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Trump Pushes Hope While Clinton Pushes Fear

2016 November 8
by Ian Welsh
The Person Most Responsible for Clinton's Loss

(Back to the top, given how well Trump is doing. Contrary to what many say, hope beats fear pretty often. Election open thread is below.)

I know. It’s not what you’ve been told. Hold still, and read.

Clinton’s storyline is as follows: “I will be an historic woman president and I am supremely qualified, competent, and tough. I know what can be done and most left-wing things are impossible, but I’ll do what I can within the constraints of the system.”

Or, as some wag put it during the primary, “No we can’t.” Add in: “I have ovaries” and “I’m tough,” and you have Hillary’s storyline.

Donald TrumpHere is Trump’s: “I know the system is corrupt because I won in the corrupt system, but I’m rich and owe no one, so when I’m President I’ll work for you.”

Jobs: “There aren’t enough good jobs because of bad trade deals and immigration. I’ll re-negotiate trade deals, slap on huge tariffs, and bring America’s jobs back while reducing illegal immigration with a wall.”

Terrorism: “Terrorism is caused by Muslim immigrants and I’m going to stop those immigrants from coming to the US until we can figure out who the bad ones are.”

Read what I’m about to say next very carefully: I am not talking about the platforms or policy proposals (which mean little anyway), I am talking about the message the candidates and their main surrogates are pushing.

These are their positive messages.

You may disagree with either message, but the simple truth is that Trump has a stronger positive message. Trump is saying: “America has problems, I can fix them, and here are my solutions.”

Clinton is saying: “I’m competent and I deserve this.”

Clinton’s slogan says: “I’m with Her” (meaning Americans are with her).

Trump’s slogan says: “Trump for America” (meaning Trump is there for America).

On positive messaging, Trump is absolutely stronger. There is no contest.

Now, let’s look at negative messaging.

Negative on Trump: He’s a fascist, racist, incompetent blowhard. He is (barely sub voce) Hitler reborn. (And, just recently, “a pawn of RUSSIA” who will destroy the American Empire.)

Negative on Clinton: She’s a crook and a traitor and incompetent. She voted for or was for everything that has fucked up America, like Iraq and trade deals. She supports BLM and wants cops to die.

The negative message against Trump is a lot stronger than the negative messaging against Clinton. Most of my readers are probably firmly embedded in a liberal bubble, and may say, “That’s not right!” but look at the actual charges. (“Fascist, Hitler, Manchurian Candidate.”)

Yes, traitors should be hung, but Hitler’s/Fasicsts are far worse.

This is the most negative campaign I remember in my life, bar none. Both sides are going all out, but the anti-Trump negatives are stronger, though Trump is now trying hard with the “Blue Lives Matter” message.

I want to point out something: When people are traitors or Hitler, violence is justified–especially in the case of violence against the Hitler/Fascist.

If an actual fascist was to take power in the US, the damage he could do is immense. When people hear “fascist,” they think genocide, gulags, world war.

There’s very little that isn’t justified if someone is going to be Hitler. He must be stopped, no matter what.

If someone isn’t actually Hitler/Fascist, then calling them that is very dangerous.

I don’t, myself, think Trump is fascist, let alone Hitler reborn. But if he is, then virtually nothing is off the board in stopping him.

In terms of actual speeches, I judge Trump as LESS likely to start a major war, because Trump has gone out of his way to be conciliatory with Russia and Putin (a.k.a., the only other country with enough nukes to destroy the world).

As for domestic policies, Trump’s more comfortable with racist rhetoric and violence than I like.

Is he Hitler reborn, though?


Trump has the stronger positive message. It isn’t even close.

Clinton has the stronger negative message. It isn’t even close.

Because of how much Trump is happy to use ridicule and because the media despises Trump even as they can’t look away, that’s not how it has been played, but it’s still the case.

Trump has been hit with stronger negative messages. Fascist/Hitler/Russian stooge beats incompetent, crooked, traitor.

Oddly, if Clinton wins, assuming messages stay relatively consistent, it will be because FEAR has won. If Trump wins, it will be because HOPE has won.

I do not claim that Trump has the “better” plan. If one wants, one can draw Trump as another Reagan, with his “Morning in America” and his bullshit plan, and draw Clinton as the sensible one. (Jimmy Carter, for all his flaws, does not deserve to be compared to Clinton.)

Or one can compare to Britain leaving the EU, where the Leave campaign had the message of hope, and the Remain campaign had the “This is as good as it gets!” message.

What I do say is that Trump’s message has been one that says “America has problems, I can fix them, here is my plan,” and that Clinton has said, “America’s fine already, I’ll make some tweaks, life is about as good as it’s going to get.”

If Trump wins, it will be because he had a stronger positive message.

It’s a weird world.

(For the record, folks, I would not vote for Trump and do not recommend doing so. I would also not vote for Clinton. I’ll run through the reasoning and how to decide who to vote for in a later post. This is one of the rare elections where I recommend just voting in your self-interest.)

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119 Responses
  1. markfromireland permalink
    July 29, 2016

    @ different clue July 28, 2016

    Yes yes yes yadda yadda yadda you’ve spouted this line of shite at me before. It was ludicrous claptrap spouted by somebody whose forebears weren’t good enough to make it over here the last time you spouted it and it’s still ludicrous claptrap spouted by somebody whose forebears weren’t good enough to make it over here now. Enjoy your party.

  2. markfromireland permalink
    July 29, 2016

    @Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    As is apparent to everyone who can read it was your fellow-American who brought up the subject of nuclear war.

  3. markfromireland permalink
    July 29, 2016

    @ Lisa July 28, 2016

    They’re getting their massive change – courtesy of the inhrerent centripetalism of the way they’re set up.

    a new FDR (or a US Putin) could turn it around, but as we saw with Sanders the establishment and elite won’t let anyone like that into power these days.

    There’s a limit to what one man can do on his own FDR had quite a power structure behind him and used the war the broaden and deepen it.

    Putin comes from a very strong and powerful institution and has moreover the benefit of being able to draw upon the deep well-springs of Russian patriotism. Moreover he’s taken Russia from a collapsed society at the mercy both of thieving plutocrats and hostile outsiders – in particular the USA – to a resurgent power well able to look after itself and its interests.

    What has America got? A right of centre populist who is currently the Republican party’s candidate on the one hand and a war-mongering neo-con who hasn’t changed an iota since her Goldwater days.

  4. markfromireland permalink
    July 29, 2016

    @ Lisa July 28, 2016

    As a PS: “Too big to succeed” It’s been true of every empire and hegemony up to now and all the evidence is pointing to the fact that it’s still the case.

    It occurs to me that you might find Dimitry Orlov’s latest amusing here’s a teaser for you:

    What’s worse, other countries are now getting into the act. The Americans told the Brits exactly how to vote, and yet the Brits said “nyet” and voted for Brexit. The Americans told the Europeans to accept the horrendous corporate power grab that is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the French said “nyet, it shall not pass.” The US organized yet another military coup in Turkey to replace Erdoǧan with somebody who won’t try to play nice with Russia, and the Turks said “nyet” to that too. And now, horror of horrors, there is Donald Trump saying “nyet” to all sorts of things—NATO, offshoring American jobs, letting in a flood of migrants, globalization, weapons for Ukrainian Nazis, free trade…

    ClubOrlov: The Power of “Nyet”

  5. Lisa permalink
    July 29, 2016

    markfromireland: read it I have long followed his site and by and large his theory that the US would do a USSR style collapse is correct, but it is just happening at a slower pace.

  6. Lisa permalink
    July 29, 2016

    Another sign of US collapse, like the USSR the death rate for middle age white working/middle class men is rising rapidly.

    What is surprising is the rise in similar women dying. That is unprecedented because it is women, when it all turns to custard, that keep things gong when the men all collapse in a heap and pour themselves into a bottle or drugs.

    In the USSR when the death rate for men was so high it was like the impact of a major war, women kept it all together, kept the food on the table …as usual.

    That is a very weird sociological phenomena that is hard to explain.

    Another one is the amazing number of younger US women who are just not partnering up with men. Nothing to do with sexuality, they are all heterosexual they just don’t get involved with men now, they have given up on them.
    I suspect that it is because their is a deep vein of misogyny in sections of US society, not just the usual sexist stuff, plus a culture of ‘faux masculinity’. The combination of the two is toxic. You can be a sexist man but actually like and love women, but the hatred some men have for women is extraordinary.

    I know women like that here in Australia (another place of ‘faux masculinity’) and they have just given up trying to find anything like a half decent bloke and they are not being super picky with unrealistic expectations by any means, anything but.

    So there are these huge sociological pressures building up that fly mostly under the radar.

  7. V. Arnold permalink
    July 29, 2016

    July 29, 2016
    So there are these huge sociological pressures building up that fly mostly under the radar.

    Yes, as a self exiled Usian I must, after decades of observation, agree with your POV.
    Even my younger sister (67 yo) will vote Hillary and refuses any information/facts, to the contrary.
    So, essentially, I’ve finally given up, totally, on the U.S. government and “its” citizens.
    Utterly hopeless; they must then, necessarily, suffer the consequences of their actions. Just to be clear; failure to act is an action. That is little understood in the west.

  8. tony permalink
    July 29, 2016

    As far as I can tell, the dominant value of the Anglosphere is hedonism. If you adopt that value, then it does not make sense to become a man women would like to marry. You can give up, watch porn and not care. Or you can become a man women have sex with, which requires less investment and gives more pleasure than a serious commitment.

    So for a man who has adopted the individualist materialism, I see no incentive to be a man women would like to marry. Note that the Amish, Mormons, Latinos etc don’t really have this issue. Similarly, less individualistic societies, in which people have loyalties beyond themselves, have less of this.

    American masculinity to me looks like a performance meant to hide any vulnerabilities, like a person would in a hostile environment. You don’t want to cry in a prison or a reveal vulnerabilities in a fight.

  9. Peter* permalink
    July 29, 2016

    These comments about the immanent demise of the Hegemon/capitalism appear to be wishful thinking and even hallucinations of an altered reality. The comparison with the USSR is especially humorous even hilarious in it’s attempts to paint that cartoon. The USSR collapsed because the Russians with power decided they wanted to become Capitalist Pigs just like us and that is what they have become, with some success. Their population problem was and is a reproduction problem and while their population growth has remained flat our population has grown by 50% since 1970.

    Orlov’s pep talk for the resistance seems like more wishful thinking with a little diversionary propaganda added for the tinfoil hats. The people who voted for Brexit and who oppose the TPP are an irritant to the PTB but they have no real power to make decisions or do anything about that lack of power.

    His projection of the US being behind the Turkish coup attempt makes me wonder if he is the Russian version of Alex Jones. While the US has problems with Erdogan and some people would like to think insanity rules in the CIA, a Gulenist cult ruling Turkey would not further US objectives in the region. Putin/Russia on the other hand had a huge axe to grind with the Sultan Erdogan so cui bono?

  10. different clue permalink
    July 29, 2016


    I will do my best to enjoy the party as best as I can. Thank you for your kind wishes in that regard. And thanks again for sending over your best and brightest to help get the party started.

  11. markfromireland permalink
    August 1, 2016

    @ different clue

    Well as you yourself admitted earlier on in this conversation you are like us just a lot cruder and without the self-restraint necessary to live in a civilised society. Which is why when I compare society in which I live with in which you live I cannot help but notice that :

    We live longer than you.
    We have better health than you.
    We’re better educated than you.
    We’re paid more than you.
    We produce more than you.
    We have a higher standard of civil liberty than you.
    We have a higher standard of living than you.

    Enjoy your party and have a nice day.

  12. Tom W Harris permalink
    August 1, 2016

    Well, ain’t you speshhhhhul?

  13. November 9, 2016

    I’m stunned that Trump is doing this well. I never thought he had much of a chance. I can hardly blame people for voting for him over that corrupt Clinton political machine.

    If she loses, most of the demo-zombies will see this as another sign of how fucked up the country is and how morally superior they are to the “thems”. But meanwhile, it was partly their steadfast defense of Obama … despite his continual betrayal of their so-called principles and his slavishness to corporate interests … that brought the nation to this point. They let him get away with it by maintaining their support of him … through all of it. And now here we are …

    It’s not the whole entire reason, but it’s a underappreciated contributing factor.

    And Obama’s signature “achievement” of a corporate-servile health care law also played a big part in it.


  14. November 9, 2016

    And another sign that the big corporate lapdawg Bill Clinton isn’t as popular as the mainstream polls tells us he is. Another crock of poll-shit.

    Hopefully, this will bring to the forefront what a failure that the Obama presidency has been for the vast majority of this country.


  15. November 9, 2016

    Uh-oh, and it looks like the stock price of the Clinton Foundation just took a big hit overnight …


  16. November 9, 2016

    The Coronation that never came …


  17. November 9, 2016


    But that’s the price we pay for being the best. It don’t come easy, you know …


  18. November 9, 2016

    They really ought to do a corruption investigation on mainstream polling. Obama probably isn’t nearly as popular as the polls keep telling us he is. And he’s not even all that popular in those polls.


  19. realitychecker permalink
    November 9, 2016

    @ MFI

    But, but, but, WE HAVE BETTER TEETH !!!

    AND, just gotta say, wherever that idiot TBogg is hiding his slimy neoliberal ass these days, GFY.

    The People won something, for a change, Now we’ll see if Trump will deliver on his promises more faithfully than Obama did. (It would be hard not to, IMO.)-

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