Authoritarian populists strike back: Daily Bullshit, January 26-27, 2017

There are a few things that need to be understood about Donald Trump’s first days as president. First, it very much appears as if he is enacting authoritarian populist policy, which is mostly about backlash. Second, as offensive as his actions may appear on the left, Barack Obama was—in part due to racism[1]—as offensive to authoritarian populists and other conservatives. The fury now felt on the left matches the fury felt during Obama’s presidency on the right.

Third, you can’t expect authoritarian populists to listen to ‘elite’ or ‘educated’ opinion. They will not be impressed with ‘facts.’ This is partly because authoritarian populists exemplify anti-intellectualism in the U.S. and partly because ‘elites’ and so-called ‘experts’ have dismissed, discounted, and refused to address the pain they have suffered.[2] Some of this pain is economic and is legitimate.[3] Some of it is about intolerance for difference and is not legitimate. But authoritarian populists blame members of other subaltern groups for their economic misery,[4] so the two forms of pain are connected.

Fourth, authoritarian populists have probably been here before the revolution that separated the U.S. from Britain. They very strongly resemble Colin Woodard’s Greater Appalachians,[5] who “came from the war-torn borderlands of northern Britain: lowland Scotland, the adjacent Marches of northern England, and the Scots-Irish-controlled north of Ireland,”[6] “in five increasingly massive waves between 1717 and 1776, each a response to a disaster back in the British Isles,”[7] “seeking sanctuary from a devastated homeland, [as] refugees who generally arrived without the encouragement or direction of officials, and often against their wishes . . . to found a society that was, for a time, literally beyond the reach of the law, and modeled on the anarchical world they had left behind.”[8]

Authoritarian populists aren’t dying off. They aren’t going anywhere. And they aren’t responding to ‘reason’ or in any way getting ‘smarter.’ If you don’t like sharing a country with them, then you need to, one way or another, get yourself another country. In this, secession proposals such as Cascadia or Calexit are likely inadequate because the proposed territories include substantial populations of—guess who?—authoritarian populists. Notably, California has its own bible belt in the Central Valley and Oregon is, from what I’ve read somewhere, at least as polarized as the entire rest of the country.

State Department

Josh Rogin, “The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned,” Washington Post, January 26, 2017,

Unauthorized Migration

Stephen Dinan, “Trump eviscerates Obama’s immigration policy in two executive orders,” Washington Times, January 25, 2017,

Josh Marshall, “Dems, Make Trump Own His Wall Humiliation,” Talking Points Memo, January 26, 2017,

Ryan McCrimmon, “Search for Billions to Pay for Border Wall Confronts Congress,” Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, January 26, 2017,

Andrew Taylor and Alicia Caldwell, “Analysis: Trump’s border wall faces reality check,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, January 26, 2017,

José de Córdoba and Peter Nicholas, “U.S.-Mexico Rift Deepens Over Trade Threat, Canceled Meeting,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2017,

Doomsday Clock

Democrats should have thought of this[9] before they nominated such an awful candidate as Hillary Clinton, who couldn’t even beat Trump, for president. But instead, leftist organizations are using Trump’s presidency to raise funds from their enraged constituents—who probably mostly also backed Clinton. So here it really is: Do you want a neoconservative, neoliberal woman for president or do you want humanity to survive? Democrats apparently didn’t care enough about the latter possibility to dissuade them from the former.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “It is now two and a half minutes to midnight,” January 26, 2017,

  1. [1]Zack Beauchamp, “How Racism Caused The Shutdown,” Center for American Progress, October 9, 2013,; Julie Hirschfeld Davis, “Obama’s Twitter Debut, @POTUS, Attracts Hate-Filled Posts,” New York Times, May 21, 2015,; Morris Dees, “Attorney General Holder is right: Racial animus plays role in Obama opposition,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 16, 2014,; Ginger Gibson, “Powell: GOP has ‘a dark vein of intolerance’,” Politico, January 13, 2013,; Grio, “Scientists change Obama’s skin color to make white people support conservative politics,” May 15, 2016,; Alex Koppelman, “Now Bill Cosby weighs in on Carter’s side of race issue,” Salon, September 16, 2009,; Ewen MacAskill, “Jimmy Carter: Animosity towards Barack Obama is due to racism,” Guardian, September 16, 2009,; New York Times, “A New Phase in Anti-Obama Attacks,” April 11, 2015,; Tony Pugh, “There’s no denying Obama’s race plays a role in protests,” McClatchy, January 12, 2012,; Ron Rosenbaum, “Is the Republican Party Racist?” Slate, October 8, 2012,; Sam Tanenhaus, “Original Sin: Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people,” New Republic, September 10, 2013,; Joan Walsh, “The real story of the shutdown: 50 years of GOP race-baiting,” Salon, October 1, 2013,; Joan Walsh, “Angry right gets mad when you accuse it of race-baiting!” Salon, October 2, 2013,; Robb Willer, Matthew Feinberg, and Rachel Wetts, “Threats to Racial Status Promote Tea Party Support Among White Americans,” Social Science Research Network, May 4, 2016, doi:; Gary Younge, “Obama and the Decline of White America,” Nation 289, no. 13 (October 26, 2009): 10.
  2. [2]Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? (New York: Henry Holt, 2005).
  3. [3]Chip Berlet, “Taking Tea Parties Seriously: Corporate Globalization, Populism, and Resentment,” Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 10 (2011): 11-29, doi: 10.1163/156914911X555071
  4. [4]Scott Sernau, Worlds Apart: Social Inequalities in a Global Economy, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2006).
  5. [5]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011).
  6. [6]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011), 101.
  7. [7]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011), 102.
  8. [8]Colin Woodard, American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America (New York: Penguin, 2011), 101.
  9. [9]Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “It is now two and a half minutes to midnight,” January 26, 2017,

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