The Common Sense of Donald J. Trump: A Gramscian Reading of Twenty-First Century Populist Rhetoric
The success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, culminating in his defeat of Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, has baffled liberal commentators. The writings of Antonio Gramsci, the twentieth-century Italian Marxist, imprisoned by Mussolini, can help us understand Trump’s success. This chapter uses the Gramscian concept of common sense (senso comune) to explore the nature of Trump’s appeal to certain Americans. It also asks the question: from where might oppositional common sense narratives emerge? It is always harder for a narrative that goes against the prevailing hegemonic order to gain the same traction as those that are broadly in line with that order. Nonetheless, political narratives based on common sense can come from the left as well as the right. The chapter takes as an example the Occupy Wall Street movement and the generation of the ‘We are the 99 percent!’ slogan.
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