“It is not strange that already people in the United States, in Britain and, soon, in Germany and the rest of the world will want somebody who will fight for them,” said Reince Priebus, the Greek-American chairman of the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, in Washington on Thursday, one day before the presidential transition.
People, Priebus said, are thirsty for someone who is true. What people long for is that which is real, he said.
“People are tired of plastic politicians, whether they are from Athens or Washington. Plastic does not work anymore,” he said.
How can you define real, as opposed to plastic? For example, is Trump real and Barack Obama plastic? And, since Priebus made a reference to Greece, is Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras real while conservative opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is plastic? Or is Panos Kammenos, the leader of junior coalition partner Independent Greeks, real while New Democracy’s Costis Hatzidakis is plastic?
Anti-systemic politics needs the constant help of ideological and theoretical constructs to maintain its momentum in conflict. The true-vs-plastic dichotomy may be transcendental in a way, but at the same time it can be perceived by voters of different levels of awareness.
This defiant, straight-talking tone whereby the system and all those who serve it are attacked goes hand in hand with nationalist populism and navel-gazing.
That said, after assuming control of power, the anti-systemic forces automatically show off their hardest, most inflexible and systemic face. An unquestionable establishment mentality.
There is something liberating about the rhetoric of generalizations. It works as an antidote to the insecurity of our times. It’s easy to throw stones at politicians, at media organizations, or at anyone who is seen as embodying the old political and economic system.
You can take advantage of widespread frustrations and unsolved problems and then you make easy promises that you will do away with the old status quo and bring in justice, equality and equality before the law (usually one that does not include foreigners).
This is more or less how the real becomes plastic, before it even gets a chance to exist as real. And no one is really better off in the end, because the thirst remains unquenched. Dehydration inevitably follows.