Yesterday, I googled a piece of old news and ran it past my friend Swamp Rabbit. The gist of the article was that many Democrats and independents who voted for Obama in 2012 didn’t vote at all in 2016 and would have put Hillary Clinton over the top in key states if they had.
Prior to this we’d been jawing about religion, “the opium of the masses,” as Karl Marx called it in the 19th century, before organized religion ran out of gas and the ruling classes came up with other activities — sports fandom, celebrity worship, reality TV watching, Facebook, video games — to distract people from their unhappiness with the status quo.
“Am I leaving out any opiates of the masses?” I asked Swamp Rabbit.
“Opium itself,” he said. “Oxycontin and heroin and all them other drugs. And whiskey, my personal favorite.”
I reconsidered and told him it was unfair to blame Donald Trump’s election on drugs or any other single distraction, even reality TV, the medium he used to become a candidate. All the distractions are merely symptoms, not the cause, of the disease that ruined the body politic.
Swamp Rabbit groaned. “So what is it ruined the body politic, whatever that is?”
Loss of hope was the cause, I told him. The belief that we have government for the corporations, not for the people.
“The Trumpers voted against hope,” I said, climbing on my soapbox. “Against affordable health care and a living wage for the poor, against the idea that whites can co-exist with non-whites. They voted for isolationism and climate change denial, for a guy who routinely cheated contractors who did business with him, who made fun of the disabled and bragged about grabbing pussy.”
“That don’t make no sense,” Swamp Rabbit replied. “Nobody votes against hope. Them peeps voted for Trump because Hillary dissed them. Because they thought Trump would make America great again.”
I told him they voted for Trump out of spite, not hope. Because Trump was the perfect vehicle for expressing their frustration and fear of the future.
Democrats who didn’t vote were as despairing and spiteful as the Trump voters, I added. They convinced themselves that Clinton, because she wasn’t progressive enough, would be as bad for the country as Trump.
“And now we’re stuck with a malicious orange clown who’s trying hard to become a dictator,” I said. “How great is that?”
Swamp Rabbit chewed on that thought for a minute. “We ain’t got religion to fall back on,” he replied. “Even whiskey don’t help much. I guess we need a new drug.”