VIEWPOINT: On normalizing Trump

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By Tuesday, Nov 29 Viewpoints  10 Comments

It’s three weeks now since the headline “Trump Triumphs,” and the panic and incredulity have lost some of their charge. Bear in mind: that headline was literally traumatic: I’ll never forget it, can’t forget it, it keeps constantly intruding, uninvited, into my other thoughts. (This is a marker for PTSD.) The bottomless feeling was actually familiar; I knew it from 9/11, from a fatal diagnosis for my partner, from all those deaths in the family. And everyone here seemed to feel the same, except, as it turns out , a very few who actually fell for his act.

Better writers than I have summarized what he did to us all: quite simply, he poured gasoline on the fire, a whole series of fires. No, not gasoline – jet fuel. What kinda rotten kid does that? Racism, xenophobia, paranoia, sexism, Islamophobia, every kinda phobia (read: fear). He exulted when his bonfires drew a crowd, he then goaded the mob, he insulted and lied and pouted and blamed and whined his way to the very center of all our lives. He literally trashed everything in his path.

I now assess the man as mentally ill: what else can you conclude, given his serial, overlapping, overt insanities?

The only nice thing I can say is, and this really is the ONLY thing: he gave hope to many fine people who lacked it — albeit entirely synthetic hope predicated on the cheapest misinformation, fake news, obscene incitements and the most vulgar, embarrassing salesmanship.

Sadly, he also gave hope to some monstrous people. Who think they love him.

And yet: here comes the “normalizing.” The getting used to it. The daily pairing of “Trump” and “President-elect.” The permanent cordon around Trump Tower. The elevation of Biggest Asshole Of Our TIme to “the most powerful job in the world.”

Clearly, the plot of the current episode is to watch how much he walks it all back. “Obamacare – maybe just the good parts!” “Climate change: who knows? “ “Electoral college: not all bad!” And we start to think: “Oh good! He’s a liar — so of course he was lying — even to his voters!” Second-guessing our second- guessing: “After all, he IS from New York. He probably has a gay hairdresser…” The seductive mistake to think he cares about anybody but himself – and his precious “10’s.”

Thus the temptation — to think his constantly talking smack, his murderous threats, his courting Nazis – all just a means to an end! Hey, if that’s what it takes to get us a CEO president — Don’t judge! Who can blame! (Wait, wasn’t Dubya supposed to be a CEO president? The CEO of Edsel, maybe. The CEO of Stupid.)

I had tasked myself repeatedly during the election with an empathy exercise: listen to him AS IF YOU ACTUALLY LIKED HIM. Try to imagine his jibes and insults sounding funny, not vicious. Imagine you want a savior so fucking badly that this orange clown with an eighth-grade vocabulary really feels like The One. Imagine believing ‘something is happening here. Forget the fraudulence, the shocking immaturity, the runaway ADHD, the utter lack of insight, perspective, taste, humility. The total lack of class. Imagine just seeing his big jet is enough. Wow, is it BIG! And he OWNS it! (Actually he doesn’t.)

Well, the upshot of that exercise was this: yes he can be funny in a witless ‘fugeddaboudit’ way; yes he can say what you long to hear (“you wuz robbed”) — and primarily: he loves himself so much, why wouldn’t you?

It’s not that I missed the anger that fueled his rise. I did not. Last year, as I worked the grass-roots to save Searles School, I met a whole lot of people who are sick unto death of the current deal: the runaway inequality, the grinding tax fatigue, the chronic discouragement, the professionalization of government “by the people.” If the people of Great Barrington are permanently hopping mad at Town Hall (and lots of them are) — just imagine how the people of Youngstown, Ohio, feel about Washington D.C. I can. I do.

But for me, that anger felt like an opportunity, a big wave, you could see it coming. Surely the party of the middle class could see it? Surely Hillary could connect, please dear God, just once or twice, just barely enough to get over? Wasn’t it warning enough, when an old man named Bernie rode that wave? And before him, a cabbage patch doll named Sarah Palin rode it. Dubya rode it. Yet the DNC flat-out missed it. But Trump, ah, Trump –- he not only rode the wave, he hung ten, then mooned us. “Unfair!” “Rigged!” “Apologize!” Way to choose, America. Come to think of it, fuckin’ awesome. Dude’s got surfer hair. And a stripper wife.

So now it’s done and we cope, we continue to live and breathe, we share strategies. In my house, a news embargo; cocooning; withdrawal; liquor. Denial, anger, the five stages of grief. Trying not to watch Hillary’s majority climb past 2 million votes. Watching The Donald blanche in the presence of Obama: snigger as he whips up infighting: tweet whenever Jared Kushner is observing Shabbat and not around to stop him.

And those of us who actually do read, who actually can use a computer, who actually do have a filter and a sense of fair play — we must now find ways to live through this interval where yet another Republican rich-kid brat has dramatically lowered the bar and thereby won the game.

Without winning the vote. (Why must we call it “popular?” The vote is the vote.)

Time will tell how much damage this ugly fat fool will do. His track record – just like Dubya’s — is predictive: the damage will be considerable. I mean, honest to Christ: who writes down 900 million in one year, all the while insisting he’s a genius in business.

So much damage is already done. Just ask Atlantic City. Or all those people waiting on their settlement checks from Trump U. Or all the other people he stiffed.

And yet, inevitably, because it is inevitable, we normalize.

Well, I’ve got another idea: normalize this.


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10 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Ann St. Clair says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Bobby Houston. To make matters more dire, the choices Trump has made for cabinet and other advisors is completely right wing. This is looking like some sort of bloodless (so far) coup. What does one do in the face of that? The election of 2000 aside (or more to the point, a glaring example), we must surely try even harder to resist this time–beginning with seriously rebuilding the Democratic Party along youth and working people lines, and getting out very big votes in 2018 and 2020 (our next census year) to correct the gerrymandering disaster of 2010. There is absolutely nothing normal about Donald Trump.

  2. Annie Okerstrom-Lang says:

    Excellent, Bobby.
    We need to demand Trump’s tax returns. His conflicts of interest (and lies and disregard of our laws) will produce enough fodder in his first 100 days to impeach him. We can focus on that.

    1. TTTrump Rocks says:

      It is not going to happen. Face it.

  3. John Hart says:

    Bobby, excellent and spot on.
    I ran into a friend of mine who is a tad older than I am at the Stockbridge post office after Trump had been declared the “victor” . He said to me that, “For the first time in my life, I am embarrassed to be an American”. The man was devastated! I was as well as were many, many friends across our country.
    Recently, pre-election, while on a trip out of the northeast I heard, more than once, comments regarding Hillary’s reference to a portion of Trump supporters as being ” deplorable”. Perhaps a huge mistake on her part but here’s my read on the deplorable, less than a majority, who voted this asshole into office:
    So you’ve been pissed at how the government has been run. No progress forward; a Congress that would do nothing to support 21st century America or Obama… because he is… Obama, or because he is intelligent and, God forbid, black.
    Well, deplorables, ENGAGE for Christ sake! I engaged with thousands of others to bring the Vietnam war to an end. Yeh, it took time and persistence WE succeeded. We ENGAGED! Write your Senators and Congressmen and get them off their asses! ENGAGE in what goes on at the top. Do what you are given the rights to do, levy pressure on a dysfunctional Washington. Sit back and bitch? If that’s where you’re at then you are, with out question, totally fucked up! What is wrong with you and how could you vote for such an incredibly deplorable human animal as Donald Trump? You think he’s going to make your life better? You think he is going to bring respect to our USA from our world community? Fear, perhaps, but never respect. Not him. The world community wants to know that our President under-fucking-stands what is going on outside of his egotistical mind.

    Oh, by the way deplorables, next time some idiot fondles your wife’s, daughter’s, or girlfriend’s genitals or breasts, don’t call the cops. Just tell her, “It’s okay honey, if our President does it, it must be okay.”

    1. John Hart says:

      No replies? Huuh……? Wonder why?

      1. Patrick Fennell says:

        Most of us deplorables saw Hillary’s resume and know of her past. Donald wasn’t our favorite choice but a lot better than Hillary. But in Berkshire County the democrats have voted for a senator who lives in Maryland and our latest state senator elect has already taken money from big oil, so you guys are nothing but a bunch of hypocritcal empty suits.

      2. Charl says:

        John Hart I did reply but it got removed. I guess it did not meet there term of use guidelines.

  4. Danielle Pergament says:

    Your brain works too fast for most of us, but after a few cups of coffee I was able to keep up. Enough to say: Never ever stop writing.

  5. Patrick Fennell says:

    You guys are coming across as sore losers. The electoral vote is not much different than how the BHRSD determines the school budget.

  6. caseyone says:

    What do you call a basement full of liberals?

    A Whine cellar

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