Wither gravity?


Is this really happening?

He’s boorish and says distasteful things about women and says them reflexively. He writes checks with his mouth America will not be able to cash, like announcing the Iranians will turn over all hostages before he assume the Oval Office.  Or the Mexican government will pay to build a wall between us. He, who never served, mocked John McCain for being a POW. He dismissed Ben Carson, pediatric neurosurgeon of renown as “an okay doctor, who hired maybe one nurse, but not great”. He dismissed Hugh Hewitt, with 25,000 interviews to his credit, as a “third-rate talk show host”, when Hugh innocently revealed through questions Trump could not distinguish between Quds and Kurds.

And yet! There he is, making the weather, defying all political laws. A Sun King, in waiting.  To quote pollster Stu Rothenberg:

 “I have been arguing that once Iowa Republicans start to see the caucuses as an opportunity to select the next president, rather than an opportunity to express their frustration and anger, they will turn away from Trump and toward politically experienced, mainstream contenders. After combing through the most recent surveys from the Iowa caucuses and talking with veteran Republican strategists, I can no longer say that with any certainty…”

My father, a George McGovern/Bernie Sanders liberal to the bone, loves Trump.

Over beers at Macleod last night, three of us confessed were the election held today, in a matchup between Hillary and Trump we would all vote for Mr. Bombastic, despite his baggage.  None of us wanted to. But given the choice….

Secretly we wished he would say or do something so terrible it would derail his candidacy once and for all, so we wouldn’t have to choose.  But hasn’t he done that five times already?

If nothing else, Trump is right about one thing: illegal immigration and how deeply it is resented in this country. What is resented even more is the institutionalized deceit with which it is protected by the political media.  I say this as someone who resides happily in a neighborhood of first generation Latino and Asian immigrants, strivers all. My beloved working-class brigadoon of Van Nuys.

Sometimes all it takes is one fundamental truth to ride to power. When the distance between what one is publicly permitted to say and what is privately felt becomes unsustainable, there’s a fissure, and the geyser erupts. After that, all bets are off.

What then, though? Suppose he wins? Having taken the prize, we are left with the man, and all his frailties.

4 thoughts on “Wither gravity?”

  1. So… The fact that Trump is doing well with older, more conservative, rural and suburban, less educated, less affluent white men is no surprise. This demographic has – in very real nuts and bolts ways – been losing economically and culturally for decades.

    These men know for a fact that they’re hard working, honest, and decent. So their failure must be the result of other very bad people stealing their share of the pie. And they’re right. But it isn’t the people they think.

    Trump tells them the problem with America is that uppity women, ethnic minorities (now actually a statistical majority in many places) gays, immigrants, blah, blah, blah are the problem.

    The real source of their diminished circumstances is the dismantling of all the social structures that used to prop up the American male breadwinner. An artificially cultivated middle class was legislated through federal policy from the 1930’s through the 1960’s. They don’t want to hear that previous generations of American men were riding a wave of labor unions, laws that prevented offshoring of manufacturing jobs, banking regulations, much higher (Republican enacted) taxes on the wealthy… You know… socialism and communism. Their share of the pie didn’t go to darkies and lesbians. It was redistributed way up the economic food chain to the tippy top.

    I’m a salad bar vote. Whatever works. I’m a liberal who’s not thrilled with the direction the Democratic Party has moved in over the last few decades. And I’m in favor of many sensible Republican policies. Wouldn’t it be great if the two sides sad down and came to reasonable functional compromises? I’m not holding my breath. This will happen precisely when the last Baby Boomer is six feet under. I’m waiting patiently for Millennials to take leadership positions. They’ll be much better at running the country after the dust settles. I give it twenty years.

    Here’s a fun thought. Let’s say a hard core reactionary leadership group takes control of Washington. All the pissed off old white guys will call upon the army to purge America of the impure and unworthy. But wait… the army is composed mostly of poor ethnic minorities. Oh shit!

    1. Why do you think the Boomers became so deeply divided politically? Are the two sides looking at the same facts, and reaching different conclusions? Or are they each looking at mutually exclusive narratives?

  2. The Great Depression/World War II generation experienced genuine hardships and were relieved to enjoy material comforts once the dust settled. They were pragmatic and focused on physical reality. They didn’t want any more trouble and they weren’t particularly introspective.

    Boomers came of age after the troubles were resolved and grew up in relative prosperity and abundance. They had the luxury of thinking about what things “mean” and how they “feel”. Boomers have always been moral crusaders.

    Liberal Boomers were pretty good and pulling down social conventions in order to liberate women, liberate blacks, liberate gays… Conservative Boomers were highly successful at eliminating taxes and dismantling government regulations. These two groups are more alike than they are different. They only disagree about the things they wish to overthrow. And they’d rather fight to the death about whose version of morality is correct than actually solve a simple straightforward problem.

    Once Millennials are old enough to take leadership positions they will be much more like the Depression and WWII folks – probably because Boomers will have dragged the country through very similar deprivations and multiple crises.

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