Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Do Trump's Promises Even Matter to Fans?

Writing at The Week, Paul Waldman has a theory as to why many Trump fans may not care if he breaks his campaign promises. The theory is that we have to understand Trump through a lens of dominance.

He writes:
 "When Trump talked about this during the campaign, liberals like me would say in exasperation, 'Don't you all realize this is fake? He's a con man!' His most ardent fans would have responded just like pro wrestling fans do: Of course we know it's fake. The point is the show, the drama, the way it makes us feel.

But on this particular pledge [to build the wall], it was about more than being bold. Consider the line about the wall getting 10 feet higher when the Mexicans say no. It was about dominance — something deeply important to Trump personally, and which his fans could experience through him. It's about making those foreigners kneel before us, where their resistance only increases our power. It was the equivalent of Michael Corleone telling Senator Geary, 'My offer is this — nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, which I would appreciate if you would put up personally.' That's how you show someone who's boss, by making them pay for their own humiliation.

That was what thrilled Trump's audiences: the idea that through Trump they could feel dominant, potent, admired, and feared. People who complained that the world had conspired to make them impotent and leave them behind saw in Trump a force of empowerment. Mexico paying for the wall isn't about money, it's about power."
I think about some of the taunting I see in response to Trump's Electoral College win. The conservatives saying "Seeeeee, this is why Trump won" each time we stand up for ourselves.

How abusive is that? The more we stand up for ourselves, the more some people tell us we're pissing off Trump supporters who, in turn, will only vote even harder for him next time around. (Also, Alternate Take: That Meryl Streep speech is why Clinton won 3 million more votes than Trump.)

Trump and his fans have a hard time handling resistance without resorting to this dominator/abuser mindset. He himself appears to want meek subservience, as he shows an entitlement to people not fighting back. Think of how he plays the victim each time someone calls him out publicly. The press, critics, people on Twitter - all of them so unfair!  Don't they know he's the Big Swinging Dick Alpha Dog? Why isn't everyone bowing down!?

His fans and enablers are just as bad.

Trump being President won't make the lives of his fans better in a material sense. And, he may break most promises he made to them. But through him, some people can live out their fantasies of dominance over liberals, progressives, immigrants, people of color, the disabled, women, and feminists.

And, that's something, I guess?

No comments: