It’s so damn American. The settler class of white Europeans living away from the big mean city get conned by a loudmouth bullshittin’ big city con man who has never made an honest buck in his life. He plays into their fears; of brown skinned foreigners, angry black people still pissed about their ancestors being enslaved, uppity women who misuse the rights they got, and big city banks and financiers who just want to take their money and their land. Promising to keep the scared people safe, the film-flam man goes back to his rich friends, laughing to himself about how he loves the uneducated.
Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch, November 9th, 2016
Among many attempts to make sense of something that defies being made sense of, this one comes close. There he is, the carnival con-man, spiel-ing his way from county fair to county fair, fleecing the gullible and never sticking around long enough to pay the price.
The plausible rascal – though transparently implausible to you and me – finds a receptive audience for his message. An audience primed by a lifetime of conditioning to esteem greed and arrogance and consequence-free consumption. An audience ready to be told how right they are to feel like victims instead of perpetrators. Ready to be told by an authority sanctified by television, by gold escalators, by ownership of a casino franchise… that it is okay to resent the others, to hate them even, and to band together and celebrate that feeling of collective grievance, and to hear his reassuring 24-carat voice say: “that’s okay”.
It’s understandable, I suppose. Us being what we are, prone to fears and hopes, open to manipulation, mostly blind to the scam – and our complicity in it – of civilization. But the pathetic mistake, for anyone who voted Trump, was taking on trust the claim that he would actually improve their economic lot and, er, “Make America Great Again”.
The problem now, for the carnival con-man, is that everyone knows where to find him.