by Kolby Solinsky, White Cover Magazine
They’re talking about the silent majority.
It’s this idea that Donald Trump won because most Americans were hidden from plain sight, that there was this rotating, intensifying tide somewhere way down beneath where we were floating, this multiplying group of assholes and angry people lining up to spar and wash the jerseys for Trump’s team. But it’s bull. First, Trump didn’t win with a majority – he had 47.30% of the vote and Hillary had more, 47.79% – and perhaps much more when it’s all counted. Second, only 56.9% of eligible voters voted, meaning Trump had less than half of just over half the country’s support. And EVEN THEN, safe to say a large portion of Trump’s voters didn’t necessarily support him – they just didn’t support her. And third, Trump’s fans aren’t silent – they’re the loudest bunch of frothing dicks there are.
In this election, noise mattered more than content. People were more eager to talk about the election than they were committed to voting in it. The news cycle was dominated by stories and flashes and graphics about politics and about the two parties and about the candidates, but never has the full force of media – traditional, mainstream, alternative, and social – been so devoted to volume above all else. Elections have always been shows, and eventual candidates have always been stars of a certain kind. But this election was more devoted to the race than it was to the office of the President, more about the show than it was the whole damn point of the whole damn show.
Those who supported Trump did so like they were supporting wacky buddy comedies for Best Picture: “This whole Academy Awards is a bunch of bullshit for a bunch of fancy people. Gone Fishin’ made me laugh and I’m not gonna watch some pussy film called The English Patient, so why shouldn’t Gone Fishin’ win?”
But here’s the thing – if the election is more about the election than it is about the position it elects someone (a man, by apparent default) to, then the 2020 election has already started.
Liberals are already staring at their mirror and noticing all the freckles and wrinkles on their faces, flicking the light on and off and barricading themselves indoors until they find their confidence again, while far-right Conservatives (and far-right is an important adjective here, since there is no such thing as a public moderate Conservative in American politics anymore) are celebrating their go-ahead goal and smiling as if forgetting one very important thing – they’re shit at playing with the lead. And if the next election has already started, and it virtually has, then Donald Trump and his regime will never get to enjoy or (perhaps) fulfill the presidency they’ve promised their supporters. Just look at the helluva time Barack Obama had – he was beaten up by the other side repeatedly during his first campaign, then he was slammed out of habit and hope-for-his-failure during his first term, so much so that everything he did or endorsed or voiced was treated as a failure before and after it eventually succeeded, and then he was slammed every second of the way during the Republican nomination battle, then discredited pre-emptively and without consideration during his second term, recruited to campaign for his former Secretary of State, all adding up to a memorable but cock-blocked eight years in office where (apparently) half of the country that voted him in treated him like he never deserved the office he earned.
So, if it all works out like it most definitely will, the Democratic Party will realize what the Republicans obviously realized at the dawn of 2009 – that for those runnings, there’s not much difference between having the White House and fighting for the White House. And if politicking is your career, it’s hard to tell which is truly better – do you want to have the gold or plot to steal it? The people only seem to admire the latter, unless the gold lines your elevator.
And the people, by the way, are dumb. They’ve always been dumb. Listen to any conversation about this election during it or after it – the media’s failure in 2016 reflects the failure of the people it was broadcasting to, people who have never asked themselves a tough question and who therefore can’t recognize one.
Because Americans have proven to be, above everything, pretty damn short of attention. And they’re obsessed with lights, cameras, and action. And blood spatter. (And there are thoughtful ones, sure, but thoughtful people feel sorry for themselves when they lose.)
They love results. They hate homework.
I can’t decide whether this is all good – because it means Trump won’t truly get to enjoy or effect during his reign – or whether it’s bad – because it means the West’s democratic process is a hollow gram, and it means progress will never feel like progress occurred until long after change was made. And by that time, everyone will look back and realize they really did accomplish something all those years ago – they just never got to enjoy it or celebrate it. And the things they did celebrate, those cheers and declarations ended up being premature – because only four years after Obama and Joe Biden became the first President and Vice-President to publicly declare their support for same-sex marriage, their country then elected Mike Pence and his posse of mentally inbred power-grabbers. Just when it seemed America would elect its first female president to succeed its first black president, it turned around and elected a troupe of assholes unlike anything that had ever been on the ticket. At least, not since it was so long ago it doesn’t matter anymore. And just five years after Martin Luther King marched on Washington and recalled his dream and the Civil Rights Act was enacted, both King and Robert Kennedy were gunned down and Richard Nixon just kept on Nixon-ing until he out Nixon’d himself.
It’s easy to feel defeated. It’s easy to be defeated. But fuck easy.
And I’m unqualified to bitch or to instruct. Because I’m a white man. And white people should now recognize exactly what the term ‘White Privilege’ really means: it means being upset about a man like Trump being President without having to ever directly, physically, personally suffer from the consequences. We pale guys love to laugh ourselves off by hashtagging photos with #firstworldproblems or #fml, yet we still can’t recognize the one thing we have that nearly everybody without it would kill for – the benefit of the doubt.
We can scoff at Trump’s candidacy – like too many people did, mistaking what should be for what could be, confusing hope with honest prediction, skewing their polling or analysis because they were afraid to believe what was obvious all along, that he was either winning or gaining for 12 months. Or we can roll our eyes at the absurdity of it all – referring to him as a reality TV star or a clown, both of which he is but neither of which disqualified him in the eyes of 60 million. And we can forge ahead and forget about those who only want to drag us backwards, cut them loose from every carabiner as we climb this mountain – just remember, a swivelling door will smack you in the face if you don’t keep your hands up.
But there’s no point in taking him seriously if we’re not going to take his presidency seriously. There shouldn’t just be rallying calls coming from the left, from Democrats, from liberals, or from progressives. There should be rallying calls coming from those who voted for him, too, even from those who cheered for him and actively campaigned for him. They voted for change, or they may have just voted for one or two things they liked about him and ignored the things they hated about him – they may have voted for him in spite of his campaign’s racism and outright fear-mongering and hatred, although that practical electoral combover doesn’t excuse them for enabling monstrosity.
But whoever you are and whatever your leanings are, it’s clear we all expect something out of this president, whether you expect the best or the worst. Or whether, like me, you’re Canadian and are just worried about how his venom will spread and infect your own country’s heralded, welcoming, and open culture. And as a Canadian, we’re proud to live in a country that doesn’t have a Fuhrer, but we also can’t be complacent – our neighbours were, and now we can’t get to sleep because they’re fighting until 2 or 3 a.m.
So if we all expect something from him, then at least we all have something in common.
Trump says he’s going to be a president for everyone. Make him prove it. Presidents and Prime Ministers work for us. They serve us. And don’t give Trump a damn inch until he’s done or we’re done with him.
*Photo at the top of this blog post is from Wikimedia Commons, author Thierry Ehrmann from Saint Romain au Mont d’Or, France.