Friday, August 26, 2016 12:08 PM
Racists Have Feelings, Too (2016Aug26)
Trump is a product of the reality-TV movement—in his world, Simon Cowell could insult, demean, and destroy a little girl’s or boy’s lifelong dream—and it was all a part of the show. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat—an unavoidable feature of sports—now available as social interaction! Those voted off of American Idol, or ‘You’re Fired’ by Trump, would staunch their tears as they walked off, to mouth obligatory approval of their own dismissal, and the good judgment of Cowell or Trump—because that was still part of the performance. It’s all show-biz—no harm, no foul.
This suited Trump’s persona well—he’s an unfeeling sort. Being capricious, overbearing and cruel towards others—and far from being criticized, as you or I would be, but rewarded with big ratings—suits him down to a ‘T’. His romp through the Republican primaries was just more of the same—though the GOP curated their base to include many who confuse reality TV with reality—and it seemed, for one brief, horrifying moment, that his inertia would carry him into the White House.
That his campaign is being shredded in the national one-on-one with a cogent, serious opponent is cause for pride amongst American voters, and no little shame for the GOP, to have the Tea-Party portion of their base be so shamefully exposed as insensitive mouth-breathers who see a kindred spirit in the Donald. His promise to eject millions of Mexicans from our country—and build a big wall to keep them out—had his faithful near hysteria with joy. His promise to ban Islam was just the cherry on top.
When we look more closely, we see that we’re talking about persecuting huge numbers of Americans, along with the ‘bad ones’, and that most Americans are not comfortable with a complete reversal of our traditions of equality and fairness. Good for us—wouldn’t it be tragic if our two-centuries-plus of idealism could have been squashed virtually overnight by an ignorant celebrity?
And now, while Trump engages us in a hypocritical debate over who is a bigot, we all ignore the Native Americans protesting the invasion of an oil pipeline through their land. Our original sin of genocide returns to us, over and over, resuming its place in our present—because the original target of white bigotry is still getting shafted, even today. The urban pockets with decaying schools, without access to fresh, healthy foods, with landlords who feel no compulsion to repair their tenements—these dead-traps for minorities have persisted for decades. But they are still spanking-new issues compared to our ongoing persecution of our nation’s original residents.
Trumpeting his new-found tolerance and pity for non-whites at all-white rallies is Donald’s way of staying in his comfort zone—but he may find that he prefers an audience of color once it sinks in to his most zealous advocates that, like the rest of what Trump says, he didn’t really mean it about deporting all the Mexicans, American-citizen children and all.
They supported him because, like him, they are insensitive to the suffering of others—their hate trumps their love—and they want America to show strength by being cruel. Their fear and hatred of having a woman control their lives has been slow-baked into them by the same parents, preachers, and culture that convinced them of the superiority of the light-skinned and the absolute need to carry a gun at all times. But bottom line, most of them are not financially secure themselves, and resent any comfort to the poor while they struggle to avoid their own poverty.
Such people’s hatred of Hillary Clinton is a steady-state thing, they do it nightly at a bar or watching FOX-News at home—but this bait-and-switch of Donald’s just might rouse them to active hatred. Donald once joked light-heartedly about Hillary and her liberal SCOTUS nom-pick—“maybe the second amendment people can take care of that”—well, let’s hope he doesn’t find out that such things cut both ways. Calling together the most iron-hearted misanthropes in the country under a banner of law-and-order, only to turn around and say, “I was being sarcastic” is not the safest thing I can imagine.
Substituting brash statements for policies has been a winning strategy so far for the Donald. It matches well with his total absence of experience. While he can snipe at a multitude of choices and missteps in Hillary’s long career, he offers no complementary points of attack upon himself. That might have worked, had Donald, like most villains, not had the seeds of his own destruction already within him.
But policies can be re-worked, modified, changed in detail while leaving the message intact. Trump’s bold statements may not have been policies, but his supporters certainly took them as such. Having a policy of deportation would have allowed some wiggle-room, but the simple statement, “We’ll deport 11,000,000 people” is difficult to walk back, especially if your constituency has set their hearts on that promise. The fact that the majority of Americans see that as impractical and inhumane means that he has to court them with a ‘softening’ of his stance—yet he cannot ‘soften’ on the one thing his existing base agrees on—not without betraying them.
So Trump has finally retreated to the political landscape of policies—and solved this paradox by having a policy ‘in flux’, i.e. he’s pleasing everybody by saying nothing definite. But there is an even greater danger for him in adopting a policy approach. Just as he left it until after his ignorant interviews to bone up on geopolitics; just as he left it until 75 days before the election to learn about minorities; he is switching to policy-planning virtually on the eve of debating Hillary Clinton. I would quake with fear to face Hillary Clinton in public to debate policy—and I’m a fairly informed person, unlike Trump. I almost feel sorry for him. But his would-be supporters won’t.