No, That Trump Voter Isn’t “The Nicest Guy You’ll Ever Meet”
My mother is a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service. She can also be a very poor judge of character.
For over two decades, she’s delivered mail to the area just around her house, a pocket of conservative suburban affluence in Oakland County that’s developed so rapidly in recent years that lakeside mansions spouting up alongside dilapidated hillbilly doomsday bunkers is an accepted fact of life.
Here, you get both flavors of Republican: Rich sociopaths and poor sociopaths.
I’m not sure Mom notices this.
It wasn’t uncommon for Mom to befriend the customers on her route, regardless of their social standing, usually due to a shared love of friendly dogs.
For years, whenever I’d call her up she’d relay the same type of banal anecdotes with a sort of heartbreaking innocence, this painful naivety towards the many blatant red flags signaling that the Very Nice Man on her route was not, in fact, a Very Nice Man, but rather a superficially polite one with a friendly dog that really hates foreigners. (The man, not the dog.)
Most of the time, I’d just keep quiet.
I rarely saw the point in interrupting her happy dog story to tell her the person in the story almost definitely posts murder fantasies on Facebook and thinks BLM has been “rioting” for four consecutive months over “fake racism” spread by “the Globalists” to trick the gullible Blacks into voting Democrat even though did you know the Democrats were the bad guys in the Civil War??????
So I’d just bite my tongue. Until recently.
My mother always hated Trump, but after DeJoy’s direct and blatant attack on not only the fundamental voting rights of millions of Americans, but the basic integrity of her job, it became impossible for her to continue overlooking the stark reality that her Nicest Guys You’ll Ever Meets couldn’t care less how many lives their hero ruins, even if it’s someone they smile at every day.
To them, the physical harm Trump causes is less important than whatever vague culture war bullshit makes them look at Donald Trump and think “This is the best person in the world.” Their fandom is nothing more than crude Pavlovian conditioning, and the dopamine spike they get from listening to Trump babble about how his political rivals should be jailed justifies any cost that other people have to pay.
Even if that means nearly a quarter-million Americans will have to die from the virus he refuses to confront.
From Day One of the Trump administration, I’ve been loudly repeating the same simple idea: Trumpism is morally and intellectually indefensible, and anyone who subscribes to it deserves to be judged accordingly. No exceptions.
No, not even for your grandma. It’s so much worse if it’s your grandma. There’s pretty much zero hope for redemption at that point.
Trump began his political career with blatant race-baiting, calling our first Black President a Kenyan spy and arguing that Mexicans are the greatest threat our country faces. (That can only be defeated with a giant cartoon wall built by Wil E. Coyote.) Days later, he accused a Gold Star family whose son heroically gave his life to save his fellow soldiers of supporting terrorism. Then he told us he likes his war heroes not getting captured, and oh yeah, grab ’em by the pussy.
If you support any of that, you’re a total piece of shit.
Here’s the thing about right and wrong: Very little of it is purely subjective. See, while our personal Values — that is, the degree of importance we place on certain positive or negative traits — exist on a gradient that varies wildly from person to person, on the macro level, the rules are pretty clear, regardless of who you are or where you live.
You know what’s right and what’s wrong. If you weren’t born understanding it instinctively, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn it intellectually as you grow up.
Don’t be an asshole to people over things they can’t control. Don’t be an asshole to anyone, if you can help it. Don’t be an asshole to the grieving parents of war heroes. Don’t be an asshole to war heroes that were brutally tortured. Don’t brag about sexually assaulting women and then call your accusers ugly. Don’t…you know what? I think you get the picture.
From the beginning of this nightmare, I think there was a widespread understanding that while The Resistance was making a lot of noise about how none of these things have magically become acceptable now that Joffrey’s President, we also knew that it wouldn’t be long before everyone — left, right, and “center” — began to gradually compromise their morals in the face of public pressure originating from a literal Bully Pulpit.
For liberals, this meant having their own instinctual rejection of absolutism turned against them.
As a general rule, moderately intelligent people with strong critical thinking skills tend to be deeply uncomfortable making sweeping, black-and-white generalizations about millions of people. Their whole lives, they’ve sought out nuance and complexity, conditioned themselves to feel empathy for anyone, if for no other reason than to better understand human nature.
But calling tens of millions of Americans stupid assholes? Even if every day it becomes clearer and clearer that those two words perfectly sum up Trumpism?
They couldn’t do it. The media especially. So they concocted this cop-out narrative where they pretend Trump is some external alien force beamed in from outer space and not the voluntarily elected by millions of people who look, act, and smell exactly as you’d imagine.
They have zero problem treating Trump as a peerless human dumpster fire with no redeeming qualities, yet when talking about the rednecks that worship him as a living god, suddenly they’re tripping over themselves to absolve his cultists of any moral responsibility due to some tragic yet patronizing socioeconomic backstory.
See, it’s not his fault he’s an ignorant racist openly fantasizing about shooting Black protesters! He’s from KENTUCKY! Those people can’t help being backwards savages, so it’s okay!
For the Right, this was much simpler: Just abandon their “””CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES””” at a slightly faster rate than normal.
It’s not as if regularly tossing their entire value system in the trash just because someone with an ® next to their name told them to is somehow new to Republican voters. Trump is the Republican Jesus, and he’s here to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. Every single cruel, selfish, ignorant thing you see and hear Republican voters support today is just an elaboration on what they’d been doing yesterday.
Trump changed nothing except accelerate the path the party was already on.
And for centrists, this just meant doing what they always do: Looking briefly panicked because they forgot to do their homework yet again and don’t want to sound dumb when other people are discussing politics, so they just nervously shouted THE ANSWER IS SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE and I VOTE BASED ON ISSUES, NOT PARTY.
Nobody cares, asshole.
And so the normalization of Trumpism began, with the left dithering and the right blustering, and it wasn’t until the COVID outbreak that some degree of moral clarity began to re-enter our public discourse.
Suddenly, morals weren’t quite so abstract when a doomsday plague is killing thousands and devastating the economy while the President impotently whines about his bullies and brags about his ratings.
Suddenly, the act stopped being cute.
The other half to this narrative is that Trump’s racist, authoritarian response to the BLM protests, best embodied in the beating and gassing of peaceful protesters at LaFayette Square, damaged his reputation as badly as COVID, but as much as I’d like to believe that, it’s hard for me to believe the same people who were okay with calling Mexicans rapists and locking children in cages suddenly had a change of heart.
The real reason the race riots damaged Trump was because COVID had already wounded him. Faced with a problem he couldn’t solve with name-calling, Trump no longer appeared useless and lost. Now his helplessness was a quantifiable fact, as the death toll climbed and Trump could do nothing but whine about how all these Never Trumper corpses are making him look bad.
We all know what happened next. Trump didn’t learn a damn thing, contracted the virus himself, decided that the only reason he survived it was sheer force of will, then formally surrendered, promising a magic cure is right around the corner.
After all of that, there are still tens of millions of people who still, somehow, worship him as a god.
I recently got into an argument on Twitter with a guy trying to downplay COVID fatalities, and I told him I wasn’t going to argue specific numbers because the very fact that he’s trying to massage this into anything but a catastrophic failure in leadership and a totally preventable tragedy revealed him to be a complete sociopath that chose party loyalty over the lives of his countrymen.
He replied by asking me to feel sorry for Mike Pence getting bullied by the media.
Human nature has a weakness for people with rudimentary social skills. It’s kind of ridiculous how our brains place so much emphasis on pleasant first impressions caused by eye contact and a smile. I’m sure that if you sat down and spoke to a lot of these people face to face, they’d seem very lovely.
If they think you’re one of them.
And this is the real problem: We’re afraid to call people out after they’ve been nice to us, so we unnecessarily complicate the problem by presenting it as some mysterious paradox. He’s The Nicest Guy You’ll Ever etc, yet still he supports all these stupid and evil things! How can such a thing be possible????
Simple. He’s not a nice person. He’s a cruel, selfish person, and if his cruelty is fueled by ignorance, then his sheer apathy towards the plights of others, what Churchill called “an appalling lack of curiosity”, speaks volumes about his true nature.
So please, let’s all agree to cut the bullshit. There’s far too much of it as is. Stop elevating functioning social skills to the point that they determine a person’s character more than, you know, their actual beliefs.
And if the Nicest Guy You’ll Ever Meet is a Trump supporter, then dude, get better friends.