It’s Not Economic Hardship that Motivates Trump’s Base but Far Right Brainwashing and (Sadly!) this Denies the Best Military-Service Traditions of Working Class America

It’s Not Economic Hardship that Motivates Trump’s Base but Far Right Brainwashing and (Sadly!) this Denies the Best Military-Service Traditions of Working Class America August 14, 2016

“Speaking as the father of a Marine, it seems to me that Trump’s ‘vision’ contradicts everything that the US Military stands for…”

(Photo YouTube)

The brainwashing of Trump blue collar loyalists by right wing media is on display every day. Speaking as the father of a Marine, it seems to me that Trump’s “vision” contradicts everything that the US Military stands for.

Let me explain.

That decent plumber who is a former Marine that you always liked, the one who worked so hard and never stuck you for more than you owed him now has another side to him. It’s a dark side nurtured by decades of mind-altering pure poison.

In fact this poison is the opposite of everything that this former Marine was taught on Parris Island by his drill instructors. There was a time this man was trained to watch the back of his black and Hispanic fellow Marines. There was a time he said “Yes sir!” to his drill instructor who had come from Mexico. After all the military your plumber once honored and was part of what had paved the way for racial, cultural and economic integration. There were black generals in the US military before there ever were black editors at the liberal New York Times.

“Trump came along and unleashed a long-pent-up inner rant in a significant cohort of white working males. Trump’s rants would get him kicked off Parris Island if he was a recruit…”

The talk radio your plumber played while working so diligently in your basement during house calls, was doing more than just entertaining him. It changed him. Everything he learned on Parris Island was  being erased. At best this man was once a loyal American true to our highest ideals of tolerance and acceptance of the other. At worst he used to keep the hate, misogyny, crude jokes, black and gay-bashing to himself. He might have been a bigot but he’d also picked up some manners along the way. There were some things no one who wanted respect said or did.

No more.

Trump came along and unleashed a long-pent-up inner rant in a significant cohort of white working males. Trump’s rants would get him kicked off Parris Island if he was a recruit. Trump’s rants are the kind we associate with the sort of white minimally educated and thoroughly misinformed Americans who were not part of the military culture.

Trump is the very opposite of everything our military represents, at least in the theory of its training. I “meet” Trump supporters every day. A number of my video blogs on my Facebook page pointing out just why I don’t like Trump, have had upward of 8 million views taken together, with more than 100,000 shares and over 10,000 comments.

The result is that I’ve “heard” from Trump’s angry white men. The irony is that a few years ago when I wrote a book about how proud I was of my son’s military service of the several thousand letters and emails I got from the military family thanking me so many came from the same white working class cohort now identified with Trump. In fact it was my liberal and more educated friends who did not “get” my “military thing” as I wrote about my son serving his country.

The difference between working class America’s values of service and the selfishness of the upper classes was something I wrote about. I even wrote a book called AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America’s Upper Classes from Military Service — and How It Hurts Our Country. I did the talk show rounds including the Today Show (NBC) with my co-author Kathy Roth-Douquet, extolling the virtues of the mixed race and class-free world of the Marines. The irony is that I pointed to the tolerance of working class men and women from all races and backgrounds as shaped by military service as opposed to the snobbery and isolation of the university educated who just never seemed to get around to volunteering to serve.

“Trump has undermined the spirit of (among many other things) the colorblind and studiously inclusive US Military’s efforts to embrace all who serve of whatever background– including plenty of men and women who entered America illegally…”

When the Washington Post printed an op-ed of mine about my son’s service the point I made and the response from many working class white men — spoke of the very multicultural tolerant society that today so many Trump supporters hate.

In The Washington Post, (November 26, 2002, Page 29) here is how I painted what I took for the bedrock vision of America. My newfound respect for the military was rooted in the support I got from working Americans in contrast to my snooty upscale friends after I had announced that my son had just volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps right out of high school.

But aren’t the Marines terribly Southern?” asked one perplexed mother while… standing next to me at the brunch following graduation. “What a waste, he… was such a good student,” said another parent. One parent (a professor at a… nearby and rather famous university) spoke up at a school meeting and suggested that the school should “carefully evaluate what went wrong.”

When John graduated from three months of boot camp on Parris Island, 3,000… parents and friends were on the parade deck stands. We parents and our Marines not only were of many races but also were representative of many economic classes. Many were poor. Some arrived crammed in the backs of pickups, others by bus. John told me that a lot of parents could not afford the trip.

We in the audience were white and Native American. We were Hispanic, Arab… and African American and Asian. We were former Marines wearing the scars of… battle, or at least baseball caps emblazoned with battles’ names. We were Southern whites from Nashville and skinheads from New Jersey, black kids from Cleveland wearing ghetto rags and white ex-cons with ham-hock forearms defaced by jailhouse tattoos. We would not have been mistaken for the educated and well-heeled parents gathered on the lawns of John’s private school a half-year before.

After graduation, one new Marine told John, “Before I was a Marine, if I had… ever seen you on my block I would’ve probably killed you just because you… were standing there.” This was a serious statement from one of John’s good friends, an African American ex-gang member from Detroit who, as John said, “would die for me now, just like I’d die for him.”

My son has connected me to my country in a way that I was too selfish and… insular to experience before. I feel closer to the waitress at our local diner than to some of my oldest friends. She has two sons in the Corps. They are facing the same dangers as my boy. When the guy who fixes my car asks me how John is doing, I know he means it. His younger brother is in the Navy.

(My son John and me soon after he became a Marine)

The spirit of Parris Island is being attacked by Trump as it were. Trump has undermined the spirit of (among many other things) the colorblind and studiously inclusive US Military’s efforts to embrace all who serve of whatever background– including plenty of men and women who entered America illegally.

As Bob Cesca writes in Salon, it’s not the economy, stupid, that’s attracting new angry breed of white men to Trump. Something else is going on.

When discussing Trump’s base, sympathetic words are often tossed into the mix due to the common wisdom indicating how they’re frustrated with the allegedly awful economy, struggling to make ends meet. Therefore their anger is somehow justified. While there are surely stories of Americans who are suffering financial hardships due, perhaps, to the continued shockwaves of the Great Recession, a new study by Gallup shows that economic issues aren’t necessarily driving Trump’s base.

According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.

The study was careful to underscore how its conclusions are based on averages; therefore, and to repeat, there are certainly Trump fans who are having a hard time. Gallup went on to suggest that other factors could be contributing to the discontent among white working-class Americans, but the economy and immigration don’t appear to be fully animating the mania that’s so prevalent among Trump’s people.

A recent video (out of many hundreds that are similar) illustrates what Cesca rightly calls “typical Trump supporters”  (WATCH it below) — the non-college-educated white men, “ranging from younger ‘bros’ to, more typically, white male baby-boomer retirees with plenty of spare time to be relentlessly irradiated by Fox News and AM talk radio.”

“Trump’s base has been separated from basic common sense let alone a fact-based world view by a one-dimensional FOX News/talk radio scorched earth policy…”

In the video below a man stops by the press enclosure to yell over and over again: “You are traitors! I am an American patriot! I am a patriot! And your name is ‘Traitor!’” … all this because the people he is speaking to are in the hated press pool.

As Cesca writes:

Before he opened his mouth, though, it would’ve been difficult to imagine this Trump supporter behaving in such an unbalanced way. Wearing a light blue golf shirt and white shorts, he looked like anyone’s kindly Florida grandpa — a man who we’d otherwise assume to be wise and centered; a man who’s more likely let his grand-kids win at a round of checkers than to scream like a madman at Noah Gray, a CNN producer who happened to catch the full force of the man’s rave-out.

A video of a Pence rally showed an Air Force mom asking Trump’s running mate about the Khizr Khan story and whether Pence will ever tell Trump that “enough is enough.” The woman was greeted by boos. A gray-haired older man screams at her repeatedly. The man (who was pulled away by security), as well as the screaming and booing crowd, also fit the profile of Trump’s base to the point of Archie Bunker Caricature–  white male retirees with massive chips on their shoulders and apparently thoroughly addled brains.

Taken in one’s a two’s these are your local ordinary working stiffs who have had one too many drinks maybe. Taken together the Trump goons are unreasonably boorish and rude to the point that should they have entered the Marine Corps expressing such attitudes they’d be sent home.

Trump’s base has been separated from basic common sense let alone a fact-based world view by a one-dimensional FOX News/talk radio scorched earth policy. White working men have been slowly indoctrinated by a far right unhinged conspiracy-theory-embracing media that has weened them off the baseline of reality.

The White Man Gospel According to FOX/Limbaugh-et-al, is that women, minorities, immigrants are stripping ALL OF US of OUR Long-Held RIGHTS. And the context for this indoctrination of the under-educated has taken place while a black president– with, as FOX News always reminds us the middle name “Hussein” — is in what used to be a White House in both meanings of the word as in white’s house.

“The fact-free, angry rants I get have multiplied. I’m sent links to sites “proving” that Hillary Clinton “personally ordered the Muslim Obama to attack our embassy.” (No kidding)…”

The result is not pretty. As Nicholas Kristof’ writes in the New York Times (“Making America Meaner”)

The upshot is that this election year, we’re divided not only by political party and ideology, but also by identity. So the weave of our national fabric unravels. And while our eyes have mostly been on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the nation’s history is being written not just in the capital and grand cities but also in small towns and etched in the lives of ordinary people.

I wrote a column recently exploring whether Trump is a racist, and a result was anti-Semitic vitriol from Trump followers, one of whom suggested I should be sent to the ovens for writing “a typical Jewish hit piece.” In fact, I’m Armenian and Christian, not Jewish, but the responses underscored that the Trump campaign is enveloped by a cloud of racial, ethnic and religious animosity — much of it poorly informed.

The fact-free, angry rants I get have multiplied. I’m sent links to sites “proving” that Hillary Clinton “personally ordered the Muslim Obama to attack our embassy.” (No kidding) … And so forth and so on.  And that’s just the start. The illiteracy is only matched by the blind hatred, profanity and shorthand acronyms “THAT BITCH” “THE CUNT” etc., and thinly veiled threats as to what will happen to “YOUS liberallas like you asholes scum like yousals wen we win.” (Again, no kidding.)

If one’s only contact with working class white Americans was through YouTube videos of Trump’s followers — or the “messages” on one’s FB page from his supporters who disagree with say a favorable vido op-ed on Hillary–you’d hardly guess that every day on Parris Island Marnie Corps Recruit Depot thousands of young mostly working class white Americans mingle happily with other women and men of all colors. You’d never guess that in the Marine Corps people of all backgrounds are told by their drill instructors that the “only color that matters here is green,” in other words the color of the uniform all recruits wear.

The choice this November for working class whites is between the vision of service and unity fostered in the US military or Trump’s divided America.

Trump is already feeding his embittered cohort his lame excuse for his looming loss: the election was rigged!

“Working class people were many things but not known for blaming everyone else for their own mistakes. Now a certain brand of white working man is led by a bad loser…”

This is the classic playground taunt of a bad loser. “They cheated!” “I didn’t lose! I was robbed!”

(Try that on the rifle range of Parris Island: “I didn’t miss the target sir! It’s not my fault! Recruit Zaria distracted me!)

The very working class sensible values that Trump’s supporters once stood for would have once made them scoff at such a bad loser. Add in Trump’s overt lack of patriotism, given he says our democracy is rigged, and the working class bedrock of America would have turned their backs on him.

Working class people were many things but not known for blaming everyone else for their own mistakes. Now a certain brand of white working man is led by a bad loser. And Trump is not just a brat bad loser, he is a draft dodger too, rather he honed the usual rich kid’s cop out (4 draft exemptions for college and one for bad feet that seemed to get a whole lot better, when Vietnam was over.)

Trump honed his skills at conning working people through his get-rich-quick “university” scheme. And now he’s preying on the same demographic, only this time with the help of so-called conservative media who have spent the better part of the last 30 years rotting the brains of Trump’s followers for just such a time as this.

And speaking of the video I mentioned… here is what a Trump/Right Wing Media-addled brain in “action” looks like as an ordinary older white American loses his marbles. He buys into Trump’s lie that Trump’s problem isn’t Trump but the “liberal media.” After all the system is rigged! Right? They say so on FOX! They say all those facts aren’t facts but just liberal media stuff like global warming or that the economy did well under President Obama. Besides, Trump is a winner! He says so! So he never loses unless he’s cheated!

…Or as a failing recruit might put it — just before being kicked out of the Marine recruit training — “I’m a perfect expert shot sir! It’s the target that being moved so I can’t hit it! It’s not my fault!”

WATCH:

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His latest book —WHY I AM AN ATHEIST WHO BELIEVES IN GOD: How to give love, create beauty and find peace

Available now on Amazon

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