It came to light this weekend that Trump viewed the Super Bowl at his West Palm Beach golf club with the owner of the Florida massage parlors recently busted for prostitution, with Patriots owner Robert Kraft swept up in the criminal dragnet. Apparently the parlor owner has been selling Chinese businessmen access to Trump at Mar A Lago. With any other president it would be an insane story but for Trump it’s just the same old sleazy backwater he has always swam in. Here’s coverage in Mother Jones:
Trump’s graceless, vulgar nonsense was on full display last week at the CPAC conference, and to any normal person his performance would have been experienced as a disgusting affront to everything our nation has held dear for the last century. But to the Trump cult, it was a pep rally. How could so many people be in thrall to a man so antithetical to everything the presidency used to stand for? How could so many people promote such a ridiculous and inept sleazeball? Michael Singer answers this question in an editorial in the Washington Post:
What Trump understands is that millions of Americans feel left behind by our politics. They are frustrated by everything about conventional politics, including the expectation that traditional rules like decency and dignified behavior will help solve their problems. They are ripe for a demagogue.
I don’t know if I fully agree with Singer, but his case is worth pondering and considering. The Americans he describes as “left behind” think of themselves as victims not because they actually ARE victims, but in many cases because they’ve been told they are victims for forty years by FOX “news” and other hard-right fearmongering outlets. Fear sells, and it’s been selling well for decades. The “left behind” crowd are learning to live in a world of greater equality, which to them feels like a world of oppression. They don’t want to compete on a level playing field with women and/or minorities, and it makes them angry and afraid. Trump’s anger and victim-signalling make them feel justified. Trump’s vulgarity is a feature, not a bug. It makes no sense to me, but it apparently makes sense to his cult.
I’m not sure if it makes any sense to try to convert or persuade the Trump cult, but I remain open to suggestion. It sure makes sense to get the progressive base fired up to vote him out of office. We will only lose if we don’t show up to the polls (or if Russia is able to directly hack our election results–forgive the cynicism), so we have to work on the things we can change, like getting voters to the polls.