So much for selling presidential-race voters with honesty and decency.
America wasn’t buying. Again.
While it’s still unclear who won the contest for president, there’s little doubt that America, as a whole, lost big time.
This week’s election only made more mysterious the riddle that’s been pestering the nation for four years: Why do so many people support and actually vote for Donald Trump?
Joe Biden clearly set out to be the ethical foil to Trump. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
For those Americans really not paying attention four years ago, there was no getting around what we now know — absolutely, madly, truly deeply know — about Trump:
• He is accused of sexual assault by 26 different women. That’s 26 sex-assault accusations. 26.
• He is provably, irrevocably, unquestionably a profuse and scheming liar. That’s not spin, that’s the kindest description of reality. Unproven is why he lies so much, whether it’s mental illness or malevolence. But Trump’s lying is unquestionably dangerous, to all of us, and even the world.
• Trump not only bungled handling the pandemic, he has provably, admittedly undermined the U.S. response to the crisis. He has vocally worked against his own experts and made the crisis worse by encouraging more infection.
That’s just the short list of Trump’s glaring indecency. And since most people are reflexively repulsed by Trump’s infamy, I can see where it was an easy argument to make that promoting Biden’s basic sense of reality and goodness would be the top selling point for his campaign.
That appears to have not been the case.
I nearly blew coffee all over my dashboard driving to the newsroom this week when a Trump poll pundit on the radio said surveys showing Biden with wide leads in battleground states were wrong because they didn’t reflect “shy” Trump voters.
He explained these “shy” voters lied to pollsters about voting for Biden because they secretly would vote for Trump.
The pundit purposely euphemised “shy” for “shame.”
While some relatively decent people may not be compelled to vote against Trump, I guess there’s cold comfort in knowing that they’re ethical enough to be embarrassed about voting for him. So embarrassed that they lie about to total, anonymous strangers who would never rat them out.
The never-ending riddle is, “what’s in it for them?” Why choose a leader you’re ashamed to admit you voted for when, unless you’re white, wealthy and healthy, doesn’t offer anything good? I’ve seen enough Trump rallies to understand that the vast majority of those people aren’t fabulously wealthy.
For four, divisive and discomfiting years, this nation has tried to understand what the appeal is in a presidential candidate who, by all agreed-upon accounts comes up woefully short?
Few things reflect more poorly on our nation than Trump as president. Re-elected? How?
Fear. When I talk to people honest enough to admit they vote for Trump, I understand that they’re not only afraid, they’re not exactly sure what they’re afraid of.
It’s change. A lot of it is the fear of minorities, or their allies, taking control. Trump’s greatest appeal is his greatest weakness: denial. He’s delusional about, well, almost everything. His prowess. His intelligence. The pandemic. Global warming. His veracity.
But you have to hand it to the guy. Faced with unyielding truth, he never caves to it.
The news will always be fake. The white supremacists will always be good people. The economy will always be the best. Rush Limbaugh will always be worthy of a Medal of Freedom. He will have always saved the NFL. People who support the idea of Black Lives Matter will always be thugs and terrorists. Russia will always be a hoax.
Most of the country has without fear realized that homosexuals can be homosexuals, Black and Latino women and men deserve positions of power, and at the least equality, and that other nations have good affordable health care, and we should, too.
Not everyone, though. If there’s one common quality I see among Trump supporters, which drives their fear, it is the irrational belief that giving something to someone else means less for them. More power to minorities means less power for whites. More health care for the masses means less health care for individuals, and especially them. More opportunities for immigrants mean fewer for them.
I totally don’t get the fear of gays and lesbians, since that’s nothing but a net sum game for straights. Taking same-sex couples out of the dating picture only makes hetero odds for a mate that much better.
But if there’s one thing that seems to have prevailed during the past four years, it’s that Trump paints a believable enough picture of reality, that actually isn’t.
Rather than move into the present, keeping Trump in office offers an illusion of a past that really never was what they all thought it was.
So good luck, Joe, on getting the 270 electoral college votes to at least throw the unwanted ballast of Trump over the side so we can get on with our lives.
But whether Biden wins or loses, we have to realize that good over evil doesn’t win elections in this country. That’s probably the biggest problem we could ever face. One I think we can win. I’m just not sure how.
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