Anyone on Facebook should know the obvious about me by now. I am not a Donald Trump supporter. We’re approaching two years now, when he threw his name into the ring to run for the Republican party nomination, I assumed it was a publicity stunt that would soon flame out and die quickly. When he started to rise in the polls, I assumed as had other fringe figures in past elections, he would say or do something stupid turning off would-be supporters and be replaced by someone more presidential and acceptable. He did say, do and propose plenty of stupid things, but nothing hurt him. His popularity in the primary rose quickly and just stayed there, no matter what he did. Probably only Trump understood that he could literally say or do anything, perhaps even shoot someone and not offend his supporters.
The Republican field seemed to have some relatively heavy-weights, at least on paper – Jeb!, Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio. But watching the debates unfold, none of them had the presence or the charisma or the ideas to really excite the base. They all seemed to be reciting the script Ronald Reagan wrote meant for the problems of the 1980’s. Only Trump sounded like someone who believed what he was saying – no matter how idiotic the content of his message – at least he was sincere and authentic. Trump wasn’t afraid to criticize Bush’s Iraq war while everyone else not named Paul defended it. Trump promised to preserve social security and medicare, while other Republicans were promising to gut them. Trump consistently and with passion promised to reverse trends by massive global market forces – trade and immigration – and return America to the glory days of… when exactly? 1950? He never said how, but people believed he could do it.
Meanwhile Donald Trump made horrifying campaign promises, made horrifying comments, and over the course of his life was involved in numerous scandals. Never believing he could actually win the presidency, most people until after the fact, never anticipated the scale and extent of his conflicts of interests and how he’s now in the position to enrich himself through the power of his presidency. Not to mention, his attacking, divisive style guarantees he’ll use his office to push the country into an even harsher, more divisive political environment.
A big part of me kind of gets how Trump resonates with a segment of American voters. A big part of it was that he ran against Hillary Clinton, who was not a good presidential candidate. Everyone had their own reason to vote for Trump or to opt out of this election entirely (many stayed home, others voted for people who had no shot of winning). Some saw the rise of political correctness and saw moments of liberal speech stifling. Hate speech seemed to cover and ever-broadening list of topics now considered off-limits. Others saw threats to religious liberty and the rapid acceptance of gay marriage as a threat to Christian values. The first black president with a Muslim sounding name (and likely a secret Muslim) who once attended church services of the America-hating Jeremiah Wright, who couldn’t even bring himself to call out the global sins of extremist Islam.
But a bigger part of me is horrified. How could a rational voter consider the span and scope of American successes and problems and think for an instant that Donald Trump was the best person of the available options to address them? Given his obvious misogyny, his racism, his bigotry. Yes, I said it. The man is a racist bigot. There’s no getting around it.
And part of the reason this fact did not sink him was because many Americans just cannot stomach to come to terms with the racism in our country that brought Trump to power, nor do they even want to talk about it.
And even beyond that, Trump’s utter idiocy, in terms of policy and substance.
Let me pause right here. Donald Trump is a great marketer. His business is primarily branding. People pay him to put his name on their stuff – that’s the core of his post-bankruptcy business. He’s good on television. His show, the apprentice, where he could present himself as a successful and wildly rich – the extent of the truth of this is something no one knows for sure because he keeps these facts hidden. But he was unprepared and inarticulate in all three of his presidential debates with Hillary. His schtick worked better in the primary debates when he had to share the stage with far more people and had far less time to defend himself or explain his policies.
But he was never, ever good gaining support beyond a pretty narrow base. He is the most unpopular person ever to win the presidency and he barely won at that. Many people who voted for him, did so for reasons that did not include adoration or support. So, Trump was an obvious, transparent idiot when it comes to running a country and most people could see it plain as day. He was good at marketing, but to be good in business you need to be good at finding a niche. The country is large and diverse, no business needs every citizen to be its customer to be successful. A company just needs a big enough base of support. Trump was good at capturing a loyal base even as he turned off and offended many, many others. You can’t run a country this way, not successfully.
But none of this ultimately mattered. Trump squeeked out a narrow win and I find this horrifying. I find this difficult to understand. I fear for a country that could decide what are country needs is one of the most divisive, hateful, ignorant candidate we ever had. And I’ll say this over and over again, this election just wasn’t rational, but that’s par for the course. Voting is just not rationale.
So let me just say this one more time and hopefully I can stop saying it again and move on to more specifics. History will look back on this election and mark it as a shameful moment in American politics.
I don’t believe Donald Trump will be a disaster in everything. I’m sure he’ll have successes and good ideas mixed in with the regular disasters that will crop up again and again. He has good people on his staff and he has Steve Bannon – among other frightening, unqualified people. The country is a behemoth and a bureaucracy. It’s not easily controlled by a single person and it will largely move along on cruise control. It’s likely we’ll survive Trump. But we shouldn’t have had to.