Thursday, December 17, 2015
Not enough black ink
Like the wonderful Watchmen, a grimly layered tale about costumed semi-superheroes who must adapt to a world that no longer tolerates them.
In it, Adrian Veidt, a former superhero who trumps Donald Trump in wealth and chutzpah, plots to unleash a horror so catastrophic that it fulfills his grand wish — the entire world abolishes divisions to unite and vanquish the horror.
I want Donald Trump to be that horror — a thing so devastating, so harmful, that people denounce their own ugliness and hate to turn against him and choose civil, reasonable leaders.
I want Trump to be what some pundits have proposed: So awful an impersonation of a human being that he'll drive followers away so that he can back out of the race, or drive voters to the Democratic ticket. I want him to be playing such a monumental prank on us all, if only to massage his giant ego, with the breezy gall of someone who has more money than God.
I want him to be a Democratic conspiracy, a trick deployed on the Republican Party, a massive inflated parody of itself, a hulking chicken having come home to roost.
But I'm afraid Donald Trump is real, and that he is in fact the runaway leader of the Republican ticket, and that he may win that party's nomination to the presidency.
And that makes me angry.
This cartoon, this little exercise with typing paper and Pilot®™ Razor Point pen, doesn't even begin to express my anger. I thought it would, but it's an ineffectual doodle.
I wanted to portray what makes me angriest: Joke or not, Trump has now made it OK for people to act out their hate. Like the bully he is, the demagogue he has become, he encourages followers to demean and demonize, even hurt those not like them. He cracks fear like a whip, pitting one group above another, and followers hear his whipcrack as permission to blame an entire group for the actions of a few, and to diminish them and compartmentalize them, and to act with violence against them.
Followers say many times Trump tells it like it is; Trump himself insults his critics and says they're just upset because he's not politically correct. Neither are right: Trump doesn't tell it like it is — he calculates to tell it like people want to hear, things on their hearts already, things written in fear and anger and blame. As if Trump saying it makes it true.
Trump is not being politically incorrect: He is insulting and humiliating and defaming, and stirring up others to do the same, under the strange off-color of authority he has built through the years, in the boorish, piggish televised persona we can't seem to get enough of.
At a Trump rally this week, a "Black Lives Matter" protester was detained by the crowd, one Trump follower flashing what looks like a Nazi salute, another shouting, "Burn that motherf----r alive!"
This is Trump's legacy. Joke or not, this is what he has wrought. Donny Demonseed has sown a dark harvest. Expect worse to come, unless we come to our senses. I'm trying to imagine him as president, the divided mess of a country he purports to make great again.
I'm really, really hoping I have overreacted. I really hope that months from now I'll look at this post and laugh at my usual hyperbole and misplaced anxiety.
We are a horribly imperfect country, a moving experiment so broken with hypocrisies and sufferings and broken promises upon broken promises — either forgotten or repackaged as patriotism and progress. But we are an experiment; we experiment with this counter-intuitive idea we can rise above our base fears and impulses, that we can, with vigilance and patience and hope for ourselves and one another, be a country that accommodates and accepts. A country that can still be better than itself.
Donald Trump will wreck that experiment, that long-held dream against all odds.
I still hope it's all a joke.
The joke on me is that Donald Trump makes some of the other Republican candidates —namely Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson (remember Ben Carson?) — who at least (for now) couch their demonization in old-school rhetoric, look almost statesmanlike.