There is no sugar coating the horror of last week. Depression is an understandable reaction. But it isn’t as helpful reaction. I never saw a big problem that was best addressed by panic or by supine fear.
It seems to me that the road out of our depression begins with a right understanding of how Trump was elected in the first place. I rebut two wrong explanations and advance what I believe to be the right explanation. The latter is simplistic but not, I believe, misleadingly simplistic.
Wrong Explanation Number One
The Donald won because he is ten feet tall and a political genius of the first water.
Wrong. A business or political genius he ain’t.
Wrong Explanation Number Two
The Donald won because, by unleashed fear and hatred, he played to a culturally aggrieved half of the population.
Wrong. Trump’s base consists of about one quarter to one third of the population who revel in his bullshit, plus another seven to fifteen percent who are fellow travelers. It peaks at about 42 percent, all together.
Revving up the hatred and the bullshit will be really attractive to the hard core quarter or third of the population. But as he reaches new heights of assholery, some of the fellow travelers will peel off.
Trump wants to read any decent person out of the Republican Party.
We should do everything we can to assist him in this endeavor.
The Right Explanation
The right explanation for our loss in 2016—the simplistic but not misleadingly simple explanation—was that people did not like Hillary Clinton.
Many lies about her were told, and widely believed. She made many tactical mistakes. But victimization by lies and tactical errors were not her bedrock problems.
Her fundamental problems were two in number. First, she just wasn’t that likeable as a person. Second, having been the enabler and defender of Bill Clinton’s bad behavior, she left a bad taste in many mouths.
But that was then, and this is now.
Now is the time to force the persuadable to choose between decency and hatred, between reality and magical thinking.
Now is the time to rev up our base, not with hatred, lies, and magical thinking, but instead with righteous indignation.