There are a few chroniclers of the American condition I’ve turned to and cited over the years, journalists whose reporting helps us make sense of the current economic and political predicament in the United States—especially the condition of the working-class and the rejection of much mainstream thinking during the current presidential campaign. They include Thomas Frank, Esther Kaplan, Frank Rich, and George Packer.
That list should probably now include Alexander Zaitchik. I haven’t yet read his new book, The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump’s America. But, based on interviews (here and here), an excerpt, and other reporting, I’d say he’s a candidate.
This is from an interview with Chris Lord:
CL: OK I’ve read your book, and what strikes me immediately is how ordinary the people seem. You know, we’re used to looking at people like the Tea Party, Sarah Palin’s amazing campaign, then the messages from Fox news and all of these right wing people and it seems that they’re all crazy, but a lot of Trump supporters just seem to be regular Americans. So how do you account for that?
AZ: The first thing to note is that the Tea Party phenomenon may superficially look like a precursor to the Trump insurgency but it’s important to remember that the Tea Party was essentially a corporate-funded fake explosion. They wanted to throw a monkey wrench in the Obama plans and it was funded by the Koch brothers, our biggest industrialists and it involved whipping the evangelicals into a frenzy and had a very different flavour than the Trump phenomenon which is not very religious at all.
Trump is no evangelical’s idea of an ideal candidate for a lot of obvious reasons. And it was also opposed from the beginning by the big money, the deep pockets, and the lobbyists’ networks that traditionally pick the winners in the Republican Party and also manufactured the Tea Party. Trump represents the people who feel hoodwinked by decades of Republican big money corporate politics and realize what the Tea Party was and basically it’s their revenge.
They were being told from the beginning that Trump was not an acceptable candidate, anyone who voted for Trump was a bad Republican, if not a bad human being and they just said we don’t care! We’re done listening to you. We’re not going to take Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Marco Rubio or any of these sorts of corporate Republican types that they’ve been fed for as long as they can remember and to your question about ordinary people, they are ordinary people; they’re not paid operatives, they’re not the sort of Evangelical nutjobs you were describing. A lot of them were conservative Democrats, worked for most of their lives in you know good paying unionized labour and now see communities that are parking lots, McDonald’s, strip malls and a whole bunch of people on heroin.
It’s really hard to explain how devastated a lot of these parts of the country are now and people are sliding or treading water living paycheck to paycheck and even people who have pensions or who maybe did OK during the height of the American economy in the golden age are seeing the next generations beneath them with very dim prospects constantly becoming dimmer and that’s where the anger of the title comes from. It was just a lot of rage bordering on desperation and they’re done listening to their Republican masters who they feel brought them to this point.