Why It’s So Hard To Write About Trumpism
This is gonna be something of a mess.
In the weeks leading up today, I decided, against my better judgment, to rummage through all the 80% complete Trump pieces sitting on my Google Docs account and publish as many as I could before the election.
This proved more difficult than I initially thought, because one of the defining paradoxes of Trumpism is that it takes a lot of complexity to engineer a movement this stupid.
It’s not like other, more one-dimensionally evil political movements, like the Nazis or the Confederacy, because while it certainly takes a lot of social engineering to brainwash millions of people into believing absurdities and committing atrocities, at least the race-baiting populists of the past had a clear, straightforward thesis with a definable goal.
Yeah, they’re evil, but at least they’re coherent: If we exploit Group X, we will prosper from their suffering. You make up a bullshit narrative to justify your cruelty and soothe your conscience— the Jews are plotting against us, the Blacks are incapable of self-governance — then boom. You’ve given humanity one more problem to deal with. Thanks, asshole.
But Trumpism has always lacked that sort of focus for one simple reason: Trump is actually crazy.
I know we’ve said this a billion times these past couple years, but I don’t think people attribute the weight this idea fully deserves. It’s usually a colloquial way of saying he’s delusional, or a narcissist, or a perfect storm of every mental illness in existence. But what we’ve tended to overlook was that his General Craziness is so overpowering it’s prevented his philosophy from having any definable traits beyond that which immediately benefits him.
Meanwhile, his supporters, people who aren’t very good at the whole “healthy skepticism” thing, exist in this sort of weird vortex wherein they’re faintly aware that Trump doesn’t care about them beyond their utility as an Ego Fleshlight, but at the same time kind of want to think he does, while at the same time projecting themselves onto this image of Trump The Alpha Winner, thereby making his own selfish goals their own, so in a convoluted, roundabout way, it’s okay that he’s a corrupt piece of shit because it benefits their unspoken, subconscious power fantasies.
It’s not my fault this is such a mess. At least the Nazis could rope in actual intellectuals to give their braindead worldview a veneer of respectability. Trumpism doesn’t even have that because Trump has fired every competent person in his employ. His followers, then, have put so little thought into anything that it’s your responsibility as an adult to fill in the gaps for them.
So you’ve got a racist movement that refuses to say it’s racist, because in 2020 everyone knows “racist” is an insult, so instead they rely on really obnoxious, passive-aggressive “I’m-not-touching-you” trolling where they’ll pay half-assed lip service to saying Racism Is Bad amidst their nonstop bitchfests about how much they hate minorities.
Nobody believes them. I’m not sure they even realize how unconvincing their whole “name ONE time Trump was racist!” shtick is, because they put so little stock into the feelings of others beyond a superficial fear of being unpopular.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m really, really glad these people are incapable of goal-setting or having any sort of endgame with regards to how they treat people of color, but for anyone with a basic grasp of political science, it feels awkward and unnatural to describe a political party like it’s a closeted gay man that’s doing a terrible job of hiding it. You have to tell these people what they believe because you understand them better than they understand themselves.
My point is, most of those “80% done” pieces I expected to tear through all began to expand and sprawl all over each other, to the point where I eventually threw my hands in the air and said “Fuck it, I’ve only got 6 followers, so let’s stop pretending I’m on a tight deadline and treat this what it is: A once-in-a-lifetime chance to go on record about how I think one of the most significant moments in history will play out.
As a result, I’m bumping the longer Trump pieces back a couple weeks to focus on the here and now.
So let’s do it.