[OK, it should go without saying for those who regularly read my blog, but I’m being facetious with the below. I’m not a Trump supporter, and I’m being “devil’s advocate” here. Just to clarify…]
Usually, I write about LGBT issues (more specifically, about gay men), but because so many are stressed out about this election, I wanted to explore a more clinical issue in general. This has to do with anger and hate as human emotions, and how these emotions have been channeled and focused into the presidential campaign by supporters of Republican party nomineee, Donald Trump. As a colleague once told me, “We want to manage anger. We don’t want to eliminate it. Anger is our defense against oppression.”
Many theories abound about how Trump got through the Republican presidential primary process and went on to be the party’s nominee for President, on a platform of unprecedented anti-LGBT sentiment, joined by the notoriously anti-LGBT and conservative religious zealot Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence. Many ask, how did we get to where we are now?
Part of it is that Congress has had a low approval rating for years (mostly due to Republicans in the House of Representatives blocking President Obama’s proposals, especially for social programs that help women, veterans, and jobless Americans), and this low approval of Congress has probably contributed much to the “throw the bums out and start over” sentiment, making any candidate who is seen as a frank “outsider” seem popular. But you could also argue that the timing was just right in the person of Trump to personify the voice of the Frustrated American Conservative who has had to “suffer the indignity” of having a Black President for the past 8 years – and now the prospect of the first woman President — of all things — is just “too much to bear”. To understand what’s going on, you have to understand the mind of the American Conservative:
Conservatives like to preserve the “status quo” in this country, versus “Liberals” or “Progressives” who like to see the climate of the country change, especially its laws, toward progress in terms of social and legal equality, civil rights, and overall dignity of various “minority” populations (basically anyone who isn’t male, White, straight, conservative Christian, married, a parent, disability-free, cisgender, etc.). Progressives want to speed up the evolution of country into a more enlightened state, and Conservatives want to put on the brakes — or go backwards.
I know the “Conservative” dogma well, because although I am not one, I was raised by some. To truly know the American Conservative, you have to be like a spy. You have to gain access to them behind closed doors, away from the “politically correct” public, because even Conservatives can be embarrassed by their own rhetoric, not because they really are ashamed of it, but because they know their values aren’t always popular in mixed company. But they do believe that they are, or at least should be, a majority, however silent. In silence and privacy – in their homes, among family and friends, and perhaps even in the voting booth, when no one is looking – their true feelings come out.
One could argue that the phenomenon of Trump is really just the reverse of the phenomenon of Obama. America wasn’t racist enough to prevent a Black President from being elected – twice – but they are racist enough to have some – many – who have bitten their collective tongue for the past 8 years, biding their time (sometimes patiently and quietly, sometimes not) when they could finally speak up against the Progressive tide of civil law in recent years. In Trump, they are (to them), finally having their say, relieved and unleashing their passions.
Many have said that Trump gives a voice to that silent, frustrated, silenced American who has had to witness the torturous affront of seeing a Black man elected President, as opposed to shining a President’s shoes. As they saw their gay and lesbian fellow Americans achieve national equal civil marriage rights, as opposed to seeing them frustrated and left out of the legal and financial benefits of state/federal civil marriage. As they saw more and more women in a position to force them to call their “boss”, when they didn’t recognize the right of any woman to be called this. When they saw millions of “undeserving, lazy” fellow Americans or immigrant residents of America get access to health care, at the expense of those noble, American, generous health insurance companies. In short, Trump gives a voice, long-suppressed, to the glory and righteousness of hate, and to his supporters, it feels great.
Love is sometimes defined as wanting the best for someone, or for good fortune to smile on them. Hate is sometimes defined as wanting bad things to happen to someone – not by chance, or arbitrarily, but because the person who meets some kind of bad fate deserves it because they are guilty of being inherently inferior by who they are – not for any actions they have ever done, but merely for being who they are: Black. Latino. Asian. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual . Transgender. Female. Disabled. Foreign. Intelligent. Educated. Peaceful. In the mind of the American Conservative, these “undeservings” (as opposed to being “deplorables”) are deserving of the most awful things that can happen to a person, because they are them, and I am me, and I’m none of those awful things – I’m not, and so I’m better – and it is only justice that awful things happen to awful people. Too bad for you. Them’s the breaks, but it is what it is.
All people want to feel good. They want to be healthy, happy, fed, rested, relieved from cold or heat, proud, dignified, respected, and secure. Sometimes this is achieved by what they do – working “hard”, being “responsible” — and sometimes it’s by what they are: superior. So when an American Conservative is frustrated by being denied the wealth, health, comfort, or other privilege they desire – and then they see the “undeserving” people get it – well, that’s not right. That’s not OK. That has to be changed. That has to be stopped. America has to be set right again. America has to remember its priorities. America has to be…great again.
People say hate like it’s a bad thing. Not when you’re correct, it’s not. It’s a right. It’s a duty. It’s an obligation. It is a burden to carry it out, in the name of righteousness of the superior. When the American Conservative is against anti-LGBT hate crimes legislation, it’s because committing hate crimes against LGBT Americans should not only be “not illegal”, but it is a duty under the rules of God, which are greater than the rules of (merely) Man. When the American Conservative believes that women do not have the right to safe and legal abortion – “baby murder” – and it results in women attempting incompetent abortion procedures, illegally, in dark-alley or back-room hidden offices, they deserve to die, if they are in the process of committing a “murder” anyway. Not only can they be allowed to die, but they should, because they deserve it for their crimes. When the American Conservative wants to allow state laws that allow an LGBT person to be fired from their job – regardless of their job performance – just for being LGBT, they deserve it. For the American Conservative, not only are these workers not deserving of protection, they are worthy of unemployment, poverty, lack of health care, illness, agony, and death – because they are LGBT, and undeserving of any basic dignities.
To the American Conservative, hate is not a bad thing, it is a symbol of justice, ambition, dignity, safety, power, and life itself. As the Emperor said to Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” movies, “Give in to your hate.” Hate is exhilarating. It is empowering. It is motivating. It makes you feel alive, and it lets you know that you are not powerless, and you are not alone. It brings people together in the cause of righteousness, and protects the Deserving from the affronts that the Undeserving call “rights” or “progress”, but which fail to acknowledge and respect the truth that the Deserving are superior, and laws, attitudes, policies, customs, operations, and daily living everywhere should reflect that.
In a very small way, the “thrill of victory” in your average sports game can be this way. You celebrate. You jump up and down. You smile. You throw your fist in the air. You yell, “YES!”. You defeated your opponent. You conquered them. They suffered, and to the victor go the spoils. Trump’s supporters and the American Conservatives are the same way; when you ARE superior, you get goodies that the Undeserving don’t get to have, whether you’re taking home the Stanley Cup or a valid health insurance card.
To the American Conservative, LGBT Americans don’t have rights because they are abnormal and sinners in the eyes of God Himself, and undeserving of equal rights because they are not of equal character. To the American Conservative, African-Americans and Latinos are inherently inferior ethnicities to Whites, so they don’t get the same “goodies” either – how can it be fair for the Undeserving to have the same goodies as the Deserving? Where is the justice in that? You have to earn your goodies or you don’t get any.
To the American Conservative, American people (well, White, “Christian” people) are superior to all other peoples on the face of the Earth, and national and global policy should reflect that – nothing more, nothing less. Immigrants are unwelcome, because the Deserving should have much before the Undeserving have any. It is not enough that I have enough to eat; I must also watch you starve.
To the American Conservative, God made Woman to serve Man – all in its order and place, and it’s been this way for millennia, and still is in much of the world. Women don’t get equal goodies because they are not men, and men are superior, by the highest order that exists. American Conservative women feel this way themselves, vital to Trump’s power and power to the American Conservative in their sheer numbers alone. They are happy to sacrifice their own happiness in having equal rights if it means they are compliant with the rules they see as worthy of respecting and obeying. And any woman who disagrees with this is Undeserving, and should be severely punished for violating the rules of God, which should in turn be the rules of America. They hate Hillary Clinton because she’s a strong female professional, and a woman’s place is either in the home, or merely to support the home, but not in any way threatening the inherent superior position of the men, any man, in her life.
To the American Conservative, it’s all very clear, black-and-white (pun intended), with no critical thinking or shades of grey, because if you give the Inferior an inch, they will take a mile. They can’t be trusted to take what they are given and be quiet, they are always wanting more, as if they want as much as the Deserving, which is just ridiculous. And this has to be defended against with laws, prisons, dollars, fists, and, yes, guns. The Undeserving will know their place, or they will be forced to know their place, by any means necessary. Because that is the way He made it.
When Trump supporters wear hats, shout, applaud, wear t-shirts, and carry signs, they are celebrating. They are rejoicing that their voice is finally heard, and that the Undeservings are finally getting challenged on this “peace/love/equality” bullshit that just isn’t so, because it cannot be so, as long as they are Undeservings. It worked so well for so long – women couldn’t vote, Blacks couldn’t vote, LGBT Americans were kept hidden with no legal rights and active legal oppression to punish them for their crimes, and White Americans had the place they should have – in the majority, in control, and preventing others from the illusion that they are somehow “worthy”. Trump gives voice to those long silenced by “women’s lib”, “gay rights”, “no nukes”, “give peace a chance”, “Black is beautiful”, “Si, se puede”, “I’m OK/You’re OK”, “what the world needs now is Love”, and all that other bunch of lies that threaten the order of the way things have always been, and always should be.
When the voice is unleashed, it’s a celebration in word and deed and song. Finally, a chance to set things right again. To make things as they should be again. To let your feelings out again. To speak your mind again. To put them all in their place again. To make America great again.
Hate? Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. For millions of American Conservatives, it is life as they know it. And it is AWESOME.