We know that Donald J. Trump, the Republican nominee for President of the United States of America, is a vile excrescence on the face of the earth. We have known for a very long time. This year alone we have watched as he:
- claimed Mexicans are rapists
- mocked a disabled reporter
- is accused of not paying contractors
- sneered at a prisoner of war for being captured
- hired Roger Ailes, fired for sexual harrassment, as his debate advisor
- insulted the parents of an officer who died for his country
- probably did not pay federal taxes for the last 18 years
- faces at least one lawsuit alleging attempted rape
- accused 5 men cleared of rape charges via DNA evidence of being guilty anyway
- boasted on tape to being a sexual predator
So I roll my eyes at the most recent breast-beating anguish of Republicans. They knew what they were getting when they voted this monster in as their standard-bearer. Why these sudden professions of outrage? Perhaps the voters and political operatives who elected him as the Republican nominee were genuinely ignorant but I doubt it. If they are ignorant they are wilfully so. They have been telling themselves fairytales.
In my opinion, those who voted for Trump are motivated by cynicism, anger, and/or fear.
Let’s take cynicism first. Trump is losing. His debate performances have been awful. On Sunday evening according to FiveThirtyEight the odds of Hillary Clinton winning are now 81.9%. The RNC are worried they’re going to lose their congressional majority, that animus against Trump will seep down-ticket and put even supposedly safe Republican seats at risk. So they are using this latest revelation as an excuse to publicly ditch him and see what they can salvage. Disavowing Trump is a strategic move; it is not motivated by surprise.
The angry people are those who were top of the pile—lots of straight white men who used to earn good money doing the kind of job that has been going away for a while (overseas or to automation or simply disappearing from the world) plus some of their wives who rely on their pension income. They want their stuff back, especially their status. They want to climb back on top of the pile; they want to be part of the majority again. It’s their god-given right. These are the kind of people who voted for Brexit: they want to take their marbles home and not let anyone else play. They are the Greatest Generation, dammit; they’re used to being in charge.
The frightened—ah, now this is the constituency that interests me the most. Over the years a lot of evidence has accumulated about the supposed correlation between a voter’s response to fear and their political leanings. As the Atlantic point outs:
“The common basis for all the various components of the conservative attitude syndrome is a generalized susceptibility to experiencing threat or anxiety in the face of uncertainty,” the British psychologist G.D. Wilson wrote in his 1973 book, The Psychology of Conservatism. In other words, an innate fear of uncertainty tends to correlate to people’s level of conservatism.
The world is changing fast: for those who grew up in a whiter, slower, more homogeneous world uncertainty is accelerating. They want a strong man, someone who can allay their fears, reassure them that now he is charge everything will be all right. They want their Daddy.
This partisan divide goes deep. According to the Wall Street Journal
Republicans and Democrats divide on policy positions, and the ideological divisions can extend to taste in music, movies and books. An analysis of what people who “like” the presidential candidates on Facebook “like” elsewhere shows interesting ways the partisan divide can go beyond the issues.
They show nifty maps of people’s tastes in music matched to their voting preference: if you like Adele, you’re most likely going to vote Democratic; Ted Nugent, Republican all the way.
And the partisan divide is getting harder, the barriers higher. This is particularly noticeable at the sharp end, in Congress, where, according to PLOS One, “partisanship or non-cooperation in the U.S. Congress has been increasing exponentially for over 60 years with no sign of abating or reversing.” And it started happening long before the confirmation bias enabled by social media. Look at their spiffy visualisation:
But let’s set all that aside and look at what Trump, today’s face of the Republican party, said about his attitude to women.
I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married. […] I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. […] You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful— I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. I just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. […] Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything. (From full transcript at the Los Angeles Times.)
He “doesn’t wait.” He just starts kissing them. He believes that “when you’re a star, they let you.” He thinks of course that he is a star, and so can get away with anything. “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” He is boasting of sexual assault. This man wants to be leader of the free world, arguably the most powerful person on the planet. What do you think he would do with that power?
Right now, the companies he leads—the people he has hired, who look to him for example—are facing more than 20 lawsuits over the harassment and mistreatment of women. Imagine what this country might look like after a year of his leadership. Intellectually, morally, and temperamentally Donald Trump is unfit to be President of the United States.
If you haven’t already registered to vote, please do so as soon as possible. Please do vote. And please vote for Hillary Clinton. I really don’t want to have to move…