Unconnecting the presidential dots

In a completely unsurprising development, more than a few people are not only refusing to acknowledge Donald Trump’s role in the growing level of chaos at his rallies, but are blaming President Obama for it. This is a typical example (well, typical for a discussion not started by a caustic Trumplodyte; those are far more “colorful”).

The idea that Obama has been divisive by any measure is absurd, especially in the context of his being the first black President in history and therefore creating controversy among a great many rednecks just by getting up in the morning and drawing breath, but is at least debatable among reasonable people, although I have virtually never seen anyone give a solid example of how he’s been intentionally or unique divisive. The closest I have seen him come to perhaps jumping the gun was with the Henry Louis Gates controversy six years ago.

That anyone could say, however, that he is more divisive than Donald Trump — even before yesterday’s messes in Chicago and elsewhere, but especially with those in the mix — requires either willful denial or a complete detachment from reality. It’s as ludicrous as saying that Obama has the most ridiculous comb-over of any President or candidate for President, even worse than Homer Simpson’s. Then again, when someone starts in with the birther and closet-Muslim chatter, as occurred in the Facebook discussion I linked to, he has effectively ceded the right to be taken seriously in any political conversation.

To pretend that the violence and discord at Trump rally after Trump rally — a phenomenon unique in the history of this country – is somehow unrelated to Trump’s statements and conduct is equivalent to getting a bright-head forehead tattoo that says SPACE FOR RENT. Anyone who cannot connect the dots between someone’s racist comments and racial tension at his rallies should really abstain from voting for the good of the United States.

The pathetic thing is that this most recent stain on the U.S. is only going to make Trump fans, who have not been interested reality from day one of his campaign and have been gluttonously gobbling up his bullshit at every step, double down on their intention to vote for him. As anyone could have foreseen, people interviewed after the Chicago rally was cancelled yesterday were blaming the Mexican and black protesters for the violence and discord that has erupted at Trump events all over the place. And while I’m sure that some of those people were in fact instigators, this shit hasn’t exploded from a vacuum.

I can’t say with any confidence that Trump, going forward, is going to lose any devotees he hasn’t already lost, because plenty of Americans do in fact share Trump’s xenophobia and sexism, and they legitimately prefer his slogans and showmanship to in-depth, meaningful discourse. It really doesn’t trouble them that he is pig-ignorant about foreign policy, economics and a great many other key matters, because after all, so are they and they’re still here. It doesn’t matter that it was actually mostly Republicans who voted in favor of NAFTA in 1993 while Dems opposed it, because as long as Trump blames liberals for this and for the supposed mess the economy has plunged into under hos leadership — a pair of utterly implausible ideas — they will continue to side with him.

Still, while the number of Trump fans is frighteningly high — hell, anything more than a few hundred would be scary — it’s quite a bit lower than people think. Every election cycle, the GOP primaries draw out a disproportionate fraction of wahoos, hillbillies and shallow-minded ignoramuses, while a good many more rational Republicans stay home and await the general. This pattern is clearly in effect to a greater degree than ever today, as Trump is simultaneously killing it in the primaries while managing to remain the most hated U.S. politician, per poll after poll, in a very long time. So he probably doesn’t have much of a chance in the general, especially given that most of his own party will not materially support him heading into the fall.