Gawd! That Saturday Night Live skit was funny. Or too close to home. Or horrendous. Or pandering. Whatever. It’s just…whatever.
I mean they captured Donald perfectly, right? He is a racist. Or, wait. Maybe he’s just playing to a racist crowd. Maybe he is the smartest guy in the room. Whatever. It’s just whatever. There’s no way he’ll win.
That’s the feeling I get from my students. Whatever. He’s a jackass. He’s a this. A that. They’re plugged into the political process now. They seek out John Oliver’s tele-editorialism. That’s cool. They might’ve heard about #BlackLivesMatter and #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter now. That’s a step in the right direction; they have to take in many sides of any issue. In some ways Trump is exactly what we need. He’s the stark wake up call. My students realize at least that much.
But the media has a huge #BonerforTrump right now. It’s tremendous, I can assure you. I’m not referring to the televised media solely. New York Times, NPR, Slate, Esquire, Five Thirty Eight, Democracy Now, The Intercept, The Drudge Report, Breitbart. All of it. Largely I am thankful for the abundance of coverage; a Rubix Cube needs to be toyed with in order to solve it. But more and more, it feels like we are being trolled. Or scammed. Maybe we’re the jackasses. Maybe we’re the Rubix Cube!
The #BonerforTrump has obfuscated everything. Everything about his campaign and the political Dark Ages we find ourselves revisiting/entering. Trump sells, so we only hear his most virulent moments and not the hours of boring stumping his rallies usually look like. Trump excites/incites, so we consume his flashiest/crassiest turns of phrase. The #Boner has already won.
Yes. I hear you. It’s important to understand how he wants to reinstitute torture as a pillar of our foreign policy. It’s important that he has no foreign policy. It’s important to understand his rhetoric about immigrants and walls. It’s important to contextualize his jockeying to be the savior of the working American. It’s important to understand his juxtapositions are as much intentionally nuanced as they are blatantly obvious to create a level cognitive dissonance that can only be described as Trumpian. Maybe Americans are too lazy to parse through the farce?
It’s also important to understand what Cruz is selling us as the reasoned, positioned GOP candidate. I know! That’s crazy! It’s important to grapple with the rhetoric he is selling. It’s important to know a lot of all of this. Keep watching, reading, consuming.
Remain glued, America.
But, we have some serious blinders on right now. The thinking goes: If the Republican establishment, or Hillary, or Glenn Beck can discover his kryptonite in time for the general election, American values will be restored. It will go to show that we have not lost our minds. If we can just find a way to isolate the man, we’ll be fine. But, the #BonerforTrump isn’t going limp any time soon. There may not be any kryptonite.
His supporters, win or lose, are now politicized and engaged. They are voting like never before. The vicious, the vociferous, the vain have emerged from the shadows of the American electorate and are showing up en masse. Yeah, in some ways, it’s that simple. They are voting more than other political blocs. Maybe that’s temporary.
But we cannot disregard the vehemence and violence and vitriol this voting bloc foments. If #Boner wins, the marginalized and largely white audience will be vindicated in their passions for bigotry, celebrity, empty policy, free speech, free guns, greatness. That kind of mandate for a new president will be dangerous, we fear, for the entire world.
But let’s get honest with this bleak American political landscape. These Americans are not going to recede into their exurbs, insularity, whiteness after this election if he loses. His victories in Massachusetts, Virginia, Kentucky and Nevada exemplify this reality. This take back. Their worldview has already been validated.
Let’s play the If game.
If Trump wins, calm down. Won’t he get shutout by Congress? The political gridlock will continue even more than what Obama has endured. But, his rhetoric, in response to this stalemate and increasing ungreatness, will discover more scapegoats, more channels for voter frustration. Understand, if #Boner can’t achieve anything as President, it won’t be his fault. The anger that may put him in office will only increase.
If he loses this election, the voters who are fed up with career politicians and corruption aren’t going to take it in stride. What good is Hillary or Cruz going to do that will redirect our ungreatness? Imagine Trump running again in 2020 as the antidote to a four-year lame duck Executive. Even if he doesn’t run, the media isn’t going to stop covering his takedowns and insults of the person who wins come November.
The two-party system is on life support, if it even exists at all. Hillary is no more a Democrat than Trump is a Republican. The Democratic base is just as schizophrenic and wildly angry as the right side of the aisle. But, the media has not covered their fracture nearly as intently as the Republican side of the circus tent.
As much as anything this election demonstrates that America is the midst of the greatest con of all time. #Boner’s lack of policies and political acumen aren’t going to set up the next generation for a better America, but many Americans may not really care. And Hillary’s is a campaign that all but acknowledges 8 more years of a 21st Century status quo (endless war, pro-Corporate economics, a Machiavellian class of wealth and power controlling the coffers and the drones) as the lesser of two evils. The candidacy of the Left is an assurance that there will be nothing but gridlock. Think a Sanders White House is going to get anything done? This stalemate will perpetuate our infrastructurally unsound country. The ungreatness will abound.
Trump or not, this abundance of ungreatness will open the door to more scapegoating policies by future candidates. Don’t kid yourself. The next generation of politicians/entertainers/con artists are taking note of the excessive success of the #Boner campaign. In the future, it’ll get uglier. More platforms of racial divisiveness. More of the determinism that America needs leaders of strength and tenacity. Leaders who quash dissent. Who bully their own colleagues and citizens. Who dare the world to fuck with us.
When balancing our options in an election, sure, decency usually wins out. Yes, rationality, or something akin, unites us. But if there is one thing I am learning this election cycle, it’s that we’re participating in a game that no longer give points for decency and rationality. Those metrics are for pussies. And, we can’t forget, there are more people playing the game than ever before. Sure, they’ve always been able to play, but they preferred to jeer from the sidelines. Now they’re terrorizing the field of play. Louder and more incendiary. Angrier and less patient. More apt to gravitate toward candidates who say what’s on their mind than someone who says what’s actually believable.
So, let’s continue gobbling up the hysterics as if we’re simply binge watching Season 4 of House of Cards. It’s exciting to be watching something so brazen and alarming take place at political rallies and in our streets. It’s reassuring to know that no matter whom we elect, our children are no better off—because think of the possibilities for what’s to come next season! We won’t be making the world safer. And that’s entertaining too!
My students are going to be so lucky when they’re my age: Can you imagine what the 2024 season of #BonerForPresident will be like? I think I do. We’re gonna wish it was as benign as 2016 again.