Why Trump Will Always be “My” President
I said a lot of things about Trump during his first term, but one thing I never said was that he was “not my president.” He was elected under the laws of the country I am a citizen of, and he served as the legitimate head of state. He was and always will be “my” president.
As any good American will tell you, there is no crying in baseball. Win or lose, you accept the result. Don’t like it? Play harder next time. America hates a loser more than it hates a bully, so just win already.
“Liberals” (which has really just become code for everyone with views anywhere to the left of Joseph Goebbels) would do well to heed my exhortation. If they want to know why they have so steadily lost ground over the 50 years leading up to the moment when a gaggle of incompetent, dishonest “justices” all too predictably ignored sound legal precedent, they’re going to have to confront some pretty uncomfortable truths.
What makes the impending re-litigation of Roe v. Wade so especially galling is that majority opinion is on your side, and you still lost. On almost any issue, a majority of Americans disagree with bald-faced hypocrites like Mitch McConnell. As has been dutifully reported as if it were proof that the draft decision somehow isn’t actually happening, two thirds of Americans believe abortion should be safe and legal.
That 2/3 majority doesn’t matter in this or any of the other important issues of the day.
On the issue of gun control, a strikingly similar percentage of Americans (61%) support a ban on assault rifles (although the results are highly sensitive to wording). Here again, you can check the laws, and…still very easy to buy an AR-15 at your local Cabela’s in most states in the union.
On the issue of taxation, a majority of Americans generally favor taxing the rich, and yet…taxation rates remain at historically low levels. Compared to post-war America, public revenue capacity has never been more concentrated in the hands of so few people. You have to go back to the turn of the prior century to find a more messed-up tax structure than the one we have right now.
On the issue of global warming, an eerily familiar 63% of Americans believe the government should be doing more about it, and yet here again it is minority rule. We are still sitting on our hands doing next to nothing about global warming. All the wind and solar power that’s come online and all the F-150 Lightnings trickling out of Ford’s plants can’t keep up with the rising tide of consumption that is leading us to crack the earth open and release natural gas and oil — along with a flood of methane.
You can’t view any of these things out of context. Context matters. How important are these views versus other views? Are there constellations of beliefs that underpin these, and do the other stars in those formations burn brighter?
Yes. A thousand times yes, and if “liberals” don’t understand those motivations, they’ll keep losing.
Every American comes to learn a simple fact: “I” is all that matters. Each of us believes that we are an indivisible element. This metaphysical importance may seem freeing, but it burdens each of us with the full responsibility for everything. We are closely watched and closely judged. You must “make something of yourself,” and you are sure that you will, if only others don’t stand in your way. This belief is stronger than all the other beliefs, and the American soul will preserve it at all costs. The worst thing — worse than being played for a fool, worse than having every dollar sucked out of your wallet by cynical duopolies that hem you in on all your purchases, worse than being forced to endure the prospect of bankruptcy caused by an unfortunate malady or car accident, worse even than slowly starving as the world’s climate system breaks down — is admitting you are a loser. No, you are master of your world. You want to speed down that highway, no matter the cost. You want to eat whatever you want to eat, buy whatever you want to buy, do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it. You are just as important as Jeff or Elon, and in the interest of keeping that belief alive, you will — perversely — protect their indirect interests so long as you can defend your right to advance your direct interests. You identify with them, even as their day-to-day reality starkly departs from your own. To admit anything else is to accept being secondary, and that is the worst fate imaginable.
Even the most liberal of the liberal know it’s true: the individual is all that matters. Yes, liberals have compassion. They care about others. But they know they care about themselves first and foremost, and they don’t fully know what to do with their impulse to cooperate with others. They apologize for their consciences and their sense of fairness. They make jokes about the awfulness of the people who admit they don’t care about anything but throwing a steak on the grill. The fact they have to cloak their criticisms in irony is a sad tell.
This is why Trump won. The sense of outrage on the part of so many for being told they are wrong was (and still is) infinitely stronger than the weak good the liberals are fighting for. Fairness? Pronouns? The Right has successfully painted these things as illegitimate impositions on individual liberty, while the liberals stammered an apology for their beliefs.
The Right also understood how to play by the rules of the game. They consolidated their advantage slowly and steadily. Admittedly, they have an easier time of it, since all they want to do is wreck and obstruct. Liberals have to build something positive and maintain it. Republicans aren’t encumbered with expectations of reasonableness. They just slash taxes, eliminate regulations, undermine institutions. Spite and cynicism are such simpler messages.
So what are the “liberals” (read: “centrists”) to do?
- Run a good economy. Yes, fight climate change, but do it by quietly making non-carbon energy cheaper and carbon more expensive and by creating new jobs; and for god sake, say you’re “building a great economy,” not “fighting global warming.” The people who care about global warming will get it — you don’t need to convince them.
- Promote safety for all. I’ve written about this before, but when you talk about social justice, talk about it in the context of better protections for all. Stop talking about redressing historical wrongs, and stop making it sound like you’re going to let criminals commit crime. Give indifferent white people a reason to feel good about what you’re doing.
- Make cities a fun place to be. Liberals run all the major cities in America (except maybe a few in Texas, but who really cares about that disastrously constructed wasteland known as “Houston?”). Let’s be honest: most cities are a tragic mess. Liberals need to be the world’s best consumers of urban design, and then they need to build cities that are fun places to be. Not traffic-clogged homeless encampments. Show the rest of the country what they’re missing instead of sustaining the myth of cost-free elbow room in the exurbs and countryside.
- Stop engaging the Right. The Right isn’t acting in good faith, and the only way to win a battle with people like that is to not fight. Ignore them. Every time centrists engage with the Right’s points of view, those points of view are given a certain amount of legitimacy, even as those views get more and more extreme. People like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump are trolls, and trolls thrive on attention and mudslinging. Dems, the left, liberals, and centrists are all trying to have a serious conversation, and they should have that conversation instead of telling people the obvious, like Marjorie Taylor Greene is a racist insurrectionist who is either stupid or cynical or equal parts both for saying that the Rothschilds have space lasers. Ideas like this that are completely outside any rational person’s definition of the sphere of discourse aren’t worth discussing. Hard as it might be: STOP TAKING THE BAIT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. You’re only feeding the narrative of a country at war with itself, because “close-minded liberals” [sic] are persecuting “regular Americans” [extra sic].
Far better to own the loss and admit that Trump was “our” president than to keep using Jedi mind tricks and make ourselves somehow feel better, as things keep getting worse.