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Reblogged:Another Rand Prediction: Sanders-Trump Voters

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En route to other things, I encountered a 2015 National Journal article attempting to make sense of a voting demographic that has at various times backed the likes of George Wallace, Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, and now Donald Trump. I disagree with the contention that there is a coherent ideology at play, but I do think the author makes a few good points. Among these is the following:

... They were also the group most distrustful of the national government. And in a stand that wasn't really liberal or conservative (and that appeared, at least on the surface, to be in tension with their dislike of the national government), MARS ["Middle American Radicals" --ed] were more likely than any other group to favor strong leadership in Washington -- to advocate for a situation "when one person is in charge."
And, a bit later:
The final major element of the Wallace-Perot-Buchanan-Trump worldview has to do with leadership and government -- and like other parts of their agenda, it's complicated. All four, like many conservative politicians of the past 50 years, harshly criticized Washington. Wallace charged that the federal government "was run by pointy-headed bureaucrats who can't park a bicycle straight." Buchanan called for dismantling four Cabinet departments. Perot popularized the term "gridlock" in describing Washington politics. Echoing his predecessors, Trump has denounced the "total gridlock" inside the Beltway. "Our leaders are stupid, our politicians are stupid," he said during the first debate, adding later that evening: "We have people in Washington who don't know what they are doing."
Apart from the many contradictions of the "ideology" the author imputes to these voters and the those of the political figures they gravitated to, I recalled that many had switched to Trump from previously supporting Bernie Sanders. What's going on here? I had a hunch, but...

Admiring Ayn Rand as I do and recalling that she commented on at least one of these previous elections, I naturally wondered what she might have said about such voters. I was not disappointed. Observe the clarity with which she writes:
George Wallace, a "MARS" candidate. (Image via Wikipedia, public domain.)
Lacking any intellectual or ideological program, Wallace is not the representative of a positive movement, but of a negative: he is not for anything, he is merely against the rule of the "liberals." This is the root of his popular appeal: he is attracting people who are desperately, legitimately frustrated, bewildered and angered by the dismal bankruptcy of the "liberals'" policies, people who sense that something is terribly wrong in this country and that something should be done about it, but who have no idea of what to do. Neither has Wallace -- which is the root of the danger he represents: a leader without ideology cannot save a country collapsing from lack of ideology.

It is enormously significant that in many sections of the country (as indicated by a number of polls) former followers of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy are switching their support to George Wallace. At a superficial glance, this may appear to be a contradiction, since these two figures seem to represent exact opposites in their political views. But, in fact, it is not a contradiction: in terms of fundamentals, both Robert Kennedy and George Wallace are "activists" -- i.e., men who propose (and clearly project the intention) to take direct action, action by the use of physical force, to solve problems or to achieve (unspecified) goals. In this sense, both these leaders are symptomatic of a country's intellectual and cultural disintegration, of the ugly despair which seizes people when -- disillusioned in the power of ideas, abandoning reason -- they seek physical force as their last resort. [emphasis in original]
The above comes from a 1968 piece in The Objectivist titled, "The Presidential Candidates." Replace Kennedy with Sanders and Wallace with Trump in the above passage, and you would not go far wrong.

I have said before that Trump probably buys time compared to the alternative. But given the disease of the body politic of which the last election is a symptom, we don't have a lot of time: Trump is the first such candidate -- correctly likened to a caudillo in the MARS article -- to actually win.

-- CAV

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