Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trump Card

Careful... Sometimes, the court jester is the guy who has the last laugh.
This picture was part of an e-mail that I received that sought to tie the Republican Party as a whole to the comments that Donald Trump made about migrants from Mexico. The body of the e-mail implied that Republicans were a) quietly racist/anti-immigrant, b) vocally racist/anti-immigrant and/or c) eager to vote Donald Trump, or someone like him, into the office of President of the United States of America. It was a reminder of how the world was going to end if a Republican won the race for the White House next year, and all predicated on the question of: "Does Donald Trump accurately represents the Republican Party?"

To which the answer is simple: "Of course he does." Not because the Republican Party is wall to wall anti-immigrant, racist nativists, but because any political movement as large as the Grand Old Party is going to have some loathsome people in it. The picture of the GOP painted by Donald Trump is, in that sense, accurate, but it neither complete nor nuanced. While openly racist and anti-immigrant sentiment likely isn't anything approaching a majority position within the modern Republican party, the "Pale, stale and male" demographic is a real one. And Donald Trump is reaching those people because he is giving them license to express (and perhaps vote) their fears about a future that they're convinced isn't shaping up to be kind to them. While crusaders for Social Justice my be convinced that the people who have been on top for most of American history should step aside with good grace, the fact remains that they have the most to lose, and few things motivate people like loss aversion.

Lost in the posturing and finger-pointing over Trump's original comments is perhaps the most important part of what he said.
When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're sending people that have lots of problems...they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
"When Mexico sends its people."

That right there was pretty much guaranteed to win Trump some support among people who fear for their future and for the future of what they imagine the United States to be. Because it hints at a conspiracy.
But the problem we have is that their leaders are much sharper, smarter and more cunning than our leaders, and they’re killing us at the border. They’re taking our jobs. They’re taking our manufacturing jobs. They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.
It's an explanation for what's going on that people on the losing end of history have grasped at for ages - the changes that are coming for them are not the result of bad luck, or resting too long on one's laurels - they're the result of schemes and plots to deprive people of their just deserts.

The picture that was chosen of Mr. Trump to accompany the e-mail was chosen, I expect, because it makes him out to look clownish and unserious. But the fears of an aging White male demographic are, as we used to say, serious like a heart attack. Laughing at the messenger won't change that.

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