When you ask the average American to name a founding father, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, James Madison, and a few others come to mind. Those who have grown up in the United States and who have not taken a US history class at the college level (and sadly, even a great many who have taken college-level history classes) are taught implicitly to worship the founding fathers as infallible deities. I have often referred to this in previous blogs as the GI Joe or Disney version of history; one that is sanitized, romanticized, glorified, and stripped of critical analysis and replaced with blind, pseudo-patriotic fealty in its stead. It is for this reason that I would argue, in light of the disastrous election results a few weeks ago, that Pierce Butler, a South Carolina delegate who attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, should now be included in the discussion of typical pantheon of founders. A Google search reveals very few images of this enigmatic founding father. Perhaps he wanted it that way for all the nefarious powers he gave to people who 1) would not sign onto the new government unless it protected slavery; and 2) whose descendants would one day dissolve what they called the "compact" theory of the Constitution in order to protect their $3 billion investment in human property. This was a dollar figure worth more than all of the South's land, banks, and railroads combined. An eighteenth-century give-away to southern slaveholders like Pierce Butler has now given us the catastrophic Bush presidency and the unimaginable, horrifying, and nausea-inducing Trump presidency. Hillary Clinton won 2.5 million more votes than Donald Trump. This is four times the total of Al Gore's popular vote victory in 2000 and significantly larger than the amount of people that live in states such as Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming and Alaska--states that get the same number of senators as California despite the fact that the Golden State has almost eighty times the population as these uninhabitable iceboxes. Butler and his enablers gave us the fugitive slave clause, the clause in the Constitution keeping the international slave trade open until 1808, the three-fifths clause, and by consequence, the electoral college. To say that Trump's victory because of the electoral college is an unfair and undemocratic scam does not even begin to describe the severity of this colossal catastrophe. We have not had a progressive Supreme Court since the early-1970s and thanks to the Faustian Bargain that Butler and his accomplices left to posterity, we will not have another at least for another 20-30 years. And will we ever get rid of this archaic, outmoded vestige of eighteenth-century thinking? Fat chance. The smaller states will never give up their disproportionate power that the Constitution gives to them. And why would they? A constitutional amendment would require the approval of 38 states, a virtual impossibility. Even less likely would be an entirely new constitutional convention, however necessary that may be. There is some talk of getting enough states amounting to over 270 electoral votes--and hence a majority of the electoral college--to pass laws requiring their electors to cast votes in their state legislatures for the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote. Apparently they're already halfway there, but I doubt they would ever get Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to sign on. We have already seen how many terribly racist, factually challenged, and morally irresponsible people inhabit those paradises. Barring some unforeseen disaster on the scale of the American Civil War or Great Depression, it is hard to imagine that we will ever abolish the electoral college. Republicans, mobilizing white male resentment, hostage-taking, and obstruction to the fullest extent imaginable, have swindled us once again. We shouldn't wonder why all of our public institutions have gone downhill. It is not at all difficult to find the culprits. They call themselves the "Party of Lincoln" or the "Party of Teddy Roosevelt" but they represent everything that Lincoln and Roosevelt would abhor.
Anger. Depression. Rage. Despair. Nausea. Befuddlement. Consternation. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Fear. These are just a few of the confusing barrage of emotions that have haunted myself and millions of other Americans just a few sleepless nights removed from another debacle of an American presidential election that might plausibly be regarded as a silent coup. It feels like a death in the family. It is soul-crushing and dispiriting. The nightmarish, fascist Idiocracy we have now placed ourselves in by our own stupidity portends very dark days ahead. Historical events like the “election” of asshole Trump almost never happen in a vacuum and almost never happen overnight in some sweeping watershed moment. They are years in the making. They are the product of approximately forty years of simplistic, racist, pernicious, anti-government hostility emanating from the worst adherents of right-wing zealotry. I certainly recognize we should not be flippant about using the term fascist unless it is truly warranted. But one does not have to be overseeing gas chambers or death camps to be considered a fascist. And plenty of other thinkers, including ones I respect like Kathleen Frydl, have used the term in this context. I think it is safe to say that even if we are a democratic republic on paper, fascist-leaning citizens have elected—through the electoral college and not the popular vote—a leader with fascistic tendencies who has no regard for constitutional norms likes checks and balances. The oldest written constitution still in operation may cease to have much meaning when the authoritarian ghouls about to take over in Washington have had their say.
I wrote about the historical origins of Trumpism in a June article that appeared in History News Network. Like so many at the time, I did not predict a Trump presidency. The numbers, I thought, just didn't add up. My thoughts here in the immediate aftermath of Trump's stunning upset may perhaps be less measured and more emotional, but justified based on the gravity of the situation. Remember, a partisan explanation is not necessarily a wrong one. No doubt the abolitionists of the 1830s were partisan, even if many of them avoided formal party politics (heck, they were even labeled as fanatics and much worse); no doubt the Radical Republicans who succeeded them were partisan. But would anyone deny that they were right? Sometimes—nay, oftentimes—it is more important to exhibit moral clarity than it is to just present “both sides.”
There are plenty of people and institutions to blame for this calamity but the best place to start is with poorly-educated, angry, white men. They have been manipulated into a frenzy, transformed into apoplectic bouts of hysteria over the slightest perceived reductions in their power and privilege. In an ahistorical pathology of nostalgia, they long for a past that never truly existed and a past that almost always contained significant government influence in the economy; a government influence that helped build the middle class that they yearn to resurrect. Unfortunately they can still tip elections in this country by their sheer numbers. If the rise of Trump has demonstrated anything, it is that the white working-class who are the base of his support only think about themselves and entrenching their own power. Whites without a college degree, especially in the South and midwestern Rustbelt, drove Trump to victory. The men and women who make up this group are still the largest voting bloc in the United States. Adding up whites who have not gone to college with whites who have completed some college but do not have a degree, the total is approximately 100 million voting-age persons. They dominate in key areas that Trump won, including Missouri, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. I say to them, "Congratulations," you’ve "taken your country back" where you think it belongs. Now let’s count how many people suffer because of your white male entitlement. There are already many reports of swastikas being spray-painted on walls, white men telling Mexican Americans to "go back to Mexico" and Muslim Americans having their religious garb angrily ripped from their heads. This is the America of Donald Trump. Congratulations because you’ve proved that racism, misogyny, and tribalistic exclusion can win elections (just barely). As an American and as a white male, I offer my sincere apologies to sane Americans and the rest of the world. We just made a shameful choice that completely abdicates and undermines our ability to be world leaders.
What will come of the Trump presidency? There is no doubt that the poorest, most vulnerable in society--those for whom government is supposed to work in a rational society--will experience significant hardship, whether it is because of a rollback of civil rights, overturning environmental regulations so that industry can pollute with impunity (something not coincidentally that disproportionately harms the poor), or the reductions in social insurance benefits. Notice that I deliberately don’t use the word entitlement to describe programs like unemployment insurance, social security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That is because I do not wish to give the erroneous impression that we are undeserving of them. We do pay into them after all. If you think that eliminating or rolling back these categories provides more freedom to the majority of Americans, and not less, then you have been conned into believing that the economic interests of billionaires somehow constitutes the public interest. You need to study harder. And shame on you for being such a selfish prick. Beyond the mounting human suffering, which cannot be measured, the national debt, because of the irresponsible tax cuts that will be rammed through as part of Trump's fiscal policy, will almost certainly explode. And without batting an eye, the very same people who carelessly exacerbated the debt will, just like the Bush-ites in the 2000s, call for further reductions in an already weakened social safety net. How selfish and greedy so many Americans have become!
Make no mistake: a lot of people will suffer immense pain. Some of them may even be my own students. People don’t often discuss openly whether or not they are undocumented immigrants. It's really none of my business. But I suspect that at least of few of my students have close family and friends who are undocumented, assuming some of them are not undocumented themselves. A Trump presidency could very well bring us back to the dark days of the 1930s when Mexican repatriation deprived tens of thousands of American citizens of the right to due process. Same with the so-called “Operation Wetback” under Eisenhower. Ah, but hate-monger Ann Coulter says we won't have a country without mass deportations, so this must be a legitimate perspective, right? I am lucky in this sense because my ancestors came to the US in the late-19th century. But just as no one has control over the color of their skin, I had no control over when my ancestors came to populate a nation of immigrants. And I thought America was about providing opportunity for everyone. Isn't that what conservatives have always been telling us?
For any number of perfectly valid reasons, I will never refer to Trump as president. Ever. Trump's ascent to the presidency has been enabled at least partially by a radical Supreme Court with a pre-New Deal mindset that is determined at all costs to uphold the property rights of business owners at the expense of everyone else. The Republican Party has spent the last handful of years enacting voter ID laws because they don't want blacks, Hispanics and young people voting and because they have given up on persuasion and would rather design tricks to tip close elections. Well it worked this time. If you want me to call asshole Trump "president," and I do not believe he deserves the dignity of that title, then release his tax returns. He broke a forty-year precedent there. Then show me all the raw footage of The Apprentice. Give an unbiased and fair trial of Trump university. Show me his college transcripts. Show me his birth certificate and then all the depositions from his divorces. So no, I don't respect the outcome. They won a narrow election by bringing American Nazis out of the woodwork to vote in large numbers. Trump supporters would not have accepted a Clinton presidency, so I won't respect his.
Now what about all of this mumbo jumbo from those saying, oh, we must come together, and oh, we must listen to each other? My response is this: it is your side, and not mine, that is primarily responsible for the toxic polarization that plagues this country. It is your side, not mine, that decided from day one, that you would do everything within your power to use the power of obstruction, dysfunction, and hostage-taking to gum up the works and prevent the Obama administration from securing any political victories after the racist Tea Bagger revolution of 2010. It is your side, and not mine, that has assembled a remarkably un-diverse coalition of white asshole businessmen and white supremacists (e.g. Steve Bannon) to lead the new administration. It is your side, and not mine, that decided that your party was more important your country. It is your side, not mine, that wants to turn every public good—the press, our schools, our prisons, our hospitals—into a business. It is your side, not mine, that overlooked and normalized all of Trump's ignorance and hatred. You gave excuses for those who called the Obamas monkeys, something imperialists and slave owners historically did to justify oppression. You stayed silent when the literal scum of the Earth questioned the birth certificate, religion, and citizenship of the first African American president because you were craven politicians who wanted their votes.
It is disappointing to say the least that in spite of the heroic, courageous protests currently dotting a lot of our major cities that so many on the left have just given up. Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert, whom I normally respect, have told us to come together. The problem is that this never goes both ways. I don’t remember a kumbaya moment in 2009 when Barack Obama was taking office. I remember hearing about Mitch McConnell having a secret meeting with Republicans in which they vowed with all of their might to obstruct everything Obama did to try to make him a one-term president. So much for patriotism and putting country first, right? If they had any common sense, Chuck Schumer and his allies should do the exact same thing. We know they won’t because Democrats are the adults who are too afraid to break the rules of civility and Republicans are the whiny, spoiled children who throw temper tantrums. This election tells us many things, but Mitch McConnell must be jumping for joy. Why? Because he took a bold risk in denying a vote on Antonin Scalia's replacement in the slim chances that Trump would win. Scalia died in February and Garland's nomination has lasted longer than any other in the entire nation's history. That's right, a history of almost 230 years. Well great, Mitch, you got your way. You effectively stole a Supreme Court nominee, and thereby a majority, from Obama when it was his decision to replace Scalia. Because you decided not to play by the rules, you'll get another asshole Scalia on the Court to give us another Bush presidency, another Citizens' United, another Hobby Lobby, and another gutting of the Voting Rights Act.
It is the job of the historian to remind us of patterns we would otherwise forget, particularly in this fast-paced digital world of short attention spans.
Let us take a moment to remind ourselves of who Trump supporters are….They are disproportionately whites without a college degree. Trump has drawn support from parts of the country that voted for segregationists and who still want to wave the Confederate flag, in spite of its long association with terrorism, slavery, Jim Crow, and most recently, its association with Dylan Roof, the Charleston shooter.
Most troublingly, a good many of Trump supporters are people who can’t recognize their own intellectual deficiencies. This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect. In a nutshell, people who lack expertise and knowledge in certain areas, including logical reasoning, grammar, emotional intelligence, financial literacy, and yes, political judgment, often fail to recognize how much they lack these skills. What comes with more knowledge, in other words, is the realization that there tons of categories in which we truly lack expertise. Incompetent people do not recognize how incompetent they are. Here is a link to some of the academic research that informs this analysis.
In August, 50 Republican National Security officials who worked from the Nixon to George W. Bush presidencies wrote an open letter opposing Donald Trump. Among the reasons they stated were that he was unqualified, dangerous, lacked character, knowledge, displayed ignorance, and complimented the nation’s adversaries.
Trump lies pretty much more than any other politician around. He has been fact-checked repeatedly and the results are just baffling. He lied about countless things, including his supposed opposition to the Iraq War. He is full of falsehoods and errors. Oh, but I forgot, according to Trump supporters, getting your facts straight is “elitist.”
Here is Keith Olbermann’s list 176 reasons for why Trump should never be president.
Here is a VERY long list of everyone Trump has insulted.
Many Trump supporters think the South should have won the Civil War.
He was endorsed and supported by David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan. He unleashed toxic forces of white nationalism and neo-Nazism. Remember, the KKK is a domestic terrorist organization that played a major role in the country’s dark history of lynching, which contributed to over 4,000 deaths from 1877 to 1950. This is about the same as the American fatalities from the Iraq War and more than the number that died on 9/11. For some other important historical context, see the report compiled by the Equal Justice Initiative and a map of lynching during WWII.
Bret Stephens, an op-ed columnist from the Wall Street Journal, not exactly a bastion of leftist politics, wrote in June how Trump was spreading a lot of damaging and misleading information about Mexico.
On his deathbed, ex-senator Bob Bennett of Utah, a Republican, apologized to the nation’s Muslims for Trump’s hateful rhetoric.
The entire op-ed team of the Washington Post labeled Trump unfit for the presidency.
My Message to all Trump Supporters: You tell us that you are angry because you no longer have your job in manufacturing or construction and that NAFTA is to blame. I cannot discount this perspective completely as there is some truth in it. But the degree and magnitude of your hatred in no way comports with the facts. These are things we can measure and somehow you skipped class, fell asleep, or weren't listening to the professor when they told you that your beliefs should have at least some basis in reality and facts. The unemployment rate is at 4.6%. Even if we account for the relatively low labor force participation rate, this is still a fairly healthy unemployment rate. We may, in fact, be closer to full employment than we initially expected. Almost every month since 2010 has witnessed job gains on the order of 100,000-200,000 jobs per month and wages have recently gone up. So no, I'm tired of hearing all this rhetoric about NAFTA and "economic anxiety" and "coastal elitism" that completely absolves Trump Troglodytes of any culpability for the lies and hatred they spew. Then you tell us you are angry that drug addiction now plagues your community and that life expectancy for white men has fallen. I get that and I feel your pain. The question is, who is responsible for this? I would submit to you that you are mad at the wrong people and have let them distract you. It was the CEOs of the world—people in the same social class as Mitt Romney and Donald Trump—who broke unions, stopped paying pensions, shipped your jobs overseas, and destroyed your communities. It was absolutely NOT the professors and environmentalists whom you despise. And besides, I thought you were always trumpeting self-improvement and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps? I thought conservatives were the party of “personal responsibility” and yet now they are the first to scream about how larger, impersonal, and international forces have left them behind, regardless of hard work. So how does looking at yourselves as victims and seeing Trump as the savior fit that narrative of self-improvement? Isn’t that part of the American exceptionalism narrative you’re always telling us about? As Trump voters, you've displayed with remarkable clarity that you have absolutely zero ability to think about anyone else’s problems but your own. You are clueless that perhaps more people out there than white men without college degrees might be suffering. You've exhibited a Neanderthal, ape-like attitude in voting based on your basest instincts.
My message to the GOP: You guys are a bunch of cowards, frauds, and charlatans. I will never have any respect for your ideas… ever…until you actually come up with some new ones that are evidence-based and show the potential of addressing the problems that plague our society in any serious and sophisticated manner. You rile up the base, throw them red meat, squeak out a narrow victory without winning the popular vote, and then act as if nothing strange happened. You steamroll the rest of us because you think you are the rightful heirs to power. You assume from day one that you’re the good guys and so anything you do to maintain power, whether it is blackmail James Comey into issuing a pointless letter to Congress, obsessing about Benghazi while ignoring the Iraq War, supporting an undemocratic electoral college—it does not matter so long as white, asshole businessmen maintain power. My big question to you is: what would it take? If Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, or Napoleon came back to life but promised tax cuts and deregulation, would you still vote for them? What would it take for you to put your country above party and vote for a Democrat? You claim to love your country—that’s the mindless bumper sticker you’ve been shoving down our throats for an entire lifetime—but all you really care about is power. Hmmmm…power over principle; ends justifies the means…what other twentieth-century political movement does that remind you of? I just can’t put my finger on it…wait for it…(head banging on table). Twice in the past sixteen years you’ve stolen the presidency with less popular votes because of this outdated, archaic electoral college first designed by southern delegates to the Constitutional Convention who were suspicious of popular rule, or what they called a “mobocracy.” That’s right, James Madison and Pierce Butler, both of them working to protect the interests of southern slaveholders, gave us the electoral college. It wasn't bad enough that Gore won five hundred thousand more votes than Bush? The votes are still being tallied but Clinton's lead could be as much as FIVE TIMES as much as Gore's. None of this will matter. A twenty-first century society is still, remarkably, bound by the assumptions of late-eighteenth century propertied white men. If you want to read a great piece on the proslavery origins of the electoral college, read Paul Finkelman’s 2002 piece. Robin Einhorn has made similar arguments in noting southern delegates’ suspicions of democratic majorities that might tax their slave property, thus, creating the push for the restraints on popular rule and direct democracy that came with the new U.S. Constitution. Finkelman notes that the three-fifths clause, which inflated white southerners’ power in the House of Representatives, was connected with the electoral college. This makes sense because the electoral college is based on the House and Senate. Wyoming gets 3 electoral votes despite the fact that practically no one lives there because it has a minimum of 1 representative and 2 senators. Therefore, a concession to slaveholders in 1787, when there were only three banks in the country, has given us the Bush and Trump presidencies. Bush and Iraq were disasters. Gore would not have invaded Iraq. Will Trump make a similar blunder? It’s hard to think otherwise. But given how firmly entrenched partisan loyalty is, with tribalism clearly subverting critical thinking, it will be hard to imagine how Republicans, despite any and all of the blunders they commit, will suffer any electoral consequences.
Trump Troglodytes are always whining and complaining that coastal “elites” are looking down upon them. In other words, that the “elite” don’t take them seriously. But here’s the problem: you’ve decided to enter politics in a fundamentally unserious manner. Trump and his voters have unserious ideas propagated by unserious media outlets like Breitbart and Dana Loesch; they've concocted unserious notions of how the world works and manufactured out of whole cloth unserious controversies and unserious scandals; and yet you want me to take you seriously? You can't demand that I respect your opinion if it is rooted in hate and ignorance. Voting is a tremendous responsibility. You’ve wasted this responsibility by voting for a monster. So no, I don’t and won’t take you seriously insofar as your ideas have merit. I will take you seriously insofar as your unserious ideas may bring irreparable harm to millions of people in this nation and world. Sad to say, I inhabit a country filled with a bunch of loud-mouth racists and misogynists, frat boys who shout the n-word at an African American driver in Memphis. Last Tuesday was their moment of wrath and vengeance, taking it out on those “elites” they despise. But you know what? The so-called “elites” will not respect you anymore. They will hate you because you have no sense of your own country’s history; you have no sense of what true patriotism means; you thought it’d be a funny game to elect some clown of a reality tv star. And you know what? He will do absolutely nothing for you. You have shown nothing but empty, hallow rhetoric for all of you who said you were troubled by Trump’s rhetoric and yet still planned to vote for him. This is an outlandish lack of integrity. You are Troglodytes; you live in a fact-free universe; you deny that racism exists; that global warming is a reality; that the last two Democratic presidents have presided over economies in which tens of millions of jobs have been created. There was no shortage of articles written by myself and others that Trump would be disastrous. But therein lies the problem. Trump supporters don’t read. Or at least, they don’t read anything worthwhile, outside of the Wall Street Journal editorial page or Alt-Right websites. They have comforted themselves with an easy cop-out—to dismiss nearly all expertise as “elite” as if learning itself is somehow suspect. The problem with you overusing the word “elite” is that you’re not actually engaging evidence here; you’re just slapping a label on something because that’s what Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh—both immense hypocrites in their own right—told you to do. You haven’t put any thought and effort into this. Tell me this…is a professor who lives on food stamps considered elite merely because they took out tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt to obtain a doctorate?
The white, evangelical Protestants who supported a fascist have revealed themselves for what they’ve always been: a bunch of shameless hypocrites who will support anyone so long as it has an “R” next to their name. They used to ostensibly care about "family values." Then we saw how Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, Mark Foley, and Dennis Hastert all voted for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. And guess what? They all had MAJOR sexual scandals of their own!! Read the article entitled “Evangelicals Without Standards,” written by National Review editor Rich Lowry, with whom I am almost never in agreement.
For those of you who stayed home and think “both sides are bad.” Shame on you. Yeah. Just shame on you. Shame on you for believing such simplistic non-sense and your failure to recognize proportionality; that Benghazi and emails (and I’ve still yet to figure out precisely what those scandals were or are) are even remotely close to the hatred, ignorance, fraud, and racism propagated by the fascist about to occupy the White House. If you think that both sides are equally bad, you need to study harder. Take a communications class and learn about false equivalency. To Gary Johnson voters: are you happy now? Do you see what you’ve done?
For those of you who object to the ideas contained in this post:
1) Open your mind and see if you can learn something.
2) Realize that I’m trained as a political historian. It doesn’t mean I’m right in every circumstance, but it does mean that I’ve probably spent a good deal of my life thinking about these issues and probably have more expertise than the average Joe on the street. Expertise has got to count for something. We wouldn’t have been able to achieve all that we have thus far on Earth without experts.
3) Settle down. Trump will run roughshod over the Constitution but there’s still a First Amendment, at least I think.
4). This is a blog, not a lecture. Blogs by their very nature express a personal stance. This material is not in any way, shape, or form part of my class content. I won’t test students on it.
5) There’s a difference between an opinion and an informed perspective. If I had an opinion that vanilla is better than chocolate, this would be relatively mundane and I wouldn’t expect that my opinion about ice cream flavors is superior in any way to your opinion about what shirt to wear to class. But what I am expressing here is an informed opinion, backed by links, articles, research, empirical evidence, etc.
6) Whether they will admit it to you or not, or whether they speak about it publicly or not, most historians agree with me. In fact, it's probably not even close. If you respect what historians do, then you should have listened to us when we warned you about Trump.
For those of you in the center and on the left: You didn’t turn out when we needed you. Bernie-or-Bust folks, leftists, socialists, and even anarchists, we could have used you.
For those in the mainstream media:
I blame you in large part for Clinton's loss. You freaked out over Comey letter, which essentially said nothing. You deliberately made this campaign about personality. It was a fact-free and substance-free campaign. One need not look far for the stranglehold that oil companies have on media and politics to see that zero questions were asked of the presidential candidates on climate change when as far back as 1988, there were questions asked of Dukakis and Bush and scientists have been warning about this issue since the 1950s. It is the job of media to define the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in public discourse. They should have stopped Trump in his tracks the moment he said that Mexicans were rapists, but media executives salivated at the opportunity for a public ratings bonanza. They put a black Democrat alongside a black Republican on television numerous times, giving the viewer the misleading assumption that it was a 50-50 debate where each side deserved consideration. They didn’t. 90% of African Americans vote Democratic so if cable new really wanted to portray an accurate representation of reality, they would put 9 African American Democrats alongside the 1 brainwashed, incoherent stooge like Omarosa or Katrina Pierson. Cable news outlets like Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC bear a lot of the blame. They devoted a ton of time to the white working-class, ignoring that the working-class is represented by much more than just white people. Jeff Zucker said this was good for ratings. So did the CEO of CBS. It is an enduring feature of modern capitalism that the short-term profits of shareholders take precedence over the public good. Cable news and talk radio are fundamentally bad for America. They are poisonous for an informed citizenry. If you want to be informed, do it the old-fashioned way: read a book or newspaper. Or listen to Democracy Now! As much as I like Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, and Joy Reid, I will never watch cable news again. To Phil Griffin: you fired some of the best minds, including Alex Wagner, Cenk Uygur, and Melissa Harris-Perry, because you thought it was more within your economic self-interest to be “objective” than it was to provide hard-hitting, cutting analysis.
Because there are so many others who have been able to capture the ridiculous Trump phenomenon, I will attach some of their words.
This is from Drew McGary: While Trump is a miserable bastard, YOU are the people who have handed him the bullhorn. YOU are the people willing to embarrass this nation and put it on the brink of economic ruin all because you wanna throw an electoral hissy fit. YOU are the people who want to revolutionize the way America does business by voting for its worst businessman, a disgusting neon pig who only makes money when he causes problems for other people instead of solving them. YOU are the thin-skinned yokels who clutch your bandoliers whenever someone hurls the mildest of slurs at you (“deplorables”), while cheering Trump on as he leaves a bonfire of truly hateful invective everywhere he goes. YOU are the people willing to overlook the fact that Trump is an unqualified, ignorant sociopath because DURRRR HILLARY IS BAD TOO DURRRR.
You know what? No, she’s not. She’s fine. I lived through one Clinton, and I can live through another. My reasons for hating Trump are better than your reasons for hating Hillary. Show me all the arguments against her you like. You guys don’t give a shit about facts and research when it comes to Trump, so I’m not gonna give a shit about whatever clumsy meme you cook up to explain why she did Benghazi. Nope. Sorry. Fuck your arguments, and fuck you. Trump has shown no respect for anyone, so I don’t see why you deserve any either. Whatever mildly frustrating centrist liberal bureaucracy that Hillary presides over will be fine compared to the spray tan mushroom cloud that would arise all because YOU thought Trump was such a brave, un-PC dickhead to everyone within shouting distance.
Trump is human waste. He is the worst of America stuffed into a nacho cheese casing, and he is emblematic of the kind of arrogant, flag-waving, trashy, racist moron that the rest of us have to DRAG kicking and screaming into the 21st century: Cliven Bundy, Sean Hannity, Kim Davis, and on and on and on. Trump voters are the people who have spent the past decade or so voting insipid obstructionists into office, sending death threats to anyone who even mentions the idea of gun control, demanding 100% tax cuts on millions of dollars they can only daydream about making, and getting suckered in by any Oil Party candidate waving a NO GAYS flag. Fuck them. These are needy hillbilly loons who are just as starved for attention as Trump himself. And voting for Trump is their way of emulating him, of saying FUCK YOU to everyone else as a mission statement, with no regard for the fallout.
The old saw is that people get the politicians they deserve, and I’ll be crestfallen if Trump wins and proves this to be true once more. If you vote for him, you’re not making America great again. You are killing it. You are telling the world that America isn’t worth it. You are telling the world that all of our big talk about freedom and unity and ideals is just a load of shit, and that you would prefer a smoldering dystopia where freedom is just a flimsy cover for evildoing, led by a man who believes that strength is measured only in killing people. You are handing the most important job on Earth to Napoleon from Animal Farm. And you are revealing your breathtaking ignorance to everyone except for yourself. I can’t believe you can’t see this. I want you to see this. I wanna shine a big fucking light in your face and scream at you that Trump isn’t even qualified to be human, much less President. How are you gonna change the system if you elect some corrupt idiot who has no clue how to DO IT, huh? Can’t you see this? Haven’t you heard this asshole talk? THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?
But I already know that’s a futile effort. So fuck you, and fuck the GOP leaders who are too chickenshit to stand up to you. I’m not gonna wish deportation or imprisonment or some kind of fantastical hyperbolic death upon you. I’m not gonna ask for a wall to be built on the Mason-Dixon line. No no, I think you people deserve the EXACT same fate as Trump himself, and that is to lose, badly. That’s what should happen to you. You and your hamburger puppet leader deserve to live the rest of your days arm-in-arm in disgrace, branded as losers for eternity. Because that’s what you are.
Here is a nicely written article by David Fagin entitled “An Open Letter to My Friends Who Voted for Trump.” Here is another good one, written by David Remnick, that will surely be dismissed by Trumpites as “elite” merely because Remnick knows how to construct a sentence.
And this is from Sean Illing at Salon.com, written Feb 24, 2016:
Trump’s wager was simple: Pretend to be stupid and angry because that’s what stupid and angry people like. He’s held up a mirror to the country, shown us how blind and apish we are. He knew how undiscerning the populace would be, how little they cared about details and facts. In Nevada, for instance, 70 percent of Trump voters said they preferred an “anti-establishment” candidate to one with any “experience in politics.” Essentially, that means they don’t care if he understands how government works or if he has the requisite skills to do the job. It’s a protest vote, born of rage, not deliberation.
In no other domain of life would this make any sense at all. If your attorney drops the ball, you don’t hire a plumber to replace him. And yet millions of Trumpites say they don’t care if Trump has ever worked at any level of government or if he knows anything about foreign policy or the law or the Constitution. It’s enough that he greets them at their level, panders to their lowest instincts.
He even brazenly condescends to his supporters, as the opening quote illustrates, and they fail to notice it. Trump, a billionaire trust fund baby who inherited $40 million from his father, has convinced hordes of working-class white people that he’s just like them, that he feels their pain and knows their struggle. He’s made marks of them all.
In closing, what does the election tell us?
1) obstructionism works: gum up the works, create dissatisfaction and then capitalize on this dissatisfaction; gone is Merrick Garland, a highly qualified nominee. This is the self-fulfilling prophecy that the Republican Party has enacted and mastered ingeniously since the 1990s under Newt Gingrich. It works for the party, but it doesn't work for the country.
2) HRC didn’t have a positive message, or at least didn’t articulate it clearly
3) Trump is in charge of the nuclear codes? My god, what a nightmare!
4) The polling industry needs a page 1 rewrite. Figure out what went wrong and why there was a massive polling error. Related to this, I think a great deal of people lied to pollsters.
5) Trump won narrowly in a low-turnout election. The New Jim Crow has made this election closer than it otherwise would be. Remember, there’s a million people imprisoned in Florida as felons. They will never be able to vote. This is a relic of the Jim Crow era. Given that such a large number of these felons are African Americans and that African Americans are the most loyal constituency of the Democratic Party, there is no doubt that if we got rid of the New Jim Crow with criminal justice reform, Florida would never again be a swing state and allow assholes like Bush and Trump into power. Latinos seemed to have turned out in high enough numbers, but millenials, white women, and black voters disappointed us. Apparently they need an inspiring candidate on the ballot to turn out. This is partly Clinton’s fault. She could have picked Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, or Raul Grijalva on the ticket. Instead she picked a boring white guy. No surprise she lost.
6) Birtherism worked. How despicable Trump and his voters are!
7) Americans don’t care about policy. They care about unrestrained, vicious anger.
8) Third parties may have made a difference in some of these key swing states where Trump’s margin of victory was less than 50,000 votes. This means Wisconsin and Michigan. It’s always tough to say conclusively whether less support for a third-party candidate would have provided an advantage to a Democrat or Republican, but I’d bet HRC could have won a couple more states without Johnson and Stein voters.
9) This is a body blow to a lot of things, including reason, rationality, logic, evidence-based arguments, morality, decency, and critical thinking. As I said before, there is darkness ahead...
Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. While I do my best to offer reasonable conclusions based on verifiable, peer reviewed evidence, I neither speak for my employers, nor do I require my students to read or agree with the thoughts expressed here. Opinions are my own.