Trumping Freedom

I deeply believe that the great source of Trump’s appeal—the insulating factor, which he described fairly early in the campaign as the ability to go out in the street and shoot people without losing any support—is the sense of freedom he offers to voters. If they can’t actually fuck anyone, walk up to women and grab them anywhere they like and laugh as they walk away, treat other people like garbage, lie about anything, cheat anyone who gets near them, break the law without a second thought, declare bankruptcy and stick someone else with the bill, they could vote for someone who could, and feel a little, or a lot, closer to that sense of total freedom, of contempt for all limits, laws, and other people, that is the essence of Trump’s continuing campaign. If they can’t be like him, they can be for him. As for racism, in all forms, stripes, depths, casualness, his promise was that anyone who supported him could be just as free as he is—even more so. Those two things are what made Trump, and what sustains him, and why those who voted for him have not turned away from him, and, I think, won’t ever.

All the liberal editorial writers and New York Times op-ed columnists going on and on about how people voted “against their own interests” and wow, once their health insurance goes up in smoke, their opioid treatment centers close, and their police and fire departments shut down everything will be different—forget it. People’s interests are not defined by economic factors. People vote for people who promise them the ability to live in the country where they want to live, and a lot of people want to live in the USA as Trump defines and embodies it, and they’re willing to pay for it. The people who voted for Trump have bought in. They’re invested. They can’t take out what they invested and invest it somewhere else: Trump took it as a note and he’s not giving it back. That’s why attempts to change the electoral reality by “winning back” Trump voters, or showing them how they made a bad bet, are a waste of time.

Excerpted from a 5/29 post at Ask Greil.