Feb. 22, 2016 10:09am
Dear Donald Trump Fan,
I’m going to tell you the truth, friend.
You say you want the truth. You say you want someone who speaks boldly and brashly and bluntly and “tells it like it is” and so on. According to exit polls in South Carolina, voters who want a president who “tells it like it is” are an essential demographic for Trump, just as they’re an essential demographic for Judge Judy and Dr. Phil. You say you want abrupt and matter-of-fact honesty, and you want it so much, you’ll make a man president for it regardless of whether he defies every principle and value you claim to hold.
Personally, I think you’re lying, and I’m going to test my theory. In fact, I believe I’ve already proven my theory because you’re now offended that I called you a liar. But Trump has called half of the Earth’s population a liar at some point over the past seven months, and you loved every second of it. You said you loved it not out of cruelty or spite, but out of admiration for a man who’s willing to call people liars — even if he’s lying when he does it.
Yet here I am employing the same tactic — accurately, I might add — and you recoil indignantly. Over the course of this campaign season I’ve said many harsh words about you and your leader, all of which I stand by, but you’ve never respected my harsh words, or the harsh words of any Trump critic. Indeed, you insist that our tough criticism of you only vindicates your support of Trump, while Trump’s vulgar and dishonest criticism of everyone else also vindicates your support of Trump. You’re tired of people being critical, but you love Trump because he’s critical. You say you like Trump for his style, but you hate his style when it’s directed at him or you.
You say you like Trump for his style, but you hate his style when it’s directed at him or you.
You say you want someone who’s politically incorrect. You’re so desperate for political incorrectness — a supremely ridiculous reason to vote a guy into the Oval Office, but never mind — that your esteem for him only grows when he belittles the disabled, mocks American prisoners of war, calls women dogs, calls his opponents p*ssies, calls for the assassination of women and children, says he’d like to have sex with his daughter, brags about his adultery, etc.
You’re excited by the most vile statements and most cretinous behavior imaginable — not remotely deterred by any of it, no matter how many times he gloats over infidelity, curses his opponents, and publicly ogles his own children — because, you say, it’s politically incorrect. That is how unfathomably desperate you are for someone to come along and just say what’s on their mind, you claim. You’re so fed up with political correctness that you celebrate political incorrectness without distinguishing between the healthy sort and the “LOL I slept with married women and I’m not sorry” sort. It doesn’t matter if you don’t personally agree, you say, you just respect the hell out of someone who’s willing to shoot straight, even when ”shooting straight” means comparing Ben Carson to a child molester, calling the entire electorate of Iowa stupid, and referring to women as “pieces of ass.”
Trump won South Carolina on the support of Evangelical Christians who were so impressed with his alleged straight talk that they overlooked the fact that he’s a crass, cruel, unrepentant philanderer who says he does not need God’s forgiveness, and who praises Planned Parenthood as “wonderful” and his radically pro-abortion sister as a “phenomenal” candidate for the Supreme Court. That’s how much you pretend to admire bluntness in a man. So much that it overrides literally everything else.
By your logic, then, you should be filled with an immense and irresistible affection for me when I call Donald Trump a crooked, underhanded con artist and you a reckless, ignorant dupe. You should fall madly in love with me when I accuse Donald Trump of being a spoiled, overgrown brat and you of being a cultish groupie enamored with fame. You should well up with pride and salute me as I mentioned that Donald Trump is a stuffed and soiled diaper sagging in the pants of American politics and you’re the poor, pitiful sap trying to elect it president. You don’t have to agree, but man, isn’t it refreshing that I’m willing to tell you what’s on my mind? Shouldn’t you leave a thousand comments under this article praising me for being politically incorrect, willing to attack not only Donald Trump but his blue collar supporters? In fact, if you’re sincere in your alleged regard for the bold and audacious approach, I expect you’ll have launched a nationwide write-in campaign for me by tomorrow morning.
But that’s not how this works, is it? You’ve already melted into a boiling puddle of rage and self-pity, haven’t you? You’re incensed and offended that I could be so “judgmental” and “dismissive” and “critical,” and 100 other qualities you find so orgasmically satisfying when they’re displayed by The Great Trump. You say you want some straight-shooting, honest, politically incorrect tough talk, but that’s simply a lie. If it were true, my inbox would not be filled to capacity with cartoonishly shocked and outraged Trump fans every time I utter a word of criticism in his direction. It shouldn’t matter that my criticisms are sharp and severe; you ought to revere me all the more for it. I thought you were tired of people walking on egg shells?
It turns out you don’t want Donald Trump to walk on egg shells, but you have fortified your own perimeter with a thick layer of egg shells and you expect anyone who comes near it to tip toe with extreme caution. It turns out you want to be coddled and cuddled and pandered to and excused. You’re in favor of whatever Trump says because Trump said it, but when it comes to how people talk about you and him, you expect to be treated like a soft and delicate flower.
You flock eagerly to a flamboyant, authoritarian billionaire fascist, and you feel you ought to be completely insulated from criticism while you do so. Everyone else ought to be subject to relentless and profane invective from an elderly Manhattan real estate heir, but you and he should be above reproach.
Tell it like it is? I’ll tell you like it is: In my life I’ve never encountered a group of people more averse to being told how it is. Of course, you believe you’re entitled to this attitude because you’re “angry.” Your “anger” indulges you with the moral authority to take leave of your reason and your common sense. Your anger, you believe, places you beyond judgment, even as you attempt to drag this country into a future of (more) tyranny and cultism. You believe the rest of us ought to take your supposedly righteous rage into account while you refuse to take anything but your own infatuation with spectacle and celebrity into account. Whatever concerns we raise, including the ones I’m raising now, can be written off in an instant. “WE’RE TIRED OF POLITICS AS USUAL! WE’RE ANGRY!” And that’s supposed to be some kind of rhetorical hall pass, permitting you to do and say what you please unchallenged.
Well let me be the first and perhaps the only to say this out loud, although millions of people share this sentiment quietly: I don’t care about your anger. There’s some more truth for you, friend. There’s some more “tellin’ it like it is.” Two can play at this game, you know. And the only difference is that I’m right.
I couldn’t take your anger seriously even if I wanted to. After all, you say you’re angry that people are too afraid to speak their minds, but, as we’ve established, you don’t really want anyone but Donald Trump to speak his mind.
You say you’re angry about the corruption in Washington, but you support a slimy swindler and fraudster who boasts of his bribery schemes and makes no apologies for shamelessly exploiting political corruption for personal gain.
You say you’re angry about illegal immigration, but you rally around a guy who supported amnesty as recently as 2013, employed illegal immigrants, and donated millions of dollars to open borders politicians like Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Hillary Clinton.
You say you’re angry about the establishment, but you worship a candidate who said only a few weeks ago that “you got to be a little establishment” in order to get things done, and who admits he “was the establishment” right until he ran for president.
You say you’re angry that Republicans won’t fight, but you hail as a warrior the same guy who says he’ll happily “work with the Democrats,” which probably explains why Sen. Harry Reid praised him and Jimmy Carter called him “malleable.” It is not uncommon for me to hear from Trump fans that they’re angry at “GOPe” Republicans for “cutting deals” and “compromising” in one breath, and in the very next that they want Trump because he’s really good at cutting deals and compromising.
Right down the list, you are blithely embracing every single thing you say you’re so angry about. Trump is the very embodiment of corruption, deception, cowardice, and elitism. He is precisely the sort of man you supposedly detest. Trump is exploiting America’s frustration with men like Trump. Trump is running against Trump. You are voting for Trump because you hate Trump. You are angry at politicians because they act like Trump and make deals like Trump and go to cocktail parties with men like Trump and look down on the little guy like Trump and possess the integrity of Trump, and so you’re solution is to elect Trump. Your anger at Trump leads you to Trump. Perhaps this explains why you’re so worried about politicians who are “controlled by donors,” but you aren’t at all concerned about a politicians who is the very donor you didn’t want controlling the political process. “I’m sick of these donors influencing the government! I have an idea: let’s make one president!”
Trump is the very embodiment of corruption, deception, cowardice, and elitism.
It seems more like schizophrenia than anger. Aside from chronic mental illness, there are only two explanations for a person who avidly supports the continuation of a thing because he’s angry at that thing: either he’s fantastically stupid, or he’s not actually angry at all.
Friend, I should tell you the most popular theory among non-Trump supporters is that you fall into the former category. When we talk to each other in private, almost everyone agrees you’re stupid. Again, you should, by your own words, hold me in the highest esteem for telling you this uncomfortable fact. People think you’re stupid, just as they thought about Barack Obama supporters in 2008.
The parallels between the two groups are indeed profound, as exit polls attest. Once again, people are voting because “they want change,” unconcerned by the fact that the change is ambiguous, non-specific, and, in fact, not really ”change” at all. A lot of people, grasping for an explanation as to how voters might be suckered by the same shtick three times in a row, just chalk it up to stupidity.
By the way, you should doubly love what I’m doing here because it appears very close to apophasis, which is a rhetorical device where the speaker coyly makes an accusation or insult in the context of denying or distancing himself from the unkind remark. “Many people believe my neighbor Jim is a thieving jerk who borrowed my garden hose last July and didn’t return it, but I’m not going to talk about it.” That kind of thing.
It’s a strategy Trump employs all the time, and you always go along with it, like when he called Megyn Kelly a bimbo by saying “I refuse to call Megyn Kelly a bimbo because that would be politically incorrect.” Like clockwork, you insisted that he didn’t call Megyn Kelly a bimbo; he merely brought up the fact that he would call her a bimbo if it weren’t so rude to do so.
Well, in similar fashion, I’m not calling you stupid, I’m just saying that other people call you stupid. You should therefore defend me against any accusation that I’ve called you stupid, just as you would Trump. But the difference is that I’m not being coy here. I really don’t think you’re stupid. I certainly don’t think I’m any smarter than you. I subscribe to the second theory: I don’t believe you’re really all that angry.
Your anger, to whatever extent it exists at all, is surface level. It’s a purely emotional experience, fed by a mob mentality. You’re angry in the way a rioter or looter is angry. Your temper might be flaring and your heart rate jumping and you might be filled with the uncontrollable urge to break a window, but underneath that anger is really something much closer to boredom and apathy. You don’t feel a real, intense, profound, deep and meaningful disgust at the corruption and malfeasance in Washington, because if you did there is simply no way you would support a man like Trump.
Unless, like I said, you’re stupid. But you aren’t stupid, and a non-stupid person, a serious person, who truly, deeply, intensely loathes the current state of affairs, who genuinely desires that his country be revived for the sake of his children, would not be turning to a blustery, boorish reality TV character with a catchphrase and a fake tan for answers.
I’m just telling it like it is here, friend. I’m telling you what’s on my mind. I’m being completely and painfully honest with you. I don’t believe your anger. I think you want a spectacle, not a solution. A celebrity, not a statesman. A circus performer, not a leader. I think you want to be entertained. I think you’re not taking this seriously enough. I think you’re intellectually lazy so you’ve accepted authoritarianism as a stand-in for strength. I think you’re following the trend of the day. I think you’re wrapped up in media hype.
In other words, I think your anger, if it exists, is misplaced. You should be angry at yourself, because if this country falls finally and irrevocably into despotism, it’ll be your fault. You’ll have chosen it. You’ll have elected it and applauded it. That, my friend, is what makes me angry.
And that’s just how it is.
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