As noted in a recent post, I frequently asked myself and others over the past year or so why Trump wouldn’t be elected, and although occasionally I allowed myself to think he would not, I never really believed that a significant percentage of White voters wouldn’t vote for him–or do something with their vote equally as stupid. My realism or pessimism was based on two assumptions: the U.S. remains a deeply, perhaps fatally, White Supremacist nation (empire), and its misogyny is also difficult to over-estimate, even among women.
Now that Trump is President, I find myself asking questions that are, in their specifics, perhaps more alarming than “Why wouldn’t they -White Americans – elect a White Supremacist, sexually predatory, misogynistic, politically irrational man?”
Such as . . .
- Why wouldn’t Trump deploy nuclear weapons? What is to stop him? Not the military structure, and not the governmental structure, not the advisers he is appointing, and not his capacity to make sober judgments or think about consequences. He embodies nihilistic impulsiveness.
- Why wouldn’t Trump’s presidency approve of/instigate even more violence against Blacks, LGBQT persons, Latinos, the press, and anyone perceived to be Left of Himmler? We already know his administration will be White Supremacist and misogynist, and we already know the sadistic nature of his campaign and his rallies. And we can see how racist police personnel and White nationalists are emboldened, further licensed to spread misery and lethal harm. (The FBI warned in 2006 of significant infiltration by White Supremacists in American police departments.) Trump’s apparent pick for Attorney General is the Segregationist Jeff Sessions, who regards the NAACP and the ACLU as un-American and “Communist.” For what this appointment might mean, see this article: Jeff Sessions
- Why wouldn’t Trump wreck the national and global economy? His own business-management “style” seems to be reckless and sometimes hopelessly inept. His main skills are bullying, cheating, and declaring bankruptcy. His personality is such that he focuses mainly on looting, and now he may loot the largest economy in the world. We also know how vacuous he is with regard to history, economics, law, and–well, anything involving complexity. You might even say his campaign was the anti-knowledge, anti-complexity campaign. The debates made that plain. One participant was informed and rational (Clinton); the other, not.
People recoil from such questions, and why wouldn’t/shouldn’t they? They want everything to seem all right, and they just want to get through their day. Plus a significant majority of White people expect great (positive) things from Trump, not great disasters, in spite of mountains of evidence pointing (along the Bayesian spectrum of probability) to the contrary. They view is having been elected with relief and joy, ecstasy.
Few people find comfort in acknowledging the likelihood of enormous disasters because, well, such acknowledgement requires discomfort and discourages the normalization or minimization of evil. I can’t seem to put away these and other questions only because they seem logical to me, but that’s probably not a good enough reason to keep bothering people with them (this blog post notwithstanding).
A final question, one that is, I hope, less dour, alarmist, and cautiously pessimistic–and more academic: Is there a future for rhetoric, for public discourse that is in some fashion tethered to reason, logic, and some evidence? It now seems an eon ago that a lot of us were concerned about “truthiness,” that slurring/blurring of accuracy, agreed upon facts, and well defined terms. Now the greater problem seems to be a complete rejection even of discourse that pretends to be rational. For one main rhetorical message of the Trump campaign was anti-rhetorical. It was “Shut up if you don’t agree with me.” Secretary Clinton’s knowledge of and experience with policy and her debate-preparation meant almost nothing when pitted against the beastly irrationality of Trump’s movement. And I lost count of the Trump supporters who proclaimed, “I don’t care what he says–I support him.” That seems like a post-rhetoric, post-propaganda stance. Cultish. Will rhetoric be relegated to a hobby played by people who seek escape from the futility of trying to stop what Trump and his gangs will do?