by Shelton Bumgarner
When the history of Trumplandia is written, more than one chapter — hell, maybe a few books — will be devoted to how, exactly, an otherwise normal major party in a liberal democracy managed to succumb to the machinations of a racist, bigoted, misogynist demagogue.
Unlike, say, Hitler, Trump did not grow a small hateful party to dominance due to economic turmoil. On the contrary, Donald Trump like some sort of alien parasite exploded full grown out of the chest of a major party during relative property.
So, what the fuck happened?
One key issue we have address is that during eight years of “No Drama Obama” the center-Right in the United States grew hysterical. It grew hysterical for various reasons, including technologically facilitated bullshit bubbles found online as well as the biggest generator of bullshit out there, FOX News. One can not ignore some basic facts, as well — something about having the first African American president really evoked a visceral hatred on the part of the Republican base. Add to this the tax increases on the wealthy associated with Obamacare and the near light-speed pace of social change in the form of gay marriage, and you have the makings of a very volatile political situation indeed.
But just because the elements were there, doesn’t mean anything had to happen with it. It took a major global depression for Hitler to take over Germany and Donald Trump managed to do it during a time of relative prosperity. What’s more, he managed to take over the Republican Party from the inside and turn the establishment into Vichy stooges.
Personally, I lay the blame on the primary system. There were 16 Republican candidates and Trump managed to best 15 of them through sheer force of will, rhetoric and an unexpected adept political touch. If you wanted an example of the Great Man Theory of political history at work, Donald Trump is it. But for Trump personally, we probably would now have President Marco Rubio and Vice President Ted Cruz. You can almost see how Trump warped history. It’s not difficult. Rubio, but for being bested by Trump in the primaries had all the apparent characteristics needed to win. He was young, articulate and of Hispanic background. And he blew it. He totally blew it. He blew it because once middle school bully Trump called him “Lil Rubio,” and Rubio could not come back with an effective rebuttal, he was doomed.
So, Trump, personally, managed to completely fuck up everything because he understood the base better than anyone else. He understood them because, in a sense, he _was_ the base. He was wealthy, but crass. He seemed to “get” the needs of the common man, even though unlike all the other professional Republican candidates he had no ideology at all. His only ideology was whatever he happen to tweet that day.
And don’t ignore one basic fact: the base of the Republican Party, after having consumed epic, delusional amounts of bullshit, were hysterical. They wanted to shake things up in Washington in a big way and that one one of the reasons why they latched on to Trump, became of a part of Trumplandia: he had his weaknesses, but he was definitely going to be a change agent, no matter what.
So, I suggest that Trump’s ultimate victory came in large part from the particular quirks of the American primary system. If there were national primaries, it’s far less likely Trump would have won. I keep going back to this comparison because it seems so obvious to me: Trump’s winning of the primaries was biggest co-opting of an established political order since the Fall of France in 1940 and the establishment of the Vichy France government.
The effects of that fall of the Republican Party continue to echo to this day in enormous ways. But more about that in a moment.
The second part of this historical clusterfuck is Trump’s actual winning of the general election. It goes without saying, at least in my view, that Hillary Clinton was a historically weak candidate. One of the complaints by center-Right people was that she saw it as “her time” to be president. That was a little bit too close to a monarchy for a lot of people and they got turned off. So, given the choice between electing a perceived quasi-queen and a Russophile autocrat, they picked the latter. Let that sink in for a moment.
Additionally, it is pretty obvious that Trump’s win was aided by the Russians. That didn’t help Hillary Clinton’s chances any. Neither did then FBI Director James Comey’s letter regarding e-mails just a few days before the election. And all of THAT doesn’t even begin to address the wide-spread misogyny directed against Clinton on a personal basis. A lot of center-Right people had already gotten burnt out from having the first African American president and the first female president was just a bridge too far for them at that particular historical moment.
But, really, there remains a very specific group of the electorate whose reasoning for voting for Trump remains elusive to me. Let’s call them “the Good Americans.” These are your traditional establishment Republicans who historically have been the kingmakers in American politics. They go under different names. Sometimes they’re called Reagan Democrats. I am probably stumbling across a well known segment of the political spectrum that I just don’t known the proper nomenclature for.
Regardless, I just don’t get how it is they voted for Trump. How is it that these otherwise sane people voted for someone as ill-suited for the job of president, especially against someone as well qualified — at least on paper — as Hillary Clinton. The only thing I can think of is they “came home” when push came to shove and they held their nose simply because they couldn’t bear to see the Clinton’s come back into office. But I still feel that doesn’t really explain things.
Having said all that, the issue now is what does The Resistance do? How can The Resistance defeat Trumplandia in the various elections to come. That is a very difficult question for a number of reasons, chief amongst them being is I fear the United States isn’t really a democracy anymore. We’ve lurched towards something akin to the “managed democracy” found in Russia.
We haven’t completely gotten there, but we’re working on it. Really, the only reason why the process hasn’t been completed is the United States’ strong civil society. That’s it. So, really, if you don’t want to live in an true autocracy, thank late night comics, or a song writer or a movie producer. They’re our last hope to maybe organize some sort of collective rejection of Trumplandia’s final consumption of the American Republic.
But another thing I would suggest is, be engaged, not outraged. The Resistance has to figure out how to bridge the gap between itself and Trumplandia. Just assuming that someone who disagrees with you in a trolling you just plays into Trump’s hands.
This is very difficult for me to accept, myself. I really just want to ignore anyone who disagrees with me, but that way lies political failure for what I feel is important. Eventually, maybe not immediately, I am going to force myself to engage people who disagree with me online. It’s going to be tough, but I’ve got to do it.
And I would suggest you do the same. We’ve got a lot riding on it.
Shelton Bumgarner is the Editor and Publisher of The Trumplandia Report. You may reach him at migukin (at) gmail.com.