I recently saw a television commercial for the latest episode of a popular show. It featured a lady who had just awakened from a coma of several years. The star of the show was filling her in on events that she had missed. The star says, “And Donald Trump is the President.” The lady tentatively asks, “President . . . of what?” The star replies carefully, “The . . . United . . . States . . .” Without missing a beat, the lady says, “I wanna go back in the coma.” Of course, it wasn’t that long ago that the idea of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States was completely ridiculous. It wasn’t even a consideration; nor should it have been.
There are some people who are so incredibly good at what they do that we can easily overlook the ugliest flaws in their characters. Others are so sweetly charismatic that we can turn a blind eye to steep canyons of ineptitude. Donald Trump doesn’t fit into either of those categories. Whether he’s praising the virtues of murderous Neo-Nazis, denigrating and persecuting refugees from “shit hole countries”, or simply fabricating “alternative facts” to demean a perceived enemy, Donald Trump is a true anomaly.
I’ve written before about Donald Trump’s blatant racism, sexism, xenophobia and general disregard for the truth. But, perhaps even more confounding than the man himself, are his supporters. These are people who will seemingly believe any un-researched, poorly presented fallacy that falls from Donald Trump’s mouth . . . without question.
Imagine, for example, that a reporter was filming me as I sit writing this very essay. Then imagine the same person posting their footage on a news outlet, commenting on the fact that he or she had recorded me during the writing process. At that point, I would respond by stating, “I wasn’t writing anything! That’s not even me! That’s fake news!” Now, the response from the, rightfully shaken, reporter would surely be, “But, Trevor . . . I was right there with you. We can all clearly see what you’re doing.” But the kicker is when 46% of the American population then chime in to support me and denigrate the reporter, who had done nothing more than his or her job. What kind of mass hypnosis does that require? Donald Trump gets away with exactly this on an almost daily basis. And he is fully supported in this madness by otherwise sane and intelligent people. That’s not just scary; it’s surreal.
The closest comparison that I can recall would be Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany. Hitler was about 5’2” and slightly pudgy. He had dark hair and eyes, a mustache so comical that it’s become iconic (Trump’s hair?), and a skin complexion that clearly revealed that he was anything but “Pure White”. Yet, somehow, Hitler was able to use fear-mongering, half-truths and outright lies (Fox News, anyone?) to talk fellow Germans into hating Jewish people so much that they were okay with forcing Jews into Concentration Camps and putting them into gas chambers and ovens, among other things. Hitler touted a Master Race of blond haired, blue eyed, athletic intellectuals. And they obeyed his every word with full knowledge that he could never fit in among them in any way. That sounds like true mass hypnosis; a hive-mind mentality that went way too far. Hopefully, things in America don’t get that far out of hand.
Of course, any Trump supporter who reads this will inevitably respond with: “What about Obama?” or “Didn’t Hillary Clinton assassinate Lincoln?” or some other such nonsense. Their powers of denial and deflection are honed to almost the same razor-sharp level as Donald Trump himself. And the longer you engage with a Trump supporter, the more they start to sound exactly like him. They throw unsupported statements at you like poisonous darts and lose their tempers when you disprove those same statements with properly researched facts. And, if you happen to be online, that’s when the insults come. I saw a post recently that read: “The internet has made most of you comfortable with saying things that you would normally get punched in the mouth for, without consequence.” That statement fits this discussion perfectly. Many of these individuals will denigrate your intelligence, question your patriotism and even threaten violence in the vilest, most vulgar terms. Others go straight to the same racist and/ or sexist rhetoric that Donald Trump has made acceptable. There are no moral boundaries when it comes to “Making America Great Again”.
And what does that even mean? “Make America Great Again” implies that we need to be transported backward to some undefined Golden Age. What period of American History would that be? Is it Slavery, when African-Americans were considered 3/5 of a human being and no better than livestock? Maybe that’s too harsh. The Jim Crow era was much better, wasn’t it? Is it the Trail of Tears, when Native Americans were forcibly robbed of their dignity as well as their way of life? Maybe it was during World War II, when Japanese-Americans were forced from their homes and into Internment Camps. It was also around that same time period that colleges and universities set quotas on the number of Jewish people that they would accept. And let’s not forget that it wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment finally allowed women to vote. So, People of Color and women are very curious. Just where are you trying to take us, Mr. President? Those great times you recall . . . were never so great for us. No hypnosis . . .