Trump voters aren’t “morons.” Just white.
THANK MINERVA, GODDESS OF DISAPPOINTMENT and flaked tuna in broth, that things have settled up here in the blazing hot frozen north. Justin has closed down Parliament, delegated the shame to Bill Morneau, and appointed his bestie, like, FOREVERRRRR, Chrystia Freeland, to fill the post of Finance Ministress.
Deputy, shmeputee! I just hope she doesn’t forget to send flowers to Sophie-Grégoire for their anniversary and pick up his dry cleaning!
The situation being under control with our government straight out of Schitt’s Creek—I keep expecting to see Eugene Levy wandering around the Prime MInister’s Office trying to look dignified, an acting job for a pro if there ever was one—I can move on from Canadian frat-boy antics posing as scandal and turn my attention once again to the eyeball-popping Fellini circus that is the run-up to the 2020 Prezidential Election.
We Canadians, eternal do-gooders and snowflakey refugee welcomers, clutch our pearls and fall onto the nearest memory-foam mattress in a dead faint at even the suggestion of impropriety. The appearance of conflict of interest. THUD!
In the U.S., rampant, obvious, grind-it-in-your face corruption is the baseline, a non-stop, 24/7 corrupt-a-thon complete with acrobats and lions, but no tamers. Just imagine: Steve Bannon and his buddies preyed on gullible Americans who believed Trump would build that damn wall, and solicited millions of dollars of wall-building donations, which they then used to buy whatever it is rich people buy when they already have everything anyone could possibly want.
Poor Steve and his buds got arrested for this, thanks to their helpful habit of writing down their plans for the loot in text messages. Let this be a warning to you! Dress nicely and play by the rules, lest you get caught in the terrible injustice of the Oval-Office-to-prison pipeline.
But after an eternity of being hosed down daily with alternative everything, we’ve gotten a bit jaded, don’t you think? Even that spectacle de merde called the Trump presidency is getting a bit same-y.
Four years ago, the question, “Do you think the incumbent will order his troops to stand guard outside the White House in case Congress decides to arrest him when he refuses to leave?” would have seemed a tad off the wall. Now, we just go, “Well, maybe his troops or maybe some anti-vaxxers, it’s a toss-up. Remind me, when do they start drilling for oil in Central Park? I want to get in a final jog around the sheep meadow.”
“Trump supporters are morons.” I’m sure you’ve heard this opinion, and you might even share it. It’s a reasonable stance and can be, admittedly, a temporarily satisfying one, if you’re in the mood for a good old “ain’t it awful” commiseration session.
The problem is that, as a thesis, it’s unlikely to be true and it explains nothing. It does not get to the core mystery: How the hell can his supporters sanction what he does? By calling them morons, we simply throw up our hands and come up with what scientists would call a bad explanation.
Bad explanations are what prehistoric humans came up with when they heard thunder and said, “Well, that must be Wilbur, the Great Caribou, drumming his hooves across the tundra of the sky!” You see? I just made that up. Works for me!
The problem is that you can “just make it up,” too, and it will work equally well. Pretty soon my idea about Wilbur the Great Caribou is in conflict with your belief about Jasper the Beaver of Heaven smacking his big tail on the clouds, and we’re at war.
Sheesh! Calm down, Beaverites! It’s OK, we’ll convert!
It’s how you deal with reality when you are missing vital pieces of information, that lightning is electricity, and thunder is sound which propagates in waves…look! Melinda the sun goddess came out and chased the caribou away!
I’ll stop making things up now.
It’s simply not possible that so many “morons” summoned up the energy to get to the polls, or in fact could even exist; and, having voted, could view Trump’s reign of senseless terror and approve of it. Sure, some did, but if they all did, we’d have to throw the coronavirus pandemic back onto the fold-down seats and start wrangling the morono-demic, so seriously would the world be in trouble. And trust me, there’s nothing you can draw up into a syringe that will even make a dent in that.
Could it be the water? Air quality? Public education? What might be causing the alarming atrophy in the brain cells of American voters whose cognitive challenges, some like to assert, are proof that representative democracy isn’t a viable system; not that any alternative is suggested.
I’m not letting you off the hook so easily. Like they say in the corporate world, don’t present a problem without also presenting its solution, you’re holding up my golf game!
Given that it is extremely unlikely that any random sample of Trump voters in any given state would all be catastrophically stupid to the point of condoning all of Trump’s actions and believing his lies (and this may indeed have changed during the pandemic), then it follows that the Trump part of their brains, the Trumpebellum, possibly, behaves differently, holds a different standard.
They know the earth is round and that the moon landing was real, but when Trump suggests injecting Clorox, they laugh indulgently and say, “Well, stranger things have happened!” Then they get on the blower and find a way to rent an army tank, because that’s easier than putting on a mask.
What is the missing piece of the puzzle? Always, in America, look to race for the solution to the mystery. All comes clear when you put on your long-distance night-vision White Supremacy Goggles and take a closer look.
Here’s a little story: A few weeks back, Mitch McConnell was photographed in the Oval Office wearing a tan suit. You may already see where I’m going with this.
Now, Barack Obama once wore a tan suit to work, and heads fairly exploded with how unseemly this was, how disrespectful, unbecoming. You’d think he’d strutted into the Oval Office wearing a Madonna cone bra, so ruffled were the feathers.
“There’s no way I don’t think any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday,” Peter King, the New York congressman, told Newsmax TV, using refreshingly non-traditional grammar to emphasize his point. “ISIS is watching!”
Obama, in fact, could do nothing right. Actually, Obama could do virtually nothing either right or wrong, as Mitch McConnell and the Senate stonewalled him on every front, beginning with his SCOTUS appointee. “One-term president” I believe was the phrase McConnell used.
In comes Trump and soon it is clear that his entire agenda is a revanchist one: he will systematically undo Obama.
I will state upfront that what follows is a white guy’s necessarily superficial summary of the brilliant analysis made by Ta-Nehisi Coates in his October, 2017 article for The Atlantic, “The First White President.” I urge everyone to read it.
[In case I need to spell it out, I say necessarily superficial because as a racialized white man I cannot ever have anything but a superficial understanding of the Black experience of racism, no matter how sincerely I might approach the imaginative exercise. And I can’t ever stop reminding myself of this.]
So, in two paragraphs, and expressed in my own words as I understand Mr Coates’s thesis:
Trump is the anti-Obama. Trump can do or say anything and none of his supporters really care. It doesn’t matter what he says or does, because he’s not there to do and say things. He’s there to restore the white supremacist world to its proper functioning. (A little slip like a Black president? Whoops, let’s fix that. )
And if you look closely at the stats, Trump voters cross every demographic line. They are rich, poor, educated, uneducated, male, female — but overwhelmingly white.
Makes more sense now, doesn’t it?
Mitch McConnell, who is evil but not stupid, could not resist the urge to wear that goddamn tan suit, in effect saying, “White guys can do shit.” He knew exactly the statement he was making by wearing it, it was the smack-your-forehead, how-could-I-have-missed-it clue in the Agatha Christie novel. He was taunting you.
One other important factor in Trump’s victory is that, like Canada, you have this dysfunctional plurality voting system where the winner can have nothing like a real majority of the votes. This encourages extremism on both sides rather than consensus.
This is why you have Biden as the candidate (not that I have anything against Biden; he seems like a sensible, sensitive and smart man and his choice of Harris for VP underscores that he has integrity. He gets it. I think he’s a great candidate, just maybe not the one you’d have if your system were different).
Biden is the candidate because, with your winner-take-all system, your candidate must appeal to the broadest spectrum of voters, and think how difficult that is! Young, old, working class, middle class, white, Black… progressive, centrist… but that’s what you need, because Dems need a super majority, an overwhelming majority to offset their disadvantage in your system. Not to mention the blatant gerrymandering and voter suppression (and Trump might not accept the results anyway).
There, you never have to fall back on the moron argument again. Because, unfortunately, it’s simply not true.
Now, if you don’t mind, Carl the Round White Gleamer of the Night Sky is riding his chariot across the vault of the heavens, so it’s time for me to go to bed.