Donald Trump is the last person who should be in the White House; but, like it or not, he is exactly the president this country deserves.
From Issue I of The Blather. Article written by Colby Cuppernull.
This wasn’t supposed to happen.
We had another Bush, a candidate of destiny and donors galore. We had not one but two Hispanic candidates: a Family Values Conservative from Texas and a well-groomed Floridian embodiment of the American Dream who could recite talking points with the reliability of a Tickle Me Elmo. There was no need for a loud-mouthed, anti-establishment, speak-my-mind-and-never-apologize guy from the East Coast. We already had one. And he was a governor! They’d even found a woman who was willing to stand against every bit of progress women have made over the last sixty-five years! Every role had been cast. There was no reason to pay any attention to the lewd, egotistical man-child with the ridiculous hair. For God’s sake, the man was best known for his reality television show. No chance. Not with that inflammatory rhetoric. Not with his refusal or complete inability to articulate concrete policies. Did he really just say that? The man was a racist, a sexist. He was a xenophobe who berated and threatened any journalist who dared to press him for real answers. He was too crude. He was many, many things; but no one in their right mind would have described him as “presidential.” What happened? How did we get here? How could the Grand Old Party have possibly lost control and fallen to such depths?
There is no man, woman, or intelligent child in this country who has a right to be surprised by the ascent of Donald J. Trump.
No American has any right to be angry, disappointed, or otherwise upset with the very real possibility of a President Trump because Donald Trump is precisely the president this country deserves.
No man, woman, or intelligent child has a right to be surprised by Donald J. Trump.
We conceived Trump. We sheltered and nurtured him within our national womb. We birthed him, and every day we nurse him. As we have sown so now we reap. Our chickens have come home to roost. We have made our bed, and now we must lie in it. The time has come to pay the piper. Karma, my friends, is a bitch.
For decades, we have allowed our national discourse to devolve into something that would be comical if it weren’t so important to the future. We have made celebrities and authorities of preening, screaming, seething talking heads whose rhetorical defenses of their inane beliefs rarely go much farther than, “Because I said so.” We are a country that welcomed, with wide arms and narrow minds, a man dubbed “Joe the Plumber” to give his expert opinion on almost every aspect of the 2008 campaign. His credentials? He asked Barack Obama about his small business tax policy, which provided the (supposedly liberally biased media) with the gotcha response, “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” No college degree in economics. No college degree in political theory. No college degree in philosophy. No college degree in anything. Joe the Plumber has now “written” a book, worked as a war correspondent, and founded a professional news site. But he’s an average guy who speaks his mind, and America doesn’t care about expertise. No, expertise would demand that we interact with it; and that interaction would require critical thinking, which, by definition, requires thinking. America just wants to be entertained. Joe the Plumber was but one warning shot in the salvo of idiocy in which Donald Trump ripened.
How exactly is Trump’s dominance so surprising? Was Sarah Palin not warning enough? Was it not warning enough that applications for gun licenses have skyrocketed following every mass shooting we have endured? Was it that difficult to read the tea leaves when we had a president who seemed barely capable of spelling his own name or a vice president who literally shot one of his friends in the face? Surely it was impossible to see how the waterboarding they endorsed or the abuse at Abu Ghraib they oversaw could contribute to rising nationalism or a silent but tacit approval of anti-Muslim sentiment. I ask you: Is it so shocking to think of a President Trump when measles, a disease we had all but eradicated, has seen a significant resurgence because so many Americans were willing to leave their children unvaccinated based on what Jenny McCarthy told them on The View? Really?
Joe the Plumber was a warning shot in the salvo of idiocy in which Trump ripened.
We deny climate change. We fail to recognize that even if 99% of scientists are wrong and global warming is not predominantly caused by human activity, the ability to create sustainable and renewable energy can only be a good thing. During the State of the Union address, the President of the United States was interrupted and called a liar…by a congressman. Celebrities with a lot of Twitter followers are more welcome guests than experts in the field being discussed. We demand twenty-four hours of news but never demand that it be accurate, incisive, or relevant. The entire country grinds to a halt when Kim Kardashian balances a champagne flute on her ass, yet it is taboo to do anything but get on our knees and offer prayer for the victims and their families whenever a deranged maniac with easy access to near-military-grade weapons feels marginalized and decides to murder as many innocent people as possible. We have created a society in which it is more important that we get our news quickly than it is that we get it accurately. This is the nation where the Capitol stopped serving French Fries and started serving Freedom Fries because France made us mad. That really happened. We, the descendants of the people who wrote the Constiution, cured Polio, and put a man on the moon, judge our politicians not on the merit of their theories and policy or the quality of the rhetoric with which they defend them but rather on whether or not they wear an American flag lapel pin. At some point, we decided it was more important that the leader of the free world be someone we’d want to have a beer with than someone with a first-rate mind.
This America sincerely believed that Barack Obama was secretly a Muslim and never once stopped to ask, “Isn’t it kind of racist to assume and imply that there would be something wrong with having a Muslim president?” This is the America that conveniently forgot how paranoid everyone was when the king of Camelot, John Kennedy, took office because he was (gasp) a Catholic. Our America longs, with trembling clasped hands, for a bygone era when men were men, women were women, and we all had family values. And our America forgets that they’re actually thinking of advertisements and propoganda from the 1950s and not a time that ever actually was. Even if the suburban, white version of the 50s were as great as our nostalgic nimrods would have us believe, why does everyone seem to forget that the 50s also had segregated schools, an escalating Cold War, Jim Crow laws, a disastrous and pointless war in Korea, and all kinds of other national embarrassments.? Because men wore ties and the broads kept to the kitchen?
Given all of this, which represents but the tip of the iceberg at which we have aimed our Titanic, I think it is quite safe to say that Donald Trump represents more of an inevitable conclusion than a surprise.
If you consider yourself a good conservative, welcome to the period on the end of the sentence your party has been writing for decades. If you consider yourself a liberal, stop self-righteously nodding your head and thinking of all the ways in which the Right has set this country back and consider instead the fact that your party and your thinkers never once had the guts to boldly defy the absolute nonsense that has passed for public discourse for as long as this thirty-two-year-old writer can remember.
Imagine, for a moment, if Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, or John Kerry had run with a campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.” All three candidates were labeled un-American for far less. Barack Obama was an elitist because he mentioned that he ate kale. God forbid our president is intelligent enough to eat healthy food. Remind me again why we wouldn’t want the smartest person possible in the White House. Are you still surprised by Donald Trump? Try this one: Imagine if Barack Obama or John Kerry had made a very thinly veiled reference to the size of his penis during a presidential debate. Would that have disappeared as quickly as it did for Mr. Trump?
Let’s be very clear: The Right has been planting the seeds of inequality, intolerance, xenophobia, and imperialism for a long, long time. But the Left has hardly put up much of a fight. Whining from the sidelines and engaging with idiocy is not a response. Moving closer to some imagined “center” to woo voters is not a response. It’s cowardice.
The American people, the American Press, and Donald Trump all have the right to be as vocally stupid as they want to be; but when the world is ruled by sensationalism, hyperbole, statistical cherry-picking, selective memory, and ignorance, there is an implied duty on the part of the people who have done the research, who have not forgotten their history, who have taken the time to investigate and question what they hear rather than passively accept it to fight back. Hard.
I’m not the first to suggest that we aren’t the brightest star in the sky. Way back in 1966, Richard Hofstadter published Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. In 2005, Thomas Frank published What’s the Matter with Kansas? 2009 saw Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason and Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement. Mincing even fewer words, Charles P. Pierce published Idiot America in 2010 right alongside Chris Hedges’s Empire of Illusion.
Whether he wins or loses, Donald Trump has become the face of America.
There has been no shortage of people ready to preach to the choir in op-eds, documentaries, or books; but the paucity of people willing to call a spade a spade and dismiss that which lacks factual support or sound reasoning is shameful. Not every argument is valid. You don’t get to enter the debate just because you have something you want to say. There are standards you must meet. The bottom line is this: We engaged with the insanity, and so we legitimized it. And because we legitimized it, by creating it or engaging with it, we are 100% responsible for it.
All of us.
Donald Trump, whether he wins or loses this election, has already become the face of America. That is on all of us. And I include myself. This piece is, in the end, an opinion piece that will probably be ignored by the people it calls to task and hailed by the people who agree with it. But here is where I will step out and at least try to make it something different.
America, you have allowed yourself to become a nation of morons and enablers. Donald Trump is undeniably the worst possible candidate for President of the United States; but he is, far and away, the president we deserve. Whether we get him in November or not, we deserve him. We earned him. ◊