Thursday, November 10, 2016

Voting Against Jon Stewart

Like many others, I've been pondering the question of why nearly 1/2 of Americans voted for (and elected) a vulgar, dishonest, and dangerously unstable person for President. Obviously there is an economic component, a nostalgia for the good old union factory jobs that meant good benefits and a middle class lifestyle. The race divide was actually less severe than in the Obama elections - more Blacks and Hispanics voted for Trump than Romney. I think that there was a big cultural component. These voters saw their culture under siege and voted against all those threats to it: Mexicans, Gays, Blacks, Muslims and, perhaps especially, the media figures propagating all the multi-cultural and related notions. I call it the anti-Jon Stewart vote. It could just as well be called the anti-Miley Cyrus vote.

Stewart and his Alumni relentlessly mocked Trump, Fox News, and the other totems of the right and these cultural conservatives wanted revenge. Miley and others like her live their lives in contempt of the traditional cultural mores. These celebrities may have pumped up the attendees at Clinton's rallies, but they might have cost her a lot more votes than they brought in. Mockery may destroy the target for those in on the joke, but it just enrages those who imagine they are the target.

The relentlessly all consuming modern global culture doesn't just offend less educated Americans. It's provoking similar angry reactions in the Middle East, India, Europe and elsewhere. Also, the precise content of that global culture is furiously contested even by those most deeply enmeshed in it.