We've been told that the surprising success of Donald Trump in this election can be attributed to white America's increasing sense of economic displacement, as manufacturing jobs continue to disappear and the well-to-do benefit disproportionately from the economic recovery. We've been told that Trump is appealing to the same sense of economic unfairness that drove the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
So here's Donald Trump's first TV ad of the general election campaign. Where's the economy?
Here's the ad's voiceover:
In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay, collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It’s more of the same, but worse.
Donald Trump’s America is secure, terrorists and dangerous criminals kept out. The border secure. Our families safe. Change that makes America safe again. Donald Trump for president.
Economic anger? Nope. The entire ad is about fear of the Other -- including, we can safely infer, that opening shot of a polling place entrance and the words "system rigged," which, to Trump's base, is a dog whistle meaning "Democratic machine bosses in big cities with large non-white populations are going to manipulate the vote in Clinton's favor."
The rest is about Muslims and Mexicans, then about manly symbols of American strength (helicopters, Border Patrol vehicles, an aircraft carrier) keeping citizens safe in Trump's America. There's a brief reference to Social Security, but it's about them damn furriners taking our benefits.
Somehow an ad that starts by telling us that the system is rigged doesn't see any rigging in the economic system. Sorry, Bernie!
You can keep telling yourself that the Trump phenomenon is all about jobs and declining incomes. It isn't.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog