"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Time to go

This is the "Big Think" on Donald Trump, or one example of it:

Win or lose–or, God forbid, draw–on Election Day, Trump has catalyzed something long neglected in the American psyche, something that will remain long after Trump hits his personal self-destruct button. Some of Trump's supporters are, as Hillary Clinton has rightly observed, truly deplorable. There are those one simply wants to ask, "So you kiss your mother with that mouth?" But there are others, many others, who were drawn into Trump's tractor beam by a particular type of longing. Out of the mouths of babes and the senile come great truths, and Giuliani may have identified it best Monday night when he introduced Trump by saying: "Nobody owns him. Nobody controls him. He's his own man."

Trump is the perfect fantasy superhero for people who are owned by banks and credit cards, time clocks and bosses; who are controlled by life and circumstance and the fecklessness of fate. People who have Trump's freedom to "tell you what he thinks," but only in the freedom of their backyards with a case of Bud and a Saturday afternoon to spin out into the summer dusk. People who need someplace to go. The question is, can the next president bring them all home?

Presumably Trump has brought "new people" into the election, and once in politics, they will not go away.  Just like the 18 year olds who got the vote in 1971, and used it to elect McGovern and change the politics of America forever.

Or the hippies and yippies who protested Vietnam, saw Nixon resign, and made Carter President for 8 years and told Reagan to go back to California.  Yup; all those new voters who entered national politics and never went away, and changed politics forever.

The problem was, after the war, there was no cause to rally around; and McGovern, who was against the Vietnam War, was never a convincing enough partisan to inspire those newly minted 18 year olds to turn out and save themselves from the draft (which was winding down anyway by 1972; I became eligible in '73, even had a draft number; but it was pretty much over by then, and my number was too high anyway).  Without a cause to rally around, and not really all that charmed with McGovern, hippies became yuppies became voters for Reagan, because it's money that matters in the U.S.A.

Trump is a focal point for inchoate anger expressed by people not who need work or want jobs or have been betrayed by globalization, but the anger of people who want "Leave it to Beaver" back, and Donna Reed at home in a pinafore waiting for the clean white children to ride their bikes home from school.  They want what they can't have, and Trump promises it to them, and they go to his rallies and rage.  But the odds of there being enough of them to send Trump to the White House are somewhere between zip and none, and I still believe fewer states will go for Trump than expected (turnout is too high across the country, and too many new voters are being drawn out by Trump, but not to support him*), and the ones who do will do so by slender margins.

And Trump, who has already said a loss will make the whole effort a waste of time, will disappear.  His brand is damaged (just ask Ivanka), his reputation is in tatters, he'll be a national joke.  Who speaks reverently of Mitt Romney anymore?  He saved the Winter Olympics in the last century, but who cares now?  And what did Donald Trump ever do for anybody except Donald Trump?

No, he didn't bring a rough rude beast out of its slumber, and its hour has not come 'round at last.  He got some people to some rallies where they could shout in person instead of typing on the internet, and he and they confused that with political participation.  When he goes away, defeated and humiliated, they will go away too.  Without their bloodied but unbowed warrior-leader (which Trump has never been, and can you imagine him filling the role now?), they will have nothing to rally for.

They will have someplace to go.  Back to their living rooms, to watch cable news and occasionally change the channel so they have something to shout at; back to their keyboards, where they can pass around anger and anxiety just like everybody else on social media or political websites; back to their lives, which they were never really going to leave, anyway.  The Presidency doesn't lend itself to daily rallies of supporters whooping and hollering and getting each other riled up.  It was never going to last.

In the end, it lasted about as long as it could.

*which is the interesting thing:  all the hand-wringing is about the white male voters Trump is presumably bringing to the voting booths in great hordes, and will they stay and soil the furniture?  But no similar hope is expressed that the Latino voters who seem to be turning out in record numbers to vote against Trump, will decide to stay and vote against other arch-conservative and equally anti-immigrant (if less vocally so) Republicans?  Why do we still insist that only white voters really matter?


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