If you’re a liberal or progressive who’s been obsessively consuming Trumpocalypse post-mortems for the past nine months, you know that voters (fewer than half of them!) voted for Trump for a handful of reasons. Trump’s base included rich Republicans protecting their wealth, as they do in every election, and white “middle Americans” poisoned by an overdose of economic backsliding and (often racist) “cultural” anxiety. Republican wealth preservation is a time-honored tradition that there’s very little we can do about. But if we’re going to win back disaffected working-class swing voters—and win some of them back we must—we brokenhearted lefties have to learn how to talk to them, and about them, in ways that don’t come across as insufferably superior.
A year ago this morning, I woke up to the unthinkable. Despite the myriad polls which had overwhelmingly predicted a decisive win by Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump was celebrating victory…despite having received three million FEWER votes.
The problem with the truly, deeply stupid is that they very often lack the intellectual agility to recognize, much less acknowledge their deficiency. Simply put, stupid people are too often too stupid to understand that they’re in fact stupid. It’s the Dunning-Kruger Effect, and while what I’m saying may not be polite or politically correct, it’s the truth.
How else do you explain 63 million Americans who voted for Donald Trump despite his clear and obvious bigotry, sexism, misogyny, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and [insert name of exclusionary ignorance here]? How can a reasonable, rational person wrap their head around Americans voting for someone who displayed his dickishness each and every day? What those folks see as “telling it like it is” is no more than publicly airing the worst aspects of humanity. How, then, are we to deal with those Americans who willfully suspended disbelief to vote for arguably the worst human being in American history?
November 9 had barely dawned before my contempt level began registering in the 90th percentile. As I binged on articles and blogs and Facebook rants, my contempt was validated a hundredfold: Who were These People, these crazy, racist, misogynist, gun-toting morons who voted for a self-aggrandizing monosyllabic, bilious, billionaire charlatan who would obviously stab them in the back while they sat in front of their TVs being lobotomized by Sean Hannity while swilling non-craft beer?
In fact, I knew nothing about These People, and at the same time, I knew all I needed to know—they were backwards, brainwashed rednecks who prefer cleavage to pantsuits and Ann Coulter’s vicious racism to Stephen Colbert’s satirical genius; people who eat a lot of meat but not because they’re following the Paleo diet, who spread margarine on their toast, the clueless throwbacks. And they deserve to go down with their titanic mistake.
Unfortunately, we can’t simply remove ourselves from 63 million Americans. As much as I might like to think they deserve to lose their health care and see their taxes increase, what happens to them also impacts decent, rational, and intelligent citizens. We’re stuck with them; they voted against their (OUR) own best interests…and now most Americans (themselves included) will suffer the consequences. The Trump Administration is dismantling government as we’ve previously known it. Sixty-three million Americans think that’s a good thing…or they simply don’t care enough to pay attention.
America’s Lowest Common Denominator ©- people Newt Gingrich once referred to as “low information voters” managed to elect a “low information President”…and they’re proud of what they accomplished. Cue the Forrest Gump clip: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
When Trump said, “I love the poorly educated,” some were flattered, not offended, and the feeling was mutual. Thirty-six percent of white working-class voters said, in an October 2016 survey, that they believed Trump understood the challenges they face compared to 22 percent for Clinton (stunningly low percentages for both candidates, which suggests a huge opening for a more down-to-earth candidate).
They’re willing to overlook the gold-plated spoon in the so-called populist billionaire’s mouth because the words coming out of that mouth do not judge, insult and shame them. They’ll take a billionaire kleptocrat who echoes their fears and grievances (some legitimate, others racist) and pretends to respect them over a millionaire corporatist (Clinton) who calls them deplorable and insists that “America is already great”—notwithstanding economist Thomas Piketty’s hockey stick graph chart illustration of skyrocketing inequality, and let’s be honest, notwithstanding racist white people’s subjectively genuine fear of being overtaken by non-whites.
Sixty-three million Americans could have stopped and soberly considered the importance of this election and their part in it. Instead, they swallowed the propaganda. They eagerly supported a demagogue who not only embraced but justified their anger, ignorance, racism, and unwillingness to accept their part in their sorry existence. It’s always easier to blame The Other © than to accept responsibility; that means having to figure out how to make things better. Blaming The Other © means having a convenient scapegoat…so you don’t actually have to DO anything.
The problem with believing “they deserve to go down with their titanic mistake” is that when Trump’s supporters are taken down by their hero, they’ll take the rest of us with them. Those intelligent enough to recognize for what he truly is will be dragged down along with those too stupid and undemanding to see the truth.
As “politically incorrect” as it may seem, we can’t save America without being honest about what’s going on today. Sixty-three million Americans elected a President who reflects their values, fears, prejudices, and hatred…and masterfully manipulates them to his own advantage. Stupid people elected a stupid President…and they have exactly the quality of leadership they deserve. The problem is that the rest of us are going to be circling the drain with them.
Wir sind gefickt.
Nice work, America.