“I can’t believe…”
“I don’t understand…”
Stop it. You can believe. You do understand. You just don’t want to do either.
Case in point: Trump. How is it possible to continue to be dumbfounded by anything this street rat (and not in the Aladdin “diamond in the rough” sense, which itself is steeped in problematic classism) says or does? Why do people pretend like they don’t get where he’s coming from or why people support him or why people don’t support Hillary?
Part of me wonders if what frightens us most about Trump is that we are him. Not (necessarily, but I don’t know you) in the particular manifestations that we’re quick to decry, and they are many: sexism, racism, classism, religious bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, Quasimodophobia, probably arachnophobia (by the way, I’m voting for Jeff Goldblum, specifically him as Dr. Ian Malcolm). Shit, the list doesn’t end. And a vote for him is an endorsement of all this stuff that presumably would form the “great” America that he and his followers foam at the mouth about.
It’s been said way more eloquently already than I can possibly rival, but his slogan – Make America Great Again – is a red herring. He’s lured his followers into the very cave they were already hiding in, where white supremacy is an ideology worth celebrating. At least we can’t pretend anymore like it isn’t there, like it hasn’t always been there, fundamental to this political concept we call “America.”
But none of that actually matters. All this fool wants is power. He’s a Nietzschean nightmare masquerading as the ubermensch. Nietzsche believed someone would come along to help rescue a society from its old values and reinvigorate them with new ones (and if you interpret him differently, fine, it’s not a big deal); he/she/they would pull the world out of its collective abyss and construct a new world order. Trump promises to plunge us deeper into the old values that we never fully left behind to begin with.
So is he really that surprising or shocking a figure? Or do we not want to accept that we’re complicit in his very being? Shakespeare’s “dram of evil” idea (which I’m recklessly alluding to and hoping it’s cool) should not be a call to condemn a single individual; it’s an indictment against the entire society that suffers such a poisoning. Trump is not a scapegoat for anything; he’s also not the problem. At least not him alone. Besides, feeding into that idea – that he alone is…anything meaningful – only supports his own narcissistic myth-building. I imagine he thinks he’s generating his own apotheosis in this race. So of course he’ll never drop out. And our persistent incredulity to everything he represents and lives out does nothing but sustain his heightened self-image, as well as our culture’s villainizing laziness. It’s too fucking easy to call him “evil” and position ourselves as “good” and think that such dualistic thinking gets us anywhere.
We’ve been eager to call out both candidates on their bullshit, but I wonder how often we’re looking closely on our own. If we did look, I’d bet we’d sound a lot like my future President, Dr. Ian Malcolm: “that is one big pile of shit.”
P.S. Since I’ve been away for a while, it may help to reframe how I approach writing. For me, it’s always exploratory, not a way to concretize what I already think. To be clear, this shows what I’m thinking, but that’s an ever-evolving process as I try to understand whatever it is I’m thinking (and, at my best, writing) about.