Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or staying in your underground nuclear fallout shelter), you’ve perhaps noticed that the presumptive Republican nominee for president is none other than walking human internet comments section Donald Trump. This giant man-baby with a dead Guinea pig for hair has succeeded in the election for 3 very basic reasons:
1. He’s filthy rich which seems to make him immune to accountability for the awful things he spouts, or for having no idea what facts are. Also? People assume that being rich automatically makes you a successful human being.
2. He knows how to play to the baser nature of people which is why people think his having no political experience and saying anything stupid racist thing that pops in his head works. He’s a walking reality show, and America has proven it loves a televised train-wreck like this election.
3. Americans are seemingly on the whole, willfully ignorant, bordering at times on outright stupid. Not all people of course. Some, I assume, are intelligent people. But Americans have embraced a very anti-intellectual ‘I think with my gut’, ‘I want someone I can have a beer with running the country’ attitude for decades. It was the type of mindless political rallying Stephen Colbert used to brilliantly parody. They don’t watch the news, they watch ‘Real Housewives’ and sports. They don’t read books, they play video games. They base who they vote on by how confident that candidate seems, if they’re good-looking, and if they believe in G-d. They want prayer in schools, they want evolution to be taught as a ‘theory’ in schools alongside Creationism, and they cannot fathom why anyone would want to go to the bathroom with a transgendered person. This is a country behind most of the Western world in academics and with tremendous shrinkage in the middle class. Our infant mortality rate is abysmal compared to other first world nations, and we refuse to teach safe sex properly in schools; forsaking birth control for abstinence which has been proven a highly ineffective tool against STD’s and teen pregnancy. Our health care system favors the insurance companies and punishes the poor by inadvertently killing them when they cannot pay for proper medical treatment. Even though the Supreme Court legalized the right for LGBTQ people to marry, there are states who still fight against the law of the land because somehow two people of the same gender who love each other getting married somehow affects the equilibrium of the world in some terrible way I still have yet to comprehend. We are also a racist country. President Obama has been blamed for everything from the slow growth of our economy to the Zika virus. Gun sales and militia memberships skyrocketed when our first Black President took office. That is no coincidence. From slavery to Trayvon Martin, things are pretty ugly in terms of racial disparity and it doesn’t look likely to let up anytime soon, with anger on both sides of the aisle. This is a country, if you recall, that had our own apartheid long after slavery was outlawed, and to keep things as segregated as possible enlisted numerous politicians and lawmakers across the country (but largely in the ‘We Refuse to Admit We Lost The War’ Deep South) to secretly pledge their allegiance to the Klu Klux Klan. Now we have a man who proudly boasts about wanting to build a multi-million dollar wall to keep certain people out of the country. Not so different, is it?
How then, knowing all of this (and so much more I have neither the space nor time to get into) is it any wonder that a capitalist, xenophobic, sexist, arrogant asshole like Donald Trump is climbing the polls? He’s like a wealthier, male version of Sarah Palin. For fuck’s sake, we elected George W. Bush TWICE, a smirking, frat boy -cowboy dunce cap who ran our country damn near into the ground. We have serious amnesia about Ronald Regan’s time in office. He was neither bright, nor capable, nor qualified, and I have no doubt that the national AIDS epidemic at that time might have been quelled much quicker had he at least acknowledged it, instead of condemning the gay population with judgmental silence.
America has done this to Herself. I know a LOT of highly intelligent folks from all swaths of the political and religious valleys we have. And I do think we have great qualities as a country full of freedom and opportunities most other places just don’t have. But the rise of Donald Trump is proof that we are rooting for our own demise if he continues to succeed. Without such a fervent audience he would simply be another rich ass-clown throwing his rug into the media-happy election fray. What legitimizes him is the people who show up at his rallies, who vote for him in the primaries, who stick his signs on their lawn. By proclaiming their support for Trump, they are proclaiming their support for racism, for sexism, and for it being perfectly acceptable to run the country purely based on having a lot of money (which he would never have had if it weren’t for his wealthy father), rather than on the actual political acumen and experience it is absolutely necessary to do so for the good of the nation.
America was never truly great, it was only great to the people who benefited from it most: wealthy, white men. But it has been good in some places, terrible in others like most other countries. Supporting Donald Trump sends a far more troubling message to the world. It’s saying we want to make America worse than the parts that are already not so great. We need to make America great, not out of some faux nostalgia for an America that never was, but for an America we would love to be, that we could be if we worked harder at fixing it. That will not happen with Donald Trump, or the unity of his frightening followers.