Defending the indefensible in Trumpland
To assess the damage being done to American dialogue on politics, religion and culture, we must begin with the definition of a term that applies when statements by public figures no longer hew to a standard that is justifiable by argument. That is, indefensible.
It seems like an eternity since the 2016 Presidential election saw Donald Trump gain traction by ignoring all the rules of media engagement and public discourse. This endeared him to a certain segment of society so enamored of revolt toward Washington politics they would accept virtually anyone as a candidate who did not talk like a traditional politician.
Into the void
Into that void waltzed Donald Trump. And because he did not talk like other politicians, other politicians could not talk to him. And the more this void expanded, the more Trump occupied the track leading to the Presidency. There was nothing any Republican hopeful could do to disarm Trump. Literally all his statements about American culture, economics and national security were essentially nonsensical. They were aggressively indefensible. And it worked.
Build a wall across the entire Mexican border? Sure, why not? Make Mexico pay for it. Indefensible.
The entire concept was absurd from the perspective of any sound conservative mind. Condemnations and eminent domain would be required to accomplish such a task. Both of those things are stridently against Republican principles and resistance to “takings” by the government on grounds that it is an impingement of freedom for individual landowners.
Principles? Forget it.
But who among Trump supporters really cared about principles when the most important thing on their minds seemed to be crushing the liberal concept of political correctness?
So the tactics of the Trump campaign evolved into the practice of defending the indefensible by not defending it at all. Trump simply refused to apologize for anything he’d ever said or done in his past. Nor would he apologize for anything he said or did in the present. The entire “grab her by the pussy” scandal faded like a pair of panties thrown by the side of the road after a Saturday night parking binge in the countryside. And for the people who live in the hinterlands and supported Trump, that was all ‘business as usual.’ Forgiveable, in other words. After all, who didn’t want to be rich enough to grab women by the pussy and not have to apologize?
So they embraced the man. No matter what he said or did, from claiming that he could shoot people in the street and still gain voters, to lying boldly in the face of the press while calling them “fake news,” his indefensibility wa considered an attribute and a strength in the minds of all those who cared not one whit what the man said or did. They only cared what he “stood for.” Which was winning.
Whores of Babylon
Which is why the Evangelical community tossed aside its entire moral and Christian framework to embrace Donald Trump. “This is the lesser of two evils,” they barked over the radio when asked why The Donald’s ugly, scandalous past no longer mattered.
It was whorish on the level of the Roman Empire. And for many formerly principled Christians it was likely one of the most distasteful things they have ever done in their life. But like the character Demi Moore played in the movie Indecent Proposal, the evangelical community went to bed with the Rich Guy and had to make like they loved it, for a while.
But like the character Judas in the Passion Play, perhaps some of those evangelicals are having deep second thoughts about how the Modern Day Satan named Donald Trump has acted since his victory. Sooner or later, even a hypocritical priest has a Come to Jesus moment in their conscience. And there are no doubt many millions of guilty people who call themselves Christians asking themselves, “Exactly what the hell did we do?”
Because it is apparent that Donald Trump cannot for the life of him tell the truth about anything. He is incapable of truth. Of any sort. And his statements about that fact are indefensible. By calling the media “fake news” when basic fact-checkers have demonstrably proven him wrong and a liar on so many points there is no defending anything he says.
Most recently Trump met with The Economist and claimed to have invented the term “prime the pump” in referring to Keynesian investment in the economy. That was a lie, and showed a naive ignorance that unfortunately covers almost everything Donald Trump has ever publicly addressed.
Yet his most ardent supporters want to claim him a genius. But those of us who long before the election, going back decades in fact, ignored and avoided this ignorant brute on grounds that he was not worth out time, are struggling to understand how people can be so goddamned fucking stupid and still function in society.
But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? There is an elective stupidity that Mark Twain once summed up in a brilliant quote that goes like this: “All it takes is ignorance and confidence, and success is sure.”