Shoulda been a tweet: Taibbi on our great divide
Apologies to regular readers, I’m going to repeat myself a bit here. In 2016, I left DC for Seattle, embarking on a flubbed career change. I drove. I’m not a great distance driver. I stopped for a lot of coffee. It seemed like at just about every stop I heard someone praising Trump. Straight shooter.
I figured people should take him seriously. I eventually veered back to incorrectly believing he didn’t have a chance. We all have our dark sides. I’ve got one. I didn’t want him to win. I thought it would be disastrous for the country. But I lamented not being able to see if a Trump victory would cause the corrupt Democrat and Republican parties to implode and force them to fix themselves.
Well, we know how that went. I hope Trump’s a one term president. But t’s not his presidency that worried me most. I figured we’d survive a Trump presidency, if you don’t figure in the four years lost on the climate change front. The greater risk is how divided we are. I’ve worried since 2016 that it has the possibility of turning violent. I hope I’m being alarmist*, unduly influenced by a brief foray into the toxic cesspool of twitter and the possibility that the media relentlessly focuses on those divisions.
As usual, I buried the lede here or the main topic. Matt Taibbi’s look at these issues through Thomas Frank’s work. Taibbi covered the 2016 elections for Rolling Stone. Taibbi mentions that he thought the Trump portion of the campaign coverage would be a short period of ridicule. But when he went to a Trump campaign event, he realized that Trump was tapping into the sorts of things that Frank was discussing in books like What’s the Matter with Kansas?
It’s an interesting read. Parts of it can be frustrating. For example, for some reason, it always seems that these issues are always discussed in terms of the left needing to do a better job of communicating and engaging. For example, Taibbi and Frank point out that the coastal centers of pop culture constantly insult and ridicule middle America. Are there ever any similar calls for reflection on the right? Just an observation and off-topic.
Taibbi’s a talented journalist. I’m glad he’s secured a spot at Substack. It’s great to see independent journalists. Just don’t follow him on twitter. That place makes everyone miserable. The twitterers, the followers, the commenters, and the occasional lurkers.
Bonus round. I saw a notification on my screen referring to the astronauts who just splashed down. I hope it went well. But it made me want to re-read about Grissom’s splash down. Have you seen The Right Stuff? In the movie it makes it seem like he panicked and blew the hatch. There’s a lot of evidence out there showing that is completely inaccurate. Here’s an interesting article on it by Emily Carney.
* I might be an alarmist, but I’m still looking at exits. I started learning some German in Duo Lingo, but I’m starting to reconsider that. I’ve watched several German shows during the pandemic, and in all of them there have been resurgent Nazi and far right nationalism undercurrents. I didn’t think too much about it. Far right nationalism’s all the rage, right? Also, I’m pandemic binge watching, so themes and plots in shows spread out over years seem magnified.
But then I started seeing several articles discussing serious German concerns that the military and the police are rampant with far right nationalists. It’s interesting to wonder just how much art foreshadows things that we may not be fully aware of. Or is it just that we can invariably find examples that satisfy our need to see links?