I, like many of the ever-burgeoning hordes of the self-proclaimed nuevo pundit class, have been searching for a succinct, cliche’-free way of explaining, primarily to myself, how all this shit came to pass.
I’ve been looking for a word, a single word to describe the mental state, or at least the mental preference, which would be required for so many people to vote, not only for Trump but against Hillary.
After much Sturm und Drang, wringing of hands and sweating of brow, the only word that comes to mind is visceral. I can think of no better explanation for why some otherwise intelligent people, (yes, I know more than a few of those who voted for Trump) would vote for what is clearly against their personal interest and, in many cases, that of their fellow citizens. For many of them, it just felt good.
Donald Trump is someone who can make certain of our citizens feel at once envious and inadequate. His willingness to brag about himself, even regarding things that he had little to do with, displays an arrogance that we sometimes see in gangster movies. His willingness to dismiss his transgressions reminds one of the rationalizations of criminal activities by those who perform them. And we buy into it.
After all, who did not want Tony Montana to beat all those sons-of-bitches who invaded his mansion? Who among us has not repeated numerous times, “Say chello to my lidda fren” in order to display the same arrogance in the face of an overwhelming onslaught from our enemies? Did any of us really want Vito Corleone to die when he was gunned down in the street while buying oranges? Of course not. We cheer for every one of them, didn’t we?
Donald Trump is our fantasy gangster. Disdainful of the multitude of women who are thrown at his feet, fearless of being caught in a lie. So financially powerful as to refuse to pay those who work for him, often just before he tells them, “Go ahead and sue me. The legal costs will be more than I owe you”.
George W Bush was the cowboy, remember? The guy who “cleared brush” from the ranch he bought just before the election, at the behest of Carl Rove, and sold immediately after his term was up. Yeah, some cowboy. He was the guy they said would be good to have a beer with, even though his alcoholism ironically precluded him from drinking beer. He was one of us. (The word “us” is used rhetorically. I exclude myself from that group).
Our president is our president because those who have trouble acting on information prefer to act instinctually, viscerally, impulsively, thinking, perpetually it seems, that that little fucking ball is going to land on black for them at any moment.
They can just feel it.