Intern Blog: Five Essential Writers for Interpreting Trump’s America

by Benjamin Clark

We live in confusing times. Not least because the leader of the free world seems hell-bent on keeping us constantly confused. Each day there are more bamboozling tweets, more ‘alternative facts’, more calculated misdirection.

Never has the role of writers and journalists been more vital. To distill truth and meaning in the swirling fog of lies and absurdities, we need the insightful analysis of the thoughtful and expressive.

To help navigate the rocky terrain of modern political discourse, I’ve collated five writers whose reflections on Trump’s America I find uniquely perceptive and revealing. Ignore the clickbait and the latest snappy tweet – pour yourself a cup of tea (or something stronger), sit down and read these writers in long form.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an African-American author, journalist and comic-book writer. He currently serves as National Correspondent for The Atlantic, while also writing the Black Panther comic book series for Marvel Comics.

Two of Coates’ essays reflecting on race as a structural force in US politics went viral online shortly before and after the 2016 US Election. ‘My President was Black’ is an honest yet loving portrayal of Barack Obama and the profundity of his presidency for African-Americans. ‘The First White President’ is a hard-hitting critique of the racism undergirding Trump’s success.

As Coates writes, ‘It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact.’

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister is a writer-at-large for New York magazine. Her work focuses on the impact of gender on US politics, culture and workplaces, and has gained increased prominence in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

She has written powerfully on the media’s gendered portrayal of Hillary Clinton, the power of “lecherous, powerful men” in Hollywood and Washington, the need to rewrite the history of Bill Clinton in the age of #MeToo, and the echoes of familiar gendered narratives surrounding rising female front-runners in the Democratic Party.

Angela Nagle

Angela Nagle is the author of Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan And Tumblr To Trump And The Alt-Right, which explores the rise of the alt-right and other far-right groups online. She also writes for The Baffler and Jacobin.

Particularly, Nagle’s essay ‘New Man of 4Chan’ is a terrifying account of online extremism among young men.

Carol Anderson

Carol Anderson is an African-American academic and author. Her 2016 book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide reflects on the invisibility of white rage, and the hypervisibility of black rage in America. The book was inspired by her viral Washington Post article in the wake of the Ferguson riots.

Don Watson

Don Watson is an Australian historian, writer and former speechwriter to Paul Keating. A regular contributor to The Monthly, Watson tears into the hypocrisies of US and Australian politics with unrivalled precision. His Quarterly Essay Enemy Within examines the current ‘American berserk’.

Find out more about Benjamin here.

Benjamin Clark is a Melburnian writer and arts worker. He is a 2018 MWF marketing and development intern.