by Shelton Bumgarner
I am deeply troubled by the continued popularity of Donald Trump. Each time I feel like we’ve reached a critical mass in regards to how profoundly unqualified he is to be president, we zoom right past it to the next crisis. We’ve had eight years of No Drama Obama and now we risk lurching dramatically to Idiocracy.
I have begun to feel a little helpless. Right thinking people stare in amazement at Trump’s statements, expecting him to finally implode, and it never happens. The more erratic and scary Trump becomes — and the more of a kiss-ass to Russia’s Putin he is — the more I have to take a deep breath whenever I contemplate the notion of him as president. But I check the polls every day and they don’t look good. He is essentially tied with Hillary Clinton right now. Think about that for a moment. Donald Trump who says such outrageous things is essentially tied with a season pol like Hillary Clinton.
What does that mean about what is going on in America right now? How is it that roughly 30% of the population can look you in the eye and say they want to vote for someone like Donald Trump. He wants to make America great again, but when was it never great? What exact period in time does he want us to go back to, and why?
The great irony of this election is the part of Reagan, the party that in 1984 told us is was morning again in America, now wants us to be scared. Trump wants us to not see the sun shining on a city on the hill, but rather a darkness at noon on a ghetto. He wants us to wallow in our own filth of dispair and anger. Trump wants us, in a sense, to embrace the Dark Side of the American experience.
This doesn’t even begin to address Trump’s completely bonkers policies when it comes to foreign relations. He openly kowtows to Russia’s Putin, almost inviting him to invade the weaker members of the NATO alliance. And he does this all in the open. He’s not hiding this. And none of this seems to get any traction. It boggles my mind.
I struggle to figure out what the appeal of Trump’s message is. The only thing I can come up with is a lot of center-right people feel disenfranchised and they want radical change. In any other country, we would risk a civil war. But the United States expresses it in a political counter revolution. An element of the electorate wants to turn back the clock to some fuzzy point in the past when everything was apparently better.
They want to do this because of fear. A lot of that fear comes from the right wing echo chamber that will brook no dissent when it comes to issues like gun advocacy, or their concept of the traditional marriage or whatever. Trump taps into that fear and compounds it, exacerbates it in an opportunistic fashion.
Thus, whenever I try to use the typical tools of friendly political debate with a Trump supporter it turns ugly, quickly. It turns ugly in a manner that is troubling, to say the least. I hate to keep bringing this up in my writing, but the similarities between this election cycle and that of Germany in 1933 are spooky. But what’s worse, is all of this is happening in broad daylight. With Germany, there was violence and no social media. With Trump in 2016, he is using social media to further his agenda. As I keep saying, do we really want to elect a Twitter troll president?
And, yet, we really risk, at this point, that happening. There is a real chance that Trump will be the next president of the United States despite all the verbiage, all the hand wringing, and all the eye rolling. Trump could be the most powerful elected official on earth and yet have the temperament of a teenage girl. (With very big fingers, mind you.)
Again, as I have stated before, I don’t pin my hopes on impeaching Trump. If Trump wins, we’re going to have to work on the assumption that he’s in it for the whole four years. Apparently about 30% of the population really wants chaos. They want bloodsport in their politics.
Not to belabor a point, but this brings me, yet again, to what the reaction to a Trump victory would be. After the shock and awe wore off, the center-Left in the United States would probably be galvanized. Maybe. I’d like to think so, at least. I’d like to think that the progressive movement in the United States would suddenly have a lot more guts than it has in recent years.
These are things we have to think about. We can no longer laugh off the possibility of a Trump presidency. It could really happen, folks. May God have mercy on our souls.
Shelton Bumgarner is a writer and photographer living in Richmond, Va. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.