We Don’t Deserve to Hate Donald Trump
I just want to quickly invite everyone who is suddenly up in arms about the idea of Donald Trump becoming president to sit down and shut the fuck up. While I salute your rushed if tardy arrival in the political arena and your ability to clearly discern that Trump is a proto-fascist, I am horrified that you did not see this coming.
The American people have a nasty habit of waiting until it’s far too late to start giving a shit. By and large, your average eligible voter tunes in to politics once every two or four years because they have been scared, shocked, bullied, cajoled, stimulated, seduced, suckered or outright fear fucked by one or more extremities of the hideous mutant that is our electoral process. Politicians and string pullers recognize us for what we are: docile commodity consumers and cogs in a capital-fueled, resource swallowing industrial machine operating behind the farcical façade of democracy that requires the participation (albeit blind) of advertising anesthetized masses to legitimize its shenanigans.
If you’re Nate Silver or any of the other dutiful statisticians paying careful attention to quantitative analysis as a means to map the topography of the American political landscape or if you’re a diligent student of political rhetoric eager to put this presidential labyrinth of broken hopes into proper context, gather your things — you’re excused.
If, on the other hand, you work in online advertising, produce clickbait articles with sensational headlines, get your news from twitter, read listicles, watch any version of “Real Housewives” (even as a “joke”), subscribe to the notion that Kanye is our greatest living artist, read, appreciate or disseminate YA fiction, value the term “branding,” see yourself as an “influencer,” frequently post on Yelp, don’t know what our “peculiar institution” was, have ever opted for cliff notes instead of the real thing or think “likes” and “follows” actually mean anything beyond marketing visibility then you are in the right place. Open up and say “ahh.” Here comes the medicine.
We are where we are now because average Americans do not want to worry themselves with responsibility. We prefer to take the easy road. Why think shit out when we can pass our responsibility on to someone else who is equipped to do our thinking for us? We can’t even blame the Rupert Murdochs and William Randolph Hearsts of this world. After all, as we’re constantly reminded, they simply provide a product — opinion — that the people demand.
The pace of life has accelerated rapidly since the industrial revolution. Ours is a complex and staggering world filled with an impossibly high volume of stimuli we have to sort out if we have any hope of making intelligent decisions. It takes an obscene amount of effort to keep tabs on shit. Some have kept up. They’ve redoubled their efforts time and time again. They’ve taken great pains to broaden their horizons, to put out feelers to understand the laws of pathos that govern our fellow Americans, to grasp the length and breadth of the convoluted realities that inform individual existence. They often have agendas and power that give them a disproportionately large influence in our political process.
On the other hand, a good bulk of us have just given up. We are content with the pursuit of amusement and comfort. We are fundamentally unwilling to put forth the time and effort. Instead, we grope blindly for saccharine sweet entertainment that will help us escape the increasingly bleak existence we call America 2016. When our social responsibility as inheritors of the democratic tradition demands a little bit too much of us or indicts us as the fat, lazy, consumer fucks we are — we turn away to sports and CGI action films and an avalanche of pet videos. We seek refuge in things that have simple answers bulwarked by simple morals, simple problems and an eventual simple satisfaction.
Sorry if this sounds harsh. I am, by no means, excusing myself from judgment here. We’re all guilty of this in one way or another. I feel compelled to warn you that for all the ethnic, spiritual, gender, subcultural categories we like to apply to ourselves and others, there are only two actual groups of people: those who actively create and adjudicate rhetoric and the rest of us who passively swallow it.
The swallowers are unwilling to endure the mental gymnastics required to keep track of a complex society. Swallowers are comfortable with the fact that our news cycle has mutated into a 24 hour sound byte cluster fuck where the solemn tone of politics and current affairs has become mere sport. Swallowers take their language cues from advertising, accepting Orwellian bullshit like “freedom” and “strength” at face value instead of delving deep into the substance of issues. The worst swallowers think they’re important because they have a social media following. Unfortunately, these same swallowers gleefully gutted our language in favor of 140 character long lightning bolts of ignorance that masquerade as clever.
Meanwhile, while the swallowers were all too busy treating their elections like a season of American Idol, wondering who sings best or who they’d most like to have a beer with, the talented sociopaths who put in the work to comprehend our broken democracy figured out it was much more efficient to manipulate the dumb fucks who vote. Spoiler alert guys: those with wealth, privilege and brains ain’t about to let all that progress they’ve achieved since the Enlightenment go down like Rome. Hell no. They’re going to pull and tug and force you through the motions in whatever way possible to ensure your joyful compliance in an agenda you have no say in.
Don’t believe me? Take it from the horse’s mouth. Edward L. Bernays, Freud’s dirty little nephew who interpreted psychotherapy into the realm of advertising, had this telling little theory:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society….In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
So this orange skinned, silver-tongued bozo slides out of the fetid birth canal that is reality TV on to the stage of national politics and, all of a sudden, what’s been a vague whispering of discontent all around you is a real and concrete threat to your sense of decency.
Good for you for finally fucking waking up. This is your reckoning and I hope you enjoy it. The sadistic part of me hopes Trump wins and you learn a goddam lesson once and for all, because I’m terrified that Trump will be defeated and the overwhelming majority of voters will think they’ve struck a permanent blow for good.
You owe it to yourself and your children and every person who died or suffered in every American war since our tiff with Spain and the people who lost their homes in the Great Depression and the Great Recession and the laborers who lost their jobs to oversees factories and the citizens of third world countries who have had their lives and geography ruined so we can get cheap consumer goods and the people who are destitute and addicted on our streets and every single person who will befall this fate or get suckered into another patriotic swindle in the next century.
Stop taking short cuts.
Don’t assume your elected officials have your best interest in mind. Read the entire book before you see the movie. Stop instagramming your goddam twenty-dollar quinoa salad. Don’t buy that new pair of pants. Go on a hike instead of watching the game. Don’t get your history from the Walt Disney Company. Seek authenticity at whatever cost. Take difficult journeys of body and mind for no reason other than proving to yourself that they are possible. Double check the facts you take for granted. Form your own well-researched opinions. Take great pains not to add any more heartache to the world. Strive to see the impact of your actions as they echo in the universe beyond.
If we’re serious about stopping Donald Trump and halting everything that he stands for, we need to redouble our efforts. It is of the upmost importance that we unwrap our lips from the giant cock of mediocrity we are encouraged to fellate every waking day of our lives.
Every action has a consequence. The lazy choices, the broad unwillingness to do the difficult work of thinking, the refusal to connect our own lifestyles with the larger sickness in society — this is shit we have got to acknowledge and remedy. ASAP.
We as a nation are at a fork in the old evolutionary road. It takes painful, hard, bone-bruising labor to grow as a species. This is a challenge to which we must be worthy. The alternative is unacceptable.
In Trump and his supporters we see callousness, selfishness, greed, bigotry, entrenched ignorance and downright hateful entitlement. In their violence and rhetoric there is something of our own inadequacies that scares the shit out of us. Is this really what we’ve become? Not yet, but it will be soon enough if we don’t shape up.