‘Grapes of Wrath’ author John Steinbeck, then a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, wrote this to his best friend in 1943, “All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins – it never will – but that it doesn’t die.”
So, whenever I see reasonable friends’ over-the-top, terrified and/or horrified reactions to something those unyielding Trump supporters said, I get far more horked off at them then I do with Agent Orange’s glee club.
For our purposes, when I say “Trump supporter” I’m talking about the diehard base variety who fervently believe the President operates under a veil of papal infallibility and nothing can convince them otherwise.
The reason I get ticked off at these fine friends is they’re the smart ones. They should know better. They should understand that, like a plague bacillus, these fear-driven, angry-at-the-world sad people have always been with us. They may bide their time in the dark political corners during the good times, but when some charismatic leader, economic disaster, or major cultural shift comes along, they emerge en masse to spew their venom and try to take control.
And as that great philosopher Meatloaf once said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.” You see, we’re currently presiding over death of the white majority and Donald Trump knows how to play those fears like a concertmaster with a Stradivarius.
Like that ubiquitous Big Bang background radiation, no matter where you look, 33 percent of our fellow Homo Sapiens are always ready, willing, and eager to hop on the next dictator’s bandwagon. And that ride lasts until good people finally wake up and beat them back into submission, only to have their doomed-to-repeat-history children fight the very same fight.
It’s just like Steinbeck said.
This dynamic starts with people who, instead of developing an inner strength they can depend upon in dark times, look outside themselves for self-definition. And as it is with all such self-worth substitutes, external validation becomes a voracious addiction that no political circumstances can possibly satisfy.
Since most of our lives are beyond our control, every negative possibility becomes a direct attack on these individuals, who can’t take responsibility for their lives because any misfortune is always someone else’s fault. Eventually, those perceived attacks put them in a state of perpetual panic where anyone who doesn’t believe exactly what they believe is perceived as a threat.
It’s a very elaborate mental self-defense construct which would be quite remarkable if it wasn’t so destructive.
The best example is the Koch brothers who, despite vast wealth, won’t be happy until every last one of us are poor. And if that was the case, with no one left to go after, they’d turn on each other.
That’s how addictions work.
Though she correctly identified them as “deplorables,” not only did Hilary Clinton fail to connect with that 33 percent (and far more), but her unfortunate statement drove them ever deeper into the Trump camp. The President may harbor an amoral fifth grade mentality, but like that occasionally accurate broken clock, he’s the master of exploiting this external validation game because narcissists implicitly understand how to do it.
Journalist Fareed Zakaria compared Trump supporters to a cult, but though I greatly respect the man, he’s dead wrong. Cults revolve around an etched-in-stone central theology, require a strict hierarchy, and thrive on law and order. While that certainly describes Scientology, it certainly ain’t Donald Trump who’s all over the bleepin’ place – on the same day!
But in the end, it doesn’t matter, because as long as Trump feeds his rabid base’s validation addiction with proclamations like:
- Build a wall
- Mexicans are rapists and murderers
- Fake news
- Muslim travel ban
- Haitian immigrants all have aids
- African shithole countries
- NFL players should stand for the anthem
- White supremacists are very fine people
there is no amount of logic that will dissuade them from canonizing him in their minds. Since surgically removing their lips from his ample ass won’t work either, it’s time to stop putting any energy into his followers, because it’s a waste of time and it only makes them dig in further.
Ah! But there is a newer meme floating around the Net that finally gets it right. It states that, while we’ll never change Trump supporters’ minds, we generally rational people greatly outnumber them. And come November, that’s all that really matters.
If we bring our numbers to bear, we can strip Trump of his Congressional support in 2018 and defeat him in 2020.
The truth is, the nefarious people on this planet are always in the minority, it’s their insistent anger and fear that motivates them act more often than the rest of us. It’s only when the good folks flag in their intentions that the 33 percent rear their ugly heads – again.
Since Trump supporters will always be with us, the key, according to existentialist philosopher and author Albert Camus, is to maintain a “constant vigilance” such that they remain in their dark corners. I couldn’t possibly put it better than he did in the last paragraph from, ‘The Plague:’
And, indeed, as he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux remembered that such joy is always imperiled. He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.
Vigilance my friends! It’s the only thing that ever works.