Listen up, you lesser mortals, for I am the light. A faded 1990s popstar I may be, but you must admire my moral superiority, and my simple answers to the world’s problems. Oh, and I have a new album coming out. The last three masterpieces disappeared into the ether, so here is an easier route to the attention I crave. Thus I tweet ‘Refugees welcome – they are victims of our government’s wars and climate change’. Now splash me all over social media.
It could be Lily Allen, but this time it is a certain Billie Joe Armstrong of the once-famous American band Green Day. In an uncritical interview in The Sunday Times, Armstrong describes Donald Trump as a psychotic manipulator (let’s ignore the diagnostic drivel) who has ‘so much shady shit up his sleeve’. Okay, the Republican presidential candidate is a sitting duck for satire. But Armstrong tells us more about himself and his unchecked privilege when he attempts to explain the tycoon’s mass appeal. America has come a long way, he tells us, with a black president, gay marriage and transgender rights.
Culturally, we’re moving to the left. At the same time, with the working classes, there are a lot of people my age that are stuck in the industrial era, where the attitude is, I want to go in there, punch in, do my f*****g job, go home to my family, drink beer, play poker with my friends’. But with technology advancing so rapidly, there’s a new way of looking at jobs that normal working-class people don’t get.
Maybe those guys should all become Uber drivers, until they lose those jobs to automation too. Doesn’t this remind you of the EU referendum? Armstrong and his ilk are the ones who do not get it, but the interviewer missed the opportunity to confront this haughty dismissal of the ordinary people in their desire for stability and social cohesion. If celebrities minor or major use media platforms to spout their condescending political views, they should expect to be challenged. Sadly, the right-of-centre press in Britain, a much needed antidote to the BBC, goes astray in its supplements, of which old Ken Loach would approve.
There is a strong leftist vein in American life, most prominent on campus, in Hollywood and mainstream media, in the administration of affluent states, and in the corridors of Washington. The culture wars are repeatedly lost by social conservatives, and few celebrities identify themselves as Republican supporters. But as in Britain, the party of the Left no longer represents the working class, immersing itself instead in identity politics and contrived grievance.
The archetypal American rock hero remains Bruce Springsteen, a stalwart performer at Democrat events, who has consistently been a champion of the working class. Since Springsteen leapt to fame with Born to Run in 1976, the conditions of the labourer and blue-collar workers have steadily deteriorated. The coalfields of Pennsylvania, the steelworks of Gary, the refineries of Cleveland, the factories of Flint; all are wasting away in the Rustbelt. Springsteen is deeply saddened by this, and continues to fight for the cause of the impoverished casualties of the shattered American dream. But he is aware that many are turning to Trump, in bitter resentment of a metropolitan elite that looks the other way.
As with Brexit, the entire political class in the USA is on trial before an increasingly irate electorate. Intellectual Americans, by combining with poor black and Latino voters, may prevail on 8th November, but the result will be tight. Their guru Michael Moore made his fortune from attacking not only corporate greed but also the traditional values of middle America and their neo-con representatives. Like Green Day’s American Idiot, Moore basked in the glow with his Stupid White Men caricature of George W Bush, and by extension anyone who voted for him. We are fortunate to live in a Western society whose leaders can be ridiculed, but if patriotism is so undermined that people no longer know who they are (Dude, Where’s my Country?), existential crisis results. Hating one’s country and compatriots is not clever- it is cultural sickness.
We hear much about Hillary Clinton’s carelessness with national secrets, and her covering for Bill’s sexual misdemeanours in the White House. But the real threat to the American people is that she would continue the path to destruction of American culture. She will do nothing but encourage globalisation and mass immigration, trashing jobs while raising the threat of Islamist terror. The political manual has been followed closely: play the man, not the ball. Actors and artists are showcased, with the great and good from the other side of the pond chipping in, such as Dame Helen Mirren telling a Clinton gathering that Trump would be like Brexit: a disaster for humanity. How will luvvies cope with another slap in the face?
Billie Joe Armstrong thinks Trump will be vanquished, as he can only appeal to ‘the last angry white man’. Judging by the rallies, there must be lots of them, and their wives. Whatever the result next week, America must wake up to the widening chasm in its populace. Instead of patronisingly describing swaths of the ordinary folk as ‘left behind’ by global forces, the new leader must lead: the people want their country back.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)