I confess that I feel a bit slow-witted in my backward attempts to understand, on any level, the phenomenon of our current president’s popularity from his voting base. At the beginning of his campaign in 2016, I didn’t quite understand the frightening allure of the carnival medicine show so prominent in the media. The outrageous but hypnotic tactic of breaking all the rules of former decorum did catch our attention as a nation, but Trump’s vulgarity and transparent attempts to pretend thumbing his nose at the “establishment” appealed to the top and bottom levels of American voters.
First, there was the extremely wealthy upper two percent of Americans (Trump’s tax cut was, of course, for them). Then there was the lower echelon of our nation (those who struggle to make ends meet), who had seen Washington as greedy and corrupt as any other government in history. They knew Trump was a bully whose tactics would probably be questionable, but they wanted and needed to believe that he was authentic and on their side. Their wishful thinking was like that of children who still believe in Santa Claus, but for many it was the final thread they could grasp and believe would hold them up. Unlike President Obama, a man of eloquence, tact, and compassion, Trump is amoral, but that also means (to his base) that he can fight “dirty” for them, if need be. That is his persona, one that his base still believes will work for them, despite the fact that our country is being tarnished on the world stage by the effects. He convinced them that he gave a damn (which in Hollywood could have won him an Oscar). That is the irony that escaped me, despite one deception after another, accumulating finally into a stack of bold-face lies the height of Mount Everest.
I have been astonished over and over again at the TV coverage of Trump rallies with red-capped worshipers in the background wearing vacant expressions of empty adoration for a man who had convinced them all that he was fighting for them, despite the fact that his shining armor was empty of even the slightest bit of sincerity or authenticity and was to become part of a stage set of actors spouting endlessly outrageous but vapid accolades from the ventriloquist leader himself. Those audiences needed desperately to believe that Trump would be pushy, gritty, and even mean enough to fight what they all wanted to think was an utterly reprehensible government that had cared nothing before about the needs of the needy. They saw him as the rebel they wanted in order to shake up the old order they hated so much. No persona in the history of world literature could have been more deviously wrought.
Though the MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN logo has evolved into the delusional KEEP AMERICA GREAT, more folks have caught on to the carnival side show deceptions of a man whom history will remember in far different terms from those of the poor victims who now venerate him. JB