S1: Hello and welcome to Trump Cast, I’m Virginia Heffernan.
S2: Will Trump survive Trump Increasingly, I’m convinced it won’t, and not just because I don’t want to have to boot up Trump ism cast, but because I believe after more than four long years on this show, that Trump as president has been too disjointed and cacophonous and really shocking to exist in a pervasive, workaday ideology. Trump is sui generis. I mean, we’ve had racists on the American main stage before, but not one who’s been as much of a demagogue, as illiterate, as showboating, as corrupt and as cruel and not on the main stage. That is the Oval Office for someone that has all that going against him. And if we had someone like that, he wasn’t unmoored ideologically, a depraved maniac calling himself a Christian who sometimes says he wants to arm everyone and other times wants to confiscate all guns. We’ve not had someone who’s a hawk and an isolationist in the same breath, who’s still at heart, a game show host who’s rich and bankrupt at once, who advocates the use of intravenous bleach and looks right at a solar eclipse. I don’t want to keep going over this. I just don’t think Rubio or Cruz or Tom Cotton or Mike Pence or even the author of The Turner Diaries or any far right racist lunatic can pull off the set of anti values esoterica and harum scarum flailing that made Trump’s supporters swoon. And when they voted, what were they voting for? What are they voting against? Quinton’s cabal in which Tom Hanks eats babies? I really believe that. Were they voting for white supremacy and border camps on the demo side and the mass deportation of Democrats, were they voting for the promise that coal will be king again? What is Trump ism? So I’m going to say I think it might be a soap bubble. All right. Maybe it’s a soap bubble filled with pus, but something ephemeral that will pop, disintegrate and vanish. At least that’s what I’m banking on. I keep thinking about how covid-19 is not an especially evil or crazy disease. It’s just new. It’s the novel coronavirus. Our immune systems have plenty of shortcomings. We know that the American body politic is racist, selfish and drawn to show voters like Trump. But any body cannot be expected to recognize and defeat a pathogen like Donald Trump that it hadn’t encountered before. But now we have. And those of us who didn’t know to get the hell away from him when he emerged in the 80s and 90s as the heir to a discriminatory housing empire who was gunning to execute innocent black boys, those who didn’t steer clear of him as a con man on The Apprentice. Most of us still rejected him decisively when he ran for president. We already had the antibodies and then four years passed and even more of us are immune systems rally. We got to the polls and voted Trump out. Yes, Trump is still infected, the brains of many, but they are the minority. And we have a majority president once again who comes into office with a mandate. Mark my words. Hey, I said mark my words. That’s that’s serious. When Trump lacks an army and a Secret Service and is no longer commander in chief when he’s out of office in January, his disease, Meems, on Twitter, YouTube or some deep platformed white supremacist non news website will be a lot, lot, lot less compelling. He’ll be raving about his thousand year Reich, and even those who voted for him will turn the channel. My guest today to provide a view opposite from my own is Eddie Glaude Jr. He’s the James S. McDonnell, distinguished university professor at Princeton University and the author of Begin Again James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. Eddie, welcome to Dreamcast. Oh, I’m delighted to be here. Thanks. I’m so pleased to have you. And I was just admitting, and I don’t know what this says about me, that in the whole time, for some years we’ve been on the air. I’ve never had a guest on the show where the occasion is a disagreement I had with that person. And that disagreement was on Twitter. So especially excited. I’m not I’m not here with gloves on or gloves off, but I’m just here ready for, you know, a stimulating exchange about a huge topic. Will Trump ism survive Trump? Right. I think we’re going to have to pull apart all our terms here. But I was starting to try to suggest, as you said, in a kind of experimental way, that the more I think about it, the more I think it may not that we may have a case where some very eccentric, esoteric and also major chords in American life coalesced in the person of an extremely idiosyncratic, eccentric thinker, if we can call him that, Donald Trump, an actor, and that those things won’t last the center of that, whatever that is, can’t hold without him present. So if he’s in jail like Keith Ranieri or if he’s in jail, like Warren Jeffs or other cult leaders, that the the ideology is not so coherent and propulsive that it can survive that. But you think a little bit otherwise.
S3: And I want to hear first of all, I’m just delighted to be on the show. And it seems to me that we have to be clear about what Trump ism singles out. Yeah. So if Trump ism is an ideology that is centered around the personality of Donald Trump, that carries with it certain nativist, racist, nationalistic tendencies, then perhaps I may agree with you. But I want to say that Trump ism is a shorthand for something that existed prior to Trump’s ascendance. So if Trump, for example, is a consequence in part of Tea Party ideology, that he kind of becomes in some ways the object of Tea Party resentment. If Trump is in fact a reflection of the ongoing legitimation of white supremacist or white identity ideology entering into the mainstream of the body politic, if Donald Trump is in fact an avatar for American selfishness around greed and and the like, all of those elements were present prior to his arrival and all of those elements were destabilizing American politics prior to his arrival. And so part of what I’m trying to suggest is that he became the object of these various forces for a variety of reasons. But I don’t think those forces are reducible to him. But they will still obtain because those are the genie is out of the bottle. That’s what I’m arguing.
S2: Yeah, that’s right. It’s I don’t I’m thinking of, like, lancing a boil or something. Now it’s all out there and people have thought about that like a cathartic kind of purgative, but also that now the toxins are in the air. You do more history and African-American studies than I do. But just to reverse this, take Trump out of the picture for a second and think about whether isms can survive charismatic leaders or the sidelining or deaths of those leaders. Paul Butler was on the show not long ago, talking about one of the strengths of Black Lives Matter is it’s very recessive leaders that unlike unlike the Nation of Islam, none unlike the activism of Malcolm X, unlike the civil rights movement, when Dr. King was in charge that Black Lives Matter, it has, you know, these the three creators of it who try to keep their names out of the news. And the idea is that it can survive without them, that it’s not just a cult of personality that’s not worshipful. And certainly civil rights and passive resistance, civil disobedience, you know, some of the practices and ways of executing campaigns and ideology and kind of Christian liberation theology that inflected King’s work, survived him. But there was a huge amount lost to that movement when he died. And I think, you know, taking out that Trump ism and Trump are diametrically opposed to King. Just wondering historically, do movements that are so energized survive the deaths of their leaders, whatever their goals?
S3: Well, you know, I think it’s right to kind of suggest that a certain kind of charismatic movement centered around a. Leader, right, can easily dissolve, dissipate once that leader passes, you think about what happened to the Nation of Islam once Elijah Muhammad died and how it splintered, and then it took the charismatic figure of Louis Farrakhan to bring it back into existence. Right. So I think I want to grant that claim. But we need to say something about King, for example, NSCLC and his movement. Prior to his assassination in 68, King was already one had already fallen off any list of respected leaders. He was one of the most reviled people in the United States at the time of his murder. The movement itself was struggling to find its feet once the Voting Rights Act was passed in sixty five in the Civil Rights Act of 64, it was trying to make its way into urban spaces in the north and the West, in the Midwest, and it was kind of groping for its mission in light of moving out of the south. So when King is murdered, it’s not just simply his death that leads to the splintering that was already happening. Broader was that Black Lives Matter is really fascinating as an example.
S2: Yeah, because I you are you with Paul to a certain degree?
S3: To a certain extent. Right. Because Black Lives Matter mirrors in some ways the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee of the mid 20th century, which was not leader, charismatic leader focused. Right. They they call Dr. King the Lord or the Lord. Right. They were they criticized his his style of leadership, in fact.
S2: Well, that was that was parody. Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. As if he was just some martyr that we were now going to irony’s to. And it wasn’t inflected by Christianity in the same way.
S3: I know it was highly cynical in some ways. Right. You think about you think about Selma, the march on Selma, the two marches that we tend to think about Selma as this triumphant moment. Selma was this moment of profound conflict where snip snip was highly critical of King’s decision to pick up and turn the march around. In fact, there were organizers who said that SNEEK shouldn’t officially sanction their participation in many of those organizers moved into Lounds County, Alabama, and organize what would become the first iteration of the Black Panther Party, which is allows county freedom. So that splintering was already happening. And so one of the ways to understand Black Lives Matter is that it takes that democratic model of leadership that comes out of SNEEK and Ella Baker and those folks where there’s not this charismatic leader. But but this, as Miss Baker would say, you are the leader you’ve been looking for. And then it is engaged in this ongoing criticism of a kind of masculinised, heterosexist, heterosexual, hetero normative, rather, politics at the head. But this is the key. This is why I want to trouble Paul’s rendering or account. It’s not as if police have stopped killing black people. So the very purpose of Black Lives Matter, in part, has everything to do with the wanton killing or death of black people at the hands of law enforcement or those who purport to be law enforcement. So as long as that reality obtains in this moment, black lives matter as a sentiment, not a movement, but as a sentiment or sensibility, it seems to still will still have resonance. Does that make sense?
S2: Yes, it does. And I you know, I’ve been thinking about the case for not prosecuting Trump after he leaves office for federal crimes, is that that would make more of a martyr of him. And the same was said about not impeaching him. That would just galvanize his base more. But Trump has always been a martyr. Somehow he’s the only person to become the president of the United States and act like he’s a great martyr. You know, so I’m thinking a little bit about martyrdom and movements. And one interesting move I think, that Black Lives Matter has made is to make martyrs of the people who’ve died at the hands of the police and use their names. Not as cynics, says the Lord. You know, the doctor, Reverend Martin Luther King always said, you know, all the way out, Junior, but to save those names over and over again. And that may be your point about, you know, you are the leaders is that the people were doing this for are not these patriarchs and, you know, handsome women, womanizing gods like King, but are the our sons mostly who’ve who’ve died. I mean, martyrdom is a is a queasy making subject in some ways, especially absent the Christian framework. But I think it obtains here when you hear what evangelicals say about Trump, white evangelicals, white nationalists say about Trump, he’s meant to die or meant to he’s been crucified or whatever it is, so that because he’s this Christ figure, so that that white people can. Will the promised land or whatever it is, I see it, if I roles were audible, then I just have to say I roll on a podcast. I don’t know what exact sound it makes, but I think I might have heard it anyway. Explain why you’re rolling your eyes about martyrdom and also martyrdom. Importance in other movements, especially Black Lives Matter, maybe even sneck, maybe civil rights.
S3: Well, you know, I’m rolling my eyes at the hypocrisy of a certain kind of white evangelical vision or envisioning of of Donald Trump. And it seems to me that the A. is doing more work than the now here, that that whiteness is at the heart of it. Right. That that there is this kind of grievance and this this resentment that’s rooted in anxiety around these demographic shifts that are changing. Right. The very feel of the country. There’s a sense that that the America that we know is being lost to these interracial couples eating Cheerios or something. Right. And so I think that when I hear this eschatological or even this apocalyptic vision coming out of the mouths of white Christians, it just I just find it repulsive as someone who who inhabits that tradition. Yes. Yes. On Christian grounds. It just just bothers the hell out of me.
S2: So you get the kind of pompeo the end. It’s this and the rapture.
S3: It’s the same way in which I would respond to evangelical support of the state of Israel because they don’t give a damn about the state of Israel. It’s just their desire for the rapture. You know, just kind of then you get another deep eye roll on my part because I know theologically. What’s that what’s at stake here for for these folks? So so part of what I’m suggesting to you, Sarah Posner’s wonderful book on Holy shows us this as well, that that kind of support channeled towards Donald Trump in this instance. Yes. Will not dissipate because he moves off the scene. That theological orientation, for example, in the context of a white conservative, white evangelical Christendom, that’s not going anywhere. Yeah, it may be in decline because the numbers are declining. Young folk aren’t embracing it at a certain level, but it’s not going anywhere, even though Trump may be rotating out.
S2: Yeah, I mean, it does seem hard to fix it to you know, the problem with with patriarchy and idolatry is that you really do need the idol in some form or another and the patriarch and it has to be one. You know, you can’t really imagine Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Mike Pence kind of picking up the pieces of Trump ism to sort of run it by committee. And and that’s that’s what I continue to kind of. Mull just what it would look like for someone to sound the create be a factory for Trumpet’s Meems if that person is not Trump, it’s like he’s a very you have a great impersonator on the show of Trump, John de Domenico. And and Trump is quite hard to do. So like John de Domenico has to study him every time he does it. It’s not like he we actually think he’s so redundant, but he comes up with new words and new ways of doing things. He’s just it’s just a very neurologically strange creature. Right. And cognitively and perceptually strange. And it is to me, it is hard to imagine someone who can capture all the corruption in the monstrosity, the esoteric beliefs about putting bleach into your veins, shooting from the hip. He doesn’t seem any want. No one we’ve had on this show, from historians to to actually talking about his pathologies, has been able to cite a precedent for him psychologically or, you know, he’s not just David Duke and Trump ism is not just quotation marks, the KKK. It’s like all kinds of weird other stuff around it. And actually, let me to make that a real question instead of just a town hall statement. My question for you is, why do things like Trump’s extensive corruption, which does, unlike his racism, seem galling to most Americans? You know, at some point I was like, it’s going to be the corruption, not the racism that people don’t like him for. The racism would have been fine. But the why does that level of corruption with David Duke, with Trump, with European racist leaders, why did they go together? Like, couldn’t there be someone with, like, absolutely no flies on his financial life who also holds virulent views?
S3: I doubt it, because I don’t think decency obtains in those have a sense of decency isn’t a characteristic that one associates with people who hold those views. Yeah, yeah. So what is it what would it mean to be honest and, you know, moral or ethical, and you believe that certain people don’t deserve to be treated equally or that you. So I think there’s it’s not to say that people aren’t earnest in their beliefs, even if those beliefs are noxious. But it just seems to me that it’s rare that you find a combination of decency with those who hold these sorts of commitments. But the commitments themselves aren’t typically associated with decency. So it makes sense to me that if you have a person who will exploit people’s fears and hatreds and grievances for their own ends would also be the same kind of person who would rob the national coffers. Yeah, who would lock people up, who disagree with them, who would sanction firing squads or these sorts of things. It makes all the sense in the world to me in terms of the general assessment of character. But I think, you know, I’m sitting here thinking about your point. So it is certainly true, I think that no one person will be able to mobilize these various strains of contemporary American political life in the way that Donald Trump has. So Mike Pence won’t be able to do it with his evangelical piety market. Marco Rubio won’t be able to do it. Ted Cruz, who comes out of that same evangelical lineage just as Pence, he won’t be able to do it.
S2: Oh, he sounds like a terrible, terrible caricature of a southern evangelical preacher who really could just be in the next almost he she could star in the Armistead remake or something like you just he’s really got the look and the unkosher style down.
S3: So one of the things that’s really so I say that because what’s striking to me about Trump, not tropism, is his ability to to mobilize disaffected white voters. So one of the things we were saying over and over again as pundits on the news is that Trump didn’t understand political math, that we understood how he won the Electoral College in 2016, but he had to expand how he governed because he had to expand his base because people didn’t see how he could attract suburban white folks, how he would how he would deal with the folks who would leave because of his positions and in the light. And Trump, I kept saying this, Trump, when you look at who don’t vote, who don’t the people who don’t vote in this country, raw numbers, the majority of them are white people.
S2: Yes, right. You just wrong even proportionally, even even proportionate to their representation in the population. Right. OK, all right.
S3: So his strategy and military strategy is why aren’t they voting? You’re asking the question, why aren’t they’re voting? Well, big. Government has turned their backs on them, this they feel left out. How can we appeal to the people who populate hillbilly allergy or something? Right. And so what do you have? You have this constant appeal to grievance, appeal to resentment, appeal to hate. This is not your country. I’m fighting for you. And what do you see in twenty eighteen? He wasn’t on the ballot. You didn’t see the turnout. Twenty twenty, he’s on the ballot and suddenly all of these folks show up. Hmm. Yeah, so he actually expands. Now, I don’t see a figure being able to do that. Now, that’s where we can agree.
S2: Right. Even excite the the sort of noncollege, formerly apathetic voters who now have become electrified by politics. I think that’s right.
S3: The ones who show up at a wrestling match or something, but who don’t vote.
S2: Yeah, well, I’m glad. OK, yes. I’m glad you say WWE. And obviously there’s and there’s other cultural touchstones for Trump, although not that many, you know, so so NASCAR. But even some NASCAR famous NASCAR drivers have rejected him. The Country Music Awards, I think maybe you remember most of the country stars refused to show up at Trump’s inauguration at Trump’s various events. It’s very hard for him to get his hands on any music by anyone, you know, the hunt and fish and love and every day song that’s used to play at his rallies. I think that even is off limits. And also, who is hunt and fish and loving every day in the USA anymore? Who’s voting for him? I’m not totally sure. And that points me to this. A concern or a sort of like you said, Trump can’t do math. I remember seeing a map during the campaign in twenty sixteen, a map of the US of what kind of cultural objects people were interested in. And so, you know, there was Netflix and kind of premium HBO shows all in the blue states, and they had nothing but Duck Dynasty in the rest of these very red states. And I mean, that’s comical, but it also is like speaks to a culturally underserved market so that Fox becomes, you know, like you say, a WWE thing with good guys and bad guys. You can cheer for them. There’s porn in the form of the legs. There’s aggressive snuff language in the form of a kind of Sean Hannity spitting Tucker Carlson violence. And you’re watching this fictional performance, you know, kind of opera buffa or whatever. And that becomes your only like you’re starved culturally. And so finally, you get your TV girlfriend and you get your TV drinking buddy and whatever on Fox News. I mean, I’m just like any more programming. But anyway, I mean, you know, that’s brilliant. Yeah. Well, thank you. But but I mean, you do cultural studies. I do feel like urban centers. Black Americans have not felt as culturally starved as those white areas.
S3: Yeah. I mean, as of late, I mean, you know, the entertainment industry still trades and horrific stereotypes and certain kinds of assumptions about black life. So, you know, how many crime shows like Law and Order shows are there these days? And. Yeah, and but we’re beginning to see some different sorts of programming like Lovecraft and Lovecraft country, all the stuff. So so. Yeah. You know, and we don’t see Heehaw and know Dukes of Hazzard, you know. Yeah. Caricatures of the South Beverly Hillbillies.
S2: That’s where they live now, I guess.
S3: Yeah. So there are these caricatures of rural America that in some ways deepen the alienation and disaffection. And those caricatures also deepen the distance between rural and urban in this country, which is a serious divide that that maps on to the hyper partisanship because Republican and Democrat are shorthands for a number of different divisions in the country. So I think that’s a really I think that’s really said brilliant. I don’t mean in a condescending way. I think that’s a really insightful point that Fox News, it functions like soap opera. It functions like evening television at functions like the entertainment of WWE. It’s doing all of these things at once. So then it makes it even more dangerous in terms of the politics. Mm hmm. Yeah. If that’s the basic information stream. Yeah. That informs decision making on behalf of on the part of a citizen. We’re in deep freakin trouble.
S2: Yeah. Like you’re voting as if you you’re voting on American Idol, you know, for the best, most outrageous singer or whatever, as opposed to someone who might have to govern. One thing I look back on in that summer of twenty sixteen, I don’t know. Do you return to it always in your head. Yeah. Like it was just rumbling, just like rumors of war, war and or you know, earthquake and hidden figures came out that summer and that movie I just sat there and was like this. We got this like I was totally just like in those days, those long ago days, just a neo liberal Obama triumphalist, like that terrible guy. Get out. Who says I would have voted for him for a third term? You know, that’s like I like Tiger Woods. You know, it’s just like pretty much like if we’re talking about. You know, unacknowledged NASA scientists who are black women from pre moon landing, we’re like really well on the way to do it, kind of reimagining history and to sort of. So what can go wrong? And then, you know, record scratch. So did did you just watching the culture have that feeling, too, that there are two trajectories? I mean, you know, I think Selma came out that summer, might have come out in 2015 a little bit earlier. Yeah, a little. Yeah, a little earlier. And it just I don’t know, the culture was proliferating with, you know, it’s no wonder the Obamas have a Netflix contract that, like, you know, that cultural tier has really absorbed a totally imperfect, as you point out. But this kind of like, you know, colors of Benetton idea of what what a global world might look like. Right.
S3: You just dated yourself. Benneton at least knew what it was. You know, I wrote a book in twenty sixteen entitled Democracy in Black How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul. Yeah. And I was very critical of Obama. I called him a confidence. I called him a version of Melville’s confident man and selling the snake oil of hope and change. And and part of what I was trying to do was to to say, look, representation only gets us so far. We have to break the back of a certain kind of ideology within the Democratic Party that thinks it could just hurt black people to the polls every two and four years, not deliver anything. And this is particularly this was particularly prescient, pressing for me because we were coming out of the devastation of the Great Recession of 2008 in black communities. I mean, we lost an entire decade of gains in 2008. And so I was I actually I left the ballot blank in Jersey. I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. I left it blank because I was in Jersey. Right.
S2: So basically, you gave us Trump. We’ve been looking for what I did. Everything what we’ve been looking at.
S3: I knew one person was like, oh, my God, I hear it every day on my Twitter feed. You can’t say anything because you’re responsible, Donald Trump and the thing. But I’m going I’m I’m kind of speaking to your point, right. Because I thought we had once the Republican Party nominated Trump, I was like, there’s no way they’re going to elect this this buffoon. Yeah. Obviously not qualified to be of the free world. I have the space now to try to help because we’ve been quiet it over the last eight years because of Obama. And we have to protect his left flank from racist or right flank from the racist. Now, we need to speak clearly and in a very forceful way to the Democratic Party. Let’s try to break the black black back of Clintonism. We can do it. We can do it. We can do it. We can do it because they’re not going to elect that guy. Yeah, yeah. And then I then I woke up and I was on Democracy Now at the time when we were calling, calling the results. And I remember looking at Amy Goodman’s face and we all looked around the table and this all you saw was just kind of. Oh yeah, go ahead.
S2: Oh fuck. Yeah, yeah.
S3: And so I said to myself, I overestimated white folks in that moment. Yeah. It’s an interesting echo of your optimism about the Obama. Oh. Hidden figures out of that. And I’m thinking they wouldn’t dare let that do and then converge in that moment. And we’re both standing in twenty sixteen with the oh fuck. Look on our faces.
S2: So because I’m especially part of the reason that I want to at least entertain the idea that Trump ism might not survive, Trump our soon to be former president. Just want to be sure everybody got the memo that the election has been won for the fifty seventh time for Joe Biden. But but one of the reasons I want to say that is that I you know, we’re always in danger of fighting the last war. And, you know, if you think that the next conservative is going to look like Barry Goldwater, look like some like, you know, fat cat from Alabama. He’s not if he thinks he’s going to look like a glitzy businessman from former Democrat from New York, he you know, he probably won’t either. So I want to think Trump ism, if we think it’s always Trump ism rearing its head again. Oh, there it is. Trump again. We’ll miss the next one. We’ll miss the next demagogue, despot, fascist. And and they may you know, they may look very different. They may come. You know, we’ve had a cult expert, Steven Hassan, on the show many times. Cults can be socialist like Jim Jones as well as fascist like the one he was in the Moonies. And it’s it’s hard to fathom where they might. Come from I mean, when you see Kimberly Guilfoyle, right, acting like, you know, she might be the embodiment of Trump ism, former Democrat formally married to Gavin Newsom in California, she spreads out her arms like that. She dates the president’s son. I mean, maybe that’s where it’s coming from and maybe it’ll be a little different that time. You know, they’ll be like more lip service to women’s issues or who knows what. But that’s part of the reason that I want to try to get over the trauma that we’ve been revisiting about 2016 so that we don’t think like to date myself again. The lambs are still crying, Clarice. You know, it’s still the same thing. We’re still back there in 2016, 2017. Shithole countries, you know, it’s all like flashing through our eyes. Everything he said, you know, Linamar has to go back where she came from, you know, grab them by the pussy. It’s all in our heads all the time. Well, it’s going to look different. We need discipline going forward. We need to commit to various campaigns that are in the Biden agenda that have been spelled out. They don’t include everything. We might see him glad handing with Mitch McConnell and fill our stomachs sink. But we have a pandemic. We have the economic crisis. We have the climate crisis and we have racial injustice. Those are the four things that Biden Harris have committed to. They’ve left out some of my favorites. They probably left out some of your favorites. But this is where we are. And I think we can’t spend this time worrying about the proud boys, worrying about the red hats. We’re worrying about the fake coup that never happened. I don’t know. Tell me what you think.
S3: So this is where that last point is, where we where we absolutely agree with each other. OK, in my book Begin Again, I don’t I’m not trying to shamelessly plug. No, please. I say that we can’t spend our time trying to convince the Trump voter to hold different commitments. Yeah, we have to spend our time trying to build the world we think is more just. Because we are spending all of our time trying to convince these folk not to hold the commitments they hold, we don’t have enough time to actually build the world that we aspire to live in. So I think I think that’s what I’m hearing you say. But I want to say this, though. Naming it Trump ism may get us in trouble. And the reason why I say that is because it bears the markings of melodrama where we want to displace our sins onto a recognizable evil. Yeah. And then then we can call on the heroic or whatever. And Trump embodies all of our evils. We can displace it on to him once we banished him. We stand in our virtue again. Yes. Yes. When in fact Trump ism or Trump more specifically is a manifestation of us. James Baldwin put it this way in nineteen sixty two in an essay he wrote for the New York Review of Books and title As Much Truth as One Can Bear. He says the trouble is deeper than we wish to think, Colan. The trouble is in us. So if we name it Trump ism, it allows us to banish it from view. But if we recognize it as a central part of who we are, who we have been, then we can get about the work of finally trying to root it out of our body politic.
S2: I mean, yeah, that is beautifully said. Somehow it brings to mind and I don’t I don’t know exactly if this is going to go anywhere. Interesting. But have you seen you’ve probably seen some of Henry Louis Gates. This show used to be called African-American Lives, but the roots chasing Trace, Sushko said chasing, chasing roots, chasing roots, tracing genealogy, tracing it. It’s not all African-American anymore. But he was my advisor in graduate school and I saw the show in the early stages. But one of the episodes I remember this is I we’re in like genetics are not a good not they don’t always leave the good places. But Quincy Jones was on it. I don’t know if you saw this one. Super interesting.
S3: I did a while back, though. That’s one of the early ones. Yeah.
S2: So I’m thinking about the Trump in us. Right. And Quincy Jones was getting told that he was descendant of a very powerful landowner and that landowner was white and he had slaves and presumably one it looked like one of those one of those enslaved women was the ghetto forebear of Quincy Jones. And he looked for a second, God, I mean, I don’t know. I’m calling this just on his expression. In the exchange for a second, he was pleased that it wasn’t just slaves. He was descended from that. There was this really savvy alpha male businessman with a lot of land back there. And Quincy Jones is a powerful person. You know, he doesn’t identify with the underdog. He’s the alpha male in any room he goes into. And so for a second, I’m like, just now I was thinking, you know, some of us, when we’re trying to figure out Trump and figure out what he’ll do next, you know, like an abused child, try to figure out what your dad’s going to do next. You start to identify with him because you’re trying to figure out when he has this happen. He’s going to do this, you know, so I have to like take it in so I can try to predict him. And I wonder if lots of us have been thinking, well, if I were cornered like Trump and a kind of toddler like Trump, this is what I would do next. And in that way, finding, as Quincy Jones did, the alpha male dick in all of us, you know, and and even letting ourselves say, yeah, that’s some part of me has an extreme will to power, you know, like he does. And what are we going to do if the problem is in us? If if America doesn’t have a Trump problem, America has an America problem, you know what are we can’t disavow even Quincy Jones can’t disavow that right now. And I certainly can’t look like Trump voters.
S3: That’s a really interesting kind of point. One way to think about it, though, is to say again to to engage in the Quiney and move of explication by elimination. Beautiful, right. And that is to say, well, what what does it mean to say that Trump is in us? Hmm. It could mean that we find ourselves on occasion supporting voter suppression. It could mean that we believe that racial equality is a zero sum game. And to the extent to which that’s true, I’m not willing to give up mine in order for us to live in a more just society. It could mean that I’m good with a society that is this unequal in terms of wealth inequality. I’m good with people extracting, extracting what hardworking people are doing. I’m OK with the fact that black communities are viewed as threats and we can lock them up for generations. And so what does it mean? Not so much in terms of identifying with the will to power, but what does it mean to think about Trump ism in relation to a set of policies, a kind of lattice stitching of things that we are all familiar with? Yes, yes. Everything Trump stands for, even his isolationism. I’ve heard as a part of American politics since I became attentive to American politics, there’s nothing about the tax bill, there’s nothing about calls for law and order. There’s nothing about voter suppression that’s freaking new. Yeah, yeah. There’s nothing about it. So what what does it mean to say then that he’s us beyond the kind of the P.T. Barnum bullshit? Yeah. You said I’m asking Virginia.
S2: You said I do. I really do. I mean, I, I in one way that I’ve sort of found my inner Trump and I’ve certainly found it in my circles. Is in this strange I don’t know if you’ve noticed this also, but slowly over time, I think, like we lost our sense of like something that in the sixties might have been called like fair dealing. And even I don’t know, you know, Operation Varsity Blues that busted all the people for cheating their way into college. Yes. You know, I was sort of like like my accountant who’s a little bit looked like like Michael Cohen. I called him one year to do my taxes. And he was in prison because he had cheated on the CEO of Bumble and Bumble had a lot of money and he cheated on his taxes and he had, like, thrown into jail for whatever his professional violation was. And I said, wow, you know, I went to him because he did he filed what he used to call an aggressive return for me, aggressive. And I was like, well, I definitely won’t work with him anymore. This felon got out of prison, lost a CPA I call lost all. He’s also a lawyer, disbarred. And I was talking to him and he said, well, my daughter is continuing my practice and I look over the returns when she’s done, even though I can’t sign off on them. And I said, you guys have done a great job. Oh, oh, oh. OK, I so, you know, I mean, what do you want to pay more taxes, you know, like we basically think we do a good job. We do we do our work. We don’t complain that we have to pay taxes at all. You know, that we don’t want to not pay seven. We want to want to pay seven hundred fifty dollars in taxes like Trump. But because we’re such good people, you know, we want to keep most of our income because we earn it, we work hard for it and we do a lot of other things to support, you know, and that kind of thing or cheating to get into college like Jared Kushner did. You know, you get someone else to write your essay or or heavily edit your essay, you probably are asked to do this hilarious. Right. And and those things that just weren’t just that much different when we were applying to college, just college. But I’m thinking of college because so many of the people around Trump have like Ivy League imprimatur on them that got them somewhere, you know, all of his kids, for instance. And, you know, just that cheating, cheating in the election. You know, you even hear like the project Lincoln people were also glad that they fight so dirty. On the other hand, they also are trying to suppress the vote. Right. And I feel like that’s where we can sort of back up and think maybe hacking everything wasn’t really the solution, maybe kind of trying to do it right. And not just, you know, try to like, you know, I don’t know, like like no performance enhancing drugs for a while. How about that? You know, that kind of thing.
S3: It’s a great point. So, you know, look, when we think about the eighties and we think about the 90s. Yeah. These are periods in which a kind of hedonism, narcissism and greed overran everything. Yeah. So you think about the savings, loan savings and loan crisis. You think about Enron, you think about I mean, we could just go down the line. Yeah, no, across the board. And it seems to me that, you know, we could talk about the 73 million and we can call them racist, we can call them whatever we want to call them. The one thing I do know is that there’s a deep selfishness that threatens this place, that threatens this republic profoundly. Yeah. And that selfishness evidences itself in a number of different ways. So, you know, I you know, people constantly ask me, well, Eddie, what do you think about the increased number of of black men who voted for Donald Trump and Latin men who voted for Donald Trump? And the first thing I say is why people don’t have a they don’t own selfishness.
S2: Yeah, that’s right.
S2: And so so part of what I’m trying to suggest is taking some of white people’s selfishness that’s asking for handouts again.
S3: Exactly. You know, so so so part so part of what I’m suggesting here, and this goes back to the original question that drove us, that occasioned our conversation, that these elements I think you’re right to say this. These elements came together in a unique political figure of Donald Trump, and he was able to mobilize them for his own personal ends and aims. And some political actors leveraged his presence or a political agenda that you and I have we know a lot about from courts to to whatever, to tax cuts and the like. That’s not new. But what Trump ism singles out beyond the person are set of forces that have been unleashed in our society for at least 40 years. They’re coming home to roost. Mm hmm. And the fact that Trump will leave office, no matter how he leaves, those factors still remain and they still pose an existential threat to this republic. That’s that’s my position.
S2: I think you’re absolutely right. One last thing that’s going to end with me asking your Thanksgiving plans, but we had Andy Slavitt on the show yesterday and he was saying that, you know, in watching the pandemic and he has a podcast about the pandemic, that what he’s been astounded at is how unwilling this goes to the selfishness issue Americans are to make even a micron of sacrifice. And that, you know, he he said himself, you know, his grandmother skipped coffee because she couldn’t afford it during the Depression. And, you know, my own Appalachian mother had her dresses made of feedback’s, you know, during during the Depression. And I don’t even think of her as having grown up deprived. Those are just like the stories you hear about Americans of a certain age. And yet, you know, it’s looking like Americans are unwilling to not spend this dumb, usually boring holiday of Thanksgiving, not sitting with 20 relatives. And I think, you know, that goes to the selfishness thing is like, why did we not learn that? I mean, sometimes I think, look at Trump and I’m like, did he ever read a John Steinbeck novel all the way through? Or learn one polynomial, like he just said, like just like somehow a guy went to Penn, became the United President, United States and doesn’t know the Krebs cycle, I know he does not know what the credit cycle is. I barely do. But I remember learning it and that and he certainly hasn’t read James Baldwin and he hasn’t read, you know, any of the go to books that people are supposed to read and, you know, your lowest high school. And if you can’t do your homework and you can’t pay your taxes and you can’t even handle one pinch of discomfort, it’s that does not speak well to the future. What are you going to do for Thanksgiving? What do you do for Thanksgiving?
S3: So this is the thing caricature of libertarian, you know, of a libertarian position. It’s as if I ran the virtue of selfishness has become a reality in our lives. So I think I just want to say that that liberty has become a synonym for selfishness in this country. And the fact that just talking about mandating wearing a mask is being represented, as you know, government tyranny shows you the kind of moral deterioration that has happened in our country that we don’t have a robust conception of the public good. What am I doing? My wife and I are cooking. I tend to cook the baking some sweet potato pies and I make them from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. So, you know, we call we don’t call stuffing stuffing. We call it dressing. And I’m making crab meat dressing, which is a mother’s recipe is delicious. And then we’re going to use that that surveillance, that surveillance instrument called Portale. And we’re going to we’re going to talk because I sent them out to all our parents. Yeah. And my son is in California. So we’re all going to cook together and have Thanksgiving buy online.
S2: That sounds great. I mean, yes, we can give thanks for the Internet for some of this teleconferencing technology we used to hate. And it’s now the source of some great together.
S1: Thank you so much for being here. It’s really such a pleasure to talk to you and meet you. And we’ll do it again. I love it. Thank you so much. It was my pleasure. Eddie Glaude Jr. is the James S. MacDonald professor at Princeton and the author of Begin Again. That’s it for today’s show. What do you think? Come find us on Twitter. I’m at page eighty eight and the show is at Real Dreamcast. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being a slate plus member. You make all our work at Slate possible. Our show today was produced by Melissa Kaplan and engineered by Richard Stanislao. I’m Virginia Heffernan. Have a safe and healthy and modest holiday and thanks for listening to tramcars.