists.
This large, mostly white cohort is waiting on the ropes for … Donald Trump.
Media wishing to interview Ilana Mercer, please contact [email protected].