Trumpism and truthiness

Trump famously said he could shoot someone on fifth avenue and he wouldn’t lose voters. That was putting it a bit too strongly perhaps, but basically it has proven to be true. The vote is just a couple of days away now, and he is still standing and might even win.

Of all the things he’s done in his career and said during this campaign that could and should have disqualified him and turned the voters against him, the only thing that really made even a small dent was the whole “grab them by the pussy” thing, and even that lasted only a week or so.

From the beginning, the central plank in his platform, if you can call it a platform, has been a strong  anti-immigration stance – deport the illegals, build a wall, no Muslims allowed (morphed into “extreme  vetting”), and so on.

Today, The Guardian is reporting that Melania worked in the U.S. before getting a work visa. In other words, she was an illegal, taking jobs from Americans. I only read the headline, not the story, partly because I don’t give a shit about this, but mostly because I know that whatever the revelation, scandal, hypocrisy, or outright lie might be, it won’t affect Trump’s standing with his supporters one bit.

Yet, this is exactly the kind of thing that would sink any Democratic candidate faster than an errant email. Or at least dominate the news for weeks, like nanny-gate. But Democrats live in the fact-based world and must be accountable for their statements and actions. For Trump, it just isn’t going to matter at all.

All the old proverbs and litmus tests that used to apply in Republican presidential politics have been shown to be a smoke screen: “family values”,  strong military background, fiscal responsibility, never-talk-shit-about-other-Republicans, unshakeable anti-abortion credentials, and so on, were just slogans of convenience.

I’d bet anything that somewhere along the line, one of his three wives, his daughter, one of his Miss Universe employees, or one of the pussy-grabees has had an abortion that Trump paid for. I’d also bet that if this came to light today, none of his supporters would hold it against him even a little bit. But there’s no need to speculate on such things when the already-known list of Trump’s words and actions that violate Republican “principles” is so long.

No, for the Trump supporter, it’s always been about “truthiness”.

According to the word’s inventor, Stephen Colbert, truthiness means “how you feel is more important than what the facts are, and that the truth that you feel is correct is more important than anything that the facts could support”.

It was kind of funny and certainly true when applied to talk radio and FoxNews, but I don’t think many people took it seriously as something that could be ridden to the White House in the form of this toxic Trumpism.  How wrong we all were.

Adam Gopnik wrote this recently:

What can be causing Trumpism? We ask, and seek for an earthquake, or at least a historical oddity or a series of highly specific causal events. The more tragic truth is that the Trumpian view of the world is the default view of mankind. Bigotry, fanaticism, xenophobia are the norms of human life—the question is not what causes them but what uncauses them, what happens in the rare extended moments that allow them to be put aside, when secular values of toleration and pluralism replace them.

What really needs explaining is not why the Trumps of the world come forward and win. It is why they sometimes lose.


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