"Hillary’s appeal is particularly prevalent in cultures where the man’s role is rather insignificant, and where not much is expected of him - -these communities form the core of Democratic party: Jews, Blacks, Portuguese, Irish..."
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A couple of weeks ago, a well known linguist and a cognitive and brain scientist, George Lakoff, the co-author of a highly popular 1980 book, Metaphors We Live By, decided to use his extensive expertise to answer the question, Why Trump?
His conclusion is rather disappointing in its banality: those who are attracted to Trump and to the Republican party in general, are those who are yearning for a strong, authoritative father-figure:
“What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families. In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of.”
Thus, Trump insistence on winning, his moral certainty, his simplistic understanding of direct economic causality, his anti-PC rhetoric are all made to appeal to disgruntled while males who are rapidly losing grounds in today’s complex world, but who grew up with the ideal of a authoritarian family. And, according to Lakoff’s foray in psychology, these values are so much ingrained even in people who might first appear as moderate or even progressive, that someone like Trump rapidly triggers and re-activate the “inner authoritarian” world view. Consequently, the more shrill Trump’s campaign becomes, the more supporters he gets.
Inspired by this bold analysis, and its cavalier manipulation of psychology, sociology, linguistics, and politics, I propose to offer a counter –argument.
Trump likes to turn on his opponents by saying that they’ve started it. Well, Professor Lakoff started it. So let me use a similar flight of imagination and insight and try to answer an equally relevant question: Why Hillary?
On the surface of it, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy should hardly succeed with US voters: she is a legacy, heritage candidate in traditionally democratic society; she is mired in scandals, she is in cahoots with corrupt lobbyists and bankers, her belligerent foreign policy is pushing US closer and closer to the brink of the next world war. So why is she winning some many primaries? What’s there to like? Here are my answers clearly inspired by Mr. Lakoff’s analysis.
Besides the usual fanatics, who can’t wait for the world to end in nuclear Holocaust, it appears to me that Hillary is embraced by a great number of Americans who came from broken families, the ones where a self-absorbed, profligate, absentee father, avoids his family responsibilities, preferring partying with his buddies, or a secret rendezvous with a young girl in a nearby white house. In order to survive, these families have learned to rely on a strong assertive mother, the one who can take care of things, the one who does not mince words but delivers: “We came we saw, he died.”
Here we have it: a nasty tyrannical abusive male, crushed and destroyed, for all of his abused children to see. Oh, glory to this mother who can organize the attack on and the destruction of these authoritarian, tyrannical figures, be they Gaddafi, Bin Laden, or Milosevic. Where was she, when the world was run by those awful tyrannical father-figures, like Stalin or Hitler? She would have seen them to their miserable end in a second. If only we could elect Hillary retroactively.
I would also venture to say, that Hillary’s appeal is particularly prevalent among various cultures where man’s role is rather insignificant, and where not much is expected of him - -these communities form the core of Democratic party: Jews, Blacks, Portuguese, Irish: the cultures where males were bullied into submission by reigning WASPy whites, or where they are out at sea, leaving women to fend for themselves. It is these cultures with their strong tradition of women’s rule, that tend to produce males who obey wives and mothers at home. Thus, it is not surprising that among these groups, both men and women tend to prefer strong and assertive Hillary to Bernie Sanders, who reminds them of the usually ineffective Jewish father.
Israel, by the way, also started with a strong Jewish woman in charge (Golda Meir) –but once the Jews came to power, they developed its share of strong authoritative male figures. It hasn’t happened in US though: so far, Jews prefer, as Milton Himmelfarb put it, “to earn like Episcopalians and vote like Puerto-Ricans.” They flock to a mother figure, or to the male candidates who “share” their pain and play mother to them: I refer to the world-class hypocrites such as Bill Clinton, or Tony Blair, or Barack Obama.
The minute all these potential voters, hear the shrill voice of Hillary, and her voice is mighty shrill, as has been observed by a number of commentators, this voice triggers something latent in them, it re-activate the submission to the Mommie Dearest and all her outrageous demands. It is this shrill voice that announces that the mother is there to protect the child from all the dangers of the world, she’ll do what she has to do to bring kids home, where she can abuse them, but after all, she is their mother, and it is her home.
People who flock to Hillary grew up not-trusting authoritative males: these dangerous brutes prone to aggression and abuse. The culture is saturated with the stories of iron-will abusive males. Even if they are absent at home and family, there are always some around: at school, at football field, in the army, or in business. And they do look scary and unpleasant, they are rough, they use vulgar language, they insist and demand. A mother who can rush to protect, who can stand up to these figures, is infinitely more attractive. So what if she is as self-absorbed, vicious, and steely as any man: that’s what you need to succeed in man’s world, after all. Mother needs these nails to fight against nasty men, so what if once in a while she uses them against the children: it is to their own benefit.
Besides these groups, Hillary appeals to people who fail to differentiate between their home and their work. Traditional fathers try to leave their work in the office; when they come home they are ready to watch the game or play the ball with their kids. Mothers are programmed differently; they have to think about their families all the time. Thus, Hillary’s inability to leave State Department emails at her desk. She has to bring them home. So I am sure that in her valiant failure to differentiate between home and office, she appeals to those worry-bees, who can never leave their work behind the threshold of their homes.
Talking about worry-bees. If her failure to differentiate her private and office servers is any indication, Hillary intends to turn the whole of the United States into her home. She thus appeals to people who grew up with this ideal of a beehive, of a highly structured society in which the ruling elite arranges everything, so that the whole group serves the interests of a beehive and its queen bee. Hillary appeals to the educated elites of both neo-con and neo-liberal persuasion: they all share this dream of the world ran by the enlightened educated class. The elite, which is more than willing to reduce human variety to a beehive or ant-hill, and who therefore views their fellow men as nothing but worker-bees or worker ants, destined to carry out the work designed for them by the Ivy-educated ruling class.
Hillary thus offers the American public something that it has always find difficult to resist: two for the price of one – not just two Clintons for the price of one; but two family figures: soft mother and hard father. It appears to me that only Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner could have taken her on, but unfortunately, she is not in the running.
Of course, as in the case of any bargain, the buyer should beware. Not only mothers can be as hard and as abusive as fathers. Hillary's record indicates, it has become her second nature to stay cruel and hypocritical. Her policies will continue to cater to those who are willing to serve their queen bee and her beehive.
The tough father wants his children to get out into the world and fend for themselves; the tough mother prefers to keep the children in the state of perennial childishness and dependency. Worker-bees of the world unite…. behind Hillary.
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