I don’t think Trump is supported because of his politics. I think he is supported because of his rhetoric on culture.
A few days ago, a family member tried to justify to me his support for Trump. He made the case that he was not a racist or a misogynist, and that he did not support Trumps hateful words, but instead, felt an established businessman would be good for the country. I understood his argument, but his position of support for Trump sill made me uncomfortable.
When I woke up this morning I did what I usually do. I checked the news. The first headline read:
I remember weeks ago, even months ago, talking with family and friends at dinner about Trump’s presidential aspirations and the crazy things he was saying. I remember saying “I can’t believe we’re even talking about it. I can’t believe it’s a thing. It’s like from a movie or something”. Well, it is a thing. It is very very much a thing.
Recently, there was a viral twitter post that said:
The truth in this is powerful, important and scary. I want to bring up the difference between voting for and supporting a politician. As a republic, we are supposed to elect politicians that represent us. At least that’s the idea. Maybe I’m wrong, and please tell me if I am, but I think most people don’t vote like this. They support with this in mind, but don’t actually end up voting like this.
I don’t vote like this. If I did, the person I would ultimately vote for in November would not be on the ballot. I’d have to write in the name of the person that best represents who I am. But I don’t do that. Instead, I vote for the person first, that’s on the ball0t, and second, that wants to do the things I want to see done. Or I vote against someone. This is how I vote, and this is how I think most other Americans vote too. But there is a difference, as I’ve pointed out, between who I ultimately vote for, and who I support during an election campaign.
During an election campaign, we pick from a variety of possible candidates that best represent our values. No one believes Bernie will be able to make college free for everyone, and nobody believes that Trump will be able to force Mexico to pay for a wall on the border. But we put these bumper stickers on our car to show the world who we are and who represents our personal values.
If you support Bernie, than you are telling others that you are Bernie yourself, regardless of who you end up voting for. If you support Bernie, you are a hippie socialist. And if you support Trump? Well… Is that who you want the people in your life to think you are? Do you want people to think that Trump represents who you are as a person? If you’ve found your way to whatever website has published this essay, I suspect you don’t want people to think you’d hesitate in condemning the KKK… right?
I don’t think Trump is supported because of his politics. I think he is supported because of his rhetoric on culture. Trump has brought the culture wars out of the background and into the lime light. I think Trump is the battle of the bulge in the American Culture Wars. Culture in America has been shifting so greatly since it’s founding that no one would contest that the country looks completely different than it did a few hundred years ago. Technology can be blamed, but technology is culture too. And challenging love, gender, religion and family structure are some of the biggest cultural revolutions we can go through.
The culture wars in America that have taken place over the past 30 years has challenged the very moral foundation of our understanding of human nature and human existence. With religion and the nuclear family on the way out, the conservatives are very uncomfortable. To go back to my WWII analogy, the supreme court ruling on gay marriage was the liberal left landing on the beaches of Normandy, Europe being occupied by the religious and conservative right. And Trump? Trump is a blitzkrieg. The battle of the bulge. The Nazi’s knew they were losing. And the conservative religious right in America knows it is losing. And just as the Nazi’s did in the battle of the bulge, so to are the American conservatives throwing everything they have at the liberal left. And what do they have? What’s their secret weapon? Donald Trump.
Because of the way people vote, I really feel confident he wont get elected. But of course, I can’t see the future. The battle of the bulge failed, and so to, I think, will this. I have faith in the goodness of humanity. The country is and has been changing for the better for a long while, and I am hopeful that the rhetoric Trump spouts will die with the 2016 election. But until then, remember this.
If you’re undecided or a moderate, or even a little liberal at all, when you’re at a party, or lunch, or in your home, and you talk about which candidate you might support, remember that others don’t here you talk about politics. They will assume this person you speak of voting for represents you in cultural values. So if you support Trump, you may defend your choice and say you don’t support hate, but because that’s what he stands for, people will think you do too, no matter what you say and no matter who you end up voting for.
Photo credit: Getty Images