So, I’m a pretty unapologetic liberal and a straight-ticket Democrat voter, and I have been for my entire adult life. Some of my views skew a little bit to the right, so I think a lot of dyed-in-the-wool liberals would call me a moderate, and I’m comfortable with that too. I feel obligated to put that out there before I start in to the main premise of what I have to say here.
What I have to say is this: Donald Trump is not the problem that people, (on both the left and right), want to make him out to be. Donald Trump is Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the same man that had a presidential bid in 2000 that never got off the ground. This is the same man that “seriously considered” a run in 2012, and backed down when it was obvious that the support wasn’t there. Donald Trump was then, and is now, the exact same person.
Donald Trump is loud, obnoxious, narcissistic and crude. It seems like every word out of his mouth is calculated to gain him as much attention, (whether good or bad), as possible. Most of what he says is so outlandish and so politically incorrect that people can hardly believe he’d be willing to say it in public. For that reason, Donald Trump is hilarious. He’s entertaining, he’s pure comedy gold, and the funniest part is, he doesn’t even get the joke. He doesn’t realize he’s being funny. He doesn’t think his views are strange, or crude, or out of step with reality and the general thoughts and feelings of most of the American public.
And when Donald Trump is nothing more than an incredibly famous reality TV star, that’s all perfectly fine. Trump in that context is completely ridiculous, but utterly harmless, and therefore entertaining. Trump doesn’t get the joke, and he doesn’t have to, because after all, his brand of insanity sells. People have been watching Trump’s antics for years with many raised eyebrows and uncomfortable chuckles, but for all those years, that’s all been okay, because it’s just Trump being Trump. Trump is not the problem.
Trump won’t be the problem even in the extremely unlikely event that he is elected to be President. I’m not saying that there won’t be problems in that case, but it won’t be him. One of the funniest things about Trump detractors is that on the one hand, they point to the utter ridiculousness and impossibility of most of his ideas, while simultaneously being afraid that, if elected President, he’ll somehow find a way to accomplish them.
I don’t care who the President is, the United States will not be building a wall thousands of miles long between the US and Mexico, and there’s just no possible way to ship every illegal immigrant out of this country. The same goes for banning Muslim’s from entering the United States, or redefining the constitutional meaning of US citizenship. Consider that even if these things were physically possible, he doesn’t even have the support of his own party for accomplishing them.
For those that his party would support, (and there are plenty of things he’s loud about, but that the Republicans do support somewhat more quietly), the fact is that they control both houses of government, and on many of these issues, if they could have gotten anything passed, they would have already. Think about most of the issues you’re extremely worried about, and ask yourself if the current President has had to strike any of them down by veto? Sure, having that back-up helps us sleep at night, but the honest reality is that Congress can’t get their shit together well enough or long enough to even get something in front of the President. Do you really think that’s likely to change when a man that even the Republicans don’t like takes the office?
So — is Trump dangerous? Is he a threat to our nation or our values? No. He’s a, (forgive the pun), trumped up, narcissistic reality star with delusions of grandeur, and that is all he will ever be, regardless of any office he holds, even if it is the highest in this land.
What is the problem then? Is there a problem? I’d say that there certainly is, I just don’t think it’s quite as dire as my lily-livered left-wing compatriots would like to believe.
The problem is that the name Donald Trump was more recognizable to the teeming masses in this country than the name Joe Biden, years after the former took office and years before the latter entered this presidential race. The problem is the overt hostility towards education, intelligence, informedness and thoughtfulness that pervades our society. The problem is that the average American derides politics and all it stands for without having a single shred of understanding of our political process or its impact. The problem is that America values popular culture over enduring culture, and our values last only as long as our favorite celebrity tells us that they should.
All of this, the average liberal understands, and bemoans, at length. That after all, is, the problem right? I can feel the nods of agreement from my Blue Brethren as they pat themselves on the back for understanding that I’m not abandoning our Liberal cause by giving Donald Trump a pass — I’m making a larger statement about all of those people who are too lazy or too stupid to really get it, ya know?? Those people created Trump, so they are the problem. Right? Nope.
Those problems are half of the equation, yes — but only half. The other half is, I think, far more difficult to deal with for the far left, and even probably difficult for many in the moderate left. I think the larger problem is that the left has an ingrained sense of defeatism that manages to be incredibly insulting to people both on the left and the right.
The insult to the left usually manifests itself in the oft-repeated chestnut that Democratic voters are far less likely to get out and vote. Apparently, according to their own narrative, left-leaning people in this country are disinterested and lazy. They’re not engaged enough — but if only they understood!! If only they could see how important this is. Obviously they’re missing something, or they’d be out in droves! We, (the better informed extreme political left), get it so much better, it’s just that other people that agree with us are too lazy and too dumb to stand up!
The insult to the right is far more obvious, but eerily similar. Republican voters, especially on the far right are being lied to and fooled by their Republican masters! Don’t they understand that the Republican party is all about big business and doesn’t give a real crap about their religion and guns? Obviously they’re too dumb and backward and religious, and misinformed to get it, because if they did, they’d be out in droves! We, (the better informed extreme political left), get it so much better, it’s just that those people that think we’re crazy, are too dumb to know better!
When liberals talk to people, there’s a subtle undertone of intellectual superiority, of knowing better than the poor plebeian they’re trying to convince or convert. The notion of validating or supporting any part of a conservative’s feelings or thought process is antithesis to the true-blue liberal. Nobody likes to be talked to like they’re stupid, or like their thoughts don’t matter or don’t make the grade.
As much as Democrats like to believe that theirs is the party of inclusiveness, and as much as that is true on racial and societal grounds, the Republicans are far more ideologically inclusive. The political right in this country is much more willing to hear you out, even if your ideas are strange, even if they’re out of step, even if they’re a little impractical. Hell, that’s what got them in to trouble. They listened too long and too comfortably, and now their party is being taken over by whack-jobs with extremist views, (see, I’m a liberal, I can’t even help but to be insulting!).
It shouldn’t be surprising that the far right in this country is listening to Trump — the far right listens to anyone who comes calling, but they won’t listen long to someone they believe is insulting them. Trump’s ideas might be outlandish and impossible, politically incorrect and bombastic, but they’re simple, don’t make anyone feel stupid, and let an entire segment of the population that feels unheard have a voice.
That’s why he’s popular, that’s why he’s winning, and it’s not even his fault. It’s our fault. It’s our poor, apathetic, lazy and misinformed public coupled with a Republican establishment willing to let anyone into their tent and a Democratic establishment that truly believes, (whether they say it out loud or not), that they’re better, smarter, and more informed than everyone else. Regardless of which side of the political spectrum you land on, the only solution that makes sense here is real engagement. Not with your friends and family in the echo-chamber that mirrors your own thoughts, (how’s that for mixed metaphors?), but with your “enemies”. With other Americans that don’t share your views. Sit and have a conversation with them that doesn’t start with the immediate premise that they’re wrong and ignorant because they vote for the other color. We’re all American, and we all have a vested interest in getting this right. Treating each other like the enemy and deriding and insulting one another won’t accomplish anything other than the deadlock that we’ve already seen and should probably be damned sick of by now. I’m sure it’s shocking to think of a liberal quoting scripture, but I’ll end with this:
You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother’s eye. — Matthew 7:5