During the Trump era, neoliberals have found their calling card and a second wind. Their most popular plan is that they aren’t Trump. Their climate policy is going to do more than Trump. Their healthcare plan is that Trump won’t be able to take away the ACA. Their COVID plan is to stop Trump from tweeting. It’s a Neoliberal dream, collecting donor checks and never having to actually legislate or govern. There are two ways to react to Donald Trump if you are not a conservative, complete hatred/anger/shock/disgust or you have taken the time to study and think about what Trump has exposed in Washington. If you remember the 2015 primary battle, Trump was originally opposed by all media, especially Fox. Unlike Bernie, Trump was able to somehow flank the media with their own supporters, forcing them to cave. If we truly seek to change this country, why would we not try to study the biggest outsider and chaos agent of the last 30 years.
All the Neoliberal apologists have already started heading for the exit at this point, no wait they would never click something about what we can learn from Trump. Let’s continue. There are three areas of study around Trump that we can gleam value from- his open corruption with politics, the corruption of the ultra wealthy, and his relationship with the media.
Remember when Saudia Arabia murdered journalist Jamal Khoshoggi back in 2018? Trump commented that it would be “foolish” to stop selling the Crown Prince weapons. When Trump said this, everyone’s jaws hit the floor, and the media went bezerk. Yet what is so fascinating is that President Obama sold billions and billions of weapons to a similarly corrupt regime in Saudi Arabia. This is what makes Trump interesting, his appeal is that he says the quiet part out loud. Should we sell guns that allow the Saudis to kill innocents and create a famine in Yemen? Obviously not from a moral perspective but we all know what is going on, we want the money! Trump is the first President to openly admit corruption. Think about his response to paying no taxes, “That makes me smart!”, and if you think Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama aren’t gaming the system in similar ways you’re fooling yourself. This is the first major lesson progressives can learn from Trump- the veil of innocence in Washington has been ripped back, both parties are in the same corrupt, self-enriching bed. If you refuse to see your own parties guilt and corruption you are exactly the same as the hard headed Trump supporter you hate. Obama has literally been galavanting around with Billionaires and landing massive production deals. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take the same Big Pharma and Wall Street donations as Donald Trump. Don’t let Trump’s shenanigans distract you from the circus of greed and corruption he has opened to the public.
While there is significant overlap here with the corruption Trump revealed within the government, he also pulled back the veil on the power of the ultra wealthy. Oh yeah and remember that lizard-man billionaire Michael Bloomberg who spent $100 million running, just for fun? These men showed us what the life of a Billionaire is like, from private jets and golden toilets to having affairs with pornstars. With Bloomberg we got an up close look at the scale of their wealth, his little $100 Million campaign experiment didn’t even cost 1% of his total wealth. To bring this to scale 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings. So $100 Million to Mike Bloomberg’s $55.5 Billion would be the equivalent of $10 to most Americans. Really let that sink in, $10. Even if you had $100k in savings it would still only be $1000 to you. People like Bloomberg- Bezos, Buffett, Zuckerberg, Koch, Adelson, Soros any single one of them has enough wealth to end homelessness, or completely control the government through political donations. Fascinating to think of all the problems they could end with the click of a button, instead they are using their war chest to rig the tax codes and regulations to ensure they become even wealthier. This economy is like a pie, a very big pie, the bigger one slice gets the smaller all other slices become, and 1% of the population has half and the other 99% of us are left fighting over the other half. Trump is really the poster child of phony, late-stage capitalism- He inherited all of his money through a tax scheme that cheated the system, he has never produced, created, or built anything, just been a celebrity that can sell just his name to actual creators, the laws of the market never apply as he goes bankrupt time and time again with no consequence, all the while leveraging massive government tax breaks. Look at the stock market, the holy ground of capitalism, the fed is now completely propping up the market by injecting large sums of money to artificially increase the price. At the end of the day Trump has shown us that the ultra wealthy are the real socialist, never bound to the competition based market while constantly using and merging with the government.
It is hard to remember now after years of pro-trump Fox News, but when the President first launched his campaign Fox News vehemently opposed him. Remember his epic showdown with Megyn Kelly when he suggested that she was on her period when she attacked him? How was he able to turn the tides on them? This is perhaps the most critical lesson that the progessive left needs to learn from Trump. Obviously we can’t replicate Trump’s behaviors, but we need to replicate his results, or else we will get crushed every time under the foot of the media. When Joe Biden and Barack Obama were able to get every candidate except Elizabeth Warren to drop out of the race and endorse him, Biden received $100 Million dollars worth of free air time. When Joe Biden won South Carolina by a similar margin that Bernie had just beat him by in Nevada, he received 4 times the amount of positive coverage as Bernie. How did Trump fair at this media game? Well, during his first run he garnered over $2 Billion dollars of free coverage. Yep, the media’s inability to stop talking about him more than likely gave him the presidency, not to mention having a bigger twitter following than Fox, CNN, & MSNBC combined. He got through to their customer base, something Bernie was never able to do with suburban whites, the media kept him locked out. It is possible the media learned a valuable lesson after losing to Trump, their power lies in the ability to limit what information is available, not persuading people. Their greatest tool is silencing a person or cause, if you never show anything Trump does and occasionally show embarrassing moments or just never have Bernie Sanders on a show again. There is what you know you don’t know, what you know you know, and then the things you do not know, that you don’t know them. Things you don’t even think to ask the question about. This is where the media places people like Bernie Sanders and his policies. If the progressive left or any outsider right wing group wants to succeed we must have a counter balance to the media like Trump if we ever wish to have power.