On Sanders & Trump (Mantras – Red Meat – Clearly Defined Enemies – Affective Connections – Huge Pools of Money)


Tapping into a national mood that spans across all political, social, and racial spectra, a Trump/Sanders or Sanders/Trump ticket would sweep the general elections. Yes, tongue in cheek, but they’re doing the same thing.

Here’s what the anatomy of the election looks like so far as they are defining it in these amazing primary elections.

The one who wins the race in either party will have boiled it down to [1] mantras, [2] red meat, [3] clearly defined enemies, [4] affective connections, and [5] huge pools of independent money, [6] vision.

[1] Framing the issues around easy to remember bits “make America great” and “political revolution.”

[2] Tapping into general and genuine anger crossing all social, political and racial spectra, promise to give people what they want and make it sound simple –banning Muslims, free college, break up big banks, building walls, beating ISIS.

[3] Defining easy to identify enemies like ISIS, Wall Street, Hillary, lobbyists, the Establishment, Mexicans, Muslims, and so on.

[4] Connecting the candidates with their supporters and their supporters with each other. Human warmth is a hot conduit.

[5] Drawing in lots and lots of independent money. There’s Trump’s fortune and then the amazing ability of Sanders to crowdsource his campaign.

[6] There’s no vision without the above.

It’s why Clinton might very well lose and Trump win.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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8 Responses to On Sanders & Trump (Mantras – Red Meat – Clearly Defined Enemies – Affective Connections – Huge Pools of Money)

  1. dmf says:

    I wouldn’t count out the national party machines yet, you might find this bit on the modern history of engineering platforms to be of interest:

  2. It seems like a simplistic argument to say: Sanders and Trump same because they both have enemies. Trump is demonizing human beings, Sanders is attacking institutions. Those are not remotely the same thing. Trump is advocating racialized discrimination; Sanders income equality. Neither are those the same. In your line of argument, in which power doesn’t matter, content doesn’t matter, substance doesn’t matter, just framing, you might as well say that Malcom X = the KKK. That Ghandi = Hitler. Etc.

    • zjb says:

      No, no, no, I’m certainly not saying “they” are the same. I’m saying that from two completely directions they are tapping into the same discontent and anger. These are two entirely separate and distinct forms of affect politics, but it’s one single affect that creates the condition for their emergence at this present moment.

      • I hear that, but I still think that there is a real risk in mixing the terms and the ideas so fluidly, as if opposing “Big Banks” and opposing “All Muslims” should be discussed as different sides of the same coin. I think there is a fundamental difference between an ideology that targets a human enemy, and one that targets a non-human enemy.

      • zjb says:

        yes, there’s a substantive difference, but, structurally, an “enemy” is an enemy. also, “the Muslim” is not even a human figure anymore in the racist imagination. just as faceless as a corporation. yes, the logic is a sick one.

    • zjb says:

      (also, the Ghandi=Hitler is a reductio ad absurdum that Zizek actually stated, i’m forgetting where)

  3. Malcolm* Gandhi*

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