Is Donald Trump exploiting blue-collar fears for insidious purposes?
President Barack Obama sure thinks so.
In a wide-ranging, end-of-the-year interview with NPR, Obama took the time to chastise the bombastic billionaire for preying on the “frustration” of working-class men.
“I do think that when you combine that demographic change with all the economic stresses that people have been going through — because of the financial crisis, because of technology, because of globalization, the fact that wages and incomes have been flat-lining for some time, and that particularly blue-collar men have had a lot of trouble in this new economy,” the president said.
“They are no longer getting the same bargain that they got when they were going to a factory and able to support their families on a single paycheck — you combine those things, and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear,” he continued. “Mr. Trump is taking advantage of that. That’s what he’s exploiting during the course of his campaign.” (RELATED: Obama: Trump Is ‘Exploiting’ Anger And Fear Among ‘Blue-Collar Men’)
Obama is basically saying that while things are really bad for the white working-class, to try to appeal to them and offer them solutions to their problems is tantamount to reckless demagoguery. Those alienated blue-collar guys shouldn’t cave into their anger and should instead trust the establishment to set everything right.
But the depressing reality of life for Trump’s core demographic reveals a class our political and intellectual elite no longer cares about.
When an eye-opening Princeton study was released and showed the mortality rate for middle-aged white people was skyrocketing, it was largely shrugged off as a depressing statistic that nothing could be done about. Furthermore, two prestigious medical journals rejected the study for dubious reasons prior to another publication finally accepting it. (RELATED: No Country For Middle-Aged White Men)
In addition to the findings showing a marked increase in deaths among this group due to substance abuse, suicide and poor health, another recent survey found a historic number of blue-collar millennials have given up on the American Dream entirely. (RELATED: Why Are More Young People Giving Up On The American Dream?)
As alluded to by Obama, all the demographic and economic changes in this country has made the white working-class weary of the New America. A November Reuters/Ipsos poll even found more than 50 percent of Americans feel like strangers in their own country and don’t feel welcome in our transformed social landscape.
On top of all this, there’s the sobering and near-complete breakdown of the white working-class family, which was thoroughly documented in Charles Murray’s 2012 book “Coming Apart.”
It’s pretty clear this blue-collar contingent referred to by Obama has much to be concerned about and it’s natural political hopefuls would try to appeal to this very real sense of alienation.
But to liberals, it’s apparently beyond the pale of acceptable discourse to do so. Combined with the growing anxiety over Islamic terrorism, the chattering class has dubbed addressing these concerns as “fear-mongering” and “appealing to the worst instincts.”
This view is typified by a series of cartoons drawn by The Washington Post’s Ann Telnaes. Before she decided it was a good idea to portray Ted Cruz’s young daughters as monkeys, Telnaes drew a work called “The Politics of Fear” which sought to enlighten viewers on how politicians exploit our worries. According to the left-wing artist, the big fears preyed upon by our leaders include: “socialism,” “losing the American way of life,” “losing jobs” and, the biggest fear of all, “fear of people who look different from you.”
If you haven’t noticed, these are concerns that are likely only going to be aired by Republican politicians. And, of course, Telnaes paraphrased the much-loved line by Franklin Delano Roosevelt that “the only thing we have to fear is fear-mongering politicians.” She even drew another cartoon featuring Trump playing a great fear-mongering banjo. The series was considered so powerful and revelatory by some progressives, Twitter promoted it as a featured Moment.
The stated bias of the cartoon is liberal politicians are able to articulate the positive things that unite us rather than the negative things that divide us.
That’s a view that’s shared by such figures as Obama and Hillary Clinton, who relish in the opportunity to lecture their opponents on which topics are verboten to speak of in public debate.
While liberals may imagine themselves as free of fear and full of happy thoughts, they are actually the ones who stoke more tension in this county than any other group.
Leftists are happy to fan the flames of racial animosity and entertain notions of police officers murdering young African-Americans and propagating the view our justice system is laden with white supremacy. They conjure up images of herding Hispanic and Muslim citizens into internment camps over proposals to limit the immigration of various non-citizens. They promote the line that gays will be turned into second-class citizens and be fired en masse under religious freedom laws. They tell women Republicans want to take control of their bodies and prevent them from accessing birth control.
And they want Americans to be very afraid of law-abiding citizens owning guns.
These are not examples of positive, unifying rhetoric. It’s fear-mongering — plain and simple. It divides Americans based on lies and hysterical nonsense, and it has disastrous, real-world consequences. Just take a look at the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore to see what happens when people buy into left-wing demagoguery.
But to the Left, this rhetoric isn’t fear-mongering — it’s addressing “real problems.” Though it’s clearly identity politics, progressives are able to convince themselves their message is one for all.
In reality, the only kind of unity achieved is one of shared resentment towards white males and the expectation those villains will make amends.
The message from Obama and the rest of the political class to the white working-class is this: You may have legitimate grievances, but they’re far less important than that of our favorite special interest groups. You don’t matter and the establishment will do everything in its power to crush the politicians you embrace.
The accusation of fear-mongering is a way for liberals to deflect the real concerns of large swaths of voters they don’t care about. They’d rather focus on forging the New America the majority of the country finds unsettling, riding roughshod over any complaints. They assume everyone is going to love our new society and it’s just bigoted to think otherwise.
However, as evidenced by the way the 2016 election is going, the ignored majority has had enough of having their fears ignored and are ready to throw out the entire political class. This anger is not due to Donald Trump stoking its flames — it’s due to the elites’ refusal to address working-class concerns for so many years.
Maybe leftists do have something more to fear than fear itself.