How do we find a “bonkermeter?”
With mere days left in his term, stripped of his Twitter feed, isolated and under attack, his legacy in tatters, the tenor and timing of President Trump’s denouement have at last become clear.
The biggest question remaining is what becomes of his followers. To even hazard a guess at THAT requires understanding a deeper question that continues to elude me: what drew them to such a nutty, misguided person in the first place?
If we could figure this one out, we might begin to make some progress for the future.
If we can NOT find answers, then we may have an even BIGGER problem, because there is no shortage of “mini-Trumps” hoping to lay claim to his throne.
Skip over the racists, insurrectionists, and Civil War defenders. This group – estimated to be as much as 20% of the U.S. population, is a cause as lost as their cherished war.
But, in a country split down the middle, that still leaves about 30% that backed Trump.
Many people say these people are stupid, naïve, selfish, short sighted and simply misguided. And that is, perhaps, the root of the problem.
Sure, we have plenty of people who fit this dismissive description. Every population has! But people who see themselves as looked down upon, discriminated against and just plain left behind, not surprisingly hate that treatment. And Trump, in their eyes, is treated the same way. That causes many people say to themselves, “There is THE guy who gets ME!”
The “establishment” looks down their noses at Trump the same way they sneer at the “uneducated hicks” who populate much of the country. Trump tickles the funny bones of such people because he is just as aggrieved as they are. They love a leader like Trump and identify with him because they see him as fighting FOR THEM! Put another way, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
The ordinary Americans who support Trump are not stupid, ignorant or even misguided (remember – white, blue-collar workers used to be the backbone of the Democratic Party.) They simply recoil at a political system that routinely dismisses their hopes, fears and circumstances – and openly mocks them, to boot.
That only means that they resent being looked down on. Big surprise?
The assault on the Capitol captured the new Republican dichotomy well. Most of the protestors did not enter the Capitol building, did not engage in fights with police, did not partake in the insurrection that unfolded. But they are forever tarnished by the rest, who on nothing more than the word of a congenital liar determined that it was not only their right, but their duty to take matters into their own hands.
The first order of business moving forward MUST be to separate the two groups. If Republicans as a party want to cast their lot with the Proud Boys and Lost Causers, they will wander the political wilderness for years.
Telling people engaged in armed conflict within the halls of Congress that “you’re very special” and “we love you” is both morally reprehensible and a prescription for political disaster – not that Trump cares a whit about the Republican Party.
One hopes that the storming of the Capitol may have broken the collective fever of Trump’s acolytes. Surely at least some of them see that, whatever their personal intentions when they marched from the Ellipse to Capitol Hill, they crossed a line.
We cannot mollycoddle them; lecturing them will NOT help at all. It is simply time for Republicans – in Congress and in the heartland of our nation – to pick a side. Are they proponents of democracy and the rule of law, or are those Constitutions they self-righteously pull from the breast pockets of their fancy suits merely for show?
When most people feel under the weather for a while, they take their temperature. If they see 101, they understand they have a bug and act accordingly.
How can we find a ‘bonkermeter’ to go with our thermometer and learn more about our heads, so that we might know when America has, in fact, gone crazy
We and the people around us dance around on tippy toes, even when questions of mental competence are obvious.
We must tackle that and much more head on.