Now, I’ve had my fun with Trump and openly rooted for him to nuke the GOP from within. As a professional Internet person, I’ve even come to admire his knack for trolling his way to the nomination. His Twitter voice is so addictive I want to use it all the time. “Little-handed Marco Rubio has resorted to unfair attacks on me because he knows he’s first on my to-deport list! SCARED!” As I’ve written before, the man has a lot more charm than his detractors are willing to admit. He can win people over, especially when he mixes things up by tossing out the occasional sane viewpoint. I know this because I’ve nodded along to some of this shit. “Oh wow, he actually said the Iraq War was a waste of money and lives! I’ll be damned.”
But as John Oliver pointed out, Trump is also an insane con man, and that occasional burst of charm is part of the con. That’s the cheese that lures people in before he showers them in ugly rhetoric and catastrophic get-rich-quick schemes. He is unbeholden to corporate interests because he is his own corporate interest. And so, as someone who would prefer to NOT die in a nuclear Holocaust, I have to take a moment to state the obvious, which is that Trump is a complete bag of shit and, more important, his following consists of a group of people who would prefer to destroy America than see it ever move forward. It’s right there in the slogan. And to understand just how pathetic and worthless Trump’s cause is, you have to look back at the man he aims to replace.
And Obama didn’t shake up Washington. He didn’t blow up the banks. He didn’t end wasteful defense spending. He didn’t end lobbying and corruption, or replace the Capitol building with a roller rink. He failed to enact any significant gun control legislation. He tiptoed around obstructionists instead of obliterating them. And, of course, he didn’t end the partisan in-fighting that has existed all through my lifetime and that promises to go on forever… a permanent design flaw of American democracy. He didn’t bring people together (couldn’t, really). And he didn’t end racism, as much as Internet commenters would like to lean on that particular crutch. If anything, people seem to be bigger assholes and bigger racists than they were before he took office. The big, transformative CHANGE that the Obama poster promised me never came to pass.
But now that Obama is in the final year of his presidency, and now that I see a Republican field of candidates whose only shared interest is despising him—with an openly racist, bloviating swindler as front-runner—I think I understand that he HAS changed things. It’s not the sort of change I was expecting, but it’s there all the same. It’s an awakening. You can see it in pop culture. You can see it in Twitter flame wars. You can see it in the current presidential debates. You can see it in protests ranging from Black Lives Matter to those fucking morons in Oregon. You can see it in the open and joyous hostility of Trump’s rallies. And what you see is not the end of racism and inequality, but rather the beginning of something else… a necessary and painful exposure of how deep that inequality goes, and how it is embedded in some of our most fundamental structures. You see how much work there is to be done if we really want all the flashy, kickass change that I originally (naively) hoped Obama would bring: Mars trips and hyperloops and all that. You see a country that purports to be fair coming to grips with just how unfair it really is—and deciding whether it really wants to do anything about it.
That’s the change Obama has delivered. This is what upheaval looks like in real time. It’s not terribly exciting. In fact, it’s downright frustrating. All of this shit is out in the open now, as if the country has been flushed with radioactive dye. If you’re a sheltered suburbanite like me or this asshole from Buzzfeed, you know a lot more about things like red-lining and police misconduct than you ever did before. I thought we were on the verge of something wonderful—turns out, we have to climb eight more mountains first. That’s a debilitating prospect if, like me, you’re lazy and enjoy taking shortcuts.
And THAT is what Trump’s ascension represents. He represents the vast number of people living here who DON’T want that work to be done. A vote for Trump is a statement of the absolute laziest thinking. Don’t know how to deal logically and morally with immigration? DURRRR BUILD A WALL. Racism and sexism in society? DURRRR THAT’S JUST PC TALK. Need a job? DURRRR HE’LL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.
Every politician makes empty promises, but so much of Trump’s philosophy, and his party’s, centers on promising emptiness itself: no government support, no regulations on finance or firearms, no taxes, no anything. We don’t change anything and, in fact, we dial back progress so that white people can keep their market share. When Trump says he’ll make America great again, I know exactly who he intends it to be great for, and it’s not you or me. He wants to be our bouncer-in-chief, turning away the weak and the undesirables. He thinks we’ll all be fine if we kick out all the WRONG people and turn back time, and that turning back time is something that can actually be done. What’s really amazing is he’s the closet liberal of this GOP field. Somehow he’s too moderate for some people.
This is all a shame because I think there are a lot of good things happening in America. Right now! It’s true! Carbon emissions are down! Unemployment is down! Weed is legal in lots of places! Tasty food abounds! This place isn’t the apocalyptic disaster zone that Trump keeps screeching about. There’s shit here worth building on, so long as people work toward real progress.
But if Trump gets elected (oh God), then the hard work stops. Chaos and vitriol will be the goal, instead of the side effect of a society undergoing a necessary reset. These are voters who lash out at the mere thought of their wealth getting “redistributed,” or China crushing our economy, or a female Ghostbuster. Like Trump, they have the thinnest of skin. The mere THREAT of change is enough to get them drunk and pissed. It’s white panic. And as a card-carrying white person (if you are a Twitter egg, please note that I am not wracked with guilt over being a white dude; I sleep just fine at night), I can tell you that my people tend to react poorly to losing stuff, even just a little bit of it. We’ve fought wars over CINNAMON, for fuck’s sake. This is why the very mild policies of the Obama administration have been met with cries of HITLER. And the Trump movement represents a final, desperate gasp of the white dominance… a crumbling façade with Trump bros patching up the holes at every turn. Trump doesn’t plan. Trump doesn’t do policy. He and his Trump bros just threaten people and wait for them to submit, and it’s their strategy because it’s worked forever.
Maybe this will all turn out fine. If Trump fails, then maybe that means the nuclear voting option has also failed, and maybe people will have to accept that things are different now, and we’re never going back. (There I go being naïve again). But even if it doesn’t boomerang into a blessing: Trump HAS to fail. He has to go down hard, in bright red swarming hellfire. His failure has to be so spectacular that no one would ever dare repeat it. Then, and only then, do we get our hyperloop. If he succeeds, we’re fucked. The whole world is fucked. And fuck him for putting us on the brink of being so terribly fucked. He’s a fraud and a racist and a shitbag, and he will make America terrible again.