“You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation, they turned to a man they didn’t fully understand.”
– Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight
On Friday January 20th, 2017 Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. An unconventional candidate, Trump rose to the oval office through a inflammatory campaign promising to restore America to a level of greatness that he believes was long forgotten. He ran under the notion that America had become “weaker than ever” from an international perspective and vowed to make the rest of the world respect America again. To suggest that Trump’s campaign messaging was controversial would be an understatement. Many of the inescapable statements that he made throughout the course of the 2016 presidential race became international water cooler discussions littered with mentions of Mexican bad hombres, Islamophobia, and pussies ripe for the grabbing. Trump crassly concocted a political cocktail consisting of a patriotic vision for what America should be mixed with antiquated ideas on religious persecution, racism, sexism, and misogyny.
For me personally, it doesn’t take a lot of empathy to understand why a person who doesn’t care for Muslims would vote for Donald Trump. You don’t need to have an advanced understanding of the human psyche to understand why a misogynist who believes that a woman’s place is still best reserved for a kitchen would want to see Donald Trump as our commander-in-chief. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that a racist person who didn’t care for Mexicans to begin with would have an easy time casting a vote for The Donald. All of these scenarios are self-explanatory. The primary question that plagues my existence after this election is why so many people who aren’t racist, or bigoted, or misogynistic would throw political support behind a candidate who openly appears to be all of those things. How could any man with a daughter endorse a presidential candidate who casually jokes about it being acceptable to sexually assault women? How could any person with Muslim friends or family members support a candidate seemingly hell-bent on preventing followers of the Islamic faith from entering the United States?
As I posed these questions to my Trump supporting friends, colleagues, and relatives I noticed that a common theme emerged. Although they had varying underlying reasons (He’s a “great” businessman, No More Wars!, Put America First!) for their Trump endorsements, they ultimately bipartisanly believed that the politicians of Washington D.C. had let them down. That the promises made along all of those campaign trails from both political parties never came to fruition, more often than not. One Trump supporting friend stated, “The lobbyists from billion dollar corporations have already purchased the legislations that will end up getting passed in the future so the game is rigged.” Regardless of the political ideologies that separated the people I polled, they all universally wanted a candidate who would be able to bypass the obstructionism found along both party lines that prevented dramatic change from occurring. They needed someone who could be free of the symbiotic dogma that plagued the political relationships in our nations’ capital.
Enter Donald Trump onto the periphery of the political landscape. A wealthy lone gunslinger who didn’t act like a politician and who certainly didn’t speak like one. With his incendiary rhetoric, and brazenly brash bravado, Trump represented himself as a man who seemingly couldn’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. He appeared as a far cry from the typical politicians who needed to cater to the likes of the donors who supplied them with the funding necessary to campaign for reelection. Career politicians understand the connection between the votes that get them elected and the funding they need to be able to campaign for those votes. With an acute awareness of the political frustration mounting within a large segment of the populace filled with those who had lost their low paying jobs to outsourcing, Trump trumpeted that his presidency would bring manufacturing back to the United States. He challenged that for too long countries like Mexico and China had benefited from stealing jobs from U.S. workers. He added that it was time to “drain the swamp” when referring to the corrupt politicians of D.C., ensuring that his administration would be better suited than any that came before it to withstand corruption. Trump supporters wanted a better class of candidate, and from Trump’s perspective, he was the better candidate that the people deserved.
From my point of view, the Democratic and Republican parties both bare the blame for the circumstances that lead to the Trump presidency. Republican representatives confident that the Obama administration was dismantling the very fabric of American values stunted progress at every turn throughout the course of the last eight years through opposition. On the Democratic side, the Affordable Care Act with all of its positives did create unintended hardships for a large number of American citizens. The Act needed more time to mature (as does every new plan) and get its kinks ironed out. Democratic leaders have long been criticized by some for losing their touch with the American working class throughout some parts of America as they shifted their focus on catering to the coasts, ignoring the people between them as a result. Hillary Clinton also had difficulty inspiring minorities to come out in support for her due at least partially as a result of her husband’s 1994 criminal justice reform bill that lead to the mass incarceration of African Americans here in the U.S. More and more Democrats and Republicans alike began to take on an apathetic perspective of how effective a career politician from either party could be in making the kinds of dramatic changes that could impact them where they needed it most; in their wallets. For many, they were desperately looking for someone that they could turn to who could get things done quickly, and in that sense of desperation Trump won The White House.
I don’t pretend to know where America is heading. Hate crimes are on the rise, seemingly inspired by the divisive comments uttered throughout the Trump campaign. Women are marching throughout America as well as the rest of the world on inauguration weekend to unite in opposition to Trump’s vitriolic, sexist, misogynistic messaging. The Trump administration denies evidence that is widely accepted by the scientific community supporting the correlation between human activity and climate change. He has mentioned his desire to revive the coal industry, and to pull out of the Paris Agreement, which was a monumental global step towards the future of renewable energy production as well as the reduction of greenhouse gases. He has sworn to bring manufacturing jobs back to America but history (and common sense) shows that low paying manual warehouse labor positions will continue to be decimated by automation. Many of Trump’s cabinet picks consist of billionaires with little-to-no experience for the prospective positions that He is vying to place them in. His other administrative picks who aren’t billionaires are career Republicans, which ironically enough prior to his election were the same people his supporters were lead to believe were the problem to begin with. Any credible journalistic source that opposes or repudiates Trump’s actions is deemed as fake news and/or “total garbage.”
When taking into account what has occurred over the course of the last few months since Trump won the election, I am wondering if all of his supporters will have their faith rewarded. The White House website has scrubbed the pages for LGBTQ and civil rights. A page designed to get Spanish speaking American’s more involved with the political process has also been removed, as well as the pages for climate change and healthcare. The new White House website commits to “making our military strong again,” including getting rid of the across-the-board budget cuts known as “the sequester” and investing in ballistic missile defense, which is an interesting stance when considering that America was supposed to be becoming less involved in military conflicts according to Trump. The HUD suspended an impending mortgage rate cut that was going to make it more affordable for the average working class citizen to get a better deal only mere hours into Trump taking office. A repeal of Obamacare would result in over 20 million American’s losing their health insurance coverage and Trump has yet to provide any additional information on what his replacement plan is.
It’s increasingly difficult for me not to wonder if America just fell for the long con. You know, where you put all of your eggs in a con(fidence) mans basket and he robs you blind before you figure out what happened. Trump propped himself up as a savior for the people; a billionaire who would fight for working class strangers instead of his lifelong yacht owning billionaire friends. He very well may end up doing so, but it’s looking to be more and more unlikely. Based upon the decisions that he has made, and the people who he has placed in office around him, it’s starting to look a lot like the status quo plus a few truly scary individuals (COUGH: Breitbart executive Steve Bannon).
So no, Trump is not like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises who wanted to see the rich ripped from their decadent mansions and introduced into the cold world that we know. I don’t think that Trump is like The Joker, who burned a shit ton of money because gas was cheap (in Gotham) and he just wanted to see the world burn. I think he wants what most billionaires want, which is simply just more billions, and then more billions…and then more bil….well, you get the picture. My only hope at this point is that Trump can do a little good for all people in the interim as he secures more cash for him and his friends but I’m not optimistic. It’s not like Trump is going to back pedal on Mexican rapists, or African Americans having nothing to lose, or the ridiculous implicit societal danger of Muslims and Planned Parenthood clinics. And even if Trump succeeds economically, world history will likely remember him as the divisive, racist, sexist, Islamophobic, hyper-sensitive, elitist, female predator that he has proven himself to be. But hey, so what if Trump got elected using hate speak, at least he doesn’t have a private email server, right? I’m setting my cryostasis chamber for 2020. Assuming that we don’t get nuked over a Presidential Twitter fight, someone wake me when America is greater will ya?
Fuck. My. Life.