Most Americans are horrified that Donald Trump is president. The man embodies the worst traits of humanity. Plus, he’s impulsive, irrational, ignorant, and unstable.
Assuming we survive this, I think history will teach us that the greater horror is the realization that there are many Americans who are happy with Trump as president. They don’t seem to mind the ignorance, irrationality, instability, ineptitude, xenophobia, misogyny, and thinly-veiled racism.
So far, we have been trying to rationalize this support, pretending that they tolerate his behavior in hopes of furthering some political agenda. Though what that agenda is isn’t exactly clear.
Some would argue that they wanted to drain the proverbial swamp, removing the corrupting influence of special interest groups and their well-funded lobbyists on our government. But then why choose a wealthy one-percenter who has bragged about manipulating the system for his own personal gain? That’s like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of your life savings because you don’t trust Wall Street.
Others may have believed that Trump was genuinely all-in for Steve Bannon’s far-right agenda. But it’s equally hard to imagine that these voters would be foolish enough to entrust a man, an admitted political opportunist who has flipped more times than the griddle cook at IHOP, to become the vanguard for a political turn so far to the right that it makes Barry Goldwater look like a hippie.
Perhaps the most disturbing possibility is that these people truly appreciated Trump’s nationalistic fervor. Given the fear and uncertainty that has befallen America since 9/11 and the financial crises, those who enjoyed the relative comfort and prosperity of the 90s might be willing to sacrifice certain values, principles, and freedoms in favor of the presumed security of a more authoritarian approach to governing our nation.
Yet the ugly truth is that even when Trump is nothing more than a punchline in one of so many possible jokes, the people who thought he was a good choice – and many still do – will still be around. Though, depending on how bad it gets, it might be hard to find them after the fact, like people who are willing to admit that they supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But they will still be out there. And that may be the scariest aspect of this entire American nightmare.