Tag: rage

Delusion Everywhere

It’s been just over a year since 62,979,636 Americans said, “Hey, you know that smug, narcissistic, mentally unstable billionaire who hates women and minorities? Yeah, that guy. Let’s all vote for him.”

And it’s been nothing but easy living ever since.

To be fair, plenty of Americans are indeed happy with Trump’s first year in office, even if by any objective or reasonable standard, it has been a complete failure, daily embarrassment, and horrific nightmare.

No matter, because as I wrote in my last post, many hardcore Trump supporters have abandoned all pretense of rational thought or even strained justification for their misbegotten votes. Instead, the working-class folks profiled in Politico insist that the human cringe factor masquerading as a president is a great guy, and that things couldn’t be better.

Well, I didn’t mention that the Politico article ends with a Trump supporter casually dropping the N-word, which might as well be a snapshot of what the 2016 election was really all about.

You see, study after study has shown that bigotry is a prime characteristic of many Trump voters. In fact, some experts insist that racism motivated Trump voters more than any other factor.

But as I’ve written before, Americans tend to dismiss the very idea that racism was even a minor variable in Trump’s election. We are determined to say that prejudice died in the 1960s, and millions of our fellow citizens cannot possibly be bigots.

Well, as the Atlantic recently pointed out, this kind of delusion has been going on for decades.

And it is not just Trump’s supporters “who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who … searched desperately for any alternative explanation — outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety — to the one staring them in the face.”

The explanation staring all of us in the face is blatant racism, xenophobia, hate-filled rage — whatever you would like to call it.

What happened in 2016 was that “Americans, who would never think of themselves as possessing racial animus, voted for a candidate whose ideal vision of America excludes millions of fellow citizens because of their race or religion.”

It really is that clear.

Now, of course, it is inaccurate and offensive to label all of Trump’s supporters as racists.

But the vast majority who are not neo-Nazis and white supremacists were still willing to look the other way as they voted for a guy beloved by, well, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

The Atlantic article has gone viral for a very good reason: It is an astute and well-written attack on our national delusion. At the risk of checking out for the remainder of this article, I’ll just list some of the most striking passages here.

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who explicitly pledged to use the power of the state against people of color and religious minorities, and stood by him as that pledge has been among the few to survive the first year of his presidency.… This all occurred before the eyes of a disbelieving press and political class, who plunged into fierce denial about how and why this had happened.”

 

“Supporters and opponents alike understand that the president’s policies and rhetoric target religious and ethnic minorities, and behave accordingly. But both supporters and opponents usually stop short of calling these policies racist. It is as if there were a pothole in the middle of the street that every driver studiously avoided, but that most insisted did not exist even as they swerved around it.”

 

“The argument for the innocence of Trump’s backers finds purchase across ideological lines: white Democrats looking for votes from working-class whites, white Republicans who want to tar Democrats as elitists, white leftists who fear that identity politics stifles working-class solidarity, and white Trumpists seeking to weaponize white grievances.”

 

“A peculiarly white American cognitive dissonance is that most worry far more about being seen as racist than about the consequences of racism for their fellow citizens. That dissonance spans the ideological spectrum, resulting in blanket explanations for Trump that ignore the plainly obvious.”

 

“A majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with, and one that most of the country has yet to confront.”

 

It’s a lot to take in. But a combination of data-driven research, psychological study, anecdotal evidence, and our own common sense all verify that this is indeed the case. Americans remain in deep denial about the crushing moral failure that occurred last year.

To justify their votes, Trump’s biggest fans combined “an insistence that discriminatory policies were necessary with vehement denials that his policies would discriminate and absolute outrage that the question would even be asked.”

The only thing more delusional than thinking that Trump is not a bigot is to believe that his die-hard supporters will ever become open-minded and tolerant. In essence, “these supporters will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.”

So let’s stop kidding ourselves.

 


Pass the Wine

Yes, it is indeed challenging in Year One of the Orange Despot to find anything to be grateful for.

Normally, at this time of the year, we would offer thanks for what we have and all the positive developments that are happening for us as a nation.

However, the consensus among sane Americans is that, this year, we should instead give gratitude for the things we don’t have and the horrible acts that have not occurred.

For example, we don’t have a war with North Korea, or a collapsed economy, or a rescinded First Amendment, or a total absence of healthcare for all except the super-rich — at least not yet.

So let’s all shout, “hallelujah” over these amazing gifts.

But there is one group of Americans who are truly grateful this holiday season. Now, I’m not talking about the mega-wealthy one percenters, or the plutocrats who are devouring our country. Although they’re doing great, those bastards are never grateful for anything, because their whole lives are relentless, insatiable quests for more, more, more.

No, I’m referring to the Trump true believers. I’m talking about those fabled white working-class voters who love Trump and live in places like rural Pennsylvania — you know, the people who decided the election and overwhelmed your vote.

Politico recently ran an article profiling the president’s most fanatical supporters. The article found that for these voters, their “satisfaction with Trump now seems untethered to the things they once said mattered to them the most.”

In other words, last year, these people said they were voting for Trump because he would bring back the coal industry, end the opioid epidemic, build that fucking wall, etcetera.

Almost a year later, Trump hasn’t accomplished any of those things, or even tried particularly hard to do so. And yet, his fans don’t hold it against him. Indeed, “it’s not that the people who made Trump president have generously moved the goalposts for him. It’s that they have eliminated the goalposts altogether.”

Yes, for these voters, it doesn’t matter that we have a bumbling man-child dragging the country into massive discord. He is their guy, and he shares their rage and hatred and ignorance and incoherence. So damn it, they’re sticking with him.

And how does one reason with such superhuman levels of denial and delusion?

Well, it’s simple really. Don’t even try.

You see, the hardcore “Trump supporter is living in a state of downplayed disappointment — like a child taking a bite of black licorice thinking it was chocolate, feeling regret, then accepting the candy anyway.”

I mean, these are people who trust Trump more than they trust Jesus Christ.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, that should tell you something — a whole lot of somethings, actually.

So this Thanksgiving, if you’re stuck sitting next to die-hard Trump supporters, realize that there is quite literally nothing you can say to them to get them to change their mind about the guy.

As such, just skip the chitchat and double up on pumpkin pie. Trust me, dinner will be far more enjoyable that way.

 


Nope, Not Impressed

I really should have become a political pundit. I mean, how hard can it be?

These people snag a lot of cash to make predictions, but studies have shown that “although they are paid for their keen insights into world affairs, they often perform worse than random chance.” In fact, “a dart-throwing chimp would have beaten the vast majority of professionals” when it comes to forecasting political outcomes.

That would also make for a substantially more entertaining Sunday morning talk show.

 

To be fair, predictions are extremely difficult to make (especially about the future). After all, most of us thought that we would be calling Hillary Clinton “Madam President” by this point.

However, one would think that pundits could at least analyze the current situation. One would hope that so-called experts could use their vast knowledge about the political climate and their experience with the players involved to come to a reasonable conclusion about what is going on right in front of them, with no need to predict anything.

One would be wrong.

For example, recently our illustrious president set out to strangle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program with his own grimy, tiny hands. But then he said, “Ha, just kidding. I love the Hispanics.” And he then “signaled his embrace of granting permanent legal status to the Dreamers as part of a deal with Democrats that he said is close to being finalized.”

This is of course comes shortly after Trump “bucked his own party’s leaders and sided with Democrats on a deal to bundle Hurricane Harvey relief funds, a three-month debt-limit increase, and a three-month continuing resolution to keep the government funded.”

And of course, pundits have responded with acclaim that Trump is finally acting presidential, and is listening to his advisors to be more reasonable. Yes, the narcissistic bully with no regard for the truth is at long last buckling down and working to move the country forward — right?

Um, no — that’s optimistic to the point of delusional.

Trump is not pivoting, or moving to the middle, or any other form of wishful thinking that implies he is suddenly going to be more reasonable. Nor is he executing some grand master plan to advance his agenda, or springing an intricate trap to ensnare Democrats.

The man has no agenda, other than self-glorification. And he is not capable of devising any complicated, ingenious schemes whatsoever.

It should be clear to everyone — and I mean, everyone — that the real Trump was revealed long ago and is never going to change.

He is a thin-skinned old man with minimal impulse control and a bottomless pit of rage. Everything he does is about the moment, with no regard to the future, and he relies on his base instincts to get him through the day.

So when Trump got into a room with a bunch of Republicans he hates, and a few Democrats whom he could tolerate, he just went with his gut. When it came to the budget deal, Trump agreed with a stance that he didn’t really understand, because he has no patience for in-depth analysis. All he knew is that the boring meeting would be over soon, and he would get to humiliate Mitch McConnell while he was at it. That’s a rare win-win for him.

He repeated this process, more or less, with DACA. Although this time, he belatedly realized that he had unwittingly come across as almost human, thereby angering his fearful, venom-spewing supporters. And so he has since backtracked (a rare maneuver for him) and wound up contradicting himself (a common maneuver for him).

In any case, his full strategy has always been based upon split-second indifference.

It’s baffling why people see his hasty decision-making and obliviousness to political considerations as somehow “presidential.” He did what he has always done, and it just so happened that in these cases, it has benefitted Democrats (the law of averages dictates that this would eventually happen). And it could possibly even benefit the Dreamers, which would be a happy accident.

Yes, it’s amusing to see Republicans suddenly come to the realization that Trump doesn’t give a fuck about them or their agenda. He never did.

But there is no real change here. By next week, Trump will be tweeting some new threat, or sabotaging the political process, or otherwise infesting American democracy with every second he spends in the Oval Office.

And some political pundit will say that this time it will be different.

 


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