The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Trump And The Problem With Democracy

A lot of people think that the stuff Donald Trump says is insane. They comfort themselves with the fact of this perceived looniness and the idea that his supporters will eventually find out he’s insane and fall away from his campaign.

They’re wrong.

Trump isn’t insane. He’s not even mildly crazy. The stuff that comes out of his mouth is not at all out of step with the opinions of many ordinary people. Let’s chew on that one for a second. The stuff that comes out of his mouth is not at all out of step with the opinions of many ordinary people. This is a bloody terrifying thought and one that most Liberals are keen to disprove or dismiss, but the fact remains. In just the same way that Tea Party gibberish has a widespread, broad-base appeal, so does the kind of hateful guff spewing out of Trump’s hatch.

Why? How? I mean, seriously, how? Well, it’s simple. It is a sad fact that a significant proportion of the human population suffers from a type of cognitive dysfunction commonly known as ‘stupidity’. And that an even more significant proportion labours under the impression that wilful ignorance leads to rational decision making. There is a long, long list of examples of both these conditions, far too extensive to go into here, but the general trend is that there is always, at any given time, a huge section of the population willing to believe anything that supports their inherent prejudices.

Which is fine. Really. It is, generally speaking, a matter of no importance whatsoever if an ordinary person believes that they have been abducted by aliens, texted by God, victimised by Mexicans or boat people or disadvantaged by being white. Such opinions and beliefs, while being mind-bogglingly stupid, don’t really matter for the most part, because the people who hold these opinions are generally too busy working, raising families and watching prime time TV to do anything about them. But when you combine this kind of cognitive dysfunction with an election cycle, enfranchisement and an unscrupulous cowboy willing to exploit feelings of this kind for his own personal aggrandisement, we end up with a very dangerous situation indeed. A situation that, in fact, exposes one of democracy’s greatest flaws.

In the words of the late, great Terry Pratchett, “The problem with democracy is that everyone gets a say.”

We need to wake up to the fact that a potential majority of the group ‘everyone’ believes that the world is crap because immigrants, that the best way to pursue international diplomacy is to continually bluster and make threats and that the best thing to do with the poor, the vulnerable and the funny-looking is to build a giant wall and put them on the other side of it. Because this is the general level of political sophistication of that portion of the population that is usually sneeringly dismissed as ‘ordinary people’.

This is the height of foolishness. We cannot continue to pretend that racist, sexist, intolerant and xenophobic belief sets are ‘fringe’. They’re mainstream. Just because the upper middle class and the intelligentsia can no longer bring themselves to criticise foreigners under any circumstances, this doesn’t mean that racism, bigotry and general pig-ignorant stupidity have been vanquished from the world. This swing to Trumpism exposes one of the most dangerous vulnerabilities of the progressive society – the fact that we have left a huge portion of the population behind. We say and do liberal, progressive things in our little political echo chambers, but the reality is that most people simply haven’t got it yet. Most people, as we can see, exist somewhere on the Trump spectrum, because the smug, self-congratulatory narrative of progressivism never even bothered to try to explain itself to ‘ordinary people’. We have a lamentable habit of assuming that propositions relating to humanity, tolerance and equality are axiomatic. They’re not.

And at some time in the near future, assuming they can read, those ‘ordinary people’ are going to vote.


Category: Asinine, Politics


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