In the Trumpish Age, agitprop is probably just as important as—and exponentially more dangerous than—traditional propaganda. Fox News, and the Republican Party’s pseudointellectual apologists on talk radio, remind conservative voters twenty-four hours daily that their values, as meaningful as they are undefined, are under constant threat by a nefarious assemblage of cosmopolitans. Meanwhile, the omnipresent neoliberal media depicts a nation in crisis, melting amidst the apocalyptic flames fanned by the orange-peeled trickster in the White House. We won’t find a substantive difference between them, even in their interpretations of the conclusion to the controversy du jour: whatever transpires, Trump is still the President of the United States. The conservatives respond by sighing in relief; the neoliberals by grinding their teeth in disappointment.
Why have the latter ever been disappointed, even surprised, by Trump’s resilience? The Trumpish Age has been a regrettably humorless montage of boring, manufactured scandals, any one of which could have been exposed at the onset by an objective, if cursory, assessment of the available facts. Nobody who was reasonably informed about the Ukrainian affair would have suspected, even for a moment, that the Senate would vote to remove Trump from office, yet the neoliberal breadth of the corporate media saw his conviction as an inevitability. If you consumed only this particularly hollow brand of news, and if you were exposed to no other serious perspective, then of course you were astonished when the Republicans exonerated Trump. You were let down and saddened—but why? Because the corporate media (mis)led you to believe that your dream—the renunciation and abolishment of Trump—was finally about to be realized. You were deceived, deliberately so, and it is only a matter of time before you are corralled onto the roller coaster again.
The momentary rise and breakneck demise of Bernie Sanders may have been another ride. Sanders was denied the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016, his campaign sabotaged by a gang of hustlers installed in the Democratic National Committee by Sanders’s primary competitor, Hillary Clinton. We will never know if Sanders would have won a fair contest, but we do know he was ready to emerge from the present primary process with the lion’s share of delegates, albeit not an insurmountable majority. Had this come to pass, still the DNC would have had an opportunity to overpower Sanders by consolidating all of the other candidates’ delegates within one campaign; in fact, Sanders’s competitors confessed to approve such a strategy at the end of the last televised debate.