Hearts of Darkness

As long as the Outsiders are suffering, they won’t have a problem with any of it.

There is an assumption that this will be the turning point, the moment where they finally wake up, where they finally realize they’ve been had, that the guy conned them, rolled them, hustled them.

Wake up. That day will never come. It will never happen.

Even if they feel pain, so long as their Adversaries, their Enemies, feel more pain, they will be happier than the proverbial pig in you-know-what. They’ve always been this way. They will always be this way.

Remember what Lyndon Johnson told us decades ago:

I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it,” he said. “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

That is what Donald Trump did in 2016–and he could do it again in 2020 if Democrats get too complacent. Trump’s supporters are thoroughly brainwashed; all he has to do is keep their minds focused on the supposed threat of the Outsiders, the Adversaries and the Enemies, and they’ll turn out in droves for him again. Take it to the bank.

How many of his supporters have even heard about the barbarism of his budget? For the ones who have, how many of them think Jesus Christ will spare them from whatever pain they might sustain as a result of the proposed cuts in programs they rely upon? How many of them are hoping that poor people of a different hue are the ones who will be the most screwed? How many of them are still emotionally connected to Trump, and are rooting for his less ideological advisers to be driven from the White House as soon as possible?

I don’t gainsay for a moment Zach Beauchamp’s recent suggestion that Trump’s fanbase will not respond to progressive populist politics. Trump’s fanbase does not want to share social benefits with those of a different race, religion or orientation. Period. They view the Democratic Party as the Black Party, the Brown Party, the Muslim Party, the Gay Party, the City Party. They have been taught to believe that the Democratic Party and the larger US progressive movement constitute a domestic axis of evil.

From this perspective, the anti-Trump resistance is not nearly as vigorous as it needs to be. Can you honestly argue that this resistance is as intense now as the Tea Party was from its very beginning? Hey, I think marches are magnificent too, but are Republicans really scared of these protesters yet? Wouldn’t Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court already be doomed if this movement were as strong as it purports to be?

Trump famously said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. He may still get away with murdering democracy and sanity in this country. Is it arrogant to assume that this man’s presidency is doomed, that he could not be re-elected. If there is progressive turnout even greater than the turnout in the 2006 midterms and 2008 presidential elections, then yes, he would be conquered…but ask yourself: are you confident that this will in fact happen?

Enthusiasm and disappointment are the comedy and drama of life, and those who assume that 2018 and 2020 will be occasions for joy should take heed, as there are still plenty of opportunities for misery. The right-wing noise machine is still powerful. Hate is still a compelling force. The unyielding desire on the part of Trump’s base to punish perceived Outsiders, Enemies and Adversaries can still get those folks to the polls. The war against Trump’s wingnuttery is not over. Hell, it has barely begun…and despite how things might look now, progressives are still the underdogs–by a long shot–in this struggle.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.