The unbearable heaviness of fealty to the Trump horror show

Collective downsides will persist until the Grievance Gang accepts that god-given white privilege, let alone its preposterous messiah, won’t dominate governance.

Image Credit: Associated Press

So much lying & pie-in-the-sky—so much losing, setting up Trump as election millstone

From the iconoclastic Groucho Marx comes this immortal quip: “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Lacking Groucho’s wariness about self-inflation, the desperate white fright contingent has no such scruples. Thus the horrendous price paid for kowtowing to an unrivaled political loser. At least Nixon produced real-world improvements for average folks. Where is Trump’s list?

There are, however, undeniable negatives for the bottom 90%: spiteful malice, torpedoing of elections, needless pandemic deaths and fewer health care options. Add in scapegoating immigrants instead of infrastructure funding and crumbling state and federal safety nets while the rich got richer. Talk about consistency! Whatever post-election standing survived quickly evaporated after infantile Trump election fraud lies, intra-party attacks, causing an insurrectionist, and a con refuted by our own eyes: whitewashing Jan. 6 thuggery as a peaceful love-fest.

Collective downsides will persist until the intractable Grievance Gang is forced to accept that god-given white privilege, let alone its preposterous messiah, won’t dominate governance. Remaining for history to explain: how a clueless, TV non-entity, touting he could “alone fix everything,” wrecked havoc against our best values and institutions. How did this reptilian cartoon figure leverage his walk-about, imitating crooked televangelists who promise pie in the sky for real cash in the here and now?

Understandably, as Trump exaggerated America’s shortfalls, the terrified and under-informed flocked to cult hero worship. How else do the aggrieved transform themselves into life’s lottery winners? Is not the first absurdity of the “prosperity gospel” misplaced deification? So why then did “identifying” with a blowhard billionaire not enhance his supporters (au contraire)? Why did make-believe not improve wages, careers or prospects (au contraire)? Why did racial scapegoating not advance prosperity (au contraire)? For me, “the Trump bet” was an appalling “populist” gamble, persuading gullible millions to pay off the few who gained.

All choices not created equal

Under duress, everyone tries to reset directions. But the culturally impoverished (not always poor), damaged from lousy parenting, dead-end school experiences and neighborhoods, realized that bad circumstances badly constrict options. Yet, isn’t there strength in numbers, so the wounded hope, by joining together? Coalitions matter only when viable means are correlated to reasonable ends – and Trump’s executive oversight can’t match a pushcart owner.

When a certified election (the basis of democracy) forces the fixated to acknowledge reality, their circuitry fries, open to bigger lies. Those incapable of understanding what losing means must blame some enemy who “stole” only the presidential election. Then did rank amateurs, no better at insurrection than Trump was at governance, humiliate themselves – and face convictions.

The 2020 vote only certified that Trump was never electable by a majority, thus a definitive loser, then a loser who certified his own calamity by refusing to accept being a loser. Failure thus reinforces a sense of irrational victimization, a doubling down into cosmic absurdity. It’s not a pretty sight and makes one almost sympathetic towards Trumpers in obvious denial, like a dying patient hoping for miracles. Further, since Trump’s life is a parade of rule-breaking, then using money to rig the courts, why couldn’t Trumpers break the rules, expecting to get away with murder? But not being Trump means for hundreds criminal records and going to jail, a slight but predictable error in club judgment.

One has sympathy for those who feel overwhelmed by life, if not reality, losing good jobs to outsourcing, many with few options but the military (and its risks and traumas). Even healthy souls struggle after terrible choices and more terrible outcomes: failure is hard to admit, impossible for rigid personalities so desperate for certainty they seize every simplistic sound bite. That way lies hero worship, even willingness to commit crimes and the fascist mindset that worships violent means to gain decidedly unAmerican ends, like intolerance and zero compassion.

Join the Trump magic show: No muss, no fuss

How easy did Trump’s repeated campaign endorsements of violence make it to join his proto-fascist club: there was no application fee, no minimum requirements, and “no blackballing,” as it were. Come on in, whatever your conspiratorial distortions, especially if you make donations. Trumpers-in-training blindly bridged the class, asset and income gap, agreeing exactly the same nasties pommeling Trump were their enemies, too. Who needs book learnin’ or high tech skills, staying in school or sensible career planning? Trump was handing out magic tickets to the top.

Thus did Trump readily adapt to the perceived Code of Deplorables: cursing, bitching, calling out immigrants and minorities, and banking on whiteness alone to garner free lunches. Trumpers felt deep down they were superior winners ready for whatever life presented. What they couldn’t understand, before Trump, is how they were plagued with temp jobs, opiates, alcoholism, low wages, and a gnawing sense life was passing them by.

Yep, what a revelation the same bigwigs who hated Trump couldn’t stand “low-class.” “redneck” or reactionary Trumpers either. Better to embrace the Trump train – being politically incorrect at the worst promised far more entertainment than establishment boredom. Five years (and oceans of ironies) later, Trumpers see Covid as another enemy ploy and vaccination nothing less than sabotage of their sacred self-reliance. Disease is not a random event but a curse against true believers. If racial grievance and economic victimization ignited the Trump rampage, now unvaccinated champions of freedom felt doubly put upon. That way lies more anxiety, paranoia and greater justifications for perpetual victimhood. Thus the heaviness of being a Trumper after the party is over and the club dispersed, despite the pathetic, off-stage pitchman who bleats all is not lost, a comeback looms, and loyalty to Trump remains the only club requirement. The rusting hook holds.

I care not a whit for Trump and await his permanent exile – perhaps impacts from Covid or natural aging. Sympathy for Trumpers is something else, being addictive to absurdly-inept, juvenile make-believe. Psychology teaches that one remains a deluded victim until abandoning what hasn’t and doesn’t work. That’s why no outsider can fix the fixated stupid. The only “empowerment” Trump delivered was membership in his perversity club. Instead, liberation begins with consciousness-changing – that no one escapes one’s own traps without first acknowledging them, a bitter pill for those demanding control and absolute certainty.

I accept that good fortune – and factors beyond my control, like a supportive family pushing education – awarded me immunity against get-rich-quick phonies. Yes, economic and political systems are loaded with bias and family circumstances have epic input, as does geography, race and ethnicity. But healthy people find the balance between what they can control and the opportunities that come their way. Fabricated self-victimization is a disease and should be addressed as such. So is misplaced loyalty to a faithless liar who’s not even loyal to those who served him and then questioned any of his decisions or judgment.

Just joining a club without realistic standards or thresholds is another kind of confinement. When the center doesn’t hold because a calculated, glory-seeking disrupter fire-bombs democratic systems, only rational adults who understand governance can resolve the disorder. It’s not easy for the wounded to acknowledge a reality that greatly disrupts their world view. One may be empathetic with the deluded and wounded without allowing them to run roughshod over democratic systems with functional checks and balances, including the sovereignty of the majority to decide our collective fate. When the minority rules, that means we have another and much degraded system.That’s the tragic Trump lesson we still need to learn. 


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.