Trump supporters like to talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome, in spite of having no idea where that phrase originated and what its originator thinks about Trump. Although I think the phrase is a bit over- and mis-used, the visceral disgust that many of us feel about Trump is real. I wouldn’t call it derangement, but there’s a real difference between how I feel about Trump and how I feel and have felt about politicians and pundits who haven’t shared my views in the past. I don’t think that’s because I’ve changed. I think it’s because there’s something vastly different about Trump and his supporters: they seem to place a higher value on upsetting their opponents than on achieving some policy goal.
I’ve been ‘politically aware’ since the days of Reagan. Certainly not as tuned in when I was younger (I was 8 when Reagan was first elected) as I am now, but aware in some degree nonetheless. I have vague memories of the Carter-Reagan-Anderson election (Anderson had a real chance of winning in my memory, which was clearly not in touch with reality), but I remember Bush beating Dukakis, and I voted in the Clinton-Bush election, with a pretty solid understanding of many of the issues of the day. So for Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump, I’ve had some level of political awareness. In all that time, this is the first that I can remember feeling like the primary guiding principle of any major political party could be reduced to hurting the others. But, sadly, that’s really what it seems like today. The policies don’t seem to matter nearly as much as hurting the feelings of the people they don’t like.
But here we are, and my lack of writing on this site for a while got put aside with a tweet that hurt my soul. A video of the Governor of Minnesota explaining that he spent the weekend trying to convince the White House that it was a bad idea to use the memorial to George Floyd as a backdrop for a Trump campaign stop. This is where we are. This is what the GOP has become.
Gone are the days when the GOP and democrats had some policy differences, but wanted the policies enacted in spite of or without considering the fact that it might upset their political opponents. Take abortion as an example. There are clear differences there. Some want abortion to be illegal and genuinely see those who support abortion rights as supporting killing babies. They want abortion to be illegal, but not for the primary purpose of upsetting the baby killers, but because they think abortion is wrong. On the converse, there are people who think that abortion should be a legal and available choice for the mother to-be, and that the decision should be between her and her doctor (I’ve explained my reasons for being pro-choice in a previous post). They want abortion to be safe and accessible because they believe that’s what’s best for the country and for women, not for the primary purpose of upsetting those who disagree with them.
But today we have what seems like an entire wing of a political party with a primary policy goal of upsetting their opponents. Two years ago, Nikki Haley was reported to have given a speech to high school students in which she asked how many of them have posted something online to “own the libs.” As reported, most of the audience raised their hands and then burst into applause, before she chastised them, saying that acting that was was the opposite of leadership. But they didn’t see it coming, and this behavior is totally in line with everything I see online day after day. Many times, I’ve posted things about my disappointment with something that the administration is doing, or posted a story about the blatant attempts to appeal to racists or antisemites, and the Trump-supporting FB friends in my circle will respond with a simple, “Trump 2020 bitches” or “Trump is your president” or “God bless president Trump.” No acknowledgement of the pain expressed in my post. No rebuttal of the content. Just a simple cheer for their “side” and some clear attempt to rub it in my face that Trump won. It has brought out the worst in people, and that many of these people are people I love makes it worse.
Please make it stop.