So I asked myself, who are Donald Trump’s supporters and why are they so angry?
I mean, things aren’t perfect. Obviously. ISIS is cannibalizing the people of Iraq and Syria and driving those they don’t capture and torture into Europe and points west. Terrorists terrorize, here and abroad. Increasingly, we hear stories of heavily-armed people — lunatics, not terrorists — who blast their way through a mall or school, for no reason. And — not a present problem but a future catastrophe — the $17 trillion deficit hangs over us all, as the aging baby boom generation threatens to become the baby bomb.
But, on the other hand: unemployment is down to pre-recession levels, we haven’t worried about inflation for years, GDP is expanding at a respectable rate, the stock market is doing reasonably well, and most people now have medical coverage. For most of us, taxes haven’t increased. So why so irritated, Jack?
I decided to do a thought experiment…I think this is what a thought experiment means, although you can correct me if I’m wrong. As you may remember, two weeks ago Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke endorsed Trump, and sent out unauthorized robocalls telling folks that Trump would preserve their white values, or some nonsense like that. Trump, blaming a faulty earpiece, refused to condemn Duke or his support; after taking heat for a couple of days, he finally, sullenly, said “I disavow.”
I remember when Bob Dole accepted the 1996 Republican nomination for the Presidency. He said “if there’s anyone who has mistakenly attached themselves to our party in the belief that we are not open to citizens of every race and religion, then let me remind you, tonight this hall belongs to the Party of Lincoln. And the exits which are clearly marked are for you to walk out of as I stand this ground without compromise.”
That’s how you disavow racist support. Granted, that style doesn’t fit the Donald, who quotes Mussolini with approval. But why not say something like Dole did, anyway? I mean, condemning the Klan — isn’t that a no-brainer for a political leader?
The answer may be something we’ve heard with dismaying frequency with Republicans: he doesn’t want to offend his base.
So, to find out, I wrote the following Facebook post:
“To Republicans who are preparing to embrace your front running Ku Klux Kandidate: remember the story of Clayton Williams, the Texas Gubernatorial candidate, also celebrated for being ‘outspoken’ until he said something which cost him his 20-point lead, and the race.” (He made a joke about rape.) I included a link to a New York Times story about the Texas gazillionaire.
Then I sent it out to Trump supporters.
It didn’t take long to hear back. The first message I got was from Angela N. Jeff Cope, who sent me a picture of Hillary Clinton, lips near the face of an elderly gentleman. “Hillary Clinton kissing KKK leader!” it said, but in all caps. To make its intent clear, it said in big yellow letters, “media lies, hides and protects the real true racist,” also in all caps.
The photo puzzled me a little, since the aged fellow seemed incapable of holding a cross, much less burning one. But then I realized that the man bussing Clinton was Senator Robert Byrd, (D-W.Va.), President Pro Tem of the Senate and previously Majority Leader and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is true that he was a Ku Kluxer in his twenties, but by the time he first ran for Congress — in 1952, when Clinton was a toddler — he was out. It’s probably safe to say that by the time he kissed Clinton in that picture, he was no longer a KKK leader. Or — “KKK LEADER!”
Next — and let me warn you ahead of time about the language; it is not language I would ever use, or even put in the mouth of my vilest fictional character, but I will not bowdlerize our Trump supporters — I heard from Jim Hoopes, who observed, “Well Mr libtard that supports black lives matter and illegals!!”
Mr. Hoopes is a subtle man, and I did not fully grasp his meaning. I get that “libtard” is a combination of liberal and mentally retarded person. (I deny being a liberal: I have been a Jack Kemp Republican my whole adult life, and have voted for a Democrat for President only once.) But what of that piquant “Well”? Well what? I decided to explore further.
“I’m curious, Jimbo,” I wrote. “Maybe you or another of the Ku Klux Kandidate’s supporters can explain why black lives don’t matter.” Mr. Hoopes elaborated:
“Black lives matter,, but the niggers on welfare the little gang bangers that get shit and portray there innocent like that thug Michael brown, please. Maybe if they spent more time obeying the law instead of breaking it like the decent black people, they wouldn’t be tearing shit up like Ferguson missouri, and Baltimore. And what exactly does the kkk have to do do the price of rice in China. I haven’t seen them tearing shit up, alls they did was support a canadate. But when people speak there mind against a libtard then out comes the demonizing idiot in them thinking there the only ones with an opinion. And if you don’t think like them, then your a rascist, bigot. And just for your information I have black friends that think the exact way I do on the subject. All lives matter,,”
“Black lives matter,” is a slogan, of course, but there is meaning behind it — roughly: “the dominant culture is valuing White lives more than it is Black lives,” which is less catchy. The accusation is at least in part true. If you doubt me, consider the relative coverage for the murder of Chandra Levy, a wealthy (and attractive) young White woman, and the murders of any number of young, Black residents of poor neighborhoods. Yes, all lives matter, but some lives seem to matter more than others.
Or consider the views of Steve Lessaw:
“LOL, you guys crack me up. That cunt Clinton has been lying for over 40 years and yet the liberal fucktards want to back her. The ONLY obvious thing is the liberals are afraid of making America independent and great again so they have to resort to lies and mud slinging.”
The term fucktards refers to mentally retarded people who are…well, honestly, I’m not sure what it means. But hey, Steverino. I don’t have to resort to mudslinging to soil Trump supporters.
You can do that for me.
To be fair, most of Trump supporters who responded to my experiment didn’t use such colorful language. But who would have expected his supporters to be so uninhibited on a public forum like Facebook?
So to get back to my original question, why are these folks angry? At least for some of them, it’s that black lives are beginning to matter, and that women (here referred to by their sex organs) are now speaking with full voice in the public forum.
So for these folks, when Donald Trump says, “let’s make America great again,” what he’s really saying is “let’s make America white and male again.”