The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Trump Is a Consistent Right-Wing, Nativist Populist

Donald TrumpAre they trying to convince people to vote for him?

So, yes, a letter signed by NeoCons talking about what a disaster Trump would be.

I mean, it’s grand that they are against torture now, and I prefer the stance that demonizing Muslims is bad, ‘kay, but these are the the people who lied the US into the Iraq war and caused the rise of ISIL (among other things).

As Crowley writes:

Donald Trump calls the Iraq War a lie-fueled fiasco, admires Vladimir Putin and says he would be a “neutral” arbiter between Israel and the Palestinians.

So—cooling the conflicts between the US and Russia, acknowledging the truth about Iraq, and not taking Israel’s side.

Trump mixes up ideological certainties for elites. He’s not consistent with any elite consensus, he’s all over the place. Boot Muslims out, but be neutral between Israel and Palestinians?

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing, and want more of it, please consider donating.)

This is nativism. America is for Americans, and Americans aren’t Muslim. The constitution may disagree, but nativist sentiment agrees.

The Neocons bewail Trump saying he’d charge Japan for protection (which I disagree with), and while that’s inconsistent with elite ideology, it is consistent with nativism. Japan’s problems with its neighbours, including North Korea, are not America’s problems. Why should America protect them, or anyone else, if America isn’t receiving anything for it?

(As Japan, I’d negotiate based on use of the Okinawa base, and so on. Japan actually gives the US a lot already.)

Trump is not inconsistent. He is a populist nativist, and his policies track that pretty well. Because he is right-wing, he wants lower taxes on “good rich” (but not hedge funds), but populism has always been able to be both right- and left-wing.

The other populist in the race is Sanders. Note that while Sanders believes in a road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and certainly wouldn’t be kicking large numbers out, Sanders voted against the 2007 immigration bill because it would have expanded guest-workers by 200K.

Current Americans, citizens or not, come first for Sanders. He’s not a nativist, but he is a populist.




Is Sanders Done?


Stopping Donald Trump at the Convention


  1. markfromireland

    When I look at Sanders’ foreign policy positions I don’t see much to encourage me. IMO Trump is more likely to go isolationist than Sanders. A Sanders presidency will be too domestically weak to be able to mount an effective resistance to the various war industry interests. The American military is out of control and needs to be brought back under effective control sharpish. I can’t see a Sanders administration doing that effectively. Moreover I can’t see him lasting more a term.

    I can see Trump lasting more than a term and I can see him delivering a quite savage kicking to any neo-con or neo-liberal grouping that crosses him. From what I’ve heard he’s allergic to eagle shit which is encouraging. If that is true then he not only has the inclination but he’s also well placed to get the American military – in particular their airforce, back under control. Certainly better placed than anyone else.

    Clinton? She’d be like that other democrat harridan – the one who thinks murdering other peoples’ children is “worth it” and wonders aloud What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?

  2. V. Arnold

    America (the U.S. part) is FUBAR!
    There is the slimist chance of redemption via Sanders; and even that is questionable.
    As evidenced since the 2008 elections; Usian’s are willing to grasp at straws; no matter how thin…
    A population like that is doomed to panic and bad decisions.

  3. Ian Welsh

    Bernie’s foreign policy positions are not great, but he’s in the odd position of having a better voting record than his policy page, which is to say he voted against pretty much every war and intervention.

  4. V. Arnold

    You can grasp at whatever straws offered, for all the good it will accomplish.
    This election cycle is showing the US for what it actually is!
    Racist, exclusive, elitist, white centric, abusive, militaristic, and hopelessly uneducated/under-educated.
    There is no possibility, that a population such as that, can maintain a vibrant democracy; or any form of democracy/freedom at all…

  5. jump

    I’m starting to lean towards the conclusion that the GOP elite actually want Trump (maybe not from the start but they are coming around) and that all the bluster about Trump splitting apart the GOP or how awful he would be is just that, bluster–controlled and targeted bluster at that. Sad.

    V. Arnold, thanks for specifying the US part when mentioning America.

  6. Peter*

    I wonder where supposedly well read people get the impression that Trump has said he would ‘boot Muslims out’ unless they were illegal immigrants/criminals. His statement about temporarily restricting Muslims entering the country was aimed at the poor quality of background checks done by US Customs and would end when those failures and faults were addressed.

    Trump is certainly a Nationalist but his business empire relies on large numbers of legal immigrants to operate so branding him as a Nativist seems misplaced even though some true Nativists also incorrectly interpret his words to support their agenda.

  7. Tom

    Yeah the US Military is certainly out of control. The US has 1,500 Generals and Admirals. In WW2 we had 16 million soldiers and just under 1000 Generals and and Admirals.

  8. Peter*


    Trump was viewed by the PTB and most everyone else, but Republican primary voters, as an entertaining blowhard who might bring some drama/comedy to an otherwise boring dance of the dimwits with Bush as the chosen son to lead the Party. He didn’t have to go through the normal vetting process because he wasn’t begging funds from anyone and the party elite were clueless about the grassroots irruption waiting to happen.

    I doubt that Donald thought he had a chance initially but when the Little People started to listen he quickly capitalized on this discontent and started mounting his extremely clever and bold assault on everyone trying to block his road to the White House.

  9. Bill Hicks

    I have to admit that when I see the list of people condemning Trump or threatening to leave the country if he wins– Bill Kristol, Mitt Romney, Michael Chertoff, Al Sharpton, Miley Cyrus–it really starts me to thinking that maybe him winning might not be so bad.

  10. Lisa

    Very good article:

    “What’s made Trump’s rise even more puzzling is that his support seems to cross demographic lines — education, income, age, even religiosity — that usually demarcate candidates.

    In South Carolina, a CBS News exit poll found that 75 percent of Republican voters supported banning Muslims from the United States. A PPP poll found that a third of Trump voters support banning gays and lesbians from the country. Twenty percent said Lincoln shouldn’t have freed the slaves.

    He polled a large sample of likely voters, looking for correlations between support for Trump and views that align with authoritarianism. What he found was astonishing: Not only did authoritarianism correlate, but it seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator. He later repeated the same poll in South Carolina, shortly before the primary there, and found the same results, which he published in Vox:

    This would help explain why authoritarians seem so prone to reject not just one specific kind of outsider or social change, such as Muslims or same-sex couples or Hispanic migrants, but rather to reject all of them. What these seemingly disparate groups have in common is the perceived threat they pose to the status quo order, which authoritarians experience as a threat to themselves.

    And America is at a point when the status quo social order is changing rapidly; when several social changes are converging. And they are converging especially on working-class white people.

    Working-class communities have come under tremendous economic strain since the recession. And white people are also facing the loss of the privileged position that they previously were able to take for granted.

    What is most likely, Hetherington suggested, is that authoritarians are much more susceptible to messages that tell them to fear a specific “other” — whether or not they have a preexisting animus against that group. Those fears would therefore change over time as events made different groups seem more or less threatening.

    It all depends, he said, on whether a particular group of people has been made into an outgroup or not — whether they had been identified as a dangerous other.

    n other words, what might look on the surface like bigotry was really much closer to Stenner’s theory of “activation”: that authoritarians are unusually susceptible to messages about the ways outsiders and social changes threaten America, and so lash out at groups that are identified as objects of concern at that given moment.

    What stands out from the results, Feldman wrote after reviewing our data, is that authoritarians “are most willing to want to use force, to crack down on immigration, and limit civil liberties.”

    What these policies share in common is an outsize fear of threats, physical and social, and, more than that, a desire to meet those threats with severe government action — with policies that are authoritarian not just in style but in actuality. The scale of the desired response is, in some ways, what most distinguishes authoritarians from the rest of the GOP.

    The real divide is over how far to go in responding. And the party establishment is simply unwilling to call for such explicitly authoritarian policies.

    That’s why it’s a benefit rather than a liability for Trump when he says Mexicans are rapists or speaks gleefully of massacring Muslims with pig-blood-tainted bullets: He is sending a signal to his authoritarian supporters that he won’t let “political correctness” hold him back from attacking the outgroups they fear.

    This, Feldman explained to me, is “classic authoritarian leadership style: simple, powerful, and punitive.”

    If Trump loses the election, that will not remove the threats and social changes that trigger the “action side” of authoritarianism. The authoritarians will still be there. They will still look for candidates who will give them the strong, punitive leadership they desire.”

  11. ks


    No, Trump has been vetted just not in the usual way. He’s been a well known public figure for at least 30 years rather than somebody who most people don’t know who runs for POTUS .

  12. zsd

    “What’s made Trump’s rise even more puzzling is that his support seems to cross demographic lines — education, income, age, even religiosity — that usually demarcate candidates.”

    Working-class communities have come under tremendous economic strain since the recession. And white people are also facing the loss of the privileged position that they previously were able to take for granted.”

    This sort of thing is why I’ve never been fond of Vox.

  13. Peter*


    I agree that Trump’s being a well known celebrity businessman has helped his rise in this campaign but he is free of the normal subservience to the political funders who anoint and the pundits who condition the public about who is acceptable and who the public is allowed to choose from.

    This is what has the elites, of all stripes, running around like their hair is on fire because the People are making a choice rejecting the long standing control of the elite system.

  14. ks


    Don’t be fooled as Trump is part of the elite. He’s just the “drunk uncle” that embarrasses everybody else.

  15. A1

    Lisa – another term for authoritarian is law abiding citizen. You know the ones that build the country and creates all the wealth. Without law abiding citizens that get up in the morning and go to work, well, you are in some second or third world shit hole. In the USA the authoritarians tend to be white. Maybe the US should care more about whites? The American Left has been in ascendancy for what? 50 years? And all the problems are caused by white males? Unless they are one particular religion right? Fuck you.

  16. Lisa

    A1: People with the Authoritarian mind set (or tendancy towards it) come in all shapes sizes, genders and colours, sadly.

    It is not about being law abiding, in fact some would argue that they may even be less than other people, or at least more tolerant of law breaking behaviour by the elites and the others they approve of.*

    The key characteristics are extreme social conservatism, they do not like any changes in the ‘established pecking order’. Hypocrisy . Tolerance, even a liking, for violence against those they don’t like or who challenge the established order. A liking of hierarchies. A liking of the ‘strong man’ authoritarian leadership style. Fear, lots of fear, fear of social changes, fear of ‘the other’, fear of the ‘outsider’. An amazing ability to forgive bad or even criminal behaviour by the ‘leaders’ they like or those they think have similar values to themselves. And also hypocrisy.

    The problem is that this makes them very easily manipulatable and exploitable by demagogue types who play to their fears and prejudices and who are ruthless enough to throw sections of the population to the wall to gain power.

    “The American Left has been in ascendancy”…that is a laughable myth.
    Right wing neo-liberal economics has been dominant in the US since at least 1980, with its ever greater enrichment of the elites and ever greater impoverishment of normal people. If the left had been dominant the average standard of living would be a lot higher for everyone.
    Maybe even been a few less wars and the current ‘national security state’ might not have happened either.

    Yes there has been some social advances by certain groups that in the past were totally marginalised and prejudiced against (eg women or LGBTI), but their advances have not been ‘given’ to them by anyone, right or left, they have come from very hard and long fighting by the people themselves and they are still at comparative disadvantages to comparable (by class, etc) white heterosexual males in just about every measure.

    The other problem is those authoritarian types are all stupid, yes white working class men (WWCM) have been economicaly hammered (as have others too, many far worse), but who have they blamed for so long? Not their elite neo-liberal masters and their horrific economic policies. Its not the fault of the non-whites, LGBTI, women, Muslims and all the rest, but those authoritarian types within that group of men tend to blame them for everything.

    Only now are significant numbers of WWCM starting to wake up to what has really happened, but the authoritarian minority within them are being exploited and distracted by non issues, yet again.

    * The classic example of this tolerance is being highlighted in Australia’s Royal Commission into Child Abuse. For every paedophile priest, pastor, Brother (etc, etc, etc) there were a lot more that ignored it, or even helped cover it up, or even worse enabled it, for decades.

    All those ‘good’, ‘law abiding’, ‘traditional family’ religious conservatives doing or tolerating horrific sexual and physical abuse of kids in a huge scale. ‘Good god fearing and law abiding’ parents punishing their kids if they reported that the local priest was abusing them.

    That to me is the very epitame of the ‘authoritarian’ mind set.

  17. Lisa

    The interesting thing is the possible numbers of ‘authoritarians’ I have seen US estimates in the 25% range, but within various sub groups they will be a far higher percentage. Obviously there will be concentrations in the right wing, extreme religious groups.

    Which bring up the intriguing issue. Is this some sort of specific physical brain type or pure upbringing, or (more likely) some combination of them. One thing is clear their low empathy towards ‘others’ not like themselves. Though they can change, studies show their acceptance of LGBTI people increases with personal contact, so they are not entirely set in stone in their attitudes. Though it varies, many conservative parents when actually confronted that their kids is gay or trans do wonderfully, often after a bit of time, but in their cases love does conquer.
    Sadly then there are those like the parents of Leelah Alcorn, or the many gay and trans kids that get thrown out of home.

    So they may, in some areas at least, be more flexible than some think.

    Here in Australia our Safe Schools anti-bullying initiative targets that ‘other’ attitude to break it down and encourage empathy.

    Our home grown authoritarians here in Australia hate it of course, and though they jump up and down about it none of them have ever, I mean ever, said anything about the terrible revalations from our Royal Commission.

    I suspect their stated desire to ‘protect kids’ is rather thin. Did I mention hypocrisy?

  18. Lisa

    The US media is now self parodying Via the Moons of Alabama

    Does the size of Donald Trump’s penis matter?
    “So, yes, the size of Trump’s penis matters — or, rather, what matters is that it was an actual subject of discussion; that it reflected and set the tone of the encounter; and that this tone favors Trump, because it’s where he lives, it’s his kingdom, and if rivals join him there, they merely become his subjects.”

  19. Lisa

    Just to be even handed on all this, yet another example of how horrible HRC is (to add to the many others):

    Bill Black: The Clintons Have Not Changed – The Clintonian War on the IG Watchdogs

    There is a fantasy out there by some (mostly right wingers) that HRC is some great feminist, pro LGBTI and non-whites…anything but. As any activist working in these areas know she (and Bill) footdragged, held back, opposed just about every step forward by all of those (and other) groups.

    And though Bill’s admin continued and accelerated the destruction of the US working classes, his adminstration’s toll on women, especially poor non-white ones was horrible, worthy of the most rabid, racist and misogynist conservative. Remember all their anti single mother stuff?
    That was when the US feminist estabishment (white and middle to upper class) largely abandoned poor, mostly, but not all, non-white women.

    Fortunately the LGBTI equivalent didn’t lose focus, though trans people (like me) were (and still largely are) at the bottom of the priority list and no one gave (or does now except for trans people) a toss about the most abused group of all…the intersex. Possibly no other group has (in the US and most other places) suffered, and suffer today, more than intersex people.

  20. @A1:

    Lisa – another term for authoritarian is law abiding citizen. You know the ones that build the country and creates all the wealth. Without law abiding citizens that get up in the morning and go to work, well, you are in some second or third world shit hole.

    The people of Flint actually do live in a 2nd or 3rd world shithole thanks mostly to white greedy ideological white men convinced of their superiority.

    One of the hallmarks of authoritarianism is the panoply of assumptions of personal superiority due to factors outside one’s control. Our country was built on the theft of labor and resources. White males stole the country and its valuable natural wealth. They stole the labor of children, women, and people of color. They killed anyone who stood in their way. They squared it with their moral teachings by telling their victims that they deserved to be victimized because they were inferior and it for their own good. And now their descendants want to tell us that “they built it.” You built a world that led inevitably to Trump. Way to go. But it didn’t prove your superiority.

    In the USA the authoritarians tend to be white.

    I wonder why? Maybe it’s because white males set up the authoritarian system that rewards white males and punishes everyone else who doesn’t serve and abet them. I often write about a white female writer for Bloomberg whose work has such slavish devotion to her economic masters (in the hope of grabbing some wealth for herself) that she tries to undercut herself buy saying women are mentally inferior to men. That kind of mental slavery is rewarded.

    Maybe the US should care more about whites? The American Left has been in ascendancy for what? 50 years?

    As Lisa notes, that’s news to the world.

    And all the problems are caused by white males? Unless they are one particular religion right? Fuck you.

    When leaders act in a previously unapproved manner their followers take it as permission to do the same due to the nature of authoritarian structures. Thank God we’re on the internet and A1 can’t whip it out to show us its size and shiny whiteness.

  21. Peter*


    Authoritarianism is the son of Patriarchy and Western civilization, all civilization, depend on this, relatively recent, degenerate social evolution to develop and spread like a virus around the globe. Women and children along with Mother Earth had to be commoditized and militarism regularized with male religion institutionalized for the elite classes to penetrate and conquer the wilderness and pursue unlimited growth.

    Although most men help perpetuate this system they don’t really benefit that much from it, the majority of power and rewards go to the elites and their management class. A1’s reactionary response and attempt to glorify the working white male and project respect for authority as the ideal rings hollow today when many white males are having trouble support their families and can’t build anything for the future. They can’t attack the father figures who are the ones destroying their future so lesser beings must be targeted.

    The irony of our present presidential race is that the most Authoritarian, Patriarchal and dangerous candidate may be the woman candidate HRC.

  22. Lisa

    Peter* “The irony of our present presidential race is that the most Authoritarian, Patriarchal and dangerous candidate may be the woman candidate HRC.”

    Yep and the one most likely to start ww3 as well. To be fair (something I find very hard to be with HRC) the very worst candiate of all is Ted Cruz, now that is a monster.

    On the pther thread I think “Trash the Party: One Wing of the Duoploy Almost Down, One to Go” nails the HRC asperations nicely. Move even further to the right. They have their ‘captured’ votes, gomore to the right to grab some of the moderate GOP ones.

    In their dreams, not to say they won’t try it, not to say they don’t dream abut it. but if Trump has even a quarter of a brain he outflank them on the left then easily wth anti-free trade (etc) polocies that appeal right across the spectrum.

  23. V. Arnold

    March 5, 2016

    Gods be good; use the bloody preview feature! It really really works.
    As for me; anything to stop Clinton works; except for Cruz. Agree there.
    But Clinton the harridan, is the single most dangerous candidate since Obama. If only because she’s 100% in line with the real rulers of the U.S. (deep state).
    War, war, war; feed the monster, whose appetite is insatiable…

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