Today I read about the 39 year old Honduran father, Marco Antonio Muñoz, who committed suicide in his jail cell, the day after his son was taken away from him after they crossed the Mexican border in an effort to seek asylum. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new policy of separation six days prior, apparently hoping it would serve as a deterrent for further migration into the United States. I haven’t really seen any serious attempts to defend this policy yet, instead Trump’s base tends to insist the policy was inherited from the Obama administration. This assertion is easy to disprove for anyone willing to take the effort however, the previous administration always attempted to avoid separating children from their parents. As I argued a few months ago, the Trump administration is going to be a dark period no sane person will want to publicly associate their name with.
It should be obvious by now the Trump administration has proved itself to be both cruel and incompetent. Whereas his predecessors, Republicans as well as Democrats, spent a lot of time trying to understand the intricacies of the issues they had to form a judgement on, Trump receives one page memos, with mostly graphs. His “muslim ban” proved a failure and contributed to the demise of Steve Bannon. Trump insists on having Lou Dobbs give his thoughts through the phone during white house meetings, because Trump happens to like what he has to say on TV. The examples of his stupidity are numerous, I stopped paying attention to them.
The more important point I feel needs to be made here however, is that Trump’s election was entirely the result of factors that should have been addressed. It’s not sheer coincidence, that Trump is universally despised among those in positions of power, yet tacitly supported by those who have been socially and economically marginalized. Trump was elected due to anger, cynicism and a desire for vengeance. Except for the most ignorant, Trump’s supporters didn’t genuinely expect he would make a good competent president. They tend to refer to their motivations in cryptic terms. Trump was supposed to “shake things up”. On 4chan, the Trump subreddit and other corners of the Internet, it was never really clear whether people genuinely sincerely endorsed Trump or merely ironically supported him. Trump was a joke, a jester, a trickster deity, who somehow become president.
So how then, did he become president? The answer is that in certain corners of society there is deep-seated resentment, in regards to the changes that have taken place over the past few decades. The response to this resentment hasn’t been to take serious measures to address it. Instead, the response has generally been to refer to those people as losers or some alternative term meant to convey the same insult and to insist they need to get over it. People who feel upset in regards to the demographic transformation of their homeland in their own lifetime are said to be white supremacists. People upset about the annihilation of stable family units and the stigmatization of masculinity are said to be misogynists. Under such circumstances where nobody seems likely to genuinely address their grievances, people become willing to simply sabotage the system as a whole.
Trump wasn’t elected to “fix things”. The people who voted for Trump tend to be people who don’t believe things can be fixed for them anymore. At this point, the primary desire is mostly to get even with the people they feel screwed them over, to drag them down into the abyss. As an example, nobody genuinely considers it professional behavior for Trump to spend his time insulting various media figures. Trump should be understood, not as a politician, but as a manifestation of psychological forces. Those forces are anger and grief.
A lot of people, like Madeleine Albright, are drawing analogies between Trump and fascism. What they seem to miss, is that the similarity is a product of the fact that both the rise of Hitler and the rise of Trump were caused by deep-seated feelings of anger, humiliation and grief. Albright in all her interviews yaps on endlessly about how she has had a “wonderful life” and now feels the need to warn everyone about the patently obvious as a dense of duty. She seems to miss the big issue, which is that people vote for Trump when they haven’t had a “wonderful life”. People like Trump and Hitler take legitimate grievances and translate them into political power.
This is about as far as the comparison goes. I don’t expect Trump to unleash a genocide or a world war. I think it’s unlikely he’ll be reelected. Instead he’s simply going to accomplish exactly what his base desires, which is to leave destruction in his wake. Trump’s base has no desire to transition to renewable energy, they stocked up on guns and canned food because they had hoped the lights would have gone out by now. If Trump brings down the economy, a couple of banks are annihilated and your communication sciences degree leaves you unemployable and with no other option than to abandon your pixie haircut and perform sexual favors for a high school dropout who is good at tinkering with motorcycles, Trump can consider his mission accomplished. The point here is not to fix anything. The goal is status inversion. The uncool people, with poor taste, undervalued skills, poor social competence and maligned heritage want to get even. It’s a revolt of people with Budweiser in their fridge against those with Kombucha tea.
The fact that his opposition doesn’t understand this allowed him to get elected. There are entire towns with people who have no stake in the game anymore. The election of Trump came as a shock to people living in the big cities, who manage to effectively shelter themselves from what goes on around them. It’s the same reason Brexxit came as a shock to them. Of course it comes as a shock if you shelter yourself in your ideological bubble. If I insist on not trying to notice any smoke because I’m enjoying my hike, a forest fire would come as a shock to me too.
I remember an author who decried all the relationships that would never form because of Britain’s exit from the EU. The reality is that people who voted to leave don’t plan on studying abroad in Spain to lure a tall, dark and handsome Fernando into the apartment their parents pay for. The people who voted to leave are uncool. They work mediocre jobs a Polish lady is willing to do for half their hourly wage, as she splits her rent with five other migrants. As hard as it might be to understand when you surround yourself with cool people, uncool people do exist and we’re allowed to vote too.