Angry and stupid is a dangerous combination for America and the world.
I have decided that my life matters, so I can’t countenance a Donald Trump victory and another Republican Congress. If this seems a bit self-indulgent, it is. I am trying to figure out what the Republican Party has done for me lately, so I can help the rest of America figure out what it has done for them.
The simple answer is a resounding “nothing.” So why does the simple answer seem to be so difficult for way too many people to embrace? Let’s see: no raise in social security or the minimum wage; underfunded public education for my child and theirs; gridlock on the roads with underfunded public transportation; climate change denial in the face of tornadoes and floods; evolution denial in the face of medical advances that really save lives; war as the only way to confront fear; and more guns to decrease domestic violence. I could keep going, but this should be enough to make my point.
At a minimum, 40% of the American voting public is going to vote for Trump. With a deeply flawed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party candidate and aging party leadership that inspires more contempt than enthusiasm, there is always the possibility that Trump can win.
Angry, Under-Educated, White, Rural Americans
So it is worth trying to figure out just who makes up this 40% and how they can be so attracted to a pathological narcissist with so little regard for them or policy options that favor them? The first, and perhaps most difficult group to understand, are a bunch of angry, under-educated, white, rural Americans who claim to have been left behind by whatever passes for prosperity in America.
Their standard bearer Trump is a rich white guy from New York who openly admits that his personal greed drives him to do whatever is necessary to succeed at the expense of others. He has probably never been near a trailer park. And just for good measure, he is married to a very lovely immigrant who came to America to steal a job and a rich husband from someone’s very lovely American daughter.
Now because I like to fish and hang out in the great outdoors, I have been exposed to quite a few folks from this group over the years. Yet I have never heard a single one of them say that greedy rich guys from New York who live in penthouses and hang out in country clubs are really dedicated to developing new policy initiatives that will address the group’s concerns.
To be sure, just the opposite is true. Most of these folks know that greedy rich guys from New York are enriching themselves at the expense of black, Latino and angry, under-educated white Americans by undermining what should be a communal compact between those who produce and those who benefit from the production of others. In simpler terms, these folks know that greedy rich guys from New York use them.
So why are they voting for Trump. The answer isn’t kind: They don’t like black folks, immigrants or “liberals” like me (even though I fish quite a bit). So the first guy who comes along willing to openly share their contempt and guide them to a white promised land seems like the messiah. They will vote for Trump and be angry if he doesn’t win.
Educated, Middle-Class, White Suburbanites
But there aren’t enough in this group to carry the day, so let’s move on to another, bigger, more troubling group: educated, middle-class, white suburbanites who have benefited from what passes for prosperity in America but fear that they and their children could end up like the first group if they are forced to share with blacks, Latinos and immigrants. This group is always angry about paying taxes that support something more than their self-interest.
Many of these folks are locked in some 1950s sitcom world where everybody had their place, father knew best, and the little woman really could make a great spaghetti sauce while keeping the house neat as a pin. This is a group that fights change unless it only benefits them. These are the folks that want their homeless shelters in someone else’s neighborhood, the snow plowed off of their streets first, and a gun or two around to make sure that their home is safe.
These folks are scared and have allowed their fear to overwhelm any sense of community. Their version of the public good is limited to what they believe is good for them alone. They are attracted to Trump’s “substance,” not his style. They sense that he shares their view that “well-intentioned,” hardworking, white folks who have their own slice of Americana are the backbone of the nation. They seem to believe he will protect them, even if they wish he were a little less bellicose in doing so.
Unfortunately, the folks in this latter group actually vote, often without saying much to anyone about their choice. They are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Colorado and the like. If Trump wins, they will know that their quiet and self-centered voices have been heard. You will know that, despite Trump’s promise, America will not be great again.
US political pundits often incongruously begin their observations about the apparent ignorance of the voting public by saying: “American voters aren’t stupid.” Well, I think that at least 40% of them are if the dictionary definition of “stupid” is to be believed. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “stupid” as: not intelligent: having or showing a lack of ability to learn and understand things; not sensible or logical.”
Try Figure This One Out
So if you are trying to figure out what the hell is going on in America, focus on those angry and stupid voters who fervently believe that their nation is the greatest nation on earth and are mesmerized by a blowhard who promises to make the nation great again. Then try to figure that one out: America the now great will be America the great again.
If you are not angry and stupid, this may seem confusing at best and pathetic at worst. Either way, you can be certain of one thing: Angry and stupid is a dangerous combination for me, for America and for the world.
*[A version of this article was also featured on Larry Beck’s blog, Hard Left Turn.]
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
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