Whenever I see that lout Trump, I see a swaggerer, and I think of one of the funniest scenes in English theatre. Hostess Quickly, a role claimed by Dame Edith Evans, is a most put-upon innkeeper who has to put up with the drunken and louche Falstaff and his dirty rotten loud mates like Ancient Pistol. (I have been looking at this play for fifty years, and for the first time I see these dudes described as ‘irregular humorists’.)
If he swagger, let him not come here. No, by my faith. I must live among my neighbours. I’ll no swaggerers. I am in good name and fame with the very best. Shut the door, there comes no swaggerers here. I have not lived all this while to have swaggering now. Shut the door, I pray you……Cheater, call you him? I will bar no honest man my house, nor no cheater. But I do not love swaggering, by my troth. I am the worse when one says ‘swagger’. Feel, masters, how I shake, look you, I warrant you.
Well, that may be more informative than our political commentators. Here’s an extract from one piece. (Readers of our newspapers will pick up on the authors.)
That a political correction is taking place in Australia and other Western liberal democracies is undoubted. Even the political/ media class recognises the obvious. But perhaps because the correction is largely directed at the political/media class, it misinterprets what is unfolding.
It is all about perceptions and perspective. The establishment politicians and their media clique think mainstream voters have changed — but in reality it is the voters who are pulling back on a runaway political class
Politicians of the Left have drifted away from the public on fundamental issues and the prevailing wisdom of media and academic voices creates the siren song luring many centrist and centre-right politicians away too.
In Europe, North America and Australia the political establishment has understated the importance of border security and national interest, overstated the role of supranational and multilateral bodies, and bowed to the whims of political correctness across issues such as education, immigration, gender, climate change and law and order.
Progressive voters have gone along for the ride but mainstream people aren’t so sure; they tend towards conservatism. Of late they have flocked to disruptive outsiders because the political establishment gave them no alternative.
Voters in last year’s US presidential contest weren’t given much of a choice. As Mark Steyn pointed out long before Donald Trump’s victory, they were being offered a choice between the continuation of a Clinton Democratic dynasty or a Bush Republican inheritance. Middle America confounded expectations by choosing a disrupter instead.
In Australia, after the overthrow of Tony Abbott, voters ended up with the leaders of both major parties who were deferential to global climate strictures, were unknown quantities on border protection and seemingly uncomfortable calling out the threat of Islamic terrorism.
There was little product differentiation — except between the political class preoccupations of gay marriage and climate change and mainstream concerns about national security and the cost of living.
Pauline Hanson’s extreme plan to ban Muslim immigration became a viable protest avenue for those dismayed that the political establishment couldn’t even utter the word Islamist. One Nation’s simplistic economic nationalism was a foil to major parties incapable of reining in debt and deficits, and determined to increase power prices in order to meet meaningless agreements struck in Paris talkfests.
Then, a week before, another, in the same paper. This, too, is an extract.
As Donald Trump’s new presidency surges across our politics, creating chaos and uncertainty, there is one element in his victory where most Australian politicians remain in ideological denial — the revolt against identity politics.
Trump, in effect, was given permission to win the election by the US progressive class despite his narcissism, his coarseness and his smashing of the orthodox bounds of political and policy behaviour.
In retrospect, the 2016 US election story is a grand joke — enough voters in Middle America decided to tolerate Trump’s juvenile viciousness because they felt the narcissism of prevailing closed-minded progressive ideology was no longer to be tolerated. In the end, the alternative was worse than Trump. Is this too difficult an idea to grasp?
During the Obama era the US underwent a cultural revolution. Fuelled by social activists on race, sex and gender issues and the decisive swing by younger people to social liberalism as a way of life, the Democratic Party embraced identity politics as a brand. It mirrored the values transformation that swept through many American institutions: the academy, media, arts, entertainment and much of the high income earning elite. But revolutions are only guaranteed to bring counterrevolutions in their wake.
Barack Obama won two presidential elections enshrining identity and minority politics at the heart of his campaign. But Obama is a unique historical figure. What works for him doesn’t work for other Democrats — witness Hillary Clinton. In 2016 minority politics failed to deliver. Its momentum has been checked, with American progressives sunk in an angry valley of rage.
Last year Clinton, after a long and often tortuous journey, embraced not a call to all, but a collection of separate identity groups, a pervasive agenda of political correctness and pledges to end discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. This testified to the US Supreme Court decision in favour of samesex marriage, the injustices visited on African Americans, the voting power of minorities and their decisive capture of the soul of the Democratic Party. The problem for the Democrats is now obvious: managing the Obama legacy without the magic of Obama.
This election, beyond its madness, was about a clash of moral vision. Trump stood for three visions: economic protection against free trade, nationalism against internationalism, and cultural tradition against social liberalism. In Australia there has been immense coverage of Trump’s victory combined with denial of its full meaning. It is a historic failure of progressivism.
They are like faded 33 rpm microgrooves. Are they talking about the same planet? This is abstraction, labelling, and tribalism gone crackers. It might even be too much for the IPA. I think I counted the word ‘class’ nine times in the first piece, and many might wonder if they know of a more prominent member of the ‘political/media class’ than the author. Karl Marx would be shocked.
Well, at least the second piece recognises how plain nasty Trump is. The author refers to Trump’s ‘juvenile viciousness.’ But did those who voted for Trump really ‘feel the narcissism’ of ‘progressive politics’? If they did, were they stark raving mad by rejecting that narcissism while voting for the most singular narcissist on earth since Cleopatra emancipated the eunuchs? But later we get this.
The genius of Trump’s ‘make America great again’ slogan was that it resonated at multiple levels— with people who saw their jobs and incomes were being eroded along with something even bigger: they felt the values of their America were being stolen, that they were losing their country.
This is the legendary rust-belt of overlooked and under-employed white people. Trump addressed this kind of sore loser and won. Both sides played ‘identity politics’, whatever that means. It’s just that the Democrats picked the wrong losers.
This is bullshit as pure as it gets. Why can’t our press try some comment without abstraction, label, or cliché, based on a verifiable statement of fact? Let us drop this swagger about ‘political/media class’ and ‘identity politics’ and leave that nonsense to those who go in for polls and focus groups. Or if you like your politics delivered as broad brushed impressionism, try the following. A brash nouveaux riche oaf, with no brains and less manners, guilefully manipulated by a sinister and fallen member of the elect, got way with enough pure nonsense and outright lies, about scapegoats and their own magical powers, to steal an election by appealing to gullible losers against a washed out dynasty, and although they did not win the popular vote, they just managed to squeak into power, with help from Putin’s secret service and the FBI.
And ‘swagger’ – the Oxford English Dictionary has ‘external conduct or personal behaviour marked by an air of superiority or defiant or insolent disregard of others…..to behave with an air of superiority, in a blustering, insolent, or defiant manner; now esp.to walk or carry oneself as if among inferiors, with an obtrusively superior or insolent air.’
What a beautiful thing our language is. Our press should try it more often – and leave the six day old blancmange to the birds.
Poet of the Month: Dante, Inferno, Canto 1.
And never moved she from before my face,
Nay, rather did impede so much my way,
That many times I to return had turned.
The time was the beginning of the morning,
And up the sun was mounting with those stars
That with him were, what time the Love Divine
At first in motion set those beauteous things;
So were to me occasion of good hope,
The variegated skin of that wild beast,
The hour of time, and the delicious season;
But not so much, that did not give me fear
A lion’s aspect which appeared to me.
He seemed as if against me he were coming
With head uplifted, and with ravenous hunger,
So that it seemed the air was afraid of him;
And a she-wolf, that with all hungerings
Seemed to be laden in her meagreness,
And many folk has caused to live forlorn!