Once more, Jon Stewart has a clear-eyed perspective on all the craziness that’s going down right now in our national political space. This is an extended discussion with Dave Axelrod at the University of Chicago on May 9th. The whole conversation is worth listening to, but the first thirteen or so minutes are particularly on point, and are excerpted here.
Stewart connects the rise of Trump to the increasingly vitriolic and even apocalyptic narrative that has for years been the daily meat-and-potatoes of right-wing talk radio in particular, and the conservative mindset in general. He’s not the first commentator to link Republican exploitation of white and particularly male anger at the social changes of the last two generations (aka “the Southern Strategy”) to the rise of a nasty, know-nothing populism (see Sarah Palin as a Trump forerunner), but he does so here in terms that make it hard to argue with his premise. Trump is, quite simply, a monster created by the Republican Party that is now running amok, out of their control, tearing through the heart of our body-politic like Godzilla with bad hair.
Frankly, this is how democracies die. People get afraid or angry and disgusted with the existing political process– and it’s simply a non-partisan truth that at the moment there’s plenty to be disgusted with about how our government is working, or not working– a figure on a white horse appears who promises to make the bad stuff go away, while spouting slogans such as “make the nation great again” or “regain our national honor”, and the people hand the government over to the horseman. These strongmen are frequently strong only in their rhetoric, and absolute disasters as heads of state. Trump shows every sign of having just such feet of political clay.
We cannot, cannot, cannot allow this man even close to the levers of power in this country. The stakes are just too high.