In the summer of 2015 sitting on the deck overlooking the lake we happily mused over the latest invective Donald Trump had spoken. We had house guests staying for five weeks who left for the city at daybreak and returned at supper. So after I had scoured the national pages of the New York Times each morning over tea and toast I set aside the morsels of Trumpisms I had discovered and read them aloud after dinner. This was shortly after his Mexican as rapists and anti veteran comments.
“No, wait…wait…listen to this one,” I would howl with tears running down my cheeks. ‘Hey, I’m not saying they’re stupid. I like China. I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?” Trump was there for our amusement and we only prayed that it would last as long as our guest’s visit so we could enjoy the show together. But as I mentioned that was last summer. Those words seem tame now. The incendiary, insensitive, hateful and misogynistic language and commentary has only worsened. Who needs fiction when reality is so unbelievable.
Donald Trump became the only GOP horse in the race because the media and I let him. The media chased him, licked his bootstraps and begged for more. More ratings, more viewers, more people like me, hating him and loving it. Each time Donald Trump called into a news show they gave him unlimited time, free press and rarely challenged his ludicrous applause lines that he followed up by asinine non sequiturs that spun the talking head. Whenever anybody looked the other way even for a second he said or did something more outlandish so we would come back .We loved it and wanted more and Donald Trump was only too happy to comply. He was rewarded with 2 billion dollars in free air time.
We have blamed the followers who pour into his rallies cooing and cheering this monster, because that’s what he has become, a multi-tentacle monster. Crowds that seem to feed off of his hatred and vitriol and spread that hate out into the world like a plague. They’re convinced that Hillary Clinton is the devil-incarnate and Trump is here to slay her once and for all. There is nothing you can argue to sway them away from feeding their monster. It reminds me of Larry Rhodes in the classic 1957 film, “A Face in the Crowd starring Andy Griffith. Griffith plays the charismatic Lonesome Rhodes who adlibs his way to a menacing popularity.
My neighbor around the lake boasts a large TRUMP banner off his deck that promises, each time I walk past, that Trump will make America great again. I see into the future and know that my neighbor’s white, and Christian vision of “great” isn’t ever going to be possible due to our changing demographics. At the same time I feel helpless to show him what I know to be true. I overheard him explaining to another neighbor that Trump is going to clean up this country and throw all the deadbeats out. He ranted that the deadbeats are people who take take, take, take from the government. I shuddered thinking about the holocaust.
“The government gives it all away,”my neighbor shouted at another neighbor as I passed by.
This neighbor is a senior citizen entitled to and probably receives Medicare and Social Security. Not things being discussed very much in the campaign right now. I also doubt this neighbor is listening to the drumming assault against women. And who can blame him, there are women not listening to it. So many of them.
Last night with Friends we discussed this horror show playing out in real time. Someone constantly checking their phone to see if another woman had come forward or better yet a new tape revealed.
“There’s tapes out there.”
“They’re waiting till it gets closer so he can’t have time to defend them.”
“I took a break from thinking about the campaign for two hours yesterday and I felt better.”
We nod and then slip our phone under the table hoping something bad has happened to him. We try not to think about Hillary’s shenanigans.
“What really worries me is if Trump loses what happens to the angry mob?”
“If, you said, if.”
“I meant “when” when He loses.” Pause. “I hope.”
But this isn’t 1930 and there’s more of us than there are of them. We’ve even joined forces with some of the GOP for heaven’s sake.
David Brooks said on the PBS News Hour this past Friday, “This is a sort of psychological question,… say he loses what happens the next day? Is there all the Trumpians saying, no, we were robbed, we are robbed, we are sticking with our man, and we’re going into some sort of revolt? Or is it, like, I was a loser and I’m putting that behind me. My intuition about the psychology is the latter is more likely. That people are just going to throw Trump to history, and then a lot of the sense that mass revolt, this is not legitimate, this is not legitimate, I don’t think that’s likely to happen.”
This is in fact what happened to Lonesome Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd. When he was caught on tape disparaging his fans, he was left alone with just his butler pushing a button on a machine that cheered him on. Like Rhodes, Trump’s fans will only turn when they overhear him turning on them. Because when Trump loses he’ll turn on everyone. Unfortunately me and the news media will probably still be paying attention. At least for a little while.