The general consensus among those of us who are vehemently
opposed to Donald Trump’s coronation as our new Pharaoh has been that those who
rabidly support him are either evil or stupid, or some combination of
both. Even though this analysis seems to
fit, when looking at the body as a whole, our “better angels” have been
whispering to us all along that maybe there’s something more to it. While it’s somewhat comforting for us to
think that we don’t belong to either of the described demographics, it is concurrently
disconcerting to think that practically half of the population does. We don’t want to believe that.
A deeper examination of the phenomenon provides some relief
when we first realize that Mr. Trump’s current approval rating, one week after
he took office, is at 36% - if the “fake news” outlets we have previously
depended upon for information are to be believed over the 140 character bulletins
issued from the palm of the despot, himself. The fact that it’s not really “half”
of the people is somewhat reassuring. Since it’s only the first “approval”
poll, and given that not everyone polled actually voted in the election, it’s
difficult to determine whether this figure represents an increase or decrease
in his support since the election. But we’ll start with that as the foundation
for this essay.
The first questions we must ask ourselves are “Who are the 36
percent?” and “What attracts them to a man that over half of America finds
repulsive and dangerous?”
This is only an educated assumption, based upon personal observation
of social media and reports from what has now been deemed “fake news,” but
consider that at least 10% of them are simply going along with the crowd. Peer
pressure. While they may answer to polls with approval, they don’t really care
one way or the other, because they don’t think that government makes all that
much difference in their lives. They just don’t want to be ostracized by their
friends. Even though they may, in the course of conversation with their
friends, be inclined to lean toward their friends’ perspectives, they refrain
from initiating battle with the opposition through social media. These people
need not be included among the hard-core supporters of Trump for this
discussion; thus reducing those ranks to 32.4% of Americans.
Now comes those among the rabid supporters who are uninformed;
too disinterested or lazy to look into the matter themselves; depending wholly
on what they are told by their trusted friends and family members on all
political issues. “If Joe says Trump is
the man for the job, then because I agree with Joe on other things, I agree
with him on this.” This 10% of the overall 32.4% could, in fact, be considered “stupid,”
rather than simply “ignorant” – not because of their strongly-held political opinions
so much as the fact that they base them on nothing at all. Those political
positions are quite often contrary to their own best interests and those of
their families. There remains a chance,
however small, that these people will miraculously come to their senses once
Trump’s policies begin to make discernible negative changes in their daily
lives. However, it is more likely that they’ll continue to depend on those they
consider to be better informed to tell them what they think, why their lives
are actually getting worse, and who they support. So 3.24%: stupid.
We’re now left with 29.16% of American voters to categorize. “Stupid”
has been assigned. So are all these people simply evil? There are still
arguments to be made in defense of this charge, depending upon your definition
“Vindictive,” may be a better description for roughly half of
them. Think high school. Studies of Political Socialization have shown
the six agents with the most influence on the formation of our political
opinions. They are, in order: Family, Schools, Peers, Mass Media, Political
Leaders & Institutions, and Churches & Religion. Where do most of those
agents converge for the first time in the lives of most Americans? While you
may have had sufficient exposure to Family, Schools, Peers and Churches prior
to then, you’ve only now come of age to pay any attention at all to Mass Media
and Political Institutions. You may have
changed your position on matters since then, but high school is likely where
you first gave some (possibly) serious thought to what kind of national
government you wanted.
Bring up a mental picture now of your most enthusiastic Trump
supporter; the guy who, without hesitation, assaults you for the opinions you
express on social media with sophomoric taunts like “Snowflake,” “Suck it up,
buttercup,” and “We won. Get over it!” (Or various, equally brash citations of
the same message – usually displaying inadequate grammar and spelling skills.) You’ll note that, even though your subject
matter is concerning the performance of the president, in-office, this person
will invariably respond from the perspective of a gloating winner of a contest.
He/She will insist that your dissatisfaction is with losing the election and
that you simply won’t accept the results.
Consider here that, perhaps, this person experienced what were perceived
as great losses during these most formidable years. Never accepted into the “cool
kids” clique because he was overweight or otherwise unattractive; because she
came from a poor family who couldn’t afford fashionable clothing; was socially
awkward due to mistreatment, even abuse, at home; not good at sports - or not
good enough to satisfy a domineering father; lacking the intelligence to keep
up, scholastically, and ridiculed by the mean kids who could. These are the
kind of things that stick with some people through life. They grow up and see a
man who – even though he physically represents every despised “winner” they
ever encountered – claims to be acting on their behalf, forming a “union,” of
sorts, of all those previously considered “losers” to make them winners just
like him. And they bite.
Or perhaps this was the school bully, who once had total power
and control over his own domain, only to grow up and lose it all to the boss
down at the factory. He wants it back so badly that he’s willing to do most
anything to get it. He instinctively recognizes the bully in Trump (as-if that
is difficult) and seizes the opportunity. He’s now among like-minded people who
can actually appreciate the fine art of humiliating less fortunate human beings
– something he always thought he did so well.
And he’s going to make others pay for those years he spent on the hot
end of the poker.
The most popular kids in high school who became nameless faces
in the crowd once they got to college, and then into the real world. The jock
who wasn’t good enough to play at the next level. The Homecoming Queen who
ended up marrying that older guy who hung around the pool hall on Main Street,
selling a little weed to the school kids – because she was pregnant with his
second baby and she managed to convince him that it was time. The president of
the Future Farmers of America who realized too late that the plants in his
post-high school farm really did need water instead of electrolytes. Resentful.
Wanting again to belong to any group where they might have a chance to regain
that status they so enjoyed. Here’s one. A big tent. There’s room.
“Vindictives” = 14.16% of American voters. (If for no other
reason than to get us back to a nice round number; 15% remains.)
Then, there were the “snobs.” Remember them? They actually did have everything going for them:
looks, money, popularity. They were most
selective about who they allowed into their clique; and they didn’t change over
the years. It carried through high school, into college, and then in their
country clubs. They see in Trump the ultimate snob. Who else could they
identify with? Snobs account for 10% of the remaining 15% of Americans; leaving
13.5%, and really screwing up the round number thing we had only just repaired.
“Wannabes,” aka “the bootstrap people,” make up a good chunk
of the remainder, at 8.5% of Americans. (Fixed again.) These are the people, regardless of whatever
trauma they underwent in high school; and regardless of what advantages they
had to begin with (daddy who could “loan” them money to get started, etc.),
actually managed financial success. They have what they consider successful
careers, nice houses and cars, positions of authority in their chosen
professions. While they are nowhere near
the 1 percent in their financial portfolios, they’re so far ahead of that
classmate who’s still pushing carts at WalMart that they feel like they are
moguls. Wannabes come from all walks of life, including all of the categories
above, so the 8.5% considers the overlap from those groups – except for “snobs.” They are certainly snobs now, in the classic
sense of the word, but they did not become such until they reached a certain
rung on the societal ladder. Now that they are there, they will do everything
within their power to keep those below them from catching up. These are the
ones who complain so loudly about people on welfare and others living off the
taxes they pay. Food, shelter, healthcare and human dignity aren’t “rights,” as
far as they’re concerned – they must be earned. And people, of whatever creed
and color, who are unwilling or unable to earn them should just wither and die,
diminishing the burden of their kind on society. They have evil tendencies, but
they can’t truly be considered evil, because they honestly believe that because
they managed to make it this far, every other person, regardless of
circumstance, should be able to do the same. Due to the fact that they feel
like bigshot moguls, these bootstrappers mistakenly think the economic policies
pursued by oligarchs like Trump will help them fight off those climbing the
ladder beneath them. So their outlook is one derived from fear, rather than
evil. The Wannabe category includes
preppers and survivalists who figure (hope) the end of civilization might as
well come now, while they are better prepared to deal with it than most
everybody else. It’s the natural progression of things. The law of the jungle. It
shuffles the deck for them and those guys a few rungs up the ladder who keep
kicking them back down.
The real 1%: the only people who will actually benefit in the
long run from Trumpian policies. They don’t really fit into any other category.
They simply are who they are. They have never known any other way of life, and
there’s no way any of them are going to willfully abandon their ivory towers.
They know they wouldn’t be able to exist outside. So in a way, theirs is a
fight for their very survival.
Really evil? There’s only 4% left. There’s no excuse for them.
They hate everybody who isn’t exactly like them (many who are) and are eager to
see people suffer. Children, the sick and the elderly. It doesn’t matter to
them. Some of these people graduated
from other categories to achieve full-blown evil. But it was in their DNA to
begin with. They would have ultimately arrived here no matter what path they
took. They are from bad seed.
So, there it is: Trump’s 36% broken down. It’s definitive. It’s
mathematics. It can’t be disputed.
But, other than belonging to the 1%, does Trump himself cross
over into any of the other categories? The answer may be bewildering to some.
Trump, the man, doesn’t exist. He is merely the product of the imagination of
the combined 36%; a cross section of all of them, manifested into the vulgar
megalomaniacal creature with expensive suits and comical hair. He is the
monster under our beds. The boogieman. And whether or not this carnation is
able to succeed in destroying a once-great county, the soul of the monster will
In the early ‘70s I worked as a front-end loader operator on
the overnight shift at a rock quarry. During planting season the place was open
24/7, mostly to crush and sell ag-lime. But there really weren’t that many
trucks that came in after midnight so there was plenty of time to kill. A lot
of that was spent in the scale house, playing cards, planning the perfect bank
robbery, and telling lies with my best buddy, another heavy equipment operator
named Slisher, and our guru – a bald headed welder we called Eli.
Through much philosophical discussion and introspective
investigation, we arrived at the conclusion that there were only three things
in the world that a man truly needed: beer, women and money; and, if a man had
any two of these, he could easily obtain the third.
Now, in today’s world, this may come off as insulting to some,
and even misogynistic. But I don’t think that word was yet invented then. If it
had been, I’d never heard it; and if I had (being a teenager who ran a loader
in an Arkansas rock quarry overnight in the early ‘70s – as previously revealed),
I wouldn’t have cared. We all knew we liked the womenfolk.
In all the 45 years since those days, I have never had the
occasion to sit down and re-examine this philosophy. Three things.
Now comes an Arkansas lawmaker named Bart Hester who has
determined that there is a fourth necessity.
He’s introducing a bill into the legislature to provide a “Second
Amendment Weekend,” allowing for the sale of guns without any state sales tax.
Given that pretty much everything else in Arkansas is subject to sales tax –
including food, clothing, used automobiles – it can only be assumed that ol’
Bart has identified guns as that fourth thing that all men must have to
Guns? Who’dda thunk of that back in the day? That was a given.
We all had guns. Everybody had guns!
Once one guy had all the poker money; and we’d figured out how to get away with
robbing a bank; there was nothing left to do but go out into the quarry and
shoot stuff. Guns weren’t as dangerous back then as they are now, so it was OK.
And we knew that little house where we kept the dynamite and blasting caps was
bullet-proof, because we’d spent a whole OSHA-mandated weekend making it that
way. So it was cool.
Thinking it over, though, Bart may have a point. Using the
same rationale with which we arrived at our own philosophy, it does make sense.
If you had a gun, you could get any of the other three necessities, the same
way you could use any two from the previous list to get the third. So, the gun,
it could be concluded, has more power than any of the original three items. With
a gun, you could actually get anything
you wanted without paying sales tax!
Food? Humbug! Sure, you need it to survive, but with a gun you
can just go out and shoot you some food, like Jed Clampett. See, it doesn’t
work the other way around. It’s almost impossible to take a gun away from
somebody by using a pork chop. Believe me, I tried. And don’t get me started on
peanut butter sandwiches.
Clothing? Walk into practically any apparel shop in the state
holding a loaded hogleg and I bet they’ll give you anything you want … even a
new belt so you can strap that bad boy on your hip when you walk back out. New
jacket. Nice hat.
A used car? No problem! They do it in Little Rock all the
time. Not one dime in sales tax! Hell, go ahead and get a new one. You can load
it up with all the beer, money, and women you can haul, drive out to the rock
quarry, and see if the boys in the scale house will let you play poker with
Thanks, Bart. You’re a gem!
Walter Kurtz, in “Apocalypse Now” has, years after his soliloquy, made it clear
to me: the reason Donald Trump will be the next president. The plan was genius.
So simple in its complexity. A work of art; a thing of beauty.
They put forth a candidate who
had, quite literally, so much going against him that there wasn’t enough time
to spend on any one, or two, or seven of the potential scandals. And anyone who
tried to keep up with them looked like a raging conspiracy theorist in the
process. It's like a lawyer flooding you with so much information that you
can't go through it all before you go to trial.
order to keep this piece somewhat smaller than the Bible, let’s just look over
the hundreds of merely tacky and distasteful actions from his pouty mouth and
his Twitter account before the "Golden Shower"
revelation (which would also have faded into the yellow cesspool) and go with
just the really yuge stuff; the greatest stuff; the stuff that would have
singularly derailed the campaigns of anybody else:
1. Multiple rape allegations, including the rape of at least one 13 year old
girl in 1995.
2. The “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment, undeniably made on the video that
3. Married to a Russian soft-porn actress. (3rd wife)
4. Encouraging Russia to hack and publish Hillary Clinton’s emails.
5. Refusal to pay countless contractors and others for services rendered.
6. Funneling income into his charitable foundation to avoid paying taxes.
7. Never releasing his tax returns because he was “under audit.”
8. Saying John McCain wasn’t a war hero, because he was captured.
9. Proposing to ban Muslims from the USA
10. Encouraging violence against protesters at his rallies.
11. Making fun of a disabled reporter at his rally.
12. Bilking Trump University students.
15. Family ties to the Ku Klux Klan
Is there really any need to continue?
The Republicans deserved to
win, because, as evidenced by the lengths they went to do so, they had the
strength to carry it out. The country be damned. The winning was all that
I’m the only one who sees the Republicans’ determination in this quote from
Colonel Kurtz. Here it is. You decide.
seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a
murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you
have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is
necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror... Horror has a
face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your
friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly
enemies! I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand
centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp
after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running
after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there, and they had
come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of
little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother.
I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do! And I want to
remember it. I never want to forget it... I never want to forget. And then I
realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond
bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God... the genius of that!
The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure.
And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that
these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought
with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with
love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten
divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have
to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their
primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without
judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us.”
(Thanks to IMDb for the quote.)
“It’s judgment that defeats us.”
CNN is Chip Diller (Kevin Bacon), clad only in a diaper, assuming
the position so Neidermeyer (Donald Trump) can tee up and take another swing at
his sitting part. Every time the paddle lands, ol’ Chip responds with “Thank
you sir, may I have another?!” Let’s put Wolf’s face on Chip.
Somehow, in this bizarro atmosphere in which we have been cursed
to live, it is broadly accepted that “the media” has come to dictate politics
in America. Put that thought on the face of a clock, at 12; and don’t worry
about the fact that it belongs at 6 – or maybe even on that Russian clock over
on the other wall. As is the case with
what alt-America believes about … pretty much everything … it couldn’t be
farther from the truth.
The first thing a wannabe dictator needs to do in order to
control the populace is to hijack their sources of information and manipulate them
to achieve his desired goals. It’s
almost as-if this first quarter of the 21st Century was custom made
for such a thing. So easy a child could do it. Literally everybody has access
to instant information, right in the palms of their hands. Wannabe Dictator,
for the first time in history, now has the capability of transmitting his
thoughts – no matter how wrong, incoherent, or drug-induced – directly to his potential
subjects. The only thing that stands between him (let’s give this hypothetical
character an appropriate face by naming him “Mango”) and total domination of
the people is that entity, mentioned as numero uno in the Bill of Rights,
called “the Press.”
The basic problem with “the Press,” from the perspective of
Mango, is that they don’t always report what one wants to hear. By demonizing
and discrediting them, Mango conditions his subjects to rely on him, and him
alone, for their information; and he always tells them what they want to
hear. The first, and most important,
thing he tells them is “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes
to the truth except through me” – meaning anything said or written that doesn’t
concur with what he has said, or what he wants the masses to believe, is simply
false. A lie. He has told them before what they wanted to hear, and the Press
has told them things they did not want to hear. Who do they chose to believe
now? Their own first-person observations have shown them things before that
they didn’t want to believe. Now here is Mango, telling them what they do want
to believe. Him, or their lying eyes?
And it comes to pass that minstrels write songs of the Mango’s
achievements; and fables are told:
Outside, in the cold snowy night, the Wolf looks through the
window into the warm fire-lit room, wondering why he’s locked out there in the
blizzard, alone and hungry. He had done everything he could to appease Mango.
He gave him every opportunity to speak. He put on the diaper and assumed the
position while Mango gleefully swung the paddle; and he asked for another. Why
now was he not tossed even a morsel of that feast being consumed by Mango and
his soldiers, sitting upon their golden thrones, laughing and singing ballads of
stars and bars, paper roses and red solo cups? A Cheeto, perhaps? What, oh what had he done to deserve such
treatment after his own inaction had been so instrumental in preparing this bounty
Mango sees the Wolf peering through the window. With his tiny
hand he picks up his golden shower-proof decree machine and his miniscule
fingers go to work. In a moment, Mango opts to drop the machine in order to
take hold of a female cat being carried by one of the dancing gypsy women
beside him. The yellow rain falls upon the crowd and they dance the dance of
the victors. Mango smiles and winks at the Wolf as a little blue bird lands
upon the Wolf’s shoulder and whispers into his ear, “Wolf, you have no teeth. You
had every chance to bite me…” Then the little blue bird flies away and another
little blue bird lands upon the Wolf’s other shoulder and continues … “But you
were either a coward or you had no …” And then that little blue bird flies away
and yet a third little blue bird lands on the Wolf’s nose and continues … “…teeth.
How can we respect you? Loser! Pathetic.”
And, finally, the Wolf realizes the error of his ways. He
knows that he should have bitten the Mango when he had the chance! And he runs
through the snow to warn the pack. But it’s too late now. He finds them in
their den, listening to the little blue birds that are sitting upon their own
shoulders. The Wolf tells his story. And the members of the pack look at their
own decree machines and then back to the Wolf, shaking their heads. “It never
happened,” they say, “So says the Mango, and so it is.” And they enjoy their
own bounty of Cheetos and tangerines and carrots and pumpkin pie while the Wolf
The Wolf runs to his mountaintop and he howls through his toothless
snout. But nobody hears him over the sounds of the construction of the wall by
foreign men with hammers and sickles.
And it is nighttime in America. And the yellow rain falls upon
surely try to make
taught me to hack
fingers too short
for help, please
that it’s funny
And he gives
me no choice
I’ll be his
pull the strings
really sick things
that kid that I raped
But my fans
they don’t care
In that big
White House bed
off the mirror
The boys run
And I’ll go
down in history
(c) Rick Baber, 2017