“Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness…”

At the Guardian, Thomas Frank offers some home truths to a self-styled liberal media [including bloggers! – Ed] in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s victory.  From the Guardian Comment is Free article

How did the journalists’ crusade fail? The fourth estate came together in an unprecedented professional consensus. They chose insulting the other side over trying to understand what motivated them. They transformed opinion writing into a vehicle for high moral boasting. What could possibly have gone wrong with such an approach?

Put this question in slightly more general terms and you are confronting the single great mystery of 2016. The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone – except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the “last thing standing” between us and the end of the world. It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability.

Read the whole thing.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Not entirely: John Harris of the Graun analysed extensivly in a series of about 5 articles those very motivations.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Trump won because he was the more humble candidate?


  • Kevin

    Go and read the whole thing again.

  • Korhomme

    I read somewhere — I forget where — an article online quite different from the many about Trump. The reporter had listened to one or more speeches and didn’t go on and on about Mexican walls etc. Rather, the report was on what the ‘MSM’ weren’t reporting. Trump was going on about the Wall Street elite, the ‘greed is good’ culture, that the average American worker hadn’t had any real pay rise for a decade but the 1% had, and so forth. It sounded a significant critique of the American system; perhaps Trump even said it was broken. Some of it seemed strange given his bazillionaire status.

    I guess many Americans felt the same; the system might work for the 1%, but it didn’t work for them.

    I listened to Trump’s victory speech; delivered with the help of a teleprompter, it was coherent, reasonable; he didn’t shout or threaten; he said nice things about Hillary — whether he really meant it when he said ‘sincerely’ I don’t know. It was a very different speech from the usual bombastic rant — for that is all the MSM ever seemed to report.

    Two big losers from all this: the pollsters, the people who also got GE2015 and Brexit very wrong, and journalists. How can we ever believe what the former tell us? The latter seem to have believed what they really wanted to believe, seemingly ignoring much of the realities.

  • file

    Shrill self-righteousness does not seem to do the DUP much harm … but it is the media in general who have lessons to learn: ignoring or insulting groups which do not tick all the boxes of the liberal agenda prevalent in media rooms is not the recommended action of an enquiring, exposing, explaining press.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Korhomme, while I certainly understand this rhetoric of the effects of a culture orientated towards the 1%’s requirements on the lives of the poor and vulnerable, as an historian I still think Juan Perón, Getúlio Vargas, Lázaro Cárdenas, Hitler even. It is a true analysis, certainly, and it will find great resonance amongt those who are suffering from cynical neo-con policies, but what other political motivations have accompanied such rhetoric when it has been employed in the past by the right wing, and are we really expecting any Republican Congress to endorse such an assault on all they stand for?

    I’m looking for answers to the hard professionalism of current political life, where everything in economic policy becomes a trade off with the global commercial interests, but I’d look to such solutions as the Italian Five Star Movement for the real empowerment of a community, rather than the “top down” approach Trump represents, even assuming that such speeches were actually anything more than vote winners.

  • Korhomme

    Naomi Klein in today’s Graun says it better than I can:


    This widespread acceptance of the neo-liberal economic policies of Hayek and the Austrian school is, I’m sure, the underlying reason both for Brexit and Trump’s win.

    For the ‘thirty glorious years’ after WW2 we had Keynesian economics; then came Hayek with privatisation, the ‘market is always right’, globalisation and also austerity.

    I think Hayek should now be abandoned as a failure. I just don’t know what, if any, alternative economic theory can replace.

    As for Trump, was it because or despite what he said that he got elected? And, from 20 January 2017 will he actually do the things he promised (threatened), or will he be moderate and sensible, a President for all the people? Again, I don’t know.

  • Zorin001

    “As for Trump, was it because or despite what he said that he got elected?”

    The simple answer is Yes.

  • Kevin Breslin

    The media seems to have a self-righteousness issue to deal with for being out of touch with the public. A self-righteous politican can getaway with it if he or she does more ground work.

    Arrogant campaign strategies based on assumed loyalties are often more damaging than stand alone foot in mouth remarks on TV.

    Were not sections of the media fawning over conviction politicans like Thatcher and Blair!

  • Kevin Breslin

    I agree with that to an extent. I would describe myself as fairly liberal.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    We’re exactly on the same page for Hayek, but I simply don’t believe that Trump and the Republicans are going to be the people to make the changes, any more than any Clinton.

    Both “because” and “despite”, I’d think, as he was trawling a very wide net where contradictory opinions might go fore their own “indicators’ and simply ignore the rest.

    As you say, time will tell, but I have a very, very bad feeling about this (mush the same as I’d have expected myself to have of Hillary had won, mind you).

  • Korhomme

    Seaan, I had a long discussion with a friend on Twitter earlier today (a real friend, we have met a few times). She agrees also, but suggests that there are alternative models available. She didn’t specify, but I suspect she’s thinking of Corbyn’s ideas. We did agree that change is likely to be gradual; such culture change often taking a generation — so rather depressingly neither of us is likely to see it happen. Just when we need it most, where is the tsunami of Schlumpeterian creative destruction? Like you, I’m not optimistic.

    I put the ‘because/despite’ in as I’m seeing all sorts of ‘intersectional demographics’ trying to explain the outcome.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I have a friend who thinks it will come within months with Trump, but like you I expect it to be agonisingly slow (if at all), although the Reganthatcher “revolution” did happen in just a few years, and made me think about that 1984 scene where the enemy “changes” in a few seconds, and within a beat or two everyone is baying at the same caged people as the new foe. Some things just happen fast! Perhaps we will be in luck this time!