What to make of the people who still support the Donald at this point in time?

On Sunday night, at the last possible moment that he could, President Drumpf finally signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which combined a $900 billion stimulus relief bill with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for the 2021 federal fiscal year. This includes twelve separate annual appropriations bills, and coincidentally, prevents another government shutdown.

(What, there was the potential for another government shutdown? If you’re like me you can’t believe that these effing idiots up there in Congress are still flirting with government shutdowns. Haven’t we proven yet that those don’t work, just like “trickle down” economics?)

Recently, while Trump has been having his month-long shitfit about losing the election — while providing absolutely no evidence that it was rigged, except perhaps in his favor — there have been a number of interesting pieces written about what to make of the American citizens who still support the Donald after all of this nonsense.

I’m going to focus on three particular articles that I came across, although I’m sure that there are many more making similar points.

1. Tom Nichols in the Atlantic

An article by the author Tom Nichols in the Atlantic, entitled Engaging With Trump’s Die-Hard Supporters Isn’t Productive (whose title presents Nichols’ central argument), allows the author to argue:

There is no such thing as “Trumpism.” No content anchors it; no program or policy comes from it. No motivating ideology stands behind it, unless we think of general grievance and a hatred of cultural and intellectual elites as an “idea.” And when views are incoherent and beliefs are rooted in fantasies, compromise is impossible. Further engagement is not only unwarranted, but it can also become counterproductive.

Tom Nichols in the Atlantic

2. Mac Stipanovich in the Tampa Bay Times

An article by Mac Stipanovich, the former Chief of Staff to Florida Gov. Bob Martinez, in which he argues that A basic fact about Trumpism is now clear: it has a core myth of a rebirth of a nation of “Real Americans.” Stipanovich writes:

Trumpism is palingenetic, meaning its core myth is of a rebirth, of the redemption of an idealized nation of Real Americans from the decadence and corruption, cultural and political, of effete liberal elites and malevolent socialists.

Trumpism is a classic cult of personality, complete with fervid rallies for the gobsmacked faithful, public bootlicking by obsequious lackeys and hagiographic creations of a Trump legend from the tawdry dross of his actual life. Largely devoid of substantive content and, as a result, unsuited to actual governing, Trumpism is sustained by political theater, whether in the form of flag-waving boat parades or manufactured crises like border invasions.

Mac Stipanovich in the Tampa Bay Times

3. Rebecca Solnit in the Literary Hub

The feminist writer Rebecca Solnit authored a piece in the Literary Hub on Not Meeting Nazis Halfway (or Why Is It So Hard for Democrats to Act Like They Actually Won?).

The piece begins by noting how much Democrats fretted in 2016 to try to understand why so many presumably reasonable people voted for Donald Trump, and spent enormous energy trying to figure out what “they” wanted.

What many of them wanted, it turns out, is to continue to live in a racist society where their white privilege would not be challenged or confronted.

Now in 2020, as more than 80 million people voted for Joe Biden, there is no corresponding Sturm and Drang in the right wing universe to try to figure out what Biden voters wanted. As Solnit observes in her article:

We are told to consider this bipartisanship, but the very word means both sides abandon their partisanship, and Mitch McConnell and company have absolutely no interest in doing that.

This is a standard complaint of the right: the real victim is the racist who has been called a racist, not the victim of his racism, the real oppression is to be impeded in your freedom to oppress.

Appeasement didn’t work in the 1930s and it won’t work now. In fact the whole Republican Party, since long before Trump, has committed itself to the antidemocratic project of trying to create a narrower electorate rather than win a wider vote. They have invested in voter suppression as a key tactic to win.

Rebecca Solnit in Literary Hub

Jumping off the work of George Lakoff and his seminal “Moral Politics” (in which Lakoff argues that conservatives and liberals hold two different conceptual models of morality: Conservatives have a strict father model in which people are made good through self-discipline and hard work, whereas liberals have a nurturant parent model in which everyone is taken care of by helping each other), Solnit writes:

Years ago the linguist George Lakoff wrote that Democrats operate as kindly nurturance-oriented mothers to the citizenry, Republicans as stern discipline-oriented fathers. But the relationship between the two parties is a marriage, between an overly deferential wife and an overbearing and often abusive husband. I grew up in an era where wives who were beaten were expected to do more to soothe their husbands and not challenge them, and this carries on as the degrading politics of our abusive national marriage.

That’s why the victors of the recent election are being told in countless ways to go grovel before the losers. Lakoff didn’t quite get to the point of saying that this nation lives in a household full of what domestic abuse advocates call coercive control, in which one partner’s threats, intimidations, devaluations, and general shouting down control the other.

This is what marriages were before feminism, with the abused wife urged to placate and soothe the furious husband. Feminism is good for everything, and it’s a good model for seeing that this is both outrageous and a recipe for failure. It didn’t work in marriages, and it never was the abused partner’s job to prevent the abuse by surrendering ground and rights and voice. It is not working as national policy either.

Rebecca Solnit in Literary Hub

I subscribe to this last notion, that the relationship between conservatives and progressives (my preferred term) has taken on the characteristics of an abusive relationship, in which one side is required to appease the other side without any compromise from the other side.

That is not going to work. And as has been observed metaphorically about liberals and progressives for a while now, collectively we have to grow a pair of cojones.

This is why it will not be okay to just let Donald Trump skate, regardless of how much he tries to pardon himself, and investigate what can be investigated, prosecute what can be prosecuted, and not worry so much about whether this will antagonize Trump supporters.

About a1skeptic

A disturbed citizen and skeptic. I should stop reading the newspaper. Or watching TV. I should turn off NPR and disconnect from the Internet. We’d all be better off.
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