Trump’s Rise: Time to Give Hedges His Due?


America is not without its share of brilliant thought leaders. Unfortunately, rather than appearing in the New York Times, they’re generally relegated to obscure websites. So it is with Chris Hedges, who actually was with the Times until he was too vocal in his opposition to the Iraq war. The Times preferred writers more like its bipartisan pair of dunces, Tom Friedman and David Brooks.

For years now, Hedges has warned us of the sort of leader in store for us if supposed liberals continued to cozy up to corporate America, as Bill and Hillary Clinton do. In no uncertain terms, he told us, back in 2013, to expect someone the likes of Donald Trump.

From Chris Hedges: ‘Wall Street and Corporations Are Pulling the Strings’:

In the latest installment of a series of interviews on The Real News Network’s “Reality Inserts Itself,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges says that the Democratic Party once looked out for the interests of labor and the poor. But that changed, he says, when Bill Clinton entered the White House, and it’s getting worse under President Obama.

“Barack Obama can get up and say all the right things, but in the end, you know, it’s Wall Street and the corporations that are pulling the strings on the puppets,” he says.

This is especially problematic for those who have fallen on hard times because of the economic crisis. As Hedges tells host Paul Jay, the current Democratic administration has “completely betrayed” those whose interests their party purports to represent and defend, in effect making the entire situation even worse for the underclass.

“When you have the figures like Obama who continue to speak in that traditional language of liberalism and yet cannot respond to chronic unemployment, underemployment, you know, foreclosures, bank repossessions, and everything else, and in fact are running a system where the assaults against the underclass are only getting worse, then what happens is there becomes a deep disdain for not only liberal ideology but traditional liberal institutions—you saw the same thing in Weimar—so that when there is an uprising, oftentimes people want nothing to do with not only liberal elites, but the supposed liberal values, quote unquote, that these elites were purportedly espousing,” Hedges says.

“And that is a very real danger,” he continues, “because when you have figures like Obama that present themselves as traditional liberals and yet are unable to be effective in terms of dealing with the suffering and the misery of the underclass, that—and this is what happened in Yugoslavia—that when things exploded, you vomited up these very frightening figures—Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudman—in the same way that the breakdown in Weimar vomited up the Nazi Party. And that’s what frightens me, because we don’t have the movements, the populist movements on the left, and because we live in a system of political paralysis.”

That warning was given in 2013.

Focus on that last sentence, the one I’ve bolded, if you will.

We actually have a populist movement of sorts being led by Bernie Sanders. Hedges would disagree with that notion, but he’d certainly agree that whatever Sanders is leading provides infinitely more hope of a populist movement than does the Hillary Clinton campaign.

But within a short time, perhaps as early as tomorrow night, the effort will begin to shut down the Sanders campaign and, with it, any and all hope of a populist movement. Democrats, including several of my fellow writers here, will condescendingly tell Sanders’ supporters that it’s time to unite behind the “presumptive nominee,” who, to quote Hedges, “presents herself as a traditional liberal, yet will be unable to be effective in terms of dealing with the suffering and the misery of the underclass.”

So, we might vomit up a Donald Trump in 2016.

Or we might elect Hillary Clinton.

Will that make Hedges wrong?

No, it will make his words even more prescient, when we vomit up someone worse than Trump in 2020.

Here’s how blind many Democrats are to this reality. In 2013, I posted on this very subject, quoting in part the same paragraphs I’ve quoted above. Someone here locally thought enough of my post to have it cross-posted on the website for the Progressive Democrats of America. But in this election, that person is supporting Clinton. I have no idea what prompted the change in thinking, but I do know it’s the sort of pliability that ultimately will lead us to a President Trump.

Or worse.


  1. the american people want to stop seeing their good paying jobs leaving the country. republican party establishment donors demand candidates support free trade or no campaign donations $$$! Then trump comes along with his own money. In the democratic party corporate establishment democrats need super delegates to stop sanders who also wants to bring jobs back.

  2. What group will be next? “The Mexicanization of the United States” – Chris Hedges – Truthdig

    “The neoliberal ideology that is the engine of corporate capitalism spews its poison around the globe. Constitutions are rewritten by judicial fiat in a mockery of democracy. Laws and regulations that impede corporate exploitation are abolished. Corporations orchestrate legally sanctioned tax boycotts. Free-trade deals destroy small farmers and businesses along with labor unions and government agencies designed to protect the public from contaminated air, water and food and from usurious creditors and lenders. The press is transformed into an echo chamber for the corporate elites. Wages stagnate or decline. Unemployment and underemployment soar. Social services are curtailed or abolished in the name of austerity. The political system becomes a charade. Dissent is criminalized. The ecocide by the fossil fuel industry accelerates. State enterprises and utilities are sold to corporations. The educational system mutates into vocational training. Culture and the arts are replaced by sexual commodification, banal entertainment and graphic depictions of violence. Infrastructures crumble.

    The working poor—sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit and suffering job losses, bankruptcies, foreclosures, harassment and arrest—watch helplessly as their dreams for themselves and their children evaporate. Some are forced into an underground economy dominated by drugs, crime and human trafficking. Some turn to opiates to blunt the despair. (Heroin use in the United States has doubled since 2007.) Suicides mount. (There are more than 40,000 a year in the U.S.) Hunger spreads. (Some 48.1 million Americans, including 15.3 million children, live in food-insecure households.) The state, to prevent unrest, militarizes the police agencies and empowers them to use lethal force against unarmed civilians. It fills the prisons.” …

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