My next newspaper column:
Seen on T-shirts at Trump’s “Tell Me How Great I Am” rallies: “Rope. Journalist. Tree. Some assembly required.” Good one, huh?
Revealing everything about the authoritarian mastery of Trump over gratefully-manipulated Trumpists, it announces the danger to democracy they – Trump and his enraptured cult -- represent. The only thing it doesn’t tell us is whether cultists don’t see it, or whether they do and like it that way. Our founders foresaw the dark possibilities and tried, unsuccessfully since 2016, to protect against them.
From Trump’s own words we understand the cynicism of his attacks on journalists: it’s to destroy their credibility as they illuminate his lies and disregard for the institutions of democracy. Such is the nature of his followers that he can brag about it and still succeed in the grift.
It’s a safe bet the people who wear or like those shirts, lavishing love on Trump and hate on everyone else, outraged that Sarah H.S. was asked to leave a restaurant, were delighted by refusals to serve gays, and by that guy who wouldn’t serve Joe Biden.
The people condemning shouters at Trump’s hate-mongers in restaurants, lamenting the loss of “civility” in our politics, elected a man who insulted opponents in his own party, along with their wives and parents; who called for his audience to “beat the crap” out of protesters at campaign events, promising to pay their legal fees; who lies that liberals want open borders and love criminal gangs; who refers to the FBI as “scum.” Civility, indeed.
It’s hard to decide, though, about those recent incidents: people on the right denouncing them are the personification of hypocrisy, of course, but it’s doubtful the harassers will accomplish anything positive. Mainly, though, and leaving aside the question of going as low as they do, by now it’s clear there’s nothing – literally nothing – that will cause Trump’s enablers to reflect on how his actions endanger the country they claim to love. Which, by now, we know they most certainly don’t: not most of its citizens, not its founding principles, not its immigrant origins. To wear those shirts is to announce ignorant rejection of our Constitution, commitment to not learning anything new, and to not thinking beyond one’s carefully-taught prejudices.
That’s the point, and it’s also lessons learned from years of blogging and being a columnar opinionator: those who still support Donald Trump are unreachable. Time spent explaining his daily effluent of lies, his unsustainable budget priorities, the impacts of his science-denial, his egotistical tariffs (Harley!), his disregard for the environment, how he got played by Kim (still building nuke facilities, Putin’s next), is time wasted. It will be excused, ignored, denied; rejected as liberal “hatred,” communism, or fake news. They’ll resent comparisons of their “president” to despots who gained power by attacking the press and lying repetitively, or of themselves to those who seiged them their heils.
Nor will they be swayed by true conservatives like George Will calling for voting today’s Republicans out of office or Jennifer Rubin decrying their dishonest, corrupt leader. (Note to a recent letter-writer: I’ve always distinguished between Trumpists and true conservatives. The latter deserve respect. “Conservative Trumpist” is oxymoronic.)
Even if it’s morally acceptable, shouting down Ms. Nielsen or Mr. Miller, refusing to serve professional liar Sarah or pose with deceitful Paul is poor time management. Every minute spent that way, every dollar for causes not aimed at getting out the vote or fighting red-state voter suppression or supporting candidates committed to protecting democracy and its institutions, is squandered. There’ll never be an awakening among Congressional Republicans, and the right-wing ideologues Trump has appointed to courts are bent on preventing equality among minority voters, favoring corporations over employees, and preserving the selling of politicians to the highest bidder.
The only remaining solution to cynical gerrymandering, promoting lies, suppressing votes, destructive budgets, denying civil rights, demonizing immigrants, is to flood the gates with new voters and ones formerly too lazy, offended, or delusional to have voted last time around. People with the most to lose, should Trumpism persist. Which includes non-wealthy Trumpists.
And now, as if completing a circle, we learn of the murder of journalists in Baltimore, two days after right-wing hero Milos Yiannopoulos called for just that. After months of Trump calling them enemies of America.
[Image source]Sean Hannity, Trump’s nighttime whisperer, blamed Maxine Waters.