“It's very hard to see the enemy as programmatic, rather than some caricatured individual that we can hate”
Douglas Rushkoff



The 2016 presidential election polarises American voters – Donald Trump appeals to a so-called ‘silent majority’ to win the race for the White House.

President Trump enters office and pledges tighter immigration controls, a renegotiation of trade agreements and to bolster the conservative core of institutional power.

Following a campaign that promised to rid Washington politics of an established elite, the Trump administration boasts billionaires and establishment figures, representing a continuation of a traditional order.

‘Another Clinton’ vs. the billionaire TV show host

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton gestures to the crowd as she walks off stage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump smiles after the third U.S. presidential debate at the Thomas & Mack Center on October 19, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“White America has retreated into this mythical past.”
Chris Hedges

As President Obama approached the end of his two terms in office, a divided America - mired in growing inequality, conflicting politics and competing identities - seemed to be battening down the hatches, as it prepared to face an historic choice for a new leader: Elect the first woman president, another Clinton, or a billionaire TV reality show host with no experience of public office.

America would choose the billionaire.

"The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer."
Donald Trump
“He was trying to talk to what Richard Nixon called the ‘silent majority’ of native-born Americans. He didn't call them ‘white Americans’, he didn't say he was only for white Americans, but Americans who felt that the country had been theirs and it was getting away from them.”
“This is the rage of white people who had great industrial jobs, while they excluded many blacks and other people of colour from those industrial jobs. The shift from an industrial, economic base to a technological, technology-driven economic base, is what is happening. Period. So, what is happening is not about Trump or even anti-establishment per se, because they didn't argue this question when they had work.”

The 2016 presidential election would polarise a nation while bloodying the noses of mainstream candidates, both Republican and Democrat.

Donald J. Trump, a property tycoon and TV celebrity, who criticised the Washington elite for being out of touch with ordinary Americans, who alienated black, Hispanic and Muslim voters, offended women and dithered in renouncing the support of the Ku Klux Klan, would become President of the United States of America.

“If you were building, in a laboratory, a candidate who would perfectly appeal to authoritarian voters, Donald Trump would be the guy you would build in a laboratory.”
“When we talk about authoritarianism, we're talking about a psychological mindset that tends to see the world in black and white and ethnocentric terms. To want clear answers to complicated problems. To want strong leaders to impose their will to maintain the social order.”

Appeals to a swath of white America feeling dispossessed of status and failed by a government class allied with corporate rule, once more, would bring in a president who promised tougher law and greater order.

“It's just another rise of white people thinking that this is their country, and being sold on that. Donald Trump is really not the issue. Just as others, from Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, had made coded appeals to a supposed ‘silent majority’ of white Americans. For many, Donald Trump spoke directly to the same constituency yearning for a lost era.”
“White America has retreated into this mythical past. They bought into this belief that somehow, if we can bring that past back, we will have more renewal, glory and vengeance against the forces that have turned against us.”
“What they don't want to realise or think about is that period of time also depended on red-lining and segregation and extreme poverty in certain places, and pollution and the subjugation of slave states and other nations and all this stuff that supported that 30 or 40 years of American happiness was predicated on a lot of pain for a lot of other people and a lot of other places.”
A supporter wears Donald Trump themed pins during the inauguration of Trump, before he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on the National Mall January 20, 2017 in Washington D.C. Hundreds of thousands of people attended to celebrate and protest. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
“The revulsion at the system is so intense that you're willing to essentially use these figures as a way to express your utter disgust for a system which has betrayed you.”
“So you become the ultimate Trumpist: ‘Yeah, the blacks are out to get me, the Jews are out to get me, the Mexicans are coming and raping our children and immigrating.’ And so it pulls you along the same way the American Dream pulled you along, only the American Dream was pulling you along to a fantasy of wealth and contentment, where this is pulling you along to a dream of apocalypse.”
“We have shifted from an economic system in which the middle class was getting bigger and bigger, the extremes were shrinking, and income and wealth and equality were going down. When it started out, it was a story about 80 percent and the 20 percent, and then it became the 90 percent and the 10 percent. And then the 99 percent and the one percent, and now the 99.99 percent and the 0.001 percent.”
“The only way this is gonna change is when the masses of people make the decision to change.”

Masses of American people would elect Donald Trump as their president.

Masses of people would take to the streets to protest against the new president’s policies and challenge his legitimacy.

But as President Trump looks to enact many of his campaign pledges, including tighter immigration controls, renegotiating trade agreements and bolstering the conservative core of institutional power; the promise to ‘drain the swamp’ and purge Washington of elite self-interest, seems to have been forgotten.

The Trump administration boasts billionaires and establishment figures that, far from reflecting the populist will for change, represent a continuation of a traditional order, decades in the making.

“This distinction between this individual president and that individual president ... they are there to protect the interests of the American government, as it exists in service to the American corporations. They are the spokespersons for the big rich man who have control of this country.”
“Our capitalist democracy, which had already created systems by which most of the marginalised, in particular, people of colour, had very little say in governance and in their own capacity to assert themselves within the society, really seized up, that's what happened. And that's very dangerous, because when the state is unable to respond in a rational way to legitimate grievances, it gives rise to extremism.”
“We end up further atomised and participating really in an economic showdown between these behemoth companies, fighting over the scraps of what's becoming a failed civilisation, and we all sense it, you know, but it's just it's very hard to see the enemy as programmatic, rather than some caricatured individual that we can hate.”
“Donald Trump, you know was a joke, in the same way that, you know, even the Nazi party was a joke. They're not a joke when they take power.”

Watch the Part 2