SYNDICATED COLUMN: Why is Trump So Hated? It’s the Tribalism, Stupid

Image result for syria missile strike

This one is in post-9/11 cadence: why do liberals hate Trump so much?

It’s his style.

This being about politics, one would think — would hope — that the president’s atrocious Watergate-level poll numbers were the result of his self-evident idiocy, Muslim-bashing, far-right cabinet and court picks and his policies. Rancid as they are, Trump’s politics don’t seem to be the main reason he riles up so many Democrats.

You pick the Trump outrage that’s got liberals in a tizzy and I’ll point to an equal and not-so-opposite they had no problem with when it was authored by a Democrat.

Trump’s first major policy decision was his ban on travel to the U.S. by the citizens of seven (later revised to six) Muslim countries. Thousands of protesters converged on JFK and other airports. Federal judges across the nation issued emergency stays. Subjecting people to a religious test? Such evil nativism could not stand! Right-wing media pointed out/claimed/stretched that President Obama — who, save for the short-lived Occupy Wall Street protests, suffered few complaints from America’s impotent Left — had thrown a wrench into immigration by Iraqis to the U.S.

False equivalence? Perhaps. It became harder to avoid the stink of progressive hypocrisy when Trump authorized his Department of Homeland Security to deport non-citizens, including green card holders, whom the authorities even suspect of an offense — which could be as trivial as a traffic ticket. Millions of law-abiding Americans — if you’re born in Mexico and came here at age four and never lived outside of America what else are you but American? — were in Trump’s crosshairs. It was racist and nativist and disgusting and why the hell didn’t Democrats take to the streets to call Obama racist and nativist and disgusting when he deported more undocumented workers than any other president in history?

Trump ran as an anti-interventionist. America First! Leave the world to its troubles; the U.S. has too much infrastructure to build and a country to make great again to bother with foreign BS. In a extemporaneous portfolio short on detail and long on invective, isolationism after 15 years of Global War on Terror was a Trump thing most of us ought to have been able to get behind. Now, after three months of beribboned armchair generals whispering belligerent nothings into his ears, Trump has discovered his inner carpet bomber. Syria must be bombed! Well, bombed more.

The U.S. destruction of Syria began under Team Obama-Clinton, of course. Surely even Trump remembers that; he talked about it all last year at his rallies. Hillary told Barry to fund and arm something called the Free Syria Army which no one knew anything about and turned out to be mostly a thing called the Al Nusra Front which is pretty much Al Qaeda and seems to be friends with ISIS now.

Remember all the antiwar rallies in 2012? Remember how Obama got primaried for destroying Libya and Syria? Neither do I. But don’t be surprised if the streets fill with signs opposing Trump’s Syria war — signs that might have made a difference to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed by American-made and –funded weapons under Obama.

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign mantra was “It’s the economy, stupid.” Now it’s tribalism and it sure is stupid.

There isn’t much ideological distance between neoliberal warmonger Obama and corporatist warmonger Trump. There is, of course, all the difference in the world in their styles.

Obama was a bourgeois liberal Democrat’s sopping wettest dream: affable, professorial, so calm a pundit called him Spock. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Doris Kearns Goodwin! Bet he (or Michelle) owns at least one tote bag from an NPR pledge drive.

Who cared that he called Snowden a traitor and ramped up NSA spying on Americans and kept Gitmo open and kept torture and said it was OK for American cops to use killer drones to kill Americans on American soil? He was a fascist. But he was our fascist. Our fascist with a smile.

Trump frowns. Like Churchill, he thinks.

Their fascist.

Trump, on the other hand, is Republican and crass and loud. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about and he doesn’t care that everyone knows it. He dates and marries trophy ladies. His cabinet picks don’t know significantly less about the world than Obama’s did or Hillary’s would have. The difference between his and his and hers is that Trump’s gang is ugly and brash (Bannon, Flynn) to the Democrats’ Tuesday night kill list pretend seriousness.

Democrats aren’t a party. They’re a sports team.

Not convinced? Consider the Did Russia Install Trump hysteria.

There is, after thousands of articles and scores of hours of Congressional testimony, still not a smidgen of evidence (much less proof) that Russia influenced the election. Yet here you have Democrats — the gang that’s supposed to be into the Truth about climate change and science and all — calling for impeachment. Why this bizarre conspiracy theory? Why not simply impeach the SOB for being stupid? But I digress.

Russia-bashing completely without cause, older readers will recall, is the traditional go-to of the right-wing. What are fine Rachel Maddow-watchers like you doing in an ugly hidey-hole like this?

Tribalism. Y’all are rabid over Trump for doing the same crap Obama did because Trump’s an R and hangs with the jocks and you’re a D and a geek so you hate Trump and miss Obama. Junior high school cafeteria seating system, anyone?

The worst thing about America’s political system is that it has no politics.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)


  • Americans are all about identity politics, AKA populism.

    Popularity is the end all and be all of Americanism.

    Objective analysis has no (maybe a negligible little?) place in Americanism. Those who heard the “USA!USA!” chant in response to the Bernie delegation’s chant of “No more war! No More War!” being drowned out at the Democratic convention nomination of Hillary should have felt the chill of a nascent fascism, and now a repulsion at Trump, but for the fact that Trump has fulfilled, with his strikes on Syria, the dreams of the self-identified (what passes for a left under ideological Americanism) “revolutionary leftists”.

    I actually intervened in an attack on immigrant native Syrian protesters against being bombed by Obama, by so-called “revolutionary Marxists”, who did not want their family members “saved” by US bombing of Assad and Syrian infrastructure with cruise missiles, depleted uranium and the like.

    The “revolutionary left” should now be happy that they have found in Trump the long sought leadership for their populist movement.

  • Trump ran as an anti-interventionist … and then bombed Syria. It was in retaliation for them killing civilians, just a few days after he eased up on rules about the US killing civilians. Now that’s presidential.

    I’m glad Ted made it clear he was talking about democrats and not liberals/leftists/whuzza, ‘cuz Obomber sure as hell wasn’t *my* fascist.

    • yeah, he was watching TV at the right time and saw all those dead kids. Bombing might not have happened unless he saw this. The past 4 years or so of war didn’t get through to him.

  • None of this commentary applies to me.

    I hate Trump because he has millions of dollars, while I am reduced to living in Mexico on Social Security benefits because they provide a lot more here.

    That’s the same reason I hated Obama, come to think of it.


    • Whether you are aware of it or not, you have presented a class analysis I agree with totally.

      The billionaires say we can’t afford the healthcare and public services for the lower economic classes.

      I say we can’t afford the billionaires and their expensive surveillance, war machine, climate change denial, and their luxury redoubts.

      • Have you seen some of the multimillion dollar bunkers for the rich? Generators, tennis courts, trees, houses, all underground. There are several already built or underway.

        I know a rich guy who is a super-paranoid prepper. He’s got a bulletproof jeep and guns hidden all over his house – which is built to withstand at least .50 cal fire. Much as it seems like it’d be cool to be rich – I don’t want to live that way.

      • Friends and family back in the USA have asked me if I’m not afraid, living in Mexico among all the crime, both from the drug cartels and the corrupt police and government.

        The fact of the matter is: I don’t interact with either faction and I am perfectly confident that neither will influence my existence.

        On the other hand, what is happening in the USA will corrode society and affect everyone — with the possible exception of the upper echelon and those in power.

        I feel better off where I am. 🙂

      • @derlehrer on April 7, 2017 at 4:00 PM

        Morris Berman is another American teacher who moved to Mexico.

        I’ve read three of his books.

        You might like to see another ex pat’s blog. He might even be a neighbor!

    • I’m agree with derleher and Glenn – I do miss the American culture a lot, but Lithuania is a nice, quiet country to retire to. I have almost completely free healthcare (6 months in the hospital with a tumor and rehabilitation to learn to stand and walk again) which would have cost hundreds of thousands in the USA) for basically free – no hospital bills. I can get anything I want here – like this Intel NUC I am using with an SSD drive, and much more – even a fresh burger cooked over a fire grill! 🙂 Plus, every time I go back to the USA, it takes ridiculous amounts of time to drive anywhere on the crowded roads and freeways, and the cops are helpful, not suspicious and aggressive.

  • I must be getting old. Every time a president orders a bombing the establishment lines up in support. It doesn’t matter what party the president belongs to. And then all there is on TV and other media is speculation about what does it all mean, what happens next. Ever since the Great Recession socialist analysis(and even Marxist!) of what is going on is what makes most sense to me. I even subscribed to Monthly Review, the socialist magazine. This month’s issue has an excellent article “Neo-Fascism in the White House”.

    • oh, wait, this is the direct link to the article:

    • The article is rather long. The Nazi Party was characterised by a conviction that ethnic Germans must rule the world. Slavs would be enslaved, and those not needed slaughtered. Jews and Roma would be completely exterminated worldwide. Everyone’s position would be determined by how close they were to being pure, ethnic German.

      Fascism was devotion to whatever Il Duce wanted.

      Trump ran on a domestic platform that was an unqualified disaster: coal, The Wall, an end to imports and immigrants, the return of millions of jobs for those who had lost coal mining jobs, when tens of millions of miners, most with no more than some secondary education, were replaced by a few thousand engineers with advanced degrees who programme the mining robots, all would get great jobs when all job-killing regulations were removed.

      But Trump also ran on an isolationist platform. Work with Syria and Russia against terrorism. Keep America safe. No stupid wars.

      As opposed to Secretary Clinton who promised regime change in Syria on Day 1. Putin said that would require regime change in Russia, and Secretary Clinton said that could easily be arranged.

      When someone (almost certainly not the Syrian government) killed an unknown number of persons with sarin (the claim is 80, but that’s by an unreliable source), Trump launched a strike on a Syrian airbase, which was followed by significant advances by al-Qaeda and ISIL. CNN cheered, ‘Trump has become a Great President.’ The New York Times asks, ‘Will he keep it up?’ The perpetrators of the sarin attack will almost certainly repeat it, and Trump will order regime change in Syria (which, if he can manage it, will also get rid of al-Qaeda and the ISIL, since they’ll be transformed from terrorists into the Legitimate Government of Syria).

      Putin says he cannot allow this. If he resists, CNN will demand regime change in Russia. If Putin abandons Syria to NATO, CNN will demand Trump also take the Crimea for NATO.

      I have no idea what Putin will do. CNN and the rest of the US media demand that Trump put in puppet governments throughout the entire world, including Russia and China.

      But it’s not quite Fascism. After 4 or 8 years, Trump will hand over the government to someone else, who will continue trying to make the entire world into a US neo-colony, where the US president and the US Deep State will be able to make every decision for everyone in the world. But still, the Chief Executive will change every 4 or 8 years, so no Dictator for Life as the Fascists had.

      • As Bertram Gross wrote in his 1980 book Friendly Fascism:”Anyone looking for black shirts, mass parties, or men on horseback will miss the telltale clues of creeping fascism.”

  • alex_the_tired
    April 8, 2017 10:29 PM

    I admit that I have not been following all the details on this story, but, if I have it right, Assad gassed some Syrian civilians. Trump then bombed Assad’s airfield.Because it was Trump, everyone is going insane, even though HRC said a few hours before Trump did anything that she’d bomb Assad too.

    I may have to revisit my opinions of Donald Trump. He’s the first politician in quite some time who understands that you don’t, golly gee, you know, try to write a, um, firmly worded letter, but not TOO firmly worded, gosh jeepers, to someone who murders civilians.

    I am frequently shocked, shocked I say, to see people who are stunned, stunned I say, that all these missiles that the U.S. has are actually being used!!!1! What did you THINK they were there for? Paperweights?

    But I’m willing to be told why I’m wrong.

  • «But don’t be surprised if the streets fill with signs opposing Trump’s Syria war — signs that might have made a difference to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians killed by American-made and –funded weapons under Obama.» I hope like hell that streets in the US do fill with signs opposing Mr Trump’s Syria war – and the war which may be launched against North Korea, which would risk putting paid to us all ! You are, of course, right, Ted, in that the US funding of weapons, logistic and information support for the jihadists under Mr Obama, didn’t rouse much of an opposition in your country and alas, as Glenn Greenwald points out in an article which everyone should read, with a few honourable exceptions, Congressional Democrats are falling all over themselves to praise Mr Trump’s actions (even if they claim to have wanted to be consulted in advance)….

    So once again, the tail has successfully wagged the dog, as Lawrence Wilkerson comments in video clip, which also should not be missed. Remember the Maine !…


  • Oh, I see today Washington Post has this article about Russia involvement in Nicaragua! Part 2 of my I must be getting old comment: I remember all those 1980s Central American proxy wars. This also is part of the reason there are so many Central American immigrants to the US(sorry to say too many Americans too dumb to differentiate them from Mexicans). I don’t really see anyone learning from history. see:

    • Those Russian are baaaad (and their buses aren’t too hot (but they overheat) either. Good that US officials are «vigilant» !…


  • Oh no! Now part 3 of my I must be getting old comment! From today’s Washington Post, Jeff Sessions wants to revive the War on Drugs! That worked well.

    • «Oh no! Now part 3 of my I must be getting old comment! From today’s Washington Post, Jeff Sessions wants to revive the War on Drugs! That worked well. »But surely, No, it worked well for people like Mr Cook and that ilk (to which Mr Sessions most assuredly belongs) ? The prison-industrial complex certainly didn’t suffer, did it ?…

      Give these chaps (and ladies) enough time and they’ll bring back chattel slavery….


  • > why do liberals hate Trump so much?

    I always thought that the biggest reason the Rs hated (Bill) Clinton was because they fully expected to win the Presidency in 2000. When they didn’t, they took it out on the guy who did win.

    Maybe it’s t’other way around this time?

    • «I always thought that the biggest reason the Rs hated (Bill) Clinton was because they fully expected to win the Presidency in 2000.» It’s that damned parallel universe thing again, CrazyH ; I had thought that the Republicans – with the kind help of some hanging chads and the US Supreme Court – did, indeed, win the US Presidential Elections of 2000…. 😉


      • :forehead slap:- good catch Henri. I, of course, meant 1992. (but if you count those chads right, Gore actually won in 2000)

      • «I, of course, meant 1992. (but if you count those chads right, Gore actually won in 2000)» But think, CrazyH, how much the Republicans would have hated poor Mr Gore in the event he and the Dems had had the balls to pursue the matter in December 2000 and refused to accept the US Supreme Court’s ruling, which overruled the decision of the court that had jurisdiction, i e, the Florida Supreme Court. Perhaps that’s what dissuaded them – or perhaps, as Ted indicates, the Dems are just born to lose….


  • I’ll add another thing:why do history majors hate Trump and his administration so much? You may not agree with everything in this Washington Post article, but at least they are launching “Retropolis”:

Comments are closed.