Trump's rise proves we're full of loud, illiterate and credulous people — and he's a mirror of them
“I love the poorly educated.” — Donald Trump
Before any votes were cast, when Donald Trump was the theoretical front-runner, the optimists preached patience. Just wait, they said. This will blow over. He’s a clown, a huckster, a TV personality. There’s no way he can win. It’s just not possible.
Well, it’s not only possible – it’s likely.
Trump won again in Nevada on Tuesday night, by a massive margin, and he may well sweep the Super Tuesday states. If that happens, and it’s the most probable outcome at this point, the race is effectively over. Trump will have won the nomination of one our two major parties, and he’ll have done it with extraordinary ease.
I hate to have to say it, but the conclusion stares us in the face: We’re a stupid country, full of loud, illiterate and credulous people. Trump has marched straight to the nomination without offering anything like a platform or a plan. With a vocabulary of roughly a dozen words – wall, Mexicans, low-energy, loser, Muslims, stupid, China, negotiate, deals, America, great, again – he’s bamboozled millions of Americans. And it’s not just splenetic conservatives supporting Trump or your garden-variety bigots (although that’s the center of his coalition), it’s also independents, pro-choice Republicans, and a subset of Reagan Democrats.
This says something profoundly uncomfortable about our country and our process. A majority of Americans appear wholly uninterested in the actual business of government; they don’t understand it and don’t want to. They have vague feelings about undefined issues and they surrender their votes on emotional grounds to whoever approximates their rage. This has always been true to some extent, but Trump is a rubicon-crossing moment for the nation.
Trump’s wager was simple: Pretend to be stupid and angry because that’s what stupid and angry people like. He’s held up a mirror to the country, shown us how blind and apish we are. He knew how undiscerning the populace would be, how little they cared about details and facts. In Nevada, for instance, 70 percent of Trump voters said they preferred an “anti-establishment” candidate to one with any “experience in politics.” Essentially, that means they don’t care if he understands how government works or if he has the requisite skills to do the job. It’s a protest vote, born of rage, not deliberation.
In no other domain of life would this make any sense at all. If your attorney drops the ball, you don’t hire a plumber to replace him. And yet millions of Trumpites say they don’t care if Trump has ever worked at any level of government or if he knows anything about foreign policy or the law or the Constitution. It’s enough that he greets them at their level, panders to their lowest instincts.
He even brazenly condescends to his supporters, as the opening quote illustrates, and they fail to notice it. Trump, a billionaire trust fund baby who inherited $40 million from his father, has convinced hordes of working-class white people that he’s just like them, that he feels their pain and knows their struggle. He’s made marks of them all.