by Virginia Del. Mark Levine
According to POLITICO’s five-day analysis, Donald Trump averaged one falsehood every 3 minutes and 15 seconds over nearly five hours of remarks. Will the fact that Trump lies more than 10 TIMES as often as Hillary change the mind of a single Trump voter who tells you he is “concerned about Hillary’s honesty”?
Nope. Not a one. They don’t give a damn that the man they support is a serial conman and pathological liar.
Their problems are deeper. For some of them, it is fear of loss of white male privilege. It used to be that native-born straight white men had an automatic massive advantage in the nation. And while that advantage still exists, it is slowly ebbing away in the face of increasing equality, changing social mores, and greater education. This frightens those that used to consider themselves on top without much effort.
For others, it is the real economic concerns of rural America, as globalization takes away their manufacturing jobs and causes young people to flee to the cities. As it happens, Hillary Clinton’s policies (higher minimum wage, lower college costs, better vocational schools, better health care, new-energy jobs, better infrastructure) would alleviate that pain. And Donald Trump’s policies (raise taxes on working people to give those taxes to billionaires, cut health care, ensure more-expensive college and college loans, increase the national deficit tenfold(!) to pay for the billionaire tax cuts, reduce regulation to allow air and water to be more easily polluted — e.g. Flint) would harm them more.
But remember, rural voters are far less likely to be educated enough to see the Trump con, even though the evidence is overwhelming that defrauding naive people and bribing politicians to cancel investigations into his criminal activity is exactly how Trump made his millions in the first place. There is so much evidence that Trump is a fraud that sophisticated rich people never even lend him money any more. After all his bankruptcies, Trump can only get money from Russian banks, Trump University suckers, and other saps. (I probably shouldn’t call Putin a sap. The Russian dictator would very much like to have a noose around our US President. Then Russia could finally win the Cold War after all and reconquer the former lands of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.)
Who else supports Trump? Those who have been conditioned by the right-wing propaganda machine to believe virtually any Big Lie. They can be told Ted Cruz’s dad killed Kennedy, or the Clintons killed Vince Foster, or Trump is being audited, or Obama was born in Kenya, or Melania was not an illegal immigrant. And they lap it up. Because they don’t trust “liberal” sources like the New York Times, ABC News, CNN, scientists, objective proof, or math. If a Trump sap is told 2+2=5, he will happily pay $5 for two bottles of $2 water. If he is told the earth is flat, he starts to fear falling off. If he is told climate change is a hoax, he doesn’t worry about it. If he’s told Hillary Clinton is a criminal, even after she’s been completely exonerated, he chants “Lock. Her. Up.” Facts are irrelevant to a true Trumpist.
Those of us surprised by all this pride in ignorance should simply remember history. From the obscure Know-Nothing Party of the mid-nineteenth century to the rise of Fascism, to Joe McCarthy, to Pat Buchanan, to today’s Le Pen and Trumpism, right-wing authoritarian anti-intellectual movements have always had their allure to uneducated people in the “past culture that resists change” manipulated by the very rich at the top. They just can’t see the puppeteer pulling the strings, even when he’s a brash billionaire who lies without hesitation.
We can see it. We know the Emperor has no clothes. But they won’t listen to us. We are the “elite.” My city of Alexandria has a booming economy with thousands of new people wanting to move here. That’s pretty much true throughout Blue Northern Virginia. In Red Virginia, the old towns and rural areas are dying, as people move out and those that remain suffer from a lack of jobs and a growing opioid addiction.
There is despair in Red America. And even though we in Blue America massively subsidize Red America, there is no appreciation for our generosity. Only resentment. They don’t want, or even recognize, our “hand-outs.” They just want everyone to be armed against the apocalypse of things they don’t understand (blacks, Muslims, feminism, LGBT equality, and foreigners). They’d rather shoot at the 21st century than join it. You can find this same despair at the end of the 19th century when industrialization caused people worldwide to leave rural areas to go to the cities. The despair is economic and cultural and vast. No wonder Trump voters are so angry.
Let’s always remember that economic despair fuels authoritarian movements, racism, and violence, whether it be Fascism or Trumpism. Even though hating the Jews didn’t make Germans richer, any more than hating Mexicans and Muslims enriches today’s rural uneducated Americans, hate does make people feel good. Like they have something to fight for, and more importantly, against.
America’s most devastating war proves this truism. The great majority of the vast army of white people who fought and died in the Confederate Lost Cause did not own a single slave. (Fewer than 1/4 of white Southerners had a single slave, and far fewer than that had more than one.) If a white slaveowner was very rich and had at least twenty slaves, he did not have to fight or die at all! The “Twenty-Negro Law” allowed the rich plantation owner to stay home on the farm while the poor white saps lost their lives fighting for the plantation owner’s right to mistreat the only people worse off than the poor white Confederate saps: black slaves. The people in the second rung from the bottom of society rarely attack those at the top. They’re too busy fighting those hapless people on the lowest rung: the few even worse off than themselves.
And so history repeats itself.