this brilliant article yesterday, which explains a lot of the frustration and anger that comes out of the people who are supporting the man who promises to "make america great again": poor whites, college educated white men struggling to maintain their tenuous hold on the middle class, evangelical voters for whom the city is a place that embraces everything they stand against. it's a compassionate article that helps explain the position of trump voters in a way that not enough people have done. yes, many of those people, whose anger is being weaponised by this campaign, are scary as hell. but that does mean that they have no business being angry to begin with.
but there are a lot of other things that need to be said about people who are supporting trump, because if we don't say them, we're essentially saying that most of them are too dumb to make other decisions and that they just aren't capable of doing any better. i'm going to say that i don't believe that. i think that there are ways in which every one of his supporters can and should be thinking about their decision to back this man, and i believe that all of them are capable of thinking about these things. because there are a few things that i immediately know about a person who says they're a trump supporter, and they're not pretty.
you want things to be easy for you. sure, you might work hard, but the fact is that you believe that your problems have a simple solution, like someone could just flick a switch and everything would be better for you. that's a ridiculous point of view. yes, problems can be solved, but if you believe that just electing the right guy as president is the way to do that, you're sadly mistaken. "fixing" things for americans is a big project and it involves more than just the guy at the top. but because you don't want to think too hard or work too hard for change, you're happy to listen to someone who just promises to "make america great again" peppered with a few phrases that don't actually link to any real policies, outside of building a wall. you probably believe that accomplishing any big goals takes hard work, but on a larger scale, you just don't want to bother. donald trump is going to hit the light switch and *poof*
you're gullible. as much as you hear people talk about lying politicians and how they're fed up with washington, that cynicism is entirely a posture, because when someone like trump comes along, you just lap up what he says. trump lies virtually every time he opens his mouth. he's not even good at it. he claims he's never said things when there are tapes of him saying them, clear as day. he comes up with policies like building a border wall, despite the fact that most illegal immigrants in the united states arrive there on legitimate visas and then just don't leave after the visa expires. he sticks with that plan because it's a great slogan to shout ["build the wall! build the wall!"], even though the logistics of actually building such a thing have been debunked by the people who'd have to figure it out. he says that he'll stop china from manipulating their currency and fight them on unfair trade practices. but he doesn't mention that the united states, under obama, have gone to international trade arbitrators more than thirty times to protest china's unfair trade practices and that they've won every single one of those cases. he also neglects to mention that china holds more u.s. debt than any country except japan, so they go into negotiations with a huge bargaining chip- if the u.s. really wants to play hardball, china can call in their loans. that would be devastating for both economies, but in the end, it's china that has the upper hand. take that finely honed skepticism you have for washington and apply it to everything in the political sphere.
you want to be led. there are many challenges facing us right now and you're probably scared, but let's be clear: donald trump has talked about jailing political rivals, using the attorney general to investigate a judge he doesn't like, clamping down on journalism he doesn't like and establishing a deportation force to find and remove illegal immigrants. those aren't incidental things; they're an important part of his overall platform which has focused on what he alone will do to change america. you don't hear trump talk about his team, or about who he'll work with to accomplish things. he's going to do all this himself and shut down those he doesn't like. that, my friends, is an autocrat and if you're supporting him, you are subscribing to the belief that you are better off giving power to someone who will limit freedoms and conduct the business of state based on his personal feelings, with little consultation. [you need only look at the way his campaign is being run to get a sense of how willing he is to listen to the opinions of others.] you will give up many of the freedoms you have now in order to have someone at the top doing things his way, so that you don't have to think about it. you're afraid of what happens when you try to act out that whole democracy thing.
if you're not an outright racist or sexist, you don't have any real problem with those things. let me be clear about this: all those people who walked away from donald trump because they heard him say "pussy" are assholes. if that's the thing that suddenly made you change your mind about him, that's just pathetic. if you've supported him for one minute after he said the mexican government was sending their rapists and murderers across the border illegally, it means that you're willing to forgive racism in the interests of... making america great or something. trump has targeted syrian refugees- people driven out of their country by a civil war that can be laid largely on the doorstep of united states foreign policy. the charge that trump raped a thirteen year old [which has just been allowed to proceed in court] had been floating around for months before his lewd comments on the bus. so have all his comments on howard stern's radio show. the civil rights case over denying non-whites the right to live in his company's buildings has been widely known for years. he planted his foot on the political scene by questioning the legitimacy of america's first black president for years after the man had produced a birth certificate. everyone has flaws? sure. and we all have our own principles about which flaws are acceptable and which ones aren't. if you're supporting trump, racism and misogyny are acceptable vices for you.
the usual reaction to this sort of criticism is to make a list of all the things hillary clinton has done wrong. to which i say: so don't vote for her. if you hate her that much, if her hawkish policy on libya, for instance, is a breaking point because of the misery it caused, that's understandable. vote for a third party. write in someone else's name. focus on electing good people to congress, which is where the legislation comes from anyway. but if you are willing to vote for trump, do so knowing what that reveals about you, and think about what the politics of fear and scapegoating are turning you into. i'm not writing this from a position of superiority. i'm not trying to be patronizing and say "you poor things, you're too ill-educated and naive to know any better". i think that any person is capable of doing better than this, it's just that so many of them aren't.