BuzzFeed’s Ivor Tossell gave us this road map of Trump three weeks ago:
5 stages of Trump thinkpiece: 1. Ha Ha, Trump 2. Why Trump Can’t Win 3. Explaining Trump 4. We Must Respect Real America 5. Oh God, Oh God
— Ivor Tossell (@ivortossell) July 25, 2015
I’ll be damned if Weigel’s not firmly on Stage 4 right now.
A few hours before Donald Trump’s plane landed, 20 minutes south of where he would speak, people gathered outside the Flint Assembly Plant to take a peek into the past. Some of them were retired, reuniting with friends. All of them remembered how there used to be more to the place.
“I worked at Plant 36,” said Jerry Hubbard, who retired in 2001, after outlasting his part of the vast “Buick City” complex that was dismantled as the auto jobs left. “It’s all gone. It’s all limestone. You can’t rape a place like that. General Motors jobs made this place.”
Only one presidential candidate seemed to care: Donald Trump. “A lot of what he says hits a chord with me,” said Hubbard. “Immigration and jobs going to China — this area’s really suffered from that. I just like somebody that stands up for what he speaks about.”
Trump’s rise and persistence as a presidential candidate has been credited to name recognition, to voter anger and to a specific contempt for the Republican Party establishment. But he is also the candidate talking most directly about the loss of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries.
In the Democratic race, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has adopted a similar theme, but Trump’s appeal here captured something that went beyond policy: a brew of impossible nostalgia coupled with a pledge to destroy other countries, most notably China, in negotiations. On Twitter, “Make America Great Again” is a goofy, meme-ready slogan, best displayed on ironic hats. There are places, such as Michigan, where it makes real sense.
Never underestimate the power of inchoate rage, properly harnessed. Even if it’s by Mr. von Clownstick here. How long he can ride this beast, well, who knows, but there’s going to be a lot of damage in its wake.