Lately Donald Trump has been under fire for a tweet depicting the Star of David and money alongside Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate for the White House, suggesting that she is selling herself to those with money of a particular religious group. It was also discovered that the image first appeared on a White supremacist website.
There are all sorts of problems with this situation, which I will attempt to outline. As the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) rightfully pointed out, it is long overdue for Trump to rebuke and distance himself from the White Nationalists and anti-Semites who have become a vocal part of his following. He has clearly pandered to this group of people who, as Noam Chomsky points out, are angry with their lowered economic status as a result of neoliberal policies over the last 30 years. As always, when economic crises arise, demagogues like Trump arise to take advantage of resentments toward vulnerable elements of society that are likely to be scapegoated. This is a repeated historical motif, recurring like clockwork and should have been foreseen much earlier by media pundits.
Trump’s rise should therefore be seen as a symptom of a bigger problem, which is the evisceration of America’s middle class due to economic policies geared to benefiting the billionaires, many of whom have their assets offshore to avoid paying taxes. Furthermore, corporate interests have infiltrated the federal government, thus modifying policies in a manner that betrays the interests of Main Street. The revolving door between Wall Street and Washington D.C. has been duly noted, even in the mainstream media. Ultimately, these policies will hurt the elite class, since they require a strong middle class to buy their goods and services to maintain their lifestyle and power, as well as to prop up an expensive military apparatus. You cannot have a strong military in the long run if you lack tax revenues to pay for it. This is, I believe, why the smart elites are allowing Bernie Sanders to shape the political discourse: they understand that a strong federal government that takes the interests of the middle class seriously can be beneficial to them as well, as has been shown time and again in history.
As for the anti-Semites among Trump’s supporters — they are caught in a contradiction between the belief in their inherent superiority over others and their conspiratorial belief that some other group is in control of their destiny, keeping them from attaining the greatness that is their birthright. They will sometimes deny this belief in their inherent superiority, but it can readily be seen in their lightweight literature, such as Mein Kampf. Intellectually this belief in both their innate superiority and powerlessness simultaneously is incoherent. However, history shows that resentful, incoherent masses can be manipulated by demagogues who give them a feeling of meaning and purpose, and who use their primordial fears of “outsiders” to keep them distracted. This brought enormous devastation to both Germany and especially its Slavic neighbors to the east during and after World War II.
Back to the tweet featuring the Star of David. If in fact the image used originated from a White supremacist website, it proves that Trump is following these people as a gauge for his campaign, feeding off of them to calibrate his message. If there is one talent Trump has been proven to have, amidst doubts by real billionaires over his financial status, it is his ability to manipulate the lowest common denominator in society, and perhaps, if these doubts have some basis, to fool the masses and mainstream media into thinking he has more money and more financial acumen than he actually possesses. He may just be the world’s greatest poseur.
It’s a sad state of affairs that the next presidential election will feature two highly unpopular candidates, one under investigation for allegedly jeopardizing national security and the other who feeds off of the ignorance and resentments of others. It’s a matter of picking the lesser poison. Whatever the faults of Hillary, I will not and cannot vote for Trump. I’ll take the shady candidate over the shady buffoon who presents a clear danger to millions of American citizens.