The “Nightmare” Of Authenticity: The Establishment Continues To Struggle With The Unknown

Heading into Super Tuesday, the media appears at its collective wit’s end. After the victory of Joe Biden in South Carolina, many attempted to portray a new day until the they faced polls in the morning showing Bernie Sanders again surging in states from California to Texas to even Massachusetts (where Elizabeth Warren is struggling to win her own state). Described as the “nightmare scenario,” the media and political establishment in Washington is back to clutching its pearls and speaking of a convention strategy to block Sanders, including Warren whose campaign calls such a move the “final play.”

The continuing support win for Bernie Sanders has sent the D.C. political and media establishment into vapors. On the eve of Super Tuesday, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke all lined up to endorse Joe Biden to try to stop the momentum for Sanders. Others are growing more and more shrill. Democratic strategist James Carville proclaimed the winner to be Valdimir Putin. His point was that both Sanders and Trump continue surging despite unrelenting attacks in the media. The fact is that many in Washington still cannot compute why so many voters will not listen to them about Sanders and Trump. The reason is that they are valued for the one thing that the establishment cannot offer: authenticity.

In 2016, I wrote a column on what I thought was a curious trend I was seeing in various states far outside of the echo-chamber of Washington some interesting anecdotes. On a trip to Alaska, I encountered support for the candidacy of Donald Trump in surprising numbers despite his portrayal in the media as a fringe candidate for what Hillary Clinton called a “basket of deplorables.”  More importantly, the appeal for Trump was not the racist dog whistles so often denounced in the media. Rather, voters viewed him as authentic in a way that is entirely unimaginable in D.C.  He was the outsider who would challenge the establishment and the collective opposition of the political and media elite only reaffirmed that appeal.

         I returned recently to Alaska and spoke to some of these same voters to see how they now view Trump. What I found was not just continuing support for Trump but also support for Bernie Sanders.  Both of these very different politicians shared the key element of authenticity for voters, who also resented the coordinated attacks by the political and media establishment.

         One of my stops was Mike Carpenter’s trading post on the way to Denali National Park, a shack covered in a mountain of detritus from pelts to animal traps to a human hand in a jar.  All prices are negotiable but advice comes free.  Four years later, Carpenter remains a Trump supporter, only more so.  With a MAGA hat now prominently hung over the counter, he said that Trump proved to be even better than he had hoped. He was sent to Washington to disrupt it and he did. 

         Sitting outside in front of the outpost was “Red” Cooney.  (Red said no one knows his real first name but his Mom).   Red, 75, is from Minnesota and has been in Alaska for 50 years.  He also supports Trump.  Like Carpenter, he recognized that Trump lies and engages in shady deals. However, he also viewed him as authentic in that he did not hide those traits.  He is, in a way, authentically inauthentic.  He does not ask for people to view him as a moral example, but he someone who delivers on the deal.  The other person who was the talk of the outpost was the political antithesis of Trump: Bernie Sanders.  People saw both men as not just honest, but brutally honest. Red estimated support in the rural area as “25 for Trump, 25 for Sanders, and the rest don’t care.”

         Authenticity is a word rarely applied to Trump, but it remains his greatest selling point outside Washington.  While rarely acknowledged, Trump has fulfilled many of his campaign promises with his push on immigration, the wall, taxes, Jerusalem, renegotiating NAFTA, dropping the Iran deal, rolling back regulations, opening areas like the artic to drilling, finishing the Keystone pipeline, gutting Obamacare and other promises.  More importantly, he does not try to pretend what he is not: honest or moral.  He openly talks about delivering wealth and having people vote their pocketbooks.  He is the ultimate car salesman who you don’t trust but still want to get a good deal from.

         Bernie Sanders is genuinely authentic.  Indeed, Sanders seems immune from changes from clothing or political styles.  There was never a popular time to be socialist but Sanders never budged. To the contrary, he praised Castro and spent his birthday in the Soviet Union during the cold war.  He changes his positions at the speed of tectonic plate shifts.  That is why you can hate socialism but love Sanders because you know (like Trump) exactly what you are getting.  Elizabeth Warren in comparison was known as a pro-corporate, anti-consumer academic for much of her career before being a champion of the downtrodden.  

         For the establishment, Sanders’ authenticity is precisely the problem.  He is the real deal who is unlikely to change as president any more than he did as a Senator. CNN and MSNBC have stood out in the level of open anti-Sanders bias.  Many were shocked by the hostile questions against Sanders by CNN’s Abby Phillips in the presidential debate.  Sanders may be surging across the country (and even pulling ahead of Biden in Texas), but NBC’s Chuck Todd objected to people even calling Sanders a “frontrunner.”  Others like Chris Matthews has denounced Sanders as leading the country to a socialist nightmare while James Carville has called him a “communist.” Hillary Clinton has been virtually campaigning against him, including declaring that “no one likes Bernie.”  Perhaps but many are voting for him, because, unlike Clinton, they know what they are getting with Sanders.

         While trumpeting the new “Red Scare,” the establishment is pushing Biden and Klobuchar who continue to change positions to court voting blocks.  For example, when she started to campaign in Nevada with one of the largest Hispanic populations, Klobuchar suddenly dropped her support for English being taught as a first language in public schools. She also previously supported building a wall along the Southern border until it became anathema to liberals.  Biden has notoriously changed or denied positions on the campaign trail, including denying his support for the Iraq War.

         The impression of these candidates is that what we see is merely the artificial product of image makers, pollsters, and speech writers.  It is all pre-fabricated until they are post-fabricated. Voters had the same reaction of the character Tony Stark when he dismissed Captain America in the movie Avengers by saying “Everything special about you came out of a bottle.” 

         This election is shaping up precisely in the same way. Screaming about sociopaths or socialists only convinces many that they are real threats to the hated status quo. The more that the media screams about the end-of-days with Trump and Sanders, the more people want to bring about that day.   

104 thoughts on “The “Nightmare” Of Authenticity: The Establishment Continues To Struggle With The Unknown”

  1. RNC Chairwoman Sings “Poor Bernie”..

    Until Donna Brazile Tells Her, ” Go To Hell”

    Longtime Democratic operative Donna Brazile told Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Tuesday to “go to hell” after the GOP party chief claimed that Democrats’ convention this summer would be “rigged against” Bernie Sanders.

    “First of all, I want to talk to my Republicans. First of all, stay the hell out of our race. Stay the hell out of our race,” Brazile, a Fox News contributor, said during an appearance on the network.

    Brazile went on to criticize the Republican presidential nominating process, which saw the canceling of several states’ primaries to smooth President Donald Trump’s reelection effort. Brazile also accused McDaniel of abetting efforts by the Russian government to meddle in U.S. elections.

    “For people to use Russian talking points to sow division among Americans, that is stupid. So Ronna, go to hell,” Brazile said, insisting that Democrats “are not trying to prevent anyone from becoming the nominee” to challenge Trump in November.

    “If you have the delegates and win, you will win. This notion that somehow or another Democrats are out there trying to put hurdles or roadblocks before one candidate, that’s stupid. I know what’s going on,” Brazile said.

    “They are scared of Democrats coming together to defeat Donald Trump,” she continued. “They need to be focusing on what we’re focusing on in the Democratic Party. And that is preventing foreign interference in our elections. Stop using Russian talking points, Madam Chairwoman. Period. Stop using it.

    Edited From: “Donna Brazile To Ronna McDaniel: “Go To Hell”

    Politico, 3/3/20


      It’s not just ‘me’. Even Donna Brazile has noticed that Republicans can’t shut up with the “Poor Bernie” crap.
      Brazile points out that Republicans are more concerned for Bernie than they are with Russian interference.

      1. Will Donna Blabile feed Biden the questions in advance if she moderates any debates?

  2. i thought this article by turley was interesting and i want to expand on the use of the word authenticity

    this is dense stuff and I’m not competent to summarize it. but it is relevant. there is very little in politics today that’s isn’t colored by the insights of Heidegger, even though most of them were initially borrowed by the Left, in spite of him being a man of the right. so, here’s biting off a lot to chew:

    “In utilizing public means of transport and in making use of information services such as the newspaper, every Other is like the next. This Being-with-one-another dissolves one’s own Dasein completely into a kind of Being of ‘the Others’, in such a way, indeed, that the Others, as distinguishable and explicit, vanish more and more. In this inconspicuousness and unascertainability, the real dictatorship of the ‘they’ is unfolded. We take pleasure and enjoy ourselves as they take pleasure; we read, see, and judge about literature and art as they see and judge; likewise we shrink back from the ‘great mass’ as they shrink back; we find ‘shocking’ what they find shocking. The ‘they’, which is nothing definite, and which all are, though not as the sum, prescribes the kind of Being of everydayness. (Being and Time 27: 164)

    This analysis opens up a path to Heidegger’s distinction between the authentic self and its inauthentic counterpart. At root, ‘authentic’ means ‘my own’. So the authentic self is the self that is mine (leading a life that, in a sense to be explained, is owned by me), whereas the inauthentic self is the fallen self, the self lost to the ‘they’. Hence we might call the authentic self the ‘mine-self’, and the inauthentic self the ‘they-self’, the latter term also serving to emphasize the point that fallen-ness is a mode of the self, not of others. Moreover, as a mode of the self, fallen-ness is not an accidental feature of Dasein, but rather part of Dasein’s existential constitution. It is a dimension of care, which is the Being of Dasein. So, in the specific sense that fallen-ness (the they-self) is an essential part of our Being, we are ultimately each to blame for our own inauthenticity (Sheehan 2002). Of course, one shouldn’t conclude from all this talk of submersion in the ‘they’ that a state of authenticity is to be achieved by re-establishing some version of a self-sufficient individual subject. As Heidegger puts it:

    [**** ]“Authentic Being-one’s-Self does not rest upon an exceptional condition of the subject, a condition that has been detached from the ‘they’; it is rather an existentiell modification of the ‘they’ ” (Being and Time 27: 168). [*****]

    So authenticity is not about being isolated from others, but rather about finding a different way of relating to others such that one is not lost to the they-self. It is in Division 2 of Being and Time that authenticity, so understood, becomes a central theme.

    2.3 Division 2
    2.3.1 Death
    As the argument of Being and Time continues its ever-widening hermeneutic spiral into Division 2 of the text, Heidegger announces a twofold transition in the analysis. He argues that we should (i) pay proper heed to the thought that to understand Dasein we need to understand Dasein’s existence as a whole, and (ii) shift the main focus of our attention from the inauthentic self (the they-self) to the authentic self (the mine-self) (Being and Time 45: 276). Both of these transitions figure in Heidegger’s discussion of death.”

  3. The fact is that many in Washington still cannot compute why so many voters will not listen to them about Sanders and Trump.

    Imagine that. After investing 4+ years telling voters what they should think, the establishment Democrats and their cohorts are shocked to discover voters don’t like to be told what to do by people that have been lying to them for 4+ years. If you dispute Turley’s analysis on this, then consider yourself one of their sheep.

    1. Your analysis is that people voted for a pathological liar because they didn’t like the establishment lying to them. Lol, ok. Turley’s attempt to act like Trump is authentic is ridiculous. Lying to portray yourself as something you are not and lying to pretend you did something you did not is not authentic, it’s pretty much the opposite. Just because some idiots who don’t pay attention to what is going on think he is authentic doesn’t make it so. I don’t like Bernie’s policies, but he is authentic for the most part. Trump is a tornado of lies and disingenuousness.

      1. Bernie’s authentic, terrific. What does he have as a list of accomplishments after being in politics for 49 years. That record will tell you all you need to know about what he is authentic at.

        President Trump is also authentic. He has a list of accomplishments after 3 years in office that he promised he would do.

        Thanks for stopping by.

  4. The decision process in voting this fall will be fairly simple. One side favors
    — totally open borders no questions asked and no internal immigration enforcement
    — $10 a gallon gas (except the most extremist among them who eliminate gas altogether along with the internal combustion engine and American independence on fuel)
    — making everyone build a new house among many other ideas in the Green New Deal such as guaranteed income whether you work or not
    — taking “Medicare as we know it” away from 60,000,000 of us, and instead giving us and everyone else (including the 50,000,000 who would have previously been criminal aliens) crappy Medicaid
    — infanticide on demand, not just abortion on demand
    — letting Iran and Russia rule central and western Asia from the southwestern Chinese border to just north of the Suez canal, wiping Israel off the map
    — going to war with Russia over a false understanding of a peninsula they claim Russia invaded in 2014 but that has been part of Russia since Catherine the Great (while oddly ceding Poland back to Russia)
    — quadrupling (or more; none of them will say) taxes to pay for all of this

    And the people on the other side do not support these ideas. Let the best man win

  5. The choice Turley found in Alaska is nationwide. And it’s exactly what I stated four years ago after the 2016 win by Constitutional Centrists and Friends.

    Three words

    Constitutionalism versus Socialism.

    Freedom versus Communism works just as well. They have so many names it’s hard to keep track but at the roots it’s Marxist Leninism with emphasis on control power and ability to program the Collective. Marx and Engels Stalin and Lenin would be quite comfortable in todays ‘democratic?’ Party which is in no way Democratic. Citizens understand that Collectives do not.

    Democracy is the exact opposite of Socialism under any name. One calls for complete control by any and all means. the other is control government by individual citizens. There are no similarities.

    Our Constitutional Republic system offers that one part of a Democracy they most cherish. Individual control of Citizens of their government. The Constitutional (social contract) Republlc (of, by, and for the citizens) offers that self governing individual control at all levels. Socialism offers being controlled at all levels and nothing else.

    No matter what the pimps of the left their media propagandists and their brain washers at the universities can say or do. It does not change

    Constitutionalism versus socialism
    Freedom versus slavery.

    The center of which in any true Constitutional Republic is it’s Constitution.

    It is not found as the hyphen between Marx and Lenin nor Pelosi and Schumer

    1. Good post Michael. You could have taken it directly from Bastiat:

      A Confusion of Terms
      Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all.

      We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

  6. The professor has described perfectly what I have seen as well. The only mystery is that DC still does not get it. We are sick of them.

  7. How can a liar be authentic? Also you bring up Biden’s changes as evidence of not being authentic but ignore trumps- including exact same charge of being against Iraq war. And abortion. And what about Mexico paying for wall? How about possibility that people say they like his authenticity because it sounds better than liking his racism? Pretty shallow piece here

    1. Marcy,
      I guess you have never bought a used car. It is an ” arms length” transaction. You both bring b.s. to the negotiation, both know it is there and can even enjoy it, and come away with a final deal acceptable to both. Perhaps you have spent too long in the padded day care centers universities have become. Not your fault, really.

      1. I should add that the ‘inauthentic’ DC pols pretend they are our fiduciaries, people we must trust are acting only in our interests while breaking nearly every promise and assurance they make.

  8. You want to see “inauthentic” in action? Watch Beto O’Rourke jump around on stage pretending to be enthusiastic for ol’ Joe Biden at his Texas rally.

    Beto is awful btw. Sorry Dems he ain’t “it” and never will be “it”…

  9. Authenticity…honesty…. are victims in Democrat circles, buried willingly by the Main Screed Media

    Meanwhile, Hillary’s lies are the gifts that keep on giving . Fun times!


    Hillary Clinton faces a Catch-22 in deposition over private email server

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could potentially fight a ruling that she must sit for a sworn deposition before a federal judge, but she would have to ask Attorney General William Barr for help, Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano explained Tuesday.

    In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Napolitano said that the former presidential candidate would have to ask Barr to file an appeal on her behalf because the Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers would be representing her in the matter.

    While Clinton has argued that she has already responded to questions in regard to her use of a private email server to conduct government business, D.C. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that her answers left much to be desired. The matter, however, did not result in any charges after a high-profile investigation.

    The ruling comes after conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch revealed at a December 2019 status conference that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released “approximately thirty previously undisclosed Clinton emails” and that the State Department “failed to fully explain” where they came from.

    “As extensive as the existing record is, it does not sufficiently explain Secretary Clinton’s state of mind when she decided it would be an acceptable practice to set up and use a private server to conduct State Department business,” Lamberth said.

    “The court believes those responses were either incomplete, unhelpful, or cursory at best. Simply put, her responses left many more questions than answers,” he wrote.

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