Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Gilded Rage: A Wild Ride Through Donald Trump's America Hardcover – August 16, 2016 by Alexander Zaitchik (Hot Books / Skyhorse Publishing)

While half of the US population in centered in a handful of urban centers, the other half is stretched across a vast expanse of land. Still, members of the working class in all area shares common conditions. The destruction of countless industrial jobs along with wages and benefits won through long and hard struggles have been done away with leaving millions in the lurch. While Wall Street sores on nothing more than speculation whole swaths of the richest country in the world lay in virtual ruins.

This so-called "fly over country" is home to many justifiably angry people. Unable to focus their discontent into a meaningful struggle for a new and better society due to a myriad of reasons, some instead fell into supporting the novel presidential campaign of billionaire populist Trump. There has been a lot of speculation around the root causes of this from the professional commentariat on the coasts. But rather than rely on the people who claimed Clinton was guaranteed to win by ignoring half of the country, we can instead turn to The Gilded Rage, which reprints the actual words of frustrated Trump supporters gathered during the Republican primaries.

Zaitchik doesn't only talk to workers of course. Some of the most interesting pages are filled with the rants of people out of the middle class like real estate agents and shop owners. Many spew the kind of reactionary filth that Trump is most known for, in contrast to working class people interviewed who largely seemed to be looking for a way to survive and hoped Trump would make good on his promises to bring back the kinds of jobs that used to abound.

The support of sections of the ultra-rich and furious middle class Tea Party types merged with a fair share of working class support to give Trump the win in the electoral college (thanks in large part to mass abstention from people who saw nothing of value in Clinton's robotic bureaucraticism). The unholy alliance in question already seems to be coming apart at the seems.

Workers will inevitably turn against Trump as his fanciful and dishonest promises to re-industrialize the US fail to materialize and his rightwing assault drives down living standards for the working class even further. It is worthwhile for anyone searching for a way forward out of the current mess to understand what was behind both working class and middle class support for Trump to begin with. What could be better than reading what Trump supporters had to say in their own words?

The Gilded Rage is very good. It is a short read but it packs a lot of punch. The book is not great however. It could use an edit, preferably by someone with a sense of direction or at least a map as it contains several errors. Even as it stands, the book is absolutely worth the time it takes to read.

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