Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21, 2016--No, Not Trump . . .

For once David Brooks got something right.

In his New York Times op-ed on Friday, "No, Not Trump, Not Ever," in addition to comparing him not inappropriately to biblical tyrants, he acknowledged that he was too slow to pick up on the Trump phenomena largely because, from his Washington-New York Times cocoon, he has been out of touch with those Americans who are most alienated, Trump's core supporters, and, like it or not, a large part of America's reality.

This is one of the things I have been saying here, encouraging my progressive friends to venture forth more directly into this part of American consciousness. And into America as well. Suggesting that perhaps they, we, have too few Republican friends and are thus out of touch with an important part of the story. Not what we hear from country-club Republicans but from the more down-scale ones.

It is one thing to read about someone working three jobs to keep a family afloat or about others who feel inadequate because they cannot can't afford to contribute anything to their children's college expenses or to hear about someone who used to have a well-paying job and was for years a solid member of the middle class who no longer is able to take her family out to dinner and a movie; it is quite another to actually know people living in these strained circumstances.

To avoid being misunderstood, I should add that getting in closer touch with that story does not in any way mean moving toward endorsing Trump's candidacy much less ignoring his outrageousness. It simply means that to get closer to an understanding of what has been happening here, one needs to balance the condemning with more understanding.

As he sees Trump approaching the nomination, Brooks wrote--
Well, some respect is in order. Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them so naturally they are looking for something else. 
Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it's a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I'm going to report accurately on this country.
I hope others of his colleagues will heed this. And the rest of us as well.

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