Trump is not the problem
After every mass murder with an assault weapon, the NRA says blame the shooter, not the gun. Go to the real source of the problem.
The real source of our extreme political and public division, discord and disgust is not President Trump, nor the GOP Congress, nor the NRA, nor purveyors of incendiary fake conspiracy news, nor Richard Spencer and his alt-Nazi nation of disturbed white lads. It’s not even the Russians and their social media mischief.
The mainstream media is looking for blame in all the wrong places.
Who’s really at fault? As Charlton Heston revealed in the 1973 dystopian film Soylent Green, “It’s people!”
In the present case, it’s a not a protein smoothie made of humans. Our troubles stem from a minority of angry, resentful and often confounding people with strong, unshakable opinions informed by the media they choose and believe because it succors their beliefs.
It’s people who in 2016 won overwhelming political power — in Washington and the states — and now are thrust into the role of leading the nation.
But like Toonces, the cat who could drive a car from the old Saturday Night Live skits, these folks may not be up to the job.
I’m talking, of course, about the Trump base: The nation’s 25–30 percent #AlwaysTrump, folks who are active, vocal and — from years of GOP gerrymandering — now dominate the nation’s electoral map, elections and agenda.
Like it or not, the Trump base is behind the wheel, driving the car. Forgive me for being frightened.
I know: We don’t besmirch the almighty common folk, the heart and soul of America. We need to respect, even cherish, their plain and plainspoken wisdom. Even if it’s offensive, reckless, feckless, misguided, misinformed or joyfully downright mean, nasty, ugly.
But hey — they blame Hillary, Obama, the Democrats, Socialist college professors and snowflake students; protesters, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and #takeaknee; and the liberal New York Times, CNN and other legit mainstream media. Their blaming makes the Trump base fair game. And with the great power they have comes great accountability.
So don’t blame Trump for his daily madness, his Twitter tantrums, or his utter debasement of the Office of the Presidency.
Or his unabashed lying, deflecting, misdirecting and slamming even his own people … his lack of self control and discipline we need from the commander-in-chief and leader of the free world … the endless West Wing chaos … his disdain for due process and rule of law … his bewildering zig-zagging, flip-flopping and gas-lighting on serious policy issues, spinning ignorance into a virtue … his erratic, capricious behavior that even those who wish to be allies can’t understand, accept or abide.
Carrie on Homeland is more stable and trustworthy.
It’s all part of the can’t-look-away train wreck reality show Trump is producing, directing and starring in. (Call it, “Real Mayhem at the White House.”)
Best case, maybe Trump knows what he’s doing. He’s feeding, entertaining and exciting his base by making a mockery of Washington. To the exquisite torture of reasonable, responsible, traditional family values GOPers who now can’t control the beast they created.
The worse Trump is, the more his base loves it. He’s pranking the establishment, the powers that be, the pointy-headed, smarty-pants, politically correct Washington types and coastal elites who he convinced his base are to blame for whatever their unfortunate personal situations.
The base is eating up the Trump smorgasbord of wrong like the free buffet at the old Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.
Then of course when things don’t turn out as bigly promised — coal and steel jobs, tax windfalls, better cheaper healthcare — the base will blame the despicable Washington liberals. Trump and Fox will tell them to.
Let’s also not blame Trump’s Cabinet for treating every day like “opposite day” as they cheerily dismantle the very purpose of the government agencies they head.
Scott Pruitt’s EPA is un-protecting the environment. Ben Carson’s HUD is undoing affordable housing. Betsy DeVos’s Education is undermining public education. Ryan Zinke’s Interior is un-preserving our precious lands. And so on.
But it’s not their faults. Trump’s base hates Washington, government and regulations, even if every regulation begins with legislation enacted by the Congress people elected. Trump’s Cabinet is merely answering to the boss and his Washington-government-regulation-hating base.
Speaking of Congress, don’t blame the so-called corrupt lawmakers bought by special interests.
Especially don’t blame the GOP majority. The base elected these guys. The base also stood by and allowed the GOP to gut campaign finance rules so that money gushes freely from special interests, like the NRA, to corrupt Congress.
“People get the government they deserve,” goes the old saw. With our government now solidly in conservative hands, the base can’t complain too much, unless into a mirror.
Speaking of the NRA, don’t blame the gun lobby for Trump and Congress refusing to even talk about a ban on military-grade assault weapons after yet another mass slaughter of children.
Don’t blame Sen. Marco Rubio for being tongue-tied and twisted when asked by his Florida constituents, including students and parents of the Parkland school shooting, if the good Senator hence will accept even more than his current $3.3 million tally in support from the NRA.
Don’t blame any NRA-bought lawmaker who can’t muster the gumption to do what Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart, MetLife, Hertz, Delta Air Lines and other companies have done post-Parkland to defy the NRA’s diktat. The NRA would send out mass mailings to rouse the base and send that lawmaker to an early political grave.
Which is why Congress killed any talk of banning assault weapons nearly as fast as assault weapons killed innocents in Parkland, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Sutherland Springs, San Bernadino, Orlando, Aurora, ad nauseam.
The base is the Honey Badger that cares more about gun rights.
This is a mystery to the vast majority of Americans who expect a rational approach to guns. The joke’s on us. Rationality is not what gun rights are all about.
“You’d get a far better understanding of the NRA if you just approach us as if [we are] one of the world’s great religions,” an NRA official once told the Washington Post.
Ah. For many in Trump’s base, God and guns go together like a .45 in a holster. For some, assault rifles are the New Testament “rod of iron” sanctified to protect home and family.
You can’t argue with religion. You can’t convince a Catholic that the Pope is just an old guy in a dress, like Ru Paul or Eddie Izzard.
Belief is bulletproof no matter how many facts you shoot at it.
But I respect religious belief. Every Toyota Prius comes standard — or so it seems — with a Coexist bumper sticker reminding us how everyone should accept and honor all religions. Except for religions that accept or condone the terrorizing or killing of innocent people, like, say, militant Islam.
For the record, I am not comparing the NRA to ISIS. That would be a gross exaggeration.
So if you need to suss who’s responsible for America’s gun madness, forget the NRA and its bought Congress.
Look to the Trump base that believes the NRA’s fear-mongering about crooked Hillary snowflake liberals sending government agents in jackboots to take our guns. Which we need to ward off crooked Hillary’s jackbooted gun-takers.
Next, don’t blame Trump or Congress for failing to enact sensible immigration reforms or protecting innocent people from being ripped from their families, friends and lives and dumped outside our borders.
The base is angry about dark-skinned people coming here and changing the nation’s complexion, so it’s hard-core about kicking or keeping them out.
It’s not racial, the base sputters, offended — the law’s the law.
But you have to wonder: If millions of Canadians were here illegally on expired work or student visas, or Swedes were flooding America bringing lutfisk, sensible Volvos, better schools and good, free government healthcare, would immigration be such a hot issue?
Finally, don’t blame the Fox “News” Channel or the other emperor’s clothiers in the right-wing media for plumping for Trump and fueling political hate, distrust, division and discord.
Fox is in a tough spot, thanks to Trump’s base.
On the one hand, Fox certainly knows the job of the press in a healthy democracy is to constantly challenge power, not do its bidding. That’s why press freedom is in the First Amendment, ahead of the Second Amendment (and with no mention of “well regulated” in the First).
But Fox and its ilk also know that rousing and feeding the base an unlimited buffet of Trumpish delights is big money.
One more thing: Don’t blame the Russians for their social media espionage that helped Trump win.
The Russians sensed Trump’s base is pretty easy to fool with Facebook and Twitter posts that, however fake and meant to rile and divide, confirm their biases.
Perhaps it’s too easy to blame Trump’s base for the dire straits our democracy is in.
As they say in the South, bless their hearts. They mean well.
Instead, look at the rest of the country, the 70–75 percent of Americans who let the Trump base seize control of our future. Either because we failed to vote, or refused to choose either presidential candidate, or always vote Republican, or bought the lies about crooked Hillary and voted against her.
Frankly, while I voted for Her, I didn’t do enough to help her win.
So I guess we do have the government we deserve.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer