Consider this piece a bookend, if you will, to last week's USAToday column on Citizen Trump.
|Like my little rendering of Trump & Pence?|
So if at times I recoiled at the content—the Mexican rapists, the McCain thing, Megyn bleeding “wherever”—another part of me was titillated by the mere fact that someone, no less a candidate for the presidency, would utter such remarks in front of live mics or in formal sit-downs with Wolf and Megyn herself. The idea of a candidate talking sans filter was refreshing in a world in which we were suddenly supposed to filter everything: a world of safe spaces, trigger warnings and microaggressions. Donald Trump perpetrated MACROaggressions. He did it daily, and even seemed to thrive on doing it. This was all the more uplifting to some of us steeped in academia's stifling protocols, where one is forever at risk of being censured if not booted out for entertaining an unapproved thought. (Colleges are the last places where there ought to be "safe spaces." As I've written in op-eds, colleges are the great laboratories of the mind, and as in actual laboratories, we must sometimes handle that which may harm us.)
'...people are allowed to hold and voice unpopular, even reprehensible, opinions....'The improbable rise of Donald Trump testifies that there are least 13 million Americans who have deeply held beliefs, reasonable beliefs, that they've not been allowed to admit, let alone act upon. Alas, they lack sufficient wealth or status to insulate themselves from blowback from today's increasingly fascistic thought police; more bluntly, they lack “fuck-you money.” Thus, in a sense, in this age of surrogates, The Donald was their surrogate. Even if he didn't specifically address all of their grievances—even if he now and then went overboard—his brashness clearly felt like philosophical camaraderie to Americans who were sick of hearing themselves dismissed as racists, misogynists and xenophobes.
Americans, in other words, who were sick of being tossed into a “basket of deplorables” long before Hillary uttered the piquant neologism. Trump himself hasn't addressed all of the following points, but in a sense his very candidacy speaks to them, symbolizes them. It is not racist to be annoyed by #BlackLivesMatter's enshrinement of thugs like Michael Brown, or to aver that "mass incarceration" is actually "mass criminality." (For the record—memo to college campuses—it's not even illegal to be racist as long as you don't violate any laws by actively discriminating against others.) It is not misogynistic to feel that if a man and woman are both drunk, and they got that way voluntarily, any ensuing sex isn't rape. Nor is it transphobic to harbor the once well-established view that you don't want an adult person of indeterminate gender (but with a penis that would seem to settle the matter) sharing a bathroom with your teenage daughters; at minimum he may embarrass the hell out of them. Are people of traditional mores the only ones we don't care about offending nowadays?
The bottom line is that you can believe all of these things and more without being evil; the millions of Americans who fall into that category should never have been marginalized by our culture to begin with. No small part of Trump's early impetus was that he stood up for people who, despite white privilege (or maybe because of it?), had been disenfranchised by the discourse-tyranny of the Left. Even on those rare occasions when the candidate himself wasn't screaming, his attitude fairly screamed It's OK to speak your mind! Yes, even if what's in your mind is, ironically, unspeakable.
I thus saw Donald Trump as the Lenny Bruce or Sam Kinison of politics, if you will. Or perhaps the Howard Stern: the “shock jock” of political campaigning. Although I don't think I could've ever pulled a lever for him—that seduced I was not—I felt he was an important addition to today's sociopolitical landscape, a necessary counterweight to the coercive forces of neoliberalism.
In more recent days, however, I've had my wake-up call...and a rude awakening it was. It now occurs to me that comedy is comedy, and governance is governance, and never the twain should meet. The man whom I once found “refreshing” in his “honesty” has revealed himself as a serial liar and a pathological narcissist, as well as someone utterly out of his depth in seeking the nation's highest elective office. It also occurs to me that if Trump says reprehensible things, it may be because he's just, well, reprehensible. An awful human being. And if I deem it unlikely that he could reach the Oval Office, it nonetheless aggrieves me that there is always that chance. Especially in recent weeks as he pulls even with Hillary in the polls.
That said, I'm not willing to shoulder my share of blame for Donald Trump; nor will I lay it as a yoke on the shoulders of my fellow Americans who remain in his thrall.
All of this is happening—Trump is happening—because of political correctness.The chickens are home, and roosting madly. This is what you get when you force authorized points of view down people's throats for too long. This is what you get when you tell people that their legitimate fears and hopes and lenses on life are unacceptable, if not "unAmerican."
This, Donald Trump, is what you get. You might even call it "Trump Spring," or, forgive me, trumpnost. Donald Trump is a creature of the backlash against PC orthodoxy. So let us all sit back and gaze upon what we, in our socially just enlightenment, have wrought.