The morning after

No serious, thinking, responsible, conscientious, civic-minded people supported Trump (even before the sexual assault stuff). He was rightly seen as a perfect storm of horribleness. No newspapers (apart from the KKK’s and one other) endorsed him, a remarkable break with business-as-usual. Electing him is, to quote Thomas Friedman, “insane.”

We kept hearing about voter anger, craving for change, resentment toward elites, and economic anxieties. All true of course; and yet Trump voters have the highest living standard of any people ever. (Their incomes are actually above average.) They are spoiled brats. No civic-mindedness, no we’re-all-in-it-together community spirit. No thought for the consequences of their action. Instead self gratification, solipsism, narcissism. No wonder they backed a man epitomizing those very characteristics.

unknown-4It’s also naked tribalism. A famous social science experiment put two similar groups of boys into two isolated wilderness camps. Each group developed an internal tribal solidarity. But when the two eventually met, it was us-against-them tribal conflict. Such tribalism blights our politics and governance.

Us against them, us against the world, was a key dynamic of Trump support. This wasn’t ideological, or about policies, but identity politics. His voters whipped themselves into an hysteria of Hillary-hatred while shrugging off Trump’s being a psychopathic monster. That didn’t matter; facts didn’t matter; much of the Hillary rap sheet was conspiratorial nonsense, like all that wacky Obama nonsense, that he’s a Muslim, etc. (His main crime was skin color.) A lot of this garbage comes from Facebook and other internet sources where anyone can say anything. Trump’s followers lap it up.

(The Economist reports that the most accurate predictor of Trump support was believing Obama is a Muslim. (Ironically, no one ever calls him an atheist – which could be true.) The Daily Show recently featured some Trump supporters and their cuckoo tropes. Some insisted Obama was absent from the Oval Office on 9/11!)

I have written before about confirmation bias: embracing whatever supports your prejudices while rejecting any conflicting information. And smarter people can actually be more likely to believe untrue things because they are more skillful at spinning rationalizations to bolster their deluded ideas.

The country has experienced vast social change: more opportunities for women, blacks, gays, other minorities; more ethnic diversity, and openness to the world. Even that black president. The inevitable backlash, till now, was contained; but Trump has brought it to the center of our politics.

unknown-5Amanda Taub in the New York Times wrote on November 2 of a “crisis” in white identity. We anchor our identities in two ways: what we achieve, and what we identify with. Economic changes make the former tougher for many people, so they cleave harder to the latter. Whites used to feel a privileged status vis-à-vis other ethnicities; but now that too has become tougher. There’s a feeling of, “this is not my country any more.” However, “[f]or decades, the language of white identity has only existed in the context of white supremacy,” which was taboo, thus leaving white identity effectively voiceless. Trumpism provided an outlet for it, a key element of his support.

Plain misogyny was a factor too. Some males just couldn’t stomach a woman as president. Trump’s caricature of macho played to that.

And of course, he is quite simply a con man, and fools bought the con. Polls wound up with voters bizarrely seeing him as the more honest and trustworthy candidate. Trump, the most colossal liar in American political history.

There used to be standards: of veracity, decency, character, civility, fairness, seriousness. Trump drove a bulldozer through them all, they’re demolished, and our politics will never be the same.

His pious words about uniting the nation are empty. His candidacy was resentment and division incarnate. If anything, the truculence can only be expected to ramp up with its victory, with the smell of blood in its nostrils. (This was on exhibit with the snarling of his former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on CNN this morning – no magnanimity there.) And considering the vicious political divisiveness through the last several presidencies – well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Bill Maher the other day said maybe the left had erred in so demonizing George W. Bush and even Romney – honorable men, actually – thus “crying wolf.” And now there is a real demon to demonize.

Some may hope the presidency will mellow Trump. He has shown himself to be a narcissistic egomaniac – what do you think will happen when someone like that gets hold of the power and glory of the presidency?

unknownI have always been, though a realist, an idealist worshipping at the altar of democracy. I had no time for cynics on that score. Like the Russian and Chinese autocrats who sneer at our democracy as weak and dysfunctional. Jefferson idealized a democracy supported by an informed, civic-minded citizenry – but that’s the Achilles heel. Voters can indeed be fools. We saw it in the stupid Brexit vote, in Colombia’s stupid rejection of the peace deal, and now in the idiotic Trump vote. One bad choice at the polls, falling for a demagogue, can wreck a country; look at Venezuela.

I would like to make citizens of all the undocumented aliens and Syrian refugees and, in exchange, deport Trump voters. We’d have a better country.

unknown-7God has not decreed it forever safe from fools. Trump has debauched the nation. Electing him is a repudiation of the high ideals and values it has stood for. This is not my country any more. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with America, but today is like finding her in bed with a gigolo.

 

 

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14 Responses to “The morning after”

  1. bruce Says:

    I do hope D T isn’t the satan that your vision sees.
    I’ve been trying to realize two people can have opposing views and both be right. However I don’t have the mental acuity to see myself in your description of me.
    For all of us I hope your assessment of Trump is one that depicts the man before Presidency.
    freedom, justice, and equality. good character the decider of success. One would hope.

  2. rationaloptimist Says:

    Good character.

  3. Jorg Lueke Says:

    I think your comments demonstrate why the rural, middle American voters felt left out. You’ve called them lots of names but how does that help? Many of my in-laws are rural white Trump supporters. Yes, some are bigots. Yes, they don’t have a refined, sophisticated view of the world. But they are still people and at their core they want to happy and successful and if you’ve ever driven around rural America you’ll see many reasons why those desires are felt to be in jeopardy. The Democrats seem to invest no time in trying to understand these voters they just demonize them. The Republicans have used them to fuel their election wins thinking they could control them and now the tables are turned. Will this election cause the supposed LEADERS to renounce all the vile, divisive language they’ve used? What will Ryan, McConnell, and Cruz do?

    In the end is this election really any different than 2000? 50/50 split between the urban and the rural. The pendulum will swing back and demographics are changing.

  4. rationaloptimist Says:

    These people you are talking about have just made a terribly stupid mistake and will be harmed by it.

  5. Jorg Lueke Says:

    Here’s what a young, new mother, in-law said on why she supported Trump, “I’m not anything, I just can’t afford to keep paying other people’s health insurance on obama care”

    Now where did the idea come from?
    Will insurance rates go down under Trump? Unlikely since the Insurance lobby has way more money than Trump.
    But that’s all it takes.

    I have a lot of relatives in ND. Some vote red. Why? Almost solely because of abortion. That’s it, nothing else. It’s murder.

    Then there’s the democrats obsession with gun control which has zero support outside of any city and suburb.

  6. rationaloptimist Says:

    I would say it’s the Republicans who obsess about guns.

  7. Lee Says:

    In many cases, Trump will have to work with Ryan and McConnell to make changes. As such, his administration may prove to be little different from that of George W. Bush, perhaps even including the powerful vice president role. What do we know about Pence?

  8. rationaloptimist Says:

    No reason to think Pence will be given any meaningful role. (He is too decent a human being, not at all Trump’s type; he prefers fellow creeps like Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon.) Anyhow my concern is less what Trump would actually do as how he uglifies the face of the nation I love(d).

  9. Colin Gullberg Says:

    Great post Frank.

  10. Lee Says:

    I just checked out http://www.ontheissues.org/IN/Mike_Pence.htm. Pence is anti-choice, did his best to emasculate the stimulus, is against marriage equality, wants the Patriot Act to be permanent, thinks flags are more important than free expression, is in favor of school prayer, is against CO2 limits and car mileage floors, is against 4-week paid parental leave for federal employees, is for loosening interstate gun purchases, is in favor of allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant, wants to end birthright citizenship, is rated 0% by the AU indicating opposition to church-state separation, and voted no on extending AMT exemptions to avoid hitting middle-income,

    Cheney has a gay daughter so was better on marriage equality.

  11. rationaloptimist Says:

    Given all the facts about our next president, I don’t think you should be worrying too much about our next vice president.

  12. rationaloptimist Says:

    from Frank’s wife Therese–Frank, maybe there’s another way to identify ourselves? Not by what we do for money or by what we own, but by what we love, or by what we share in common with others?

  13. echo Says:

    You sound completely insane

  14. Trapper Says:

    “I would like to make citizens of all the undocumented aliens and Syrian refugees and, in exchange, deport Trump voters. We’d have a better country.”

    And by “a better country”, you mean “permanent Democrat rule” because that’s what would undeniably happen as a result. Just say what you mean.

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