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This Week in the Narrative: Trump’s Implosion

Donald Trump is crashing and burning. And it is a gruesome spectacle.

This week CNN is hosting a debate between Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz over “the future of Obamacare.” Personally, I always relish the chance to #FeelTheBernAndChill. But I am suspicious the event may be a move in the battle to define the narrative of Trump’s implosion.


For the mainstream media, Trump’s collapse is an argument for “politics as usual.” Hour after hour, day after day, it is a parade of establishment talking heads — Pelosi, Schumer, McCain, etc. — telling the public — this is what happens when you step outside the boundaries of the political norm.

In this narrative, the people taking to the streets against Trump are demanding a return to a sheltered establishment status quo.

When I hear that CNN is devoting prime-time programming to Ted Cruz and Bernie Fucking Sanders (after how Bernie was treated by CNN during the primaries?), I cannot help but imagine the purpose of the event being to portray both men as dangerous radicals; an idea which should be predictably reinforced by the inevitable panel of neoliberals.

The subconscious implication is an endorsement of the mainstream media narrative — that the preferred, no, only solution to Trump is a return to the realm of “acceptable” politics.

The opposing narrative is something quite different. It recognizes that the realm of “acceptable” politics has not worked for some time now, at least for most regular people.

For all the vitriol, many Trump voters and Bernie voters were voting for the same thing; that is, anything but another establishment politician. Something of a functional protest vote against oligarchy.

It is interesting to look at Corbyn and Brexit in the U.K., or the upcoming French election between Marine Le Pen — The French Trump — and Benoit Hamon — an “avowed socialist,” as CNN would call him, who proposes basic income — and recognize that across the western world, whether populist or socialist, the key is anti-establishment.

Of course, regardless of what Donald Trump voters were or were not voting for, what they have gotten, what we all have gotten, has been something of a catastrophe.

The mainstream media narrative would say Trump has failed because he stepped outside the boundaries of acceptable politics. The opposing narrative would say that he has laid “acceptable” politics bare.

Mix Trump’s outrageously tactless and perhaps often illegal handling of his first few weeks in office with the well-established villainous Trump character, and an engaged American public has their attention diverted directly to the ugly skeleton of the levels of tyranny.

Deportations, turning away refugees, disregarding the Constitution, warmongering, a love affair with fossil fuels, the questionable legality of actions — I do not need to present an itemized list of how these things were a part of the Obama Administration, the W. Bush Administration, and before.


Leading up to 2020, we know which of the two narratives depicting Trump’s implosion the mainstream media will use as they tout the prospects of Andrew Cuomo, or Cory Booker, or *gulp* she who shall remain nameless.

What remains to be seen is which of these narratives will be taken up by the public.

Will they use the power of their inflamed engagement, or retreat into the embrace of establishment apathy?

This piece was originally published on Medium.

Written by Nigel Clarke

Nigel Clarke

Writer and notorious vagabond. From the frozen north. Follow Nigel on Twitter @Nig_Clarke.

Nigel Clarke is a Writer for Progressive Army.

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[…] Last week I opined that it was curious for CNN to devote prime-time programming to two men who are, and have in the past been treated as, antagonists to the messaging of the network. I suggested that CNN was likely intending to use the opportunity to present both Bernie and Ted Cruz as dangerous radicals. […]

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This Week in the Narrative: Trump’s Implosion