Trump was a punchline only a few months ago. Yeah, he had some polling numbers, but those didn’t really mean anything until people actually went and checked the box next to his name on a real voting ballot. Yeah, the rest of the GOP field didn’t seem particularly strong, with a lot of flawed candidates and no clear favorite. Yeah, at best Trump would get a wave of popularity (which is all he wanted, right?), he’d die off as one of the real politicians grabbed the reins, and he’d retreat back to wherever he would retreat to. Probably off to fire somebody.
Instead, he’s now likely to win the Republican nomination with a delegate majority. Donald Trump, Republican Nominee for President of the United States is very quickly becoming a reality. It’s actually happening.
There’s little to say about it, so I won’t say much more. It’s ludicrous this would happen, it seems a little obvious it would eventually in hindsight. I’d rather talk about the implications this has on the public conversation, as that’s far more important.
I already blogged a tiny bit on this a few months ago, back in more innocent times. There I wrote about how both Sanders and Trump were making their marks regardless of whatever success or failure they met in the primaries; they were both pushing populist messages that normally weren’t given voice in the mainstream media or the national political conversation. That has absolutely continued, but there’s a key difference.
In Sanders, the long-silenced voice of the middle class, unions, and progressive reform has taken rise again. His ideas and policies are largely derived from Roosevelt-ian doctrine (both Teddy and Franklin Delano) and the pragmatic progressive postures of northern European countries. Sanders has tried to show us what America could be.
Trump, however, has given voice to a much uglier part of our past, or what we thought was our past. He has peeled back the scab to show that the sore is still present. Racism, xenophobia, and nativism have long thought to be dying, or at least on a steady march to the grave (though we still have a long way to go). Instead, this base has been invigorated and mobilized behind the snake-est of snake-oil salesmen (it’s actually not hard to picture Trump as a figure in the late 1800s, lamenting the loss of the Civil War and doing his best to keep the roots of white supremacy planted firm). Trump has shown us what America still is, and will still be for quite some time.
Here’s the thing: let’s assume Trump doesn’t win the presidency, if only for our own sanity’s sake. Whether he loses the primary or the general election, there’s a key point to remember: his supporters aren’t going to go away. They’re not going to go back to keeping their racist, xenophobic, nativist thoughts to themselves. Trump has shown them that saying what you want (no matter what) is a virtue, even if what you want is reprehensible and unacceptable to most of rational, educated society. The toothpaste is out of the tube.
In writing about politics here, I’ve tried very hard to remain objective and bipartisan, or at least the best I can be. Obviously I’m a liberal, obviously I’m voting Democrat. I’m done acting like I’m bipartisan, just to be nice. The other side has stopped trying to be civil. Violence and threats of violence have been common around Trump rallies and supporters, and I suspect it will only get worse with every passing speech or event.
We may reach a boiling pitch where Trump fails to get a majority of delegates (but is close), and the GOP sheepishly gives him the nomination in the face of a full-on, for-real violent revolt. We may reach a time where Trump or Trump’s supporters crash Hillary’s or Bernie’s events, spreading the violence and unrest to the entire campaign. We may reach a point where there are threats of violence (or worse, violence) at voting booths in November. We may reach the point where he wins, and America officially becomes the laughingstock of the world, a great yet bleeding empire who has willingly handed the controls to a disingenuous sociopath who was only really in it for the Twitter followers anyways.
Or Trump loses, but his legacy remains. Where his candidacy once lived, what remains are his fervent supporters, now angry that their avatar was vanquished. But now they’re no longer afraid to shout their feelings from the rooftops. They’re proud of their bigotry and intolerance now, so so proud because Mr. Trump showed them that it’s OK to talk about it. It’s OK to exclude an entire religion from the entire country, while crying for the “religious freedom” to refuse service to people who don’t make fuck like you want them to. It’s OK to destroy one of the great tenets of our country’s credo by building a wall next to an allied country. It’s OK to just “bomb the shit out of them”, regardless of whether you’ve ever met “them”, or whether “them” has ever done anything to you, or whoever’s kids have to die fighting “them”. It’s even OK to kill “them’s” family in the name of feeling more safe in a country that is actually very, very safe.
I’m not going to hold my tongue about it anymore, or be cute and pretend I’m bipartisan. I’m not. Especially in this election, where we have what we have. I’m already accepting a Trump win in the primary, I honestly believe it will happen now.
So, while I lose no sleep over this whatsoever because not a single person I know in real life is a Trump vote, I’m going to say it anyways, if only to get it into print so I feel better.
A vote for Donald J. Trump is a vote for anarchy. It is a vote against not just “everyone’s” self-interests, but your own. It is a vote that is only born out of a negative quality; only ignorance, idiocy, or hatred leads to a vote for Trump. He is a used-car salesman selling you a pinto with a fresh coat of paint. He is a blackjack dealer, only dealing a game where he knows he will win. He is the embodiment of everything wrong with America, and it’s incredibly saddening and disappointing to me that a significant part of our voting population is ignorant, stupid, or hateful enough to check the box next to his name.
If you’re reading this, and you honestly feel Donald Trump deserves your vote, I implore you, look within yourself. Ask yourself why a shady billionaire with no political experience has any chance to do anything good for your country. Ask yourself if you want a president who is a known misogynist. Ask yourself if you want a president who has received a Stone Cold Stunner. Ask yourself if a man who likes his steak well-done is deserving of sitting in the Oval Office.
If you still think Trump is the answer, then I don’t know what you say to you. You’re either ignorant, stupid, or hateful. And you’re proud of it.