Adorable deplorables: It’s not the economy, stupid
Hillary Clinton made a rare gaffe last month. The usually methodical and overly cautious candidate tripped up when she called half of Donald Trump’s supporters “deplorable.” Although she quickly backtracked on the “half” bit, the moniker stuck, giving rise to a defiantly stubborn group embracing their own ignorance and stupidity – witness “Deplorable Dan,” “Deplorable Sarah,” and, well, you can fill in the rest. Interestingly, I don’t recall running into any Deplorable Khalifa, Krishna, or Javiers out there. I’m sure they’re around, probably hiding somewhere. The whole thing reminded me of that Sarah Palin skit on SNL, where she seemed oblivious to the fact that the joke was actually on her, as she grinned away on national TV and embracing her own silly simplicity.
But it got me wondering – what exactly is a “deplorable?” Who are these people?
To be sure, not all Trump supporters are deplorables. Republican politicians and reluctant Romney-ites are not deplorables. Nutty, yes. Insane, possibly. Deplorable, no. Or they’re career preservationists, gaming the system to ensure survival. But true deplorables are a scary bunch. I mean, downright frightening, pack up the car and let’s skedaddle, Nellie, sort of group. These are people hellbent on violence, insurrection, and revolution. Killary. Hillary for Prison 2016. Crooked Hillary. The Crusaders of Garden City, Kansas. Incidentally, why isn’t the GOP calling out The Crusaders for what they are – Radical Christian Terrorists? Instead, they prefer the term “militia,” as if that’s somehow less frightening. As if conjuring up images of John Parker or Paul Revere with muskets fending off the redcoats should bring a comforting tear to our eye. What the GOP is really saying is this – Islamic terrorists (and Skittles, TicTacs, and other assorted candies) are a threat to civilized society as we know it. But neo-Nazi, ultra conservative Minutemen like The Crusaders are not a threat to the party of old stodgy white men and their families. No, white homegrown terrorists instead target the “browning of America,” as demographer William Frey calls it. THIS is the cause célèbre for the deplorables.
You thought it was jobs and trade? Silly you. Of course that’s what the GOP wants you to think. Trump voters are better off than you think. Census Bureau data from the primaries showed that average household income for a Trump voter is $74,000, compared to a national median of $56,000. So what exactly drives deplorable mentality? Would you believe me if I told you that, just coincidentally, Trump’s support runs highest from the Gulf Coast, through Appalachia, to New York, which is the same as a heat map of Google searches for racial slurs and jokes?
This, my friends, is the mentality of a deplorable. It is built on racism, hate, and intolerance. A protectionist mentality. When Trump voters yearn to “Make America Great Again,” that is a longing to return to the comforts of the 1950s, together with mom, apple pie, and your neighborhood cross-burning party. A time when discrimination and political incorrectness were de rigueur. When a woman’s place was in the kitchen and African Americans were segregated (or subjugated). When terms like broads, spics, dotheads, and countless others assured the white man that name-calling was an appropriate way to demean others and preserve his position at the top of the societal pecking order. But America’s browning threatens the white man’s grip on power. Try to topple someone from their perch, and you can expect a vicious fight. If that means death threats, arson, and other forms of violent insurrection, so be it. Just ask Newsweek journalist Kurt Eichenwald, who is Jewish. Poor Kurt has published several exposés on Trump’s connections with Russia.
This is a sad essay on the progress of American society. And frighteningly, these people aren’t going to go away on November 9. How will we heal and move beyond this? Perhaps our own Nuremberg-style trials? Charging those responsible under 18 U.S. Code § 2383 (go look it up now)? In the same way that Germany embarked on an aggressive denazification period after WW II, we will need to venture out on our own detoxification (er…detrumpification) period to exorcise these demons from our national consciousness.