Yesterday I showed Swamp Rabbit a line from a pre-election news story:
Two years of political volatility will culminate Tuesday, when voters for the first time since the stunning 2016 election render a nationwide judgment on whether Trumpism is a historic anomaly or a reflection of modern-day America.
Now it’s Wednesday and the people have spoken. Trumpism isn’t an anomaly, it’s a reflection of the deeply held beliefs of more than 40 percent of American voters.
Trump has slurred Latinos, mocked the physically disabled, bragged of being a pussy grabber. He has declared bankruptcy six times, championed a massive tax cut for the one percent, gutted the EPA, tried to kill Obamacare, antagonized America’s closest allies, started an ill-advised trade war with China, embraced Vladimir Putin and other dictators, obstructed the Justice Department’s ongoing probe of Russian interference in recent elections, and much more.
Trump’s fans don’t flock to him in spite of his beastliness; they flock to him because of it. They look in the mirror and see him. He knows his base is solid, which is why he campaigned so hard in the midterms for candidates who are almost as hideous as he is, but not as popular — Ted Cruz, Rick Scott and so on. His personal intervention arguably helped Republicans maintain control of the Senate and hurt the chances of the African American candidates for governor in Georgia and Florida.
I chattered on and Swamp Rabbit played devil’s advocate. “You don’t know that for sure,” he said. “Maybe them peckerwoods was just doing what they thought was best for them.”
“They were doing what Trump said was best,” I replied. “They were voting for protection from elitists and Muslim terrorists and uppity blacks and armies of Central American who were coming to steal their jobs.”
I told him that Trumpism in its natural state is a brand of snake oil that first caught on with blue-collar Democrats who backed George Wallace in 1968 and thus helped elect Richard Nixon. The snake oil became more potent over the decades as right-wing propagandists worked to convince “Middle Americans” that blacks and feminists and heathens and sinister socialists were responsible for the ongoing decline in their standard of living. It helped elect Reagan and Bush Sr. and Dubya.
“That’s just a lot of talk,” the rabbit said. “What’s it got to do with Trump?”
“He’s the best snake oil salesmen yet,” I replied. “Only a master con man can keep selling it on such a large scale, after losing an election by almost three million votes.”
The rabbit stood up and glared. “You ain’t gonna start comparing Trump to them dictators again, I hope.”
“You said it,” I said. “Not me.”
Footnotes: The U.S. is still split in half, just as it was before the Civil War… Yes, Democrats recaptured the House. Not by much, but it’s a big step… Whatever happened to that investigator? Mueller, I think his name was.