As of today, America does not seem convinced by its democratic nature and its democratic process. One poll released yesterday claims that “less than half of the Americans believe Biden is the legitimate winner of election; a third say Trump won.” By now it is reasonable to admit that America is far from being confident about anything that is traditionally associated with its core ideological roots and its founders’ philosophy.
By now it is also clear beyond doubt that the predictions of a Democratic ‘landslide victory’ were either delusional or even consciously duplicitous. As of today, Republicans have gained seats in the House of Representatives, and look likely to retain control of the senate. If this is not enough, President Trump also increased his support base significantly. He even managed to expand his share of votes within marginal segments that until now were considered ‘democratic territory’ such as the Black and Latino communities
America is divided in the middle. Some may wonder what is it that made so many American voters give their votes to a presidential candidate who seems to be past his best days and often appear confused and cognitively challenged. Others wonder how is it possible that such a significant number gave their vote for a second time to an eccentric real estate tycoon who proved to be totally foreign to some elementary knowledge of running a country, let alone the language of politics and diplomacy. How is it possible that more than 70 million Americans voted for a man who shakes his hands and ass to the music of YMCA at his rallies?
The truth of that matter can’t be denied: Trump’s electoral power is based on his wall-to-wall support amongst White uneducated males. It is America’s white working class that support a man who has never engaged in any form of manual work so to say, a man who was born into wealth.
I would expect every American political scientist to clear his or her table and concentrate on one question: what is it at the core of this bond between this demographic and this abrasive real estate oligarch? Seemingly the many Americans who do not approve of Trump prefer to go to bed in the night and wake up in a Trump-less universe. Bizarrely enough, this is exactly what happened on election night. America went to sleep accepting that Trump might very well make it again, that he might be here to stay for another four years. Yet miraculously, when America woke up, just a few hours later Trump looked likely to be on his way out. We may never know what really happened at the wee small hours in those ‘swing states.’ Yet, Trump’s bond with America’s white working class is, no doubt, a fascinating question and it remains a mystery.
Trump is not the first American tycoon to be loved and admired by the working masses. Henry Ford, the chief developer of the assembly line technique of mass production, a man who made the USA into an industrial superpower, wasn’t exactly a ‘socialist’ by any means but he took great care of his workers and improved their lives by unimaginable proportions.
Ford was a pioneer of ‘welfare capitalism.’ He astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage, practically doubling the rate of most of his workers. Ford believed that paying employees more would enable them to afford the cars they were producing and thus boost the local economy. In practice, Ford offered a valid answer to Marx’ theory of ‘alienation.’ His workers bonded with their reality by means of consumption. Ford believed in manufacturing, nationalism and patriotism. He was against wars; he saw Wall Street and global capitalism as America’s prime enemy. This fact alone put him on an inevitable collision course with the wolves of Wall Street. Consequently Henry Ford went down in History as a “notorious anti-Semite” and Trump has been denounced more than once by the ADL and other Jewish organizations for “extolling” him and his achievements.
It is not difficult to point at some crucial similarities between Ford and Trump. Both are critical of military interventions. Both adhere to nationalist, patriotic and conservative values. Both believe in manufacturing. Both oppose globalism of any form and see globalist Wall Street as a prime enemy. But the bond between the struggling worker and the arch capitalist has deeper cultural, rational and psychological roots that go beyond the particular historicity of one industrialist or another.
The significance of the fantasy of bond between the oligarch and the oppressed is at the centre of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), one of the most important cinematic epics of the 20th century.
Metropolis was created in Germany during the era of the Weimar Republic. It is set in a futuristic ultra-capitalist dystopia that isn’t so removed from the reality we witness in the growing abyss between Americas’ seashore urban metropolises and the so-called ‘Fly Over’ States. It tells the story of Freder, the son of the city master, and Maria, an inspirational working class, Christian and saintly character. Together, Freder and Maria defeat social injustice and the class divide by means of unity. Against all odds, they manage to unite capital and labor. For this unity to occur, a mediator has to come forward to transform social clash into a harmonious future. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is two and a half hours of horror, oppression, slavery, capitalist malevolence and class divide that resolves in the end into harmonious reconciliation of the Hegelian ‘end of history’ type. The cinematic epic exhausts itself when the workers’ leader and the city master are shaking hands and accepting their mutual fate and co-dependence. “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hands Must Be the Heart,” is the inter title of the scene, emphasizing the ideological and metaphysical motto of the film. In the eyes of Trump supporters, Donald is such a ‘heart.’
Yesterday I watched Melania Trump – The Mysterious First Lady, a new Arte documentary that attempts to grasp the role of Melania and her contribution to her husband’s success.
It didn’t take me long to notice the similarities between Lang’s Freder and Donald Trump. It took me even less time to see a resemblance between Maria and Melania.
Looking at the Arte film it becomes clear that Melania’s role in Trump’s success is far greater than what the American compromised media may be willing to admit. The American press treats the current first lady as a meaningless decorative element planted in proximity to the ‘great evil’. But, as the Arte film reveals, for Trump’s supporting crowd, Melania is a loaded symbol of deep spiritual and cultural meaning.
Melania is practically the ultimate embodiment of the ‘American dream.’ Born in a remote village in Communist (former) Yugoslavia, she made it to the top of the world. She is literally the First Lady, married to the strongest man in the world. She did it on her own. She had a wish, she dedicated herself and she accomplished her mission.
But it goes further, this ‘sleeping beauty’ character happens to ‘wake up’ in the most volatile moments and say the right things. Being a dedicated mother, she furnishes the turbulent presidency with a deep sense of family commitment. She fits like a glove with the conservative understanding of conventional gender relations. But she also enlightens the compatible and mutual relations between the male and the female couple:
She is ‘young and beautiful,’ he is ‘old and shrewd’ but when things ‘get out of hand,’ when the president, for instance, is caught on tape calling to “grab them by the p*ssy” the couple swap roles immediately. Melania, out of the blue, becomes the big caring mother/wife, she forgives her naughty husband however confirms that he is actually a very nice gentleman and qualified for presidency. It is, practically Melania who Gives Donald the kosher stamp when he really needs it.
It isn’t a coincidence that no one in the USA could produce such a documentary that delves into the true meaning of Trump and his Trumpina. Not one camera owner in the USA has the mental power to admit that the Trump project is actually way more sophisticated than what we are willing to admit. One filmmaker who apparently understands the Trump project is obviously Michael Moore who predicted Trump’s victory in 2016. He also tried to warn his fellow progressive friends that they are deluding themselves into believing the pollsters and their phantasmic landslide victory predictions.
Trumpism is ideologically motivated and strategically driven. Not many Americans in the Left have the guts to admit that if one political offering is pushing for non-binary gender, trans identiterianism, Globalism and anti-patriotism, there would be enough people that push back on this message, clinging to the most obvious call for nationalism, family values, strict gender binaries, Christian ethos etc.
In Fritz Lang epic Metropolis the leader unites the under-city slaves with the Mammonites on top. I am not so sure that Trump can establish any kind of a bridge between Wall Street and his supporters in the ‘Fly over’ States. Wall Street does not see any reason to reach out to the so-called ‘deplorables.’ America is already divided on pretty much every possible front. Two days ago I asked a NY friend how does he feel about the current events in the USA. He corrected me immediately. “I live in NYC not in the USA… the USA” he said, “starts after the Hudson.”
It is hard to predict where America is going from here. But since Henry Ford predicted the current mess almost a century ago it may be good to remember that it was the same guy who cleverly pointed out that “when everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”