Voice of Trumplandia

Just to be clear, I know absolutely nothing about Chris Knight’s politics. For all I know he’s walking around right now with a safety pin on his lapel. That’s not the point. Knight’s music is a unique window into the frustrations of a certain chunk of the white electorate. If you want to understand the emotions that would inspire support for Trump among white voters who could still, potentially, vote for a Democrat, then you should probably become familiar with the music of Chris Knight.

A chilling reinterpretation of Idiocracy

For Brawndo and Starbucks and Carl’s Jr. and Costco to continue to function and thrive in this Idiocracy, an entire class of humans must have escaped the reach of democratic politics. They exist in a realm beyond the conception, much less the authority, of President Camacho and his cabinet of simpletons. Idiocracy may not be about the descent of humans into stupidity, but rather the collapse of politics as a means of achieving common human interests.

A few reading assignments

We have some time here before the shit truly hits the fan to gather our thoughts, get better informed, and make plans. Along those lines, here are a few things I’ll be reading over the next few weeks.

Reject the temptation to make this normal

Let me suggest, however, that we resist the temptation to normalcy. Regardless what we may have done to fight this menace, we all own what happened here. I live in an affluent suburb, insulated from much of what was wrong about the world yesterday. I will still be insulated tomorrow and next week. I have a choice to make about whether to continue that isolation, whether to rest, whether to accept comfort.

Can it happen here?

Milgram’s research also suggests that the party will not be able to reform itself. Having purged dissenters and shrunk to a culturally and racially monolithic core, there is simply no force capable of resisting its present dynamics. The party will break and re-organize, or be replaced. How long this will take is anyone’s guess, but the process can be expected to spread instability all across our system.

Trump Whisperers

Politics in a democracy hinges on an openness to understanding, the quest for empathy. As the Trump Whisperers are demonstrating, that quest can go wrong, especially when both understanding and empathy are stunted by cultural distance. Our drive to find common ground can end up legitimizing or even romanticizing toxic ideologies. All values are not equal. Some values deserve to be aggressively marginalized. Some values should inspire more anger than sympathy.

Everybody, calm down

The most depressing message from this election is not that Trump might win. He won’t. What’s truly frightening is that very few Republicans are peeling away from their 2012 voting patterns. The most abhorrent political figure to rise in from our political system, perhaps ever, will inspire a decline in internal Republican support of only about 3-4 percentage points. That tells a terrible story about the weakness of conscience in the face of group pressure. It is a reminder that “it can’t happen here” is a myth.

TV news as a civic rot

TV news is the political equivalent of toxic industrial waste. No context, no depth, just minute-by-minute breathless panic, veering from one subject to the next like a dog in a field full of rabbits. It is making people crazy.