Why Every Anti-Trump Media Grenade Makes Him an Ever More Powerful Messiah
I'm sure that 2004 Donald Trump was inspired to make his "Never give up--scale every wall put before you--never ever give up!" graduation speech by reading Henry Cabot Lodge's speech in 1898 (see the video above.)
But I know HCL's words (and me personally spending the equivalent of 2 years outside America visiting and living in other cultures and races) inspired me to a level of religious/cultural/racial tolerance for others that I expect out of ANYONE for whom I consider a true friend (with a few exceptions for some of the irreversible but lovable bigots I grew up with--and you know who you are!).
Does my self-professed cultural enlightenment or Lodge's speech mean anything to Donald Trump's base? Of course not--but here is his speech anyway--my enlightenment or lack of it is not my point. Lodge defines the world that I came from and the American tribe I was born into and that I came to thrive within.
"While the people who for 250 years have been migrating to America have continued to furnish large numbers of immigrants to the United States, other races of totally different race origin, with whom the English-speaking people have never hitherto been assimilated or brought in contact, have suddenly begun to immigrate to the United States in large numbers. Russians, Hungarians, Poles, Bohemians, Italians, Greeks, and even Asiatics, whose immigration to America was almost unknown twenty years ago, have during the last twenty years poured in in steadily increasing numbers, until now they nearly equal the immigration of those races kindred in blood or speech, or both, by whom the United States has hitherto been built up and the American people formed." Henry Cabot Lodge speaking before Congress,1896
This is my tribe. The world that Henry Cabot Lodge described was the world my immigrant forefathers came from. From them eventually came my WASPy college educated parents and my twin brother and we both hit the genetic lottery. Our parents loved us and stayed married. The encouraged us to be whatever we could imagine--Baby Boomers got that a lot. We could afford to go to college. We could also afford to make dumb but important mistakes. Most importantly--we had a family and financial assets to fall back on when we need help to pick ourselves up and try again. We had an incredible leg-up on most Americans--the opportunity to fail.
Eventually we both did OK and have the kind of worries and problems most commonly described today as "first world problems."
But for 2015 DJT, he was obviously inspired a lot more by White Supremacist/Anti-Immigrant Congressman Steve King of Iowa as his muse for connecting to anti-immigration white working-class Americans we know call Deplorables. These are people not like me who did not share my world experience. These were people suffering from real world problems. People for whom 21st century capitalism was not working. Where family units were being torn apart. Where 70 children and young adults were dying of heroin overdoses per day. Where life expectancy was up to 20% lower than my tribe. Moreover, these were people who felt they played by the rules of a middle class working class life but the rules changed and no one told em.
For some reason (which now is obvious), the rich kid from the multicultural low brow borough of Queen's--looked down upon by Manhattan's elite families as subway trash--connected with those who feel communally victimized by the unstoppable march of commercial and cultural progress circa 1980 to 2019. And he picked the right muse because Congressman King indeed tested the Trumpian Doctrine and his daily stump speech for a dozen years before this feral political neophyte synthesized and dumbed down King's white victimhood rap. By the time Trump had converted Kingism to 5th grade Trumpian performance art (and watched 10,000 hours of Fox News tribal fear and hate pornography), Trump had discovered the secret combination to heart and soul of America's small city/rural white working class men and women and cultural conservatives.
What was the secret? Don't tell them about what America "is about" because they don't care. Tell them who sold them out and who to blame and give them the emotional labor the want to scream and yell about it till, if only for a moment, they forget for a few hours what happens when they go home or turn off the TV.
In retrospect, the Deplorables and Trump were a match made in reality TV and social media heaven. When you consider the cumulative psychological and tribal activating effect of:
- thousands of hours of 24/7/365 Trumpian fear mongering that
- feeds cultural paranoia and communal victimhood +
- watching 5-7 hours a day of inaccurate/made-up statistics and the endless cultural fear grenades thrown by fixed outcome and staged Fox News tribal partisan pornography to
- profoundly mal-informed Americans
- the dominance of outrage based social media content for clicks, likes and shares
this unprecedented level of tribal activation (not seen since Goebbel and 30's Germany) can only be described as massively effective right-wing brainwashing. In short, by 2015 the Deplorable constituency was there--all Trump had to do with find and tune into their emotional frequency and start performing his reality TV schtick (PS--look up the audience and demo for reality TV) .
Now add in the anger that cultural white conservatives (94 million self-identified Evangelicals and a subset of 48 million Christian fundamentalists) viscerally feel from the consider to be the liberal cultural triumphalism they see, read and hear from the left wing on matters of THEIR identity (read "white identity vs. multicultural acceptance"), race ( read "white supremacy"), gender (read "biblical fundamentalist hatred of LGBTQ Americans as deviants who need to be converted" ) and "assimilation" (read "why don't those first-generation immigrants speak perfect non-accented English and their kids play American sports ??") and what do you get?
You get the true "base" of Donald Trump extruded through a pressure cooker of tribal fear, rage, blame and hate pornography courtesy of conservative radio and then Fox News which pre-conditioned the Deplorables for a virulent strain of Trumpism even Roger Ailes never imagined (and originally fought back against).
America's Reality Today: Today Donald Trump is the ONLY person on the national stage that the culturally alienated "Resist Liberal Anti-Christian Multiculturalism" tribe can truly count on to be the cultural and historical revisionist messiah they prayed for. Absurdly as it for someone like me who has known and interviewed Donald Trump for 20+ years (and only knew him as a three times married very socially liberal hedonistic NYC Democrat), the cognitive dissonance of DJT as the messianic leader of the disenfranchised and disaffected working class WASPs proved to be the unending root cause of "Trump Derangement Syndrome" for lucky sperm club people like me. That DJT now stands up as the crusading antidote for what the culturally right wing considers abhorrent non-white/non-Christian legal immigration, heretical gay marriage and LGBTQ acceptance, the dominance of college/university staff and professors teaching liberal 21st century cultural mores and multi-cultural tolerance is more than mind-blowing--it's cognitively incomprehensible to many.
But it is reality. We don't get jiggy if we live in the Northeast and it snows--it happens. But to add insult to injury, there is what social psychologists tell us is the cognitive "backfire effect" that now makes Trumpism a bulletproof positive feedback loop, too. This backfire effect concept was born in the 20's when a group of coast-to-coast newspapers ran a week-long anti-KKK section featuring gruesome images and details of lynchings in the Deep South. To their amazement, instead of stopping the KKK with moral outrage, the KKK soon after added 100,000+ new members. It seemed that there was a great number of benign KKK sympathisers who were tribally activated to actually join the KKK in retaliation for what they perceived to be the liberal Yankee media ganging up on their culturally entrenched Jim Crow white supremacy cultural roots.
Well folks--I can report with certainty that this cultural backfire feedback loop is back with a vengeance in 2019 and, because of 100 million views of Fox News/Trump TV content every month, 100X more powerful.
The great WSJ columnist Dan Henninger points out in his Jan 10, 2019 column with an email from a reader "I am unalterably supportive (of Trump) of the flawed vessel that he is. It's not the man I support--it's the unending (liberal media) resistance to his message that binds us to him."
In other words, until 2015 Trump, the 21st century triumph of liberal culturalism was rubbed in their cultural fundamentalist faces 24/7. The have lived every day and night for the last 20 years (and most vividly during the Obama administration) with late night talk show, popular movies and programs/op-eds/articles on MSNBC/CNN/NY TIMES/Wa Post etc (which they don't ever watch or read of course but somehow they "see and hear") which violates, belittles and systematically makes fun of their deeply held cultural and evangelical beliefs 24/7.
For all intents and purposes, they felt they are strangers in their own country--and to a guy like me they were right. Unless it was an airport or a drive to my golf course the back way, I for 40 years lived a life outside Deplorables America.
So finally--they feel they have someone who will fight for them and their culture--and his 5th grade level speeches, 7500 verified lies/delusions/made-up "facts" and boorish insults and unpresidential behavior would never make them give up on their warrior messiah who fights the "good fight" on their behalf.
In fact, its that very anti-elite behavior and words of their tribal leader pouring virtual turpentine down their multicultural, mostly secular tribal enemy's throats that they find so endearing and bonding. It's their tribal, visceral hatred of the “others"-- the smug, godless cultural elites who conservative media teaches them dominates national media. Conservative media failed to tell them 67% of America's $20 Trillion economy now comes from urban/suburban America vs. 33% for small city/rural America in 2019. But nothing Trump says or does no matter HOW much lying, misogyny, racist language and actions nor the immoral activities in his recent past count as long as he villiefies and blames his followers failures on folks like me.
And they have a point. "Who here is not a sinner? What did we get for our vote and allegiance to the GOP aristocracy? Globalism that took some of our jobs and then 12 million illegal immigrants that became the de facto business model of America's low-skill service industries."
Trump was right--what did white working class America really have to lose voting for the Music Man from 5th Avenue NYC vs. Hillary the Shrew (who with her husband had cleared over $350 million in cash money after Billary left the White House). And BOY does it ever feel great to watch the Mitt Romney's of the world pontificate about how "awful Trump acts and the how the stench of Trumpism shrouds America and our good standing in the world."
"Who cares" the Deplorables scream back--what did the rest of the world do for me other than kill or mame our young men and women in war and steal our middle class paying industrial and manufacturing jobs? What do we owe them?
THAT my friends is the nuclear powered yin and yang of the Trumpian cognitive backfire effect. The more Trumpian heretics like me waste my time and electrons pointing out the obvious economic, political and most of all personal insanity of electing a reality TV star as POTUS, the more his base experiences the backfire effects and the become more bonded and closes the protective circle around their tribal messiah. Trumpism is now digital positive feedback loop which means it gets STRONGER with each attack, not weaker.
How is that possible? More cognitive hardwiring. That Trump promised his Deplorable tribe he would bring back 1980's America by 2020 missed the point. He of course can't perform magic or induce time travel, but just the belief he is trying feels breathtakingly cathartic and brings a dash of hope (and dopamine and adrenaline) to many who have become hopeless.
In WWE wrestling where many of his base first discovered Donald Trump (he IS in the WWE Hall-of-Fame), they call the preference for emotional satisfaction from illusion over objective fact "kayfabe." Kayfabe is a mental construct--the WWE audience knows the show is fixed but don't break the illusion and neither does the entertainer.
Mix the power of kayfabe illusion with the tribal bonding cognitive backfire effect and voila--you have the magnetic and magical teleportation psychology that created millions of proud rally cheering Deplorables and the powerful attraction of the cult-of-personality we call "Trumpism."
How will this cultural wildfire, burning ever-so-more powerfully end? When does the emotional kindling and underbrush of hatred and fear and indignation burn out? Numerically it ends by demographics in 2048-52 when white America is a minority (like California will be in 2025). Tragically, that date is accelerating due to the nearly 20% lower life expectancy disparity between small/rural white America and urban/suburban multicultural America.
In the meantime, the left-wing tribe could learn to expand their multi-cultural tolerance tent to include another culture--white evangelicals and Christian fundamentalists who after all ARE our fellow Americans too--but don't count it. It's just way to good to embrace every culture as your equal and worthy of compassion but yet feel so morally and so intellectually superior to a culture inside your own county that you never physically meet in your daily life UNLESS you see or hear their cultural and political proxy Donald J. Trump.
Why do self-described “proud left wing liberal and progressives” hate Donald Trump so much? Why do us #NeverTrump folks shudder at virtually every malaprop out of DJT's 5th grade mouth or misspelled tweet? What I have found is it starts with the fact that Trump shape-shifted into the living example of everything we find morally and ethically repugnant AND superior to in American life—the poorly educated, mostly unintellectual white working class who, in their shabby small cities and rural America with nary a sushi joint, just won't bow down and pay homage to the moral and ethical superiority of 21st century multiculturalism and cultural liberalism.
I can't speak for everyone--but I can speak for me. Donald Trump triggers every one of my worst instincts and emotions. I am the polar opposite of his white God fearing working class. I don't have a bone of Deplorable in my body. I would no sooner vote for Donald Trump than Hitler.
But somehow, the instinctively feral Donald Trump figured out that at the margin in 2016, there were enough of my polar opposites in enough counties in previously Democrat voting states to win the electoral college and become President of the United States. He also knew from his decades trying to climb the social ladder in NYC society people like me hate him and his behavior and would never vote for him any way just as NYC society would never invite him to a big time soare.
So now I really think the 2016 election WAS a message--from God/Moses/Jesus/Mohammed--you choose.
The message was this: "It's time to take the high and mighty down a peg and wake them the fuck up. If you drink $50 chardonnay as your everyday house wine and ignore the 78% numerical majority of Americans who live paycheck-to-paycheck and don't subscribe to the NY Times or Washington Post--you do so at extreme peril to your nice cushy life. A constitutional democracy cannot survive where it's economic system/form of capitalism is not working for more than 66% of American households. Consider this a warning shot--because the next one is going to hurt more than just endless cognitive dissonance."
For all the reasons stated above, the Deplorables are NOT going away. The people at the top can pretend they will, but as long as they have a 24/7 messiah they feel fights for them, they are not.
And frankly, if we ignore their message, we elites get what we deserve. It's their America too.