Nov 3, 2021
“It’s not about right vs left, but the people vs the elites,” “Wall Street and the media are leaching off hard working Americans like you and me who play by the rules.” “Our elite have sold us out to China.” American media consumers are routinely fed, a particular, and often confusing brand of so-called “rightwing populism” –– nominally taking on “elites”, “the media,” and “bankers” and standing up for the every man but with a suspicious mix of xenophobia, self-help audience flattery, anti-Semitic dogwhistles and a semantics cup-and-ball game about how exactly, the speaker defines “elite” or “the media”.
With the rise and eventual presidency of Donald Trump there’s been no shortage of pontificating and reporting about the appeal of “rightwing populism” but one aspect worth dissecting is the way in which wealthy Republican-funded media deliberately seeks to win over confused and sometimes lefty media consumers with a clever mix of faux class warfare, vague appeals to post-partisanship and piggybacking off legitimate discontent with the Democratic party to sow nihilism and suppress voter turnout.
From President Andrew Jackson and Alabama governor George Wallace to today’s billionaire-backed charlatans like Tucker Carlson, Saagar Enjeti, JD Vance and Josh Hawley, there is a longstanding effort to take the working man and insist the author of his suffering isn’t a class of people marked by a concentration of wealth and power, but a deliberately ill-defined “elite” of snot-nosed, overeducated liberals, immigrants, Jews, secularists, women and academics out to undermine their culture and way of life.
On this first part of a two-part episode, we focus on the many ways that “rightwing populism” operates to confuse and distract, to pick off independents, liberals and even leftists, exploiting real failures of the Democratic Party and use fake class war to muddy the waters of real class war.
Our guest is Daniel Martinez HoSang.