One of the greatest tricks the rich have discovered throughout history is the divide and conquer tactic. If you can make poor people hate each other, you can distract them from the real source of their poverty and continue to preside over a system that impoverishes them and enriches you. Colonial powers throughout history have used this formula to great effect, settling in a country, dividing it along ethnic lines while plundering its natural resources. The British were particularly adept at this, arbitrarily dividing land, fostering distrust amongst ethnic groups and rewarding those loyal to the regime.
Many of today’s conflicts stem from theMachiavellian domination games played by European imperialists over the past several centuries, and the balance of power remains unchanged. While the poor fight each other over ethnic and religious differences, the rich profit nicely from their disunity.
The game isn’t so obvious any more with the emergence of mass media and sophisticated marketing techniques, but the rules are still the same. The rich and powerful preside over a system that creates massive inequality and find more innovative ways to keep everyone else distracted. Overt racism is not accepted by mainstream society anymore, so the powerful have come up with new ways to breed ethnic hatred amongst the least well off.
Donald Trump, a billionaire who rose to prosperity through inherited wealth, government subsidies and an economic system that favors people like him, understands this all too well. Trump is American capitalism embodied, a product of privilege, gross cronyism and unfettered greed, and he wants America to stay that way. Of course this isn’t a great rallying cry for his Presidential campaign, so Trump has engineered a vicious smear operation against those least able to defend themselves, and most likely to exacerbate America’s already volatile racial relations.
Trump’s attacks on immigrants are designed to enrage Americans who feel increasingly alienated from the political system and disenfranchised economically. They are working families who are seeing the value of their dollars decline, the cost of food and housing go up, and face an increasingly uncertain financial existence with little hope for a prosperous future. This of course has nothing to do with illegal immigrants, or welfare, or foreign aid. It has to do with a brutal corporatist economy run in the interests of the super wealthy and at the expense of everyone else. Jobs vanish, wages stagnate and benefits erode not because illegal immigrants are flooding the country, but because corporations outsource labor and evade responsibility to their workers through lax labor laws. The government is running an enormous deficit not because social welfare spending is too high, but because corporations do not pay their fair share of taxes, and the rich are taxed at a far lower rate than everyone else.
This is now so obvious it should not need mentioning, but Trump and the Republicans have billions of dollars at their disposal to create an alternate reality where they are not only not to blame, but the only people capable of ‘saving America’.
“I think America is pissed,” said one Trump fan to pollster Frank Luntz. “Trump’s the first person that came out and voiced exactly what everybody’s been saying all along. When he talks, deep down somewhere you’re going, ‘Holy crap, someone is thinking the same way I am.’”
Of course, Trump is not thinking the same way a Trump supporter does. Trump is a billionaire who profits from undocumented migrant labor, and live a life of unimaginable luxury. He says what a Trump supporter thinks because he knows it will help him get elected, and as history has proven, it is a strategy that yields great result.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.