I no longer know where I found this quote–I neglected to record its origin. It may have been from a private exchange, but if not, and if any of you reading this can point me to the source, I’d appreciate it.
The thing is, it really explains a lot:
I looked at the hundreds of people at Trump’s rally tonight, unmasked and older, and almost all so very white, and saw a group of people so afraid of the future they are willing to say yes, willing to throw in their lot with a malignant narcissist because he tells them they can recover a world in which they felt more relevant, a world they control.
A reactionary group of older white men look at a global future in which questions of clean energy, climate change, economic fairness, and human equality are uppermost, and their reaction is to cling to a world they control.
I’ve recently read several commentaries pooh-poohing what their authors regard as “over the top” descriptions of what’s at stake on November 3d. I don’t know what reality those authors inhabit, or what histories have informed their opinions, but I firmly believe that anyone who doesn’t see this election as an existential choice is either willfully blind or disastrously uninformed.
Every single day, credible media report on new actions taken by this administration that intentionally undermine the common good. Environmental protections have been eliminated, public schools undermined, the rule of law decimated. Trump’s tweets and rhetoric continually set Americans against each other. Agencies charged with the health and well-being of the population have been subverted, and people have died unnecessarily as a result. A lot of people.
In place of the accountability and communication Americans have a right to expect, we are inundated daily with lies, manipulated videos, altered quotations–constant disinformation and propaganda.
If Trump was simply incompetent, that would be troubling but not existential. If he was simply corrupt, that would be concerning, but also not existential. But he and the supine GOP have gone much further than mere incompetence and corruption.
Traditional aspirations–think “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” have been turned upside-down in favor of an increasingly explicit white nationalism. In the place of a platform and policies, Trump and the GOP that is now his reflection simply promote fear–fear of the “other,” fear of losing white Christian male dominance, fear of social change. In place of efforts to bring us together, they continue to sow discord and encourage political tribalism.
In the last few days, Trump has increased his encouragement of violence and mayhem, presumably believing that increased unrest will cause voters to rally to his “law and order” candidacy.
What keeps me up at night is the possibility that my life-long belief in the essential goodness of most Americans–not all, but most–has been misplaced. What if there are many more white guys afraid of a future they have to share with women and dark people than I ever thought?
I follow Nate Silvers’ FiveThirtyEight.com, and have trouble wrapping my head around the polling that shows a steady 40% approval of the childish buffoon who has commandeered our government. I look at scholarly research showing that “racial anxiety”–i.e., racism–is the single most reliable predictor of support for Trump and his GOP. I see comments on Facebook by presumably reasonable people endorsing bizarre conspiracy theories and patently obvious untruths.
And I’m terrified. When I wake up on November 4th, I want to breathe a sigh of relief because the people I believed in have gone to the polls and put an end to our four-year American nightmare.
What if I’ve been wrong all these years? What if it can happen here?