Gage Skidmore
Politics /14 Sep 2016
09.14.16

Method to the Madness: American Politics and its Socialist Methodology

Ann Coulter is no stranger to controversy. Having recently read her book In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!, I have come to understand American politics in all its eccentricity: facts and evidence are inconvenient to one’s worldview. If enough people have a particular world view, reality will conform as time and policies obey the worldview.

Coulter relies on myths or stereotypes throughout the book, none of which is grounded in any evidence or citations. However, this is not a criticism. This gives us enormous insight as to the inner working of politics. Politics, especially American politics, is grounded in massive over-simplification (binaries of right and wrong), over-exaggeration and stereotypes.

This is true in the very beginning of the book. She writes: “As America diversifies, we might get better restaurants, but one of the negatives is that we pick up a lot more corruption. At its founding, America was populated by the most law-abiding people on the planet. It tells you something that, until 1965 immigration act, the most problematic immigrants were the Irish. The same way virtually any immigrant to Finland makes it less white, almost any immigrant to America makes it less honest…Guess which Western European country has the highest rate of rape? Sweden. Rape used to be unheard of in Sweden. But it got boring looking at all those beautiful women and handsome men, so Sweden decided to import millions of third world people.”

In the above paragraph her claims are not cited. At all. How do we know that these broad generalizations that characterize entire peoples are really true? What factors do Coulter ignore, that is, the structural realities that ordinary Mexicans deal with on a day to day basis? Further, is it really true that immigration brings the destruction of entire countries? My main complaint is that much of these statements, if taken as true, will lead to destructive policies.

Coulter’s last paragraph here disturbs me greatly so I looked into it. The reality is far more complicated than she would have us believe. The Daily Beast reports: “Indeed, according to official statistics on file with The Swedish Crime Survey, the sexual violence rate in Sweden has remained about the same between 2005 and 2014. In fact, it actually decreased by .3 percent between 2013 and 2014. That said, the country has the highest rate of rape in Europe, a statistic that has been partially attributed to both Swedish law, wherein rape is given a wider definition than in other countries, as well as a higher tendency among women to report the crimes to the police.”

The Daily Beast interviewed Jerzy Sarnecki, a professor of criminology at Stockholm University, who suggested: “It is much more complicated than the way the media are normally presenting it…According to studies which I have done on general crime, most of the differences in recorded crimes between immigrants and Swedes are explained by socioeconomic factors. It doesn’t mean of course, that one, a few, or several other incidents of that kind [sexual assaults perpetuated by immigrants] didn’t happen.”

People, including Ms. Coulter, are torturing the data to suit their particular political needs one being to curb immigration. The Globe and Mail argues: “Statistics show that the foreign-born in Sweden, as in most European countries, do have a higher rate of criminal charges than the native-born, in everything from shoplifting to murder (though not enough to affect the crime rate by more than a tiny margin). The opposite is true in North America, where immigrants have lower-than-average crime rates.”

‘In Trump We Trust: E Pluribus Awesome!’ by Ann Coulter. 224 pp. Sentinel

Even if immigration led to increased cases of rape in Sweden, it does not hold true in North America. So why does Coulter cite this?

This article is not going to debunk or fact check Ms. Coulter’s work. She is no political scientist. However, she is using a methodology to make a convincing case for Trump. It’s the same methodology everyone uses to win elections.

Whether she knows it or not, Coulter’s methodology is borrowed from the socialist George Sorrel. Sorrel illustrates that evidence is not needed in ideology. As a Marxist, Sorrel makes the following point. Politics is about myth. Myths do not need to be based on facts as long as people act as if they were fact. Myths are “…the feelings and the ideas of the masses preparing themselves to enter on a decisive struggle: the myths are not descriptions of things, but expressions of a determination to act.”

Myths and ideologies are forces that create reality as people act as if ideologies or myths are real.

Sorel illustrates this: “A myth cannot be refuted, since it is, at bottom, identical with the convictions of a group, being the expression of these convictions in the language of movement…” Sorel understands that if people truly believe in something, they will be moved to act and work toward a reality of their own making. Many people reviewing the book delight in Trump’s change in immigration policy that goes against the arguments in the book. This is not too important to me as it neglects the book’s powerful message: people will support their politicians regardless of the facts. Coulter will defend Trump regardless as Democrats will defend Clinton and so on.

Sorel’s methodology is used throughout the world by politicians to encourage or blackmail people to win power. Fear in this regard is the main driver, or structural force, of political decision-making today. It is used the world over. During the Brexit vote, both sides used almost ridiculous arguments. The Remain camp argued that the world would end if the Leave side won and vice versa. Which eventuality is more plausible? Neither of course. The vote came and went and the only thing the Brexit proved is that Britain is no longer the important player in the world economy it thinks itself to be.

We can clearly see this in today’s election with the utilization of the myth methodology. We are told that Donald Trump is the only man who can defend us from the barbarian hordes that prey on Americans waiting outside their weak and porous borders. Clinton is taking advantage of this by warning democrats not to criticize her, but to unite under her banner against Trump. She is running a negative campaign which is risky; ask David Cameron. Regardless of recent polls and public opinion, she is the only one who can win against Trump. And what of Bernie Sanders? Well, of course he was never a viable candidate. Democratic socialism, whatever that means, goes against being the myth of being American. From my point of view, he had the most intelligent policies which would have addressed the issues plaguing the country: economic inequality, the end to an interventionist foreign policy, hope for just mid-east peace plan, banking reform. Yet, from this label, we conclude that supporting him will destroy this country. The best choice would therefore be to rally behind a sure-thing: Hillary Clinton.

Political opinion in this regard is rarely grounded in fact and evidence but the Coulter/Sorelian methodology. Policy is altogether moot. This is structural in the sense that both democrats and republicans make decision based on certain abstract ideas, beliefs and myths rather than a case-by-case empirical basis. This is argued in The Power of Emotions in Politics, Philosophy and Ideology. Here, I see the world as constructed by fearful reaction to any political discourse or environment perceived as reality. People respond and support candidates who can solve their problems regardless of the health of the whole community. The opinions posited in this election is ultimately constructed by emotion. Fear and myth shapes political outcomes. My book does an adequate job in illustrating the mechanisms that lead to individual political decision-making and predicts the rise of Trump.

Many voters today are (or were) attracted to two candidates who are believed to understand their specific, fearful and uncertain political reality. The first is Trump; the second, Sanders. Trump knows that people are afraid of another terrorist attack. He understands that people are worried about losing their jobs to unfair competition due to “bad” free trade agreements. To voters on the fringes, he gets it. He tells it like it is and this appeals to many suffering under the status quo leadership. People are frustrated and angry and Trump knows it. Sanders knows it too and he sees status quo politics are to blame. Trump and Sanders are vying for the same type of voter. His platform tries to address these frustrations by suggesting fiscal policy to remedy the issue. Both hope to strengthen the middle class.

The target for Trump and Sanders is bad policy; bad policy which began after George H.W. Bush with deregulation of banks and irresponsible foreign policy. Sanders is more correct in this regard. It’s not about migrant or Muslims, but rather the failure of trickle down economic policy. These two candidates present alternatives to the status quo. The GOP has been culled of all its mainstream characters. Unlike the GOP, the mainstream democrat, Clinton, is being represented by experts as THE nominee. However, her lack of accountability and transparency will not just go away after the nomination. Many expect her to win the election.

On the other hand, we have Donald Trump. Trump must be commended for his understanding of politics. He knows people respond to emotional myths. His policies need serious work. Critics say his tax plan will drive the country further into debt. His foreign policy is most shocking. Pulling out of NATO will give free reign to Russia in Eastern Europe. His position on China will drive a wedge further into the already tense relationship between it and United States, a status quo power.

Trump’s policies are in no way part of the GOP establishment. This had not stopped Paul Ryan and other Republicans from supporting him. Republican hatred for Hillary trumps love for the country as Lindsay Graham so eloquently stated. This failure to act in a correct manner may very well hurt this country. In 1930’s Germany, conservatives thought they would be able to control Hitler if they supported him against the socialists. Trump will not unify this country from his performance thus far. His rhetoric has only divided this country along race and religious lines.

For many, the two party system has brought a negative choice: the Republicans will support Trump to stop Hillary, and Democrats will fight for Clinton against Trump. And, after the election, are these two groups supposed to compromise?

The leader the country ends up with is the one the American people chose because of their belief in myths. Worse still is the belief that if Clinton wins, everything will be fine. A Clinton win may just delay the inevitable. The reactionary ideas of Trump will only strengthen with time especially if nothing changes.

To her credit, Coulter’s world view is shared by many. Her book, unlike mine, is doing really well.

At the end, the United States deserves whatever it gets. We are all responsible for this.

If you're interested in writing for International Policy Digest - please send us an email via submissions@intpolicydigest.org