Saturday, February 11, 2017

Over Half of Trump Supporters: Ignore the Courts

Over Half of Trump Supporters: “Ignore the Courts.” 

I made a critical mistake the other day at my fitness center.  I brought The New Yorker to read while I schlepped along on my elliptical runner.  It was a great article: How to save youth football from injuring itself into extinction.

It wasn’t the article that caused my later issues.  It wasn’t even the cover design, because let’s face it; the New Yorker can put out some crazy political covers.  Witness the eight years of Barack Obama.

Did you know that Half Price Books takes the New Yorker in trade or cash and will pay more for those politically spectacular moments?  That “fist bump” with the President and Michelle fetched at least $3.

This cover was entitled “Waterways” and was a dark watercolor image of ship lights on the Hudson River, I suppose – or maybe the lights at Ellis Island in the wet darkness.  Whatever, it was the bold white letters “New Yorker” across the banner that did me in.

I had inadvertently peeled off my façade – my uniform whiteness, my Southside camaraderie, my required participation in seething anger.  The guy behind me riding his stationary bicycle and watching one of the four big screen stations tuned to Fox News noticed the magazine’s title.

Let me get back to that “Anger.”  Have you noticed that the strongest Trump supporters are not happy, relieved or even appeased with the tycoon’s election as President?  They’re still angry.

Remember in 2008 when Obama won and so many felt that momentary elation?  That lightness of being?  That perhaps maybe we could, “Si se puede?”  The audacity of hope and that gathering in Grant Park? That illusory feeling that we were once again likely to be a whole country; after all, the country had just elected the first Black man to the highest office?  What else could we all accomplish?

How different this time ‘round.  Not happiness or even self-justification. 

On the screens Sean Spicer stutters an excuse to the press, and my nearby runners talk loudly across exercise furniture and through other sweating clients about how President Trump had the (testicles) to make a raid into Yemen unlike that weakling Obama, how that witch Elizabeth Warren got put in her place nicely by McConnell, how the news – even Fox – cannot be trusted…  They're loud - on purpose.

There’s a fascinating observation in the current New Yorker by Adam Gopnik which identifies the psyche of the Trump Administration and its “inner circle” adherents.  Within two weeks of the Inauguration, the hysterical hyperventilators have come to seem more prescient in their fear of incipient autocratic fanaticism than the reassuring pooh-poohers. There’s a simple reason for this: the hyperventilators often read history. Regimes with an authoritarian ideology and a boss man on top always bend toward the extreme edge, because their only organizational principle is loyalty to the capo. Since the capo can be placated only by uncritical praise, the most fanatic of his lieutenants end up calling the shots. Loyalty to the boss is demonstrated by hatred directed against his enemies.”

It’s the February 13th edition of The New Yorker with an image of Lady Liberty’s torch extinguished and sadly smoking.  I’ll bet one of these days – if we all live that long – that the magazine brings at least $3. 

But in this election it appears to me, especially after having outed myself, this reverberation of loyalty to the Leader vibrates down to the lowest and least levels – even a gym.  As the Republican Party evades the responsibilities of true leadership, and the unending fascination of the media remains shackled to the narcissism of the midnight Tweeter, those who supported Trump gladly embrace his imagined or alternatively factual disdain for the Rule of Law and the U.S. Constitution.

“Screw the Appeals Court,” loudly muttered one elliptical runner near me, “just go ahead and stop ‘em all.”

‘Em?  Checks and balances be damned?  Authoritarian government?  “We don’t have to listen to your findings?”

“Badges?  I don’t need to show you no stinkin’ badges.”

According to latest tallies by Public Policy Polling, nearly a quarter of Americans believe that Trump should ignore the Appeals Court findings.  But over 50% of Trump supporters would applaud the novice President’s refusal to follow the judicial finding. 

We shouldn’t be surprised by Trump’s own contempt for the judicial branch.  After all, his own past is a documented panoply of suits and counter suits in various courts, states and countries around the globe.  He sues anyone and everyone.  He loses and pays off with sealed non-disclosure clauses – in order to maintain his haughty and bullish attitude of divine fiat in all business dealings.  His universities, his land schemes, his utilization of his surname to draw in investors and bilk them of millions.  The courts have always been an enemy of the man who defrauds and bamboozles his way to riches.  

A close friend of mine suggested a few weeks ago that I get out of my manicured and polished political universe.  She said I might try to understand the other side’s position.  Perhaps, I could abandon my progressive and left-wing positions just long enough to share discourse with my Trump flag flying neighbor, or partake in Fox news once in awhile. 

Tall order.  But that’s my friend. 

And, really, I do.  I talk to several people with whom I work – ardent Trump supporters from early on.  Also I listen carefully to those who arrive at my retail work place politely, as an attentive and congenial representative would be expected.  (Maybe I share more with Paul Ryan than I know…or want.)

A unique commonality among them all is their unfinished desire “to blow it up.”  To destroy it all.  To demolish the system that has left them in anger and unable to feel safe – from financial penury in old age, a nagging sense that their children will not be safe after they have left the world, that they are not really responsible for their own dissatisfactions. 

And, I think, they have succeeded in finding exactly the right agent for testing every facet of the gossamer that holds together our country, the Rule of Law, a unique attempt to harness the ever-selfish minds of men in a document written so very shortly ago.

“Democratic civilization has turned out to be even more fragile than we imagined; the resources of civil society have turned out to be even deeper than we knew. The battle between these two shaping forces—between the axman assaulting the old growth and the still firm soil and deep roots that support the tree of liberty—will now shape the future of us all.” (Gopnik) 

Read “Americanism” by Adam Gopnik.  It’s truly a razor sharp look at where we are.

And get some exercise…but take your headphones.

1 comment:

  1. “…The Dunning-Kruger effect explains that the problem isn’t just that [Trump Supporters] are misinformed; it’s that they are completely unaware that they are misinformed. This creates a double burden…

    “Science has unequivocally shown that the conservative brain has an exaggerated fear response when faced with stimuli that may be perceived as threatening… As long as Trump continues his fear mongering by constantly portraying Muslims and Mexican immigrants as imminent dangers, many conservative brains will involuntarily light up like light bulbs being controlled by a switch. Fear keeps his followers energized and focused on safety. And when you think you’ve found your protector, you become less concerned with remarks that would normally be seen as highly offensive…

    “A well-supported theory from social psychology, called Terror Management Theory, explains why Trump’s fear mongering is doubly effective. The theory is based on the fact that humans have a unique awareness of their own mortality. The inevitably of one’s death creates existential terror and anxiety that is always residing below the surface. In order to manage this terror, humans adopt cultural worldviews — like religions, political ideologies, and national identities — that act as a buffer by instilling life with meaning and value…

    “The loyalty of Trump supporters may in part be explained by America’s addiction with entertainment and reality TV. To some, it doesn’t matter what Trump actually says because he’s so amusing to watch. With Donald, you are always left wondering what outrageous thing he is going to say or do next. He keeps us on the edge of our seat, and for that reason, some Trump supporters will forgive anything he says. They are happy as long as they are kept entertained...” (