When Hillary accused Trump of living in his own reality in the first debate, she echoed a thought I’ve long had. It puts me in mind of what Stephen Colbert once said while roasting George W. Bush, “We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in ‘reality.’ And reality has a well-known liberal bias.” When you hear Trump consistently saying things like, “Look at these crowds, the polls are lying” we get the sense that “science” and “fact” and “reality” aren’t part of the game. This wouldn’t normally be bothersome, except that he drags his supporters into this warped vision as well. It lends credence to Trump’s statement that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue, shoot somebody, and still lose no support. In fact, his followers routinely get emboldened by everything he says, and they react absurdly to any criticism of him.
When Nate Silver of the excellent FiveThirtyEight.com posted an electoral map showing how Trump would be destroyed if only women voted, Trump’s Army of alt-right, white supremacist, misogynistic supporters responded by making sure the #Repealthe19th hashtag trended on Twitter. That’s right, they responded by stating that women shouldn’t have the right to vote. This is the brave new world we live in.
Further, I regularly post anti-Trump statement on my Facebook page and I’m routinely flooded with Trump supporters. I’m fine with that, because I enjoy learning how others think. In this case, it isn’t thinking so much as suspending disbelief. Nearly every single criticism I offer prompts a response that begins with “But Clinton…” This, in argument, is known as a non-sequitur. I wasn’t talking about Clinton. Not defending her. Not anything about her. The constant strategy, even when I point it out clearly and ask for a response to my original point, is to deflect, deflect, deflect. Trump is a master at this and he inspires his followers to do the same, reason and logic be damned.
Even though there is a GOP establishment exodus (a group who never really liked Trump anyway), he maintains rabid supporters and holds the same packed-to-the-gills rallies. Why? Because we’re dealing with the mob mentality. The Texas Observer has a fascinating write up on this:
Thing is, the support of Trump in Texas — and I speak specifically of my region, East Texas — goes beyond the smart and the not so smart, the educated and the uneducated. It is more a result of what I like to call the happily stupid; the ones who hold stupid views by choice, not due to lack of intelligence, but due to a kind of tribalism. Facts that interfere with their version of the world are there to be ignored. It’s like putting a hat on a pig and insisting the porker is your Uncle Frank, contrary to all other evidence.
While I’ve tried my damnedest to understand where Trump supporters are coming from — the perception that crime is on the rise (it isn’t), that the job market is awful (it’s been getting significantly better), unemployment is high (it’s declined under Obama), that our country is being overrun by illegal immigrants from Mexico (there’s actually a net loss of illegals, they are returning home), and on and on — I don’t understand exactly why Trumps supporters aren’t appalled regularly by what he says and does.
Let’s break it down:
He’s a racist:
- Opened his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists, then adding that “And some, I assume, are good people.”
- Claimed a judge couldn’t be fair to him because he had Mexican ancestry
- Was fined by the Justice Department for refusing to rent housing to minorities
- Called for a ban on all Muslims from entering the United States (I get that Islam is not a race, nitpickers)
- Claimed that a deportation force would search for and eject the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country
- Regularly retweets white supremacists and Neo-Nazis
- Tweeted an anti-Semetic image (which he later deleted)
- Refused to disavow the former head of the KKK until pressured to do so
- In a pitch to black voters, said, “You’re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?”
- Routinely claimed that our first black president wasn’t born in this country, then blamed Hillary Clinton for creating the narrative
- Claimed Syrian refugees coming into the country would be terrorists
- Claimed Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz (both of Cuban descent) weren’t eligible to run for President because they weren’t born in America
- Criticized a Gold Star family who lost their son in Iraq (the soldier was a Muslim)
He’s a sexist:
- Brags on tape about being able to get away with sexually assaulting women
- Has been accused of sexual assault by a multitude of women
- Admitted to walking in on Miss Universe contestants while they were naked, including 16-year-old girls
- Responds to criticism of sexual harassment by bringing up Bill Clinton (as if that makes it okay?)
- Routinely objectified women on The Apprentice
- Made fun of Marco Rubio’s wife’s looks
- The whole Megan Kelly debacle
- Discussed his daughter as a “piece of ass” and creepily said he’d date her if she wasn’t his daughter
He’s not a great businessman:
- Filed for bankruptcy 4 times, despite claiming he’s a brilliant businessman
- Evades taxes and calls himself smart for doing it while complaining that illegal immigrants drain our system by not paying into it
- Routinely refused to pay contractors money he owed
- Uses his charity to pay his bills (which is illegal)
- Scammed students of Trump University (for which he is facing a trial)
- Refuses to release his tax returns, defying precedent and refusing to be transparent with America
- Hired illegal immigrants, ironically, to work on Trump Tower
- Violated the Cuban Embargo
- He mocked a disabled reporter (this makes him more of a bad human being than bad businessman)
He’s a conspiracy theorist (or just willfully ignorant):
- Blames climate change on a plot by the Chinese
- Says if he doesn’t win, the election will have been rigged
- Accused Ted Cruz’s father of being part of JFK’s assassination
- Blamed Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for founding ISIS
- Claims thousands of Muslims celebrated 9/11 in New Jersey
- Claims Syrian refugees aren’t vetted
- Claims Obama and Hillary want to take away everybody’s guns
- Endorsed the dangerously untrue belief that vaccines cause autism
- Peddles the lie that voter fraud is rampant
- Suggested Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was murdered
- Regularly uses “many people say” as evidence for his statements
- He routinely believes he is a victim of biased media, despite an unbiased presentation of fact (like confronting him with his own words)
This is obviously only a partial list. He gets caught lying, sometimes mid-sentence, on a regular basis. At the debates, he’s blatantly denied documented facts. And his supporters don’t seem to care.
I normally avoid what can be construed of as ad hominem attacks, but it’s time to call a spade a spade. There’s no need to pussyfoot around this: Trump is demonstrably deranged, unstable, and unable to understand anything that may undermine his ego. Willful ignorance is not a quality a president, or person, should have. Or, hell, I could be wrong and this is campaign strategy. H.L. Mencken once said, “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.” Certainly he is a demagogue, and certainly people who don’t take issue with the above bullet-points have issues. Are they idiots, as Mencken says? I hesitate to say that. But as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” If you support this man, a man who treats women like garbage, a man who demonizes minorities, a man who trades in conspiracy theories, you are complicit in those things. Refusing to acknowledge culpability for elevating this man to the position is evidence of a sad state of denial.
That said, I don’t believe Trump supporters are bad people. I am simply incapable of following their logic for defending him despite the awfulness. There’s something I’m missing. I’ll probably keep missing it.
Regardless, I suppose these people have made their beds. Time to lie in it. Just hope Trump isn’t there to grope you.