Why I have dropped all the Trump-loving goobers from my life

I was never a fan of The Apprentice, or Donald Trump. I figured the show was yet another dumb, manipulated, unreality game show, and he was an arrogant blowhard conman using NBC to burnish his paper-thin reputation for being a “famous businessman.” I’ve never watched a single episode, or even made it through the title sequence. To be fair I never watched a full episode of Survivor, The Biggest Loser, or Big Brother, either.

None of that is “reality” to me. It’s artificial situations created to generate artificial drama that is then edited to create an artificial reality. Donald Trump is a perfect product of that unreal world.

I always thought the idea of him running for president was a pathetic joke. It was laughable. It’s still a joke, only the punchline is very, very dark humor. I never hated him, and I still don’t. I just didn’t think him worthy of my time, focus, or consideration.

I knew as soon as he came down the escalator and blurted out that Mexicans are “rapists” that this was the wrong guy. This man is not fit, and his mind is dangerously warped by bigoted delusions. I did a diary almost immediately which tracked down the source of his claim, and it absolutely was not what he claimed that it was. It was about sexual trafficking taking place on the southern border of Mexico, not about gangs of rapists who were aggressively swarming into America, as he tried to suggest.

He was a liar. He was a thug. He was a bigot. He was an uninformed, fatuous gasbag.

All of that was obvious from day one, minute one, of his candidacy. I decided right away that I didn’t have any time for anyone who rationalized, excused, or tried to justify this man’s crap to me.  Anyone linked to this guy is OUT. I do not have enough of my life left to spend a single nanosecond countenancing this bullshit.

And yet many of us still have to deal with this ilk in our daily lives, people who sadly happen to make up a significant portion of the country. We couldn’t have believed that this was possible, that this many Americans were, frankly, this evil. If not evil, then at the very least they were willing to support the evil that is Trump. Many of us have Trump fans in our family, in our workplace, among our close acquaintances, and as our close friends.

Have you told them to “Go screw” yet? And if not, why not?

Let me remind everyone that how I felt about Trump right from that start wasn’t really that different from what Sen. Lindsay Graham used to say.

“I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office,” Graham, who backed former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush at the time, said during the February 2016 interview.
“I’m a Republican, and he’s not. He’s not a conservative Republican, he’s an opportunist,” Graham said on the program. “He’s not fit to be president of the United States.”

Or what Texas Sen. Ted Cruz used to say.

Ted Cruz on Tuesday unloaded on Donald Trump, accusing him during a news conference of being a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” “a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen” and “a serial philanderer.”

“He is proud of being a serial philanderer … he describes his own battles with venereal diseases as his own personal Vietnam,” Cruz said, citing a decades-old Trump appearance on “The Howard Stern Show.”
“I don’t care if I have to get in my pickup truck and drive around the country like I did when I ran for the Senate,” Rubio said Feb. 28 on Fox News Sunday. “Donald Trump will never be the nominee of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.”
[…]
“This is the most important government job on the planet. And we’re about to turn over the conservative movement to a person that has no ideas of any substance on the important issues,” Rubio said in an interview Feb. 26 on CBS This Morning. “The nuclear codes of the United States — to an erratic individual — and the conservative movement — to someone who has spent a career sticking it to working people,” he added.
[…]

Donald Trump has been perhaps the most vulgar — no, I don’t think perhaps — the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency in terms of how he’s carried out his candidacy,” Rubio told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota March 4 on New Day.

House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered a harsh rebuke of the recent comments made by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump about an Indiana-born judge with Mexican heritage who is presiding over a lawsuit about Trump University.  Ryan said he “disavows” Trump’s comments and that they are “the textbook definition of a racist comment.” Ryan, who recently endorsed Trump, said he still believes Trump is the better choice over presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Senator-elect Mitt Romney trashed President Donald Trump’s character in an opinion piece for The Washington Post. “With the nation so divided, resentful, and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.” Romney wrote in the op-ed published Tuesday night. His piece focused on how Trump has altered the United States’ image abroad. He wrote, “In a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 84 percent of people in Germany, Britain, France, Canada, and Sweden believed the American president would ‘do the right thing in world affairs.’ One year later, that number had fallen to 16 percent.” Romney said that in the Senate he will work for common goals like a balanced budget and not point out every presidential fault, but will “speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.” He added that Trump “has not risen to the mantle of the office.” Romney will be sworn in to the U.S. Senate representing Utah on Thursday. He has been critical of Trump in the past, but has also said he was “impressed” by Trump’s transition effort. Trump has not yet responded.
We all understand that some of this was hyperbolic campaign rhetoric (and that’s an axe to grind for another post), but it’s also fair to say that in the two intervening years, all of this was correct.
It was not all hyperbolic or opportunistic, and in fact, it may have been an understatement.
The initial reaction by many mainstream establishment Republicans was to be completely and totally repulsed by Trump. Longtime principled “Never Trump” Republicans who’ve worked with Ted Cruz, George H.W. Bush, Marco Rubio and John McCain like Jennifer Rubin, Bill Krystal, Max Boot, Alice Stewart, Ana Navaro, Rick Wilson, Joe Scarborough, Steve Schmidt, Nicole Wallace and others are far more vocally anti-Trump than anything Democrats or liberals have voiced.
Someome of them even officially left the Republican Party because of Trump, but almost none of them have renounced being conservatives.
The point I’m making here ultimately isn’t a liberal, partisan one. It’s a matter of values and facts. There has to be a line in the sand, and we have to honor that line or else all hell is likely to break loose. In the age of Trump it pretty much has begun to break loose, with a record government shutdown in order to satisfy Trump’s desperate need for an empty, expensive, and ineffective monument to his own xenophobia, cowardice, and paranoia.
This need is generating more and more collateral damage. Consider this 38-year, furloughed federal employee with diabetes who has had to cut her insulin intake to the point that she pushed her blood sugar level to over 600, and basically had to go to bed and pray that she would wake up the next day.
This rolling tire fire of failure is almost funny to me, but in another way it perfectly fits, because Trumpsters—the people who continue to support this obviously deluded, bigoted, out-of-his-gourd man—love to whine that they are the truly “oppressed” ones. They will scream and pound the table if you suggest they’re a pack of bigots, even though many of them are.

When blue-collar whites heard that implied message from Donald Trump, many realized it aligned with their own beliefs. As a result, they broke with precedent to support the Republican candidate for president.

That’s the conclusion of a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the latest to analyze what drove Trump voters (aside from traditional party affiliation). Other recently published studies have pointed to the appeal of authoritarianism, or plain old racism and sexism.

University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana Mutz reports a key group of voters—those who switched parties to vote for Trump—were motivated by the vision of a frightening fall in social status. In short, they feared they were in the process of losing their previously privileged positions.

To them, his open bigotry wasn’t a negative, it was a plus. It was “telling it like it is.” It was bringing the terrified voices from deep inside their own psyche out into the open air for a stroll.

They love to say they are the “victims” who are being treated unfairly, and complain that they are being estranged from their loved ones.

Believers in the rightwing conspiracy QAnon, an elaborate fantasy in which President Donald Trump and Robert Mueller are secretly working together to battle a cabal of prominent people who are child molesters, complained of being lonely and isolated from loved ones in a new Daily Beast report.

QAnon believers “lamented that their belief in the bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory had isolated them from friends or family,” and that the loneliness was “keenly felt over the holidays.”

It’s part of a trend that has followed the year-old conspiracy theory, which has reportedly broken up families.

“You hear about a lot of people, their spouses rolling their eyes and not seeing,” he said. “I’m trying to wake up my wife and head off potential disaster in the future and she just rolls her eyes. She thinks I’m nuts.”

I stopped trying to tell them. I stopped. Nobody wants to hear it,” she said. “They say you’re a conspiracy nut and you’re looking at wacky stuff on the internet.”

One of the QAnon believers lost a friend of 60 years to her beliefs.

“She humiliated me on my Facebook page,” she said. “There are other incidences as well. I keep it to myself that I follow QAnon. Some of my other friends follow as well.”

Yeah, because the entire QAnon conspiracy and other nutbag right-wing theories are frankly nuts.  They really are. Nobody serious has time for that crap, they really don’t. It was part of the theory that sent a crazed gunman into a pizza parlor looking for Hillary Clinton’s underage sex ring.

A 29-year-old North Carolina man who fired a military-style assault rifle inside a popular Washington pizzeria in December, wrongly believing he was saving children trapped in a sex-slave ring, was sentenced on Thursday to four years in prison.

The man, Edgar Maddison Welch, drove on Dec. 4 from his hometown, Salisbury, N.C., to the Comet Ping Pong restaurant with three guns. He was investigating unfounded but widespread online reports of children held there in a child abuse scheme led by Hillary Clinton, a theory known as “Pizzagate.” But Mr. Welch, who pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges in March, rescued no children. Rather, he frightened employees and patrons, who panicked and ran.

[…]

The conspiracy theories about Comet and a child-trafficking ring quickly spread on online message boards and in YouTube videos in the weeks before the November presidential election. The claims evolved from a wild misinterpretation of emails from the account of John Podesta, the chairman of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, that were released by WikiLeaks.

This is not a joke, and this is more than a mere difference of opinion. This is more like “I think one way, you think another”—except people’s lives are on the line here.

A rabid Trump fan sent bombs to CNN, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George Soros, and other prominent Democrats simply because he truly believed in that fucking bullshit that Donald Trump spews day in and day out.

The suspect in the sending of pipe bombs to two former presidents, several prominent Democratic politicians and other critics of Donald Trump is set for a first appearance in a Florida federal courtroom on Monday, as investigators continue to build a detailed picture of his troubled past.

Cesar Sayoc, a fanatical Trump supporter with a lengthy list of convictions including a previous bomb threat, faces up to 48 years in prison on five charges relating to the mailing of 13 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to the various targets, among them Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, the last two Democrats to occupy the White House.

A 14th package, addressed to the billionaire liberal donor Tom Steyer, was discovered in California on Friday. It was not included in the charges. None of the devices, which were sent to senators, members of Congress, former government officials and Democratic benefactors, went off and nobody was injured.

So we’ve had not just one, but at least two different misguided deluded terrorist attacks on American citizens by Trump fans. And they won’t be the last.

And yet these people still think we’re being too harsh on them. Our mistake is thinking they aren’t as bad as they truly are, that “deep down” there’s really some good still in them, somewhere. They aren’t totally corrupted: all we have to do is find the right words to bring them back from the brink.  I don’t think so.

Liberals and progressives are forever predicting Donald Trump’s political demise. After each purported outrage – Charlottesville, separating children from their immigrant parents, now Helsinki – they confidently contend that this latest event will finally force Trump’s supporters to abandon him. Yet not only does this not happen, Trump’s support has actually risen by 6% since late 2017. How do they keep getting it so wrong?

To quote Ronald Reagan: “The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.” They presume that because Trump is so unconventional in style, his coalition must be equally unconventional. But it’s not. The data clearly shows that Trump’s political coalition is pretty much the traditional Republican coalition. And the often virulent behavior of anti-Trump partisans has made partisan Republicans especially unwilling to abandon their leader even when he stumbles.

The sheer ordinariness of Trump’s coalition is impossible to overstate. Data from the Voter Study Group show that more than 80% of his votes came from men and women who voted for Republican nominee Mitt Romney just four years before. This group contains the usual suspects among American Republicans: tax-cut advocates, religious evangelicals and Catholics, gun rights supporters and business types eager for deregulation. Trump has made sure to give each faction what they most desire just like any good politician would. That keeps them in his camp even as the media flays him with each supposed transgression.

If you have one of these people in your family, you probably already know there’s no talking them down, and there’s no talking them out of it. Regardless of what Trump says or does, or who he does it too, or what anyone else says (and sometimes directly in spite of it), they continue even now to love him.

In his new article, “Personal values and support for Donald Trump during the 2016 US presidential primary,” published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, psychologist Ryne Sherman explains “a prototypical Trump supporter” as someone with “little interest in supporting social welfare programs,” “a strong desire for power,” “a strong desire to make money,” various “concerns about personal and financial safety” and a “preference for strictly adhering to social conventions (i.e., order, structure, and following the chain of command).”

Sherman concludes that “values perceived to be shared with Donald Trump” were “a key driver of support” during the 2016 primaries. “This was true of both Republicans and Democrats, regardless of political ideology. Those who felt more similar to Trump in terms of his values were more likely to support him.”

These findings complement what is already known about Donald Trump’s voters, a group comprising tens of millions of white Americans who have joined what is effectively a political death cult, and apparently will not abandon their Great Leader under any circumstances.

Trump’s Republican and conservative supporters share the following attributes:

  1. They are more likely to be authoritarians and to embrace other extreme right-wing ideologies.
  2. They are racially resentful and hostile to nonwhites. This attitude is especially pronounced towards African-Americans.
  3. They exhibit forms of toxic behavior associated with “collective narcissism.”
  4. They believe that white people are the real victims of racism in America.
  5. They are political bullies who engage in social dominance behavior against individuals and groups they view as Other (nonwhites and immigrants, Muslims, gays and lesbians) or their political enemies (liberals and progressives).
  6. They hold sexist and misogynistic views.
  7. Trump’s most extreme and enthusiastic supporters in the “alt-right” feature the “dark triad” of personality traits: narcissism, a propensity for violence, and a Machiavellian longing to manipulate others.
  8. They have little regard for America’s democratic norms and institutions and believe that winning at costs is all that matters — even if that means siding with a foreign power such as Russia to elect Donald Trump
  9. They live in regions of the United States where people are more likely to be unhappy, miserable and physically unwell and to suffer from the “deaths of despair.”
  10. They are attracted to Trump’s threats of violence and his other antisocial behavior.
  11. They are anti-intellectual, disdainful of higher education and hostile towards experts.
  12. They possess a deep fear of death and social obsolescence which compels them towards “strong leaders,” guns, superficial expressions of patriotism and Christian fundamentalism
  13. They are extremely gullible and thus vulnerable to disinformation and other lies, as disseminated through the right-wing media.
  14. They seek simple answers to complex problems and are quick to reject new and inconvenient information.
  15. Either directly or indirectly, they want to hurt others whom they consider “un-American” or outside their tribe and community

We don’t really need to study who they are: we know. We don’t need to kowtow to what they want—because it’s not good, any of it. These selfish, myopic people willfully ignored the open threat that Trump presented to everyone else they thought wasn’t them, all in exchange for the promise that he would grant them the financial benefits of a great economy. But now his shutdown is seriously threatening all the gains made from his riding of Obama’s economic coattails.

The partial government shutdown is inflicting far greater damage on the United States economy than previously estimated, the White House acknowledged on Tuesday, as President Trump’s economists doubled projections of how much economic growth is being lost each week the standoff with Democrats continues.

The revised estimates from the Council of Economic Advisers show that the shutdown, now in its fourth week, is beginning to have real economic consequences. The analysis, and other projections from outside the White House, suggests that the shutdown has already weighed significantly on growth and could ultimately push the United States economy into a contraction.

[…]

To blunt the shutdown’s effects, the administration on Tuesday called tens of thousands of employees back to work, without pay, to process tax returns, ensure flight safety and inspect food and drugs. But some people involved in the shutdown discussions in the White House have privately said they anticipate that Mr. Trump will grow anxious about the economic impact in the coming days, accelerating an end to the stalemate. Others close to the president believe Mr. Trump has leverage and are encouraging him to stand by his demands.

The dark truth of this shutdown has been revealed by a “senior Trump official” in his own words in a Daily Caller op-ed, where he revealed that the shutdown isn’t an incidental byproduct of Trump’s wall fight—it’s part of a larger goal of hollowing out the government in order to shrink and hobble the “Deep State.”

As one of the senior officials working without a paycheck, a few words of advice for the president’s next move at shuttered government agencies: lock the doors, sell the furniture, and cut them down.  Federal employees are starting to feel the strain of the shutdown. I am one of them. But for the sake of our nation, I hope it lasts a very long time, till the government is changed and can never return to its previous form.

The lapse in appropriations is more than a battle over a wall. It is an opportunity to strip wasteful government agencies for good.

[…]

Saboteurs peddling opinion as research, tasking their staff on pet projects or pitching wasteful grants to their friends. Most of my career colleagues actively work against the president’s agenda. This means I typically spend about 15 percent of my time on the president’s agenda and 85 percent of my time trying to stop sabotage, and we have no power to get rid of them. Until the shutdown.

[…]

But President Trump can end this abuse. Senior officials can reprioritize during an extended shutdown, focus on valuable results and weed out the saboteurs. We do not want most employees to return, because we are working better without them. Sure, we empathize with families making tough financial decisions, like mine, and just like private citizens who have to find other work and bring competitive value every day, while paying more than a third of their salary in federal taxes.

President Trump has created more jobs in the private sector than the furloughed federal workforce. Now that we are shut down, not only are we identifying and eliminating much of the sabotage and waste, but we are finally working on the president’s agenda.

Chaos is the plan. Destruction is the plan. They couldn’t be bothered with worrying about food safety, or air traffic control, or how members of the Coast Guard are protecting the nation from actual drug smugglers.

They couldn’t have considered doing what Vice President Al Gore did two decades ago with his Reinventing Government Program, which reduced the total headcount of government by 15 percent. He accomplished this by listening to the people on the ground and the front lines of implementing government programs to improve efficiency, and allowing natural attrition to bring down the number of employees.

The team of crusaders for smarter government was led by Vice President Al Gore. Their model came from a book by David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector, published in time for the 1992 presidential campaign.

[…]

It was led b\y a rotating staff, some 250 federal employees still on home agency payrolls, which dwindled to about 35 to 45 after the initial effort was completed. They set out to identify government’s high-impact agencies and set goals for each—targets that were adjusted after the Republican takeover of the House in the 1994 elections. And they circulated laminated cards spelling out the four principles of reinventing government:

–  Putting customers (the American taxpayers) first

–  Cutting red tape

–  Empowering employees to get results

– Cutting government back to basics

After two-thirds of the recommendations were adopted in the first Clinton term, the history says, the staff  “assigned a ‘champion’ in the agencies to follow through on the implementation of each recommendation.”

What also unfolded during that seven-year period of deficit reduction and a post-Cold War defense drawdown was the elimination of 426,200 federal positions, according to a summary on the NPR’s archival website.

This along with tax changes that increased the top marginal rate to 36 percent were major elements in Clinton’s deficit reduction and ultimately let to the first federal balanced budget since the 1950s. If we really want to remove the waste in government, to improve its efficiency and effectiveness at protecting the nation, this is the way to do it—and it’s certainly not what Trump is currently doing.

There is one small hope, despite all this. Recently the House voted to 424-1 to criticize Rep. Steve “Cantaloupe Calves” King, a Republican from Iowa, for the bigotry and racism he’s shown for decades. It was an amazing turning point considering how much the GOP generally ignores and deflects on this issue. The reason that they tolerated and ignored King’s antics all this time was revealed by former Ted Cruz consultant Alice Stewart on CNN, who this week explained that the long leash that King had previously been allowed was a byproduct of his position as an early “kingmaker” in the presidential Iowa caucuses. This has also been noted by Vox. 

First and foremost, it’s important to note that in brass-tacks political terms, King’s pre-2019 political fortunes rested on his perceived position as a potential political kingmaker for up-and-coming conservatives — including presidential candidates — and as a reliable GOP vote in Congress representing a heavily conservative district in a very important state.

Thus, Republicans largely treated his many, many, many racist statements as “white noise,” while privately believing, as several conservative pundits told me last year, that he’s a “joke” and “a stupid asshole.”

The GOP needed Steve King’s approval (particularly in Iowa), so they said nothing and they did nothing as he repeatedly embarrassed himself and the party—that is, until his election this past November, where he only barely survived his Democratic challenger.

Similarly, a large part of what has kept the GOP in lockstep behind Trump is the hope and expectation by his fans that he will bring about prosperity with a great economy. But his shutdown is beginning to put a serious dent in that.

Just like with Steve King, it’s possible that when Trump loses his usefulness, people who’ve kept their head in the sand on all his other gross failures of personality, temperament, and character just might finally hit the “fuck it” point. They might realize that its not just 800,000 federal workers who are being impacted here, but also more than 1.5 million federal contractors who won’t ever receive their back pay. The relationship was a transaction and they needed something from King, so they gave him plenty of rope. Those who support Trump want their great economy from him, and as long as they get that they’re fine with any other lunatic thing he says or he does.

They honestly don’t care if he’s a Russian asset or a Putin puppet. They don’t care if he disbands NATO and destabilizes the Western world. They see him as their champion against the growth of liberalism, the elite, and the media, and they won’t give up on him until they realize he’s never been on their side—he’s only on his side.

He always only been on his own side.

Only if they admit their mistake, only if they renounce all the bigotry, bile, and wrecking-ball destruction that Trump has wrought, would I ever voluntarily consider dealing with one of these people. Only if they repent would I consider forgiveness for all this.

But I’m not seriously expecting that to happen.  After all, how do you reason with fools?

James Alicie (left) and Richard M. Birchfield of Delaware, Ohio pose at a Donald Trump rally in southern Delaware County on Saturday night. The picture of the two wearing t-shirts reading "I'd Rather Be A Russian Than A Democrat" has gone viral.
James Alicie (left) and Richard M. Birchfield of Delaware, Ohio pose at a Donald Trump rally in southern Delaware County, Ohio.