Want true, wrenching, life-altering ‘grievances?’ Don’t look to right-wing base complaints

What social, ethnic, class or work group doesn’t have far more cause to feel disrespected, mistreated or exploited than Trump whiners?

Image Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Whiners of the world unite—all we have to lose is national continuity and integrity

For years, widespread right-wing “grievance” was invoked to justify outrage from both irate Tea Partiers and the insurgent Trump base. Some complaints had cause, but the torrent of media propaganda is what triggered the quick embrace of an unqualified, boorish demagogue—a NY publicity hound notorious for more empty hot air than real-world achievements (unless breaking records for suing his own victims count). Remember the indefensible Central Park Five fiasco or endless Obama Birther nonsense.

Then we found out that Trumpers weren’t bereft of jobs, especially underprivileged or oppressed backwoods hicks still fighting the Civil War. Their celebrated “grievances” simply expressed how older, white, gun-loving, racially intolerant, often religious types saw poorer, harder working immigrants (and newly-minted citizens) as threats to “their” hallowed, white sanctuary. Which culturally the newcomers did, committed to diversity. Trumpers echoed generations of entrenched white, Anglo Protestants full of resentful towards Catholics (Irish, Hispanic, Italian, Greek), Jews, Native Americans or Asians, especially the Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

Seasoned with white supremacist, anti-minority Trump lies, this easily manipulated gang of hardly mistreated malcontents rushed to buy MAGA hats to compensate for personal identity lapses. As the epic career victim/loser, Trump understood the malady, skilled at exploiting the press, workers, vendors and suckered students. Thus the marriage made in hell between the Whiner-in-chief and all the little whiners now given permission to rail against uppity minorities, foreigners, women, Democrats, plus anti-Trumpers risking injury by speaking out.

In fact, this latest grievance commotion was not historically singular, nor justified by real facts. Whites for centuries had privileges (ownership, voting, citizenship, travel) denied non-whites and women. Reams more Americans face far worse daily exploitation and oppression, excluded from jobs, loans and housing, than even the lowest cross section of Trump insurrectionists. However eager for work, the jobless poor or no-experience young, lacking essential food or medical care, are justly outraged why billionaires with money they’ll never spend refuse to share with hungry children. Under-trained working families (especially minorities) have legitimate complaints why their dead end, underpaid, mind-numbing jobs result from blocked asset accumulation (home ownership, bonuses, tax avoidance)—the extra dollars that pay for private schools. even junior college and SAT-prep classes.

Majority grievances qualify, too

Let’s not ignore by far the largest, legitimately aggrieved crowd, notable by not bellyaching—those pommeled for leaning leftward, for decades their vision for America constantly thwarted. Despite opposition (and fewer overt wars), U.S. aggression (plus boycotts and discrimination) remains a world-wild scourge. What majority favors unstoppable raises to our “Defense” Dept. budgets? What majority supports failed immigration policies, full of penalties, imprisonment and contradictions, glaring for a nation of immigrants? What majority supports unfair taxation or fixed state/federal taxes on essentials, including gasoline and non-food items? Talk about grievances!

The left (and Obama/Biden voters) justifiably challenge the downright theft of the Supreme Court, filled with unrepresentative extremists (thanks, McConnell, for the last two infamous yahoos). Never in my lifetime has the judiciary represented a more distorted mirror to America, morally, culturally and intellectually. What about shameless gerrymandering, voter suppression and the torrent of dirty tricks by which minority Republicans keep themselves in power by abusing the majority? Compared to whining about open-ended gun sales, easy voting for whites, or high religious tolerance even for extremists, is there any doubt which party has more legitimate grievances? Though two-thirds of America strongly favor abortion rights, this legacy is under severe, direct threat.

Obviously, ancestors of former slaves (or black newcomers) are bristling justly with rage, not only at chronic racial discrimination, but that their innocent children face unending police brutality. Second only IMO to Native Americans, black populations have experienced a horrifying tumult of grievances. Jews, when their synagogues are not mindlessly invaded, face more anti-Semitism today, as bigots missed Jesus’ and Muhammad’s tolerance commandments. Native Americans (afflicted with an upsurge in young women being kidnapped, abused and murdered—often without investigations) are remarkable for their restraint. Asian-Americans, thanks to insupportable right-wing propaganda about the COVID spread, face verbal and physical assaults, even fatalities—and they too hesitate to complain loudly, fearful of inspiring greater abuse. More’s the pity.

Who qualifies as oppressed?

The list goes on, with women everywhere underpaid or under-promoted because of appalling misogyny, aided and abetted by Trumpian pandering to insecure, fear-laden men. Finally, consider the pain and suffering not only of injured children but beaten wives and girlfriends (and a few men) by unhinged spouses who scapegoat whoever can’t get out of their way. Such painful (anti-male) grievances just don’t appear at the Trump base rallies.

Recently emerging is another score of rightful grievances: patients, nurses, staff and doctors struggling in broken healthcare systems. Visit any hospital these days (if you dare), especially the underfunded centers stressed by pandemic surges (and worsened by selfish vax-refusnicks). You can’t miss the mayhem, inefficiency, and harmful tradeoffs when health is treated like any other factory commodity. Burn-out by heroic staffers is the grittier, belated grievance, shaming facile kvetching by lazy Trumpers who won’t or can’t adjust to the new economy.

Need we add graduates with enormous debt pressure (a burden unknown in Europe, with free university schooling)? The gap between top management and worker bees ever-widens as automation, robotics, and AI shred what used to be called upward mobility. One is hard-pressed to find many groups (except inferior white, male workers) without justification for grievances that violate innate rights to “life, liberty, and happiness.”

Trumpist grievances fall way short

In short, what social, ethnic, class or work group doesn’t have far more cause to feel disrespected, mistreated or exploited than Trump whiners? Either Americans must endure terrible conditions (like jobs we cannot leave) or jump through impossible hoops to get certified—or broken systems are everywhere. Either Americans are the biggest complainers on earth—or our sky-high, rhetoric-driven expectations are impossible to fulfill. Perhaps our greater free speech and ethnic diversity spawn greater whining. What this summary exposes is that right-wing grievances have been ginned up and magnified, often funded by billionaires and operatives whose idea of business profit is milking the suckers (item: convictions against illegal fundraising by Trumpers like Steve Bannon).

Of course, nothing stops the manic Trump hustle from playing the phony victim card, aligning himself with the far less affluent marks he bullies to fund his campaigns. The cosmic joke of all time is that Trump was “too rich to be bought;” au contraire, he’s the non-stop fundraising machine (and not that rich) whose standard for political success is not winning elections but amassing millions he can spend however he pleases. Many rich donors have withdrawn, realizing, since any Republican will deliver his anti-government message, they no longer have to tolerate party downsides from the Big Lie catastrophe. Before the mounting right-wing decimation is over, the powers-that-be will seed a necessary, new round of aggrieved right-wingers: ex-suckers who realize the full Trump hustle never had anything to do with Making America Great Again. Just more profitable. Après Trump, le déluge?


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.