The failure to defeat Donald Trump

There is something I have come to understand about Donald Trump’s campaign, and I hope those of you who read this post understand it too. The problem with Donald Trump is not limited to his illiberal and populist politics, his contempt for certain ethnic and religious groups of people (namely Mexicans and Muslims respectively), his desire to build a wall to keep out Mexican immigrants (and his contention that Mexico will actually pay for it), and his penchant for shilling easy answers and . The problem is that this guy is what a large section of working class Americans want: a working class that is sick and tired of being treated by the establishment as an unruly people whose voices need to be ignored and whose passions need to be tamed.

That’s why it’s sad that I find memes and posts from my friends that smack of progressive political posturing. Below is the text of one such meme I saw recently:

Let me say it in the simplest way possible. If you think Donald Trump is the best person qualified to be the President of the United States of America, YOU ARE A FUCKING IDIOT.

Do you see what is wrong with that statement? It’s as if the person who originally made that statement was expecting some kind of resounding applause from his/her peers. But more to the point, this is what Trump’s supporters are sick of hearing, which is why they are voting for Trump in the first place and will doubtless continue to do so. And that’s because they’re sick of the political establishment, they’re disappointed by Obama, and unlike Sanders’ voters don’t think that any significant change can come from the Democratic Party. And the more we all dismiss Trump as a racist, a populist, a lunatic, or whatever, the more convinced his voters are that he is the antidote to the political establishment. Even John Oliver failed to recognize this during his Donald Trump segment, and he’s same person who admitted that he can seem like a protest candidate to those fed up with the establishment, and the same person who stated that no matter how many times you can prove Trump to be demonstrably wrong, he doesn’t care. Is it any wonder that Oliver’s #MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain campaign did not work?

The problem here is we’ve dismissed the people who now vote for Trump as equal members of our “society”, opting instead to view them as children or worse – people whose views are not only wrong, but also immoral and chiefly for not conforming to the political establishment. And the fact is that referring to Trump’s voters as idiots, looking at them as they are monsters for voting for a candidate they consider monstrous (which by the way, guilt by association much?) is only proof to Trump’s voters that the political establishment is suppressing them and treating them as inferiors – the very thing they are fed up with. It’s like fundamentalist Christians with their persecution complexes: when you refute their beliefs and ridicule them, they probably just take it as persecution, and by proxy a part of their God’s plan on Earth (which apparently states that increased persecution of Christians is one of the signs that Judgement Day is coming). To stop Trump, his voters need to be convinced that he will not represent their interests and . But it requires that we start treating them as adults and thinking more about their self-interest than the raging moralism that usually comes with combating Trump and trying to dissaude his voters – which isn’t working. Until then, Trump’s ascent to political power is all but unstoppable. I imagine, though, that it’ll be damn hard to convince Trump’s voters that he doesn’t represent their interests considering that now they’re only choices are Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. I don’t like Donald Trump or his rise to political power, but it’s the truth.

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5 responses to “The failure to defeat Donald Trump

  1. Well, it’s a case-by-case evaluation. Some of his supporters ARE idiots (I prefer “poorly educated”), some are racists, some are sexists, some hate Clinton irrationally, some have long habits of voting against their own interests, some assume things about their candidate that aren’t true, and some vote Republican their whole lives “because Daddy and Momma did”. There are variety of flawed reasons. You have to counter their arguments depending on the individual basis for the support, and there’s no single formula or approach in tone. The man’s a bully. He has to be taken down both by deconstructing the flimsiness of the idea content AND through artful ridicule, because sometimes comedy gets through walls logic won’t.

    • You make a good point about approaching each argument individually depending on the specific basis of support, but I don’t know how much comedy and satire can do because the man is already a joke. He got laughed at when he decided to run for President, and now he’s pretty much getting the Republican nomination unopposed. And as I already wrote, John Oliver’s viral campaign against Trump has not worked. He’s been ridiculed and satirized for his entire campaign and neither him nor his supporters care. So I don’t know how much comedy can do.

      • I’m not as convinced the Drumpf thing didn’t work. Here in WA I see “Make Donald Drumpf Again” caps every couple of days. Another comic tacks that has stuck is his obsession with his omnipotent dick, lately referenced by SNL cast singing allegiance to “His penis big and true!” The fake hair (We shall over-comb, there will be hell toupee etc.), orange spray tanned skin (People of color LOVE me, I’m one of them!), and the fact he himself can’t let go of, or get over a 30 year-old joke about his hand size all have a cumulative effect.

        When someone that easy to caricature does get elected, it also helps neutralize their influence. I believe ridicule was a factor in LBJ deciding it wasn’t worth the hassle to run again, and in Nixon’s resignation.

      • I don’t know how to answer. I don’t know what the best people can hope for is. Some are hoping these candidates will die before election day. Does that make it best? Having better candidates in the first place might be best, but maybe what’s best is to have poor ones, so the system collapses. I haven’t got a crystal ball. Whatever happens, I’m confident I can adapt. We’ve elected doofuses, crooks and liars before. Some of the Presidents between 1802-1860 were real wastes of space, and then there’s Harding 😀

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