I haven’t been proud of myself for tuning in to watch each Republican Primary debate. Sensibility and civility are traits I’ve tried hard to instill into my being over the course of my life. With each exciting new edition of these absurd showings of what I’ve come to refer to as anti-discourse, I find myself feeling as if I’m making regressive motions from my own ability to think. These showings have become my new guilty pleasure.
There’s no denying it, these debates are quality television, and objectively funny. I recall the classic expression that something is like a horrific car accident when it’s absolutely terrible, but you can’t stop looking – the Republican debates transcend that. After watching a few of the debates, I’ve found that I can now understand why our ancestors took such enjoyment in watching The Colosseum’s gladiators hack each other to bits.
This is entertainment in its most primal form; grandiose displays of rage-fueled, verbal assaults and caustic backlashes born from the most malevolent complexes that a damaged subconscious has to offer. We, the American people, have submitted our undivided attention to the Republican debates. However, don’t think for a second that these are political debates. This is merely the United States’ new favorite reality TV show. While mindless reality television programming is something that’s simply a part of our culture, there’s something that separates the debates from other reality shows that has started to scare the living Hell out of me. And what is that, exactly? It’s the terrifying difference that the Republican Primary Debates have with actual reality TV: They’re real.
I’m sure you’ve seen the clip of Donald Trump defending his penis size at the March 3rd debate. After being criticized by Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, Trump took a sharp digression to give himself the opportunity to defend Rubio’s accusations that he had small hands.
“Look at those hands,” Trump holds ten fingers to the audience. “Are they small hands?”
This wasn’t too noteworthy. Just another run-of-the-mill purposeless statement in a Republican debate.
“And, he referred to my hands ‘if they’re small, something else must be small’,” Trump grabs the mic. He needs to make sure the crowd hears this one. “I guarantee you there’s no problem, I guarantee.”
This had to be the point of critical mass in the Trump phenomena that we’ve experienced since his candidacy announcement. How could it go on any longer? We just witnessed the mental hiccup of a mind plagued by narcissism. Could his support continue to stay so strong, even after his masculinity was so damaged that he found it necessary to clarify the state of his manhood to the entirety of the world? What happens if Putin or Ahmadinejad take a harmless jab at Trump in a press conference? Wars have been started for much less when men of a fragile ego are involved. For a moment, I believed Donald Trump had finally gone too far. But guess what? Nothing has changed.
While polls conducted the next day after this debate have indicated he’s possibly lost a few points in Louisiana, he’s still ahead by double digits. In Michigan, he’s even gained support. Say what you want about the accuracy of early polling, but all signs point to his unbridled id being his best friend in this election. His supporters simply can’t get enough of him. I’ll restrain myself from any criticisms of Donald Trump’s proposed policies and past statements, because I have to admit, he’s playing this game extremely well.
The idea that Donald Trump has created this wave of support himself is wholly false. He has simply identified the widespread anger and fear that has been growing rapidly within the right-wing base for the last eight years, and subsequently exploited this anger and fear for political gain. From the moment he yelled “build a wall”, he was the champion of this populace that I’ve described. The masses of the enraged were ripe for the plucking, and it was only a matter of time before someone figured this out. That’s why Donald Trump is doing so unbelievably well, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all.
But how did this happen? How did such a significant amount of people become so enamored by a man with absolutely zero filter? The answer is simple. Ever since the conception of the Southern Strategy (a political strategy drawn up by Republicans that is based on gaining the support of conservative Americans by appealing to their underlying racism against African-Americans) was conceived in the Civil Rights Era, the GOP has invested a great part of its success in the support of racist and xenophobic voters.
The acceptance of white segregationists into the Republican Party has proven to be an effective strategy to gain votes in the past. How else did the once-widespread group of southern democrats known as Dixiecrats essentially cease to exist? They merely shifted over to the side that agreed with them. Variations of the Southern Strategy have spawned from the original in the last five decades of American politics. This is why one in five Americans believe that President Barack Obama is a foreigner, and why an even larger amount of people believe that he is a Muslim. This is why 74% of voters in the South Carolina GOP Primary are supportive of banning Muslims from entering the United States.
I will say again, Donald Trump is not making these people believe these things, he is merely benefitting from what they already believe, and have believed for some time with the assistance of the political machine. While notions of Trump, himself, being a racist are prevalent in the mainstream media, it’s hard to believe that the only reason he’s connecting to this massive group of voters is because of his beliefs, and not the purposeful, planned exploitation of the beliefs of many of the people voting for him.
After decades of political strategy based on preaching ignorance, the chickens have finally come home to roost, and the Republican establishment has lost itself. Donald Trump, a candidate who has practically zero support from the establishment, is in prime position to be the party’s representative in November. Despite a campaign marked by constant controversy, Donald Trump simply can’t lose voters. He recently stated that he could murder people in the streets and wouldn’t drop in the polls at all. I’m starting to believe that this might actually help his numbers.
This is not an anti-Trump piece, there are already an infinite amount of those across the internet. This is not a criticism of the people who are supporting Trump, they aren’t all bigots, and I can only pity the ones who are because they never had a choice. This is an attempt to address the fostering of anger, bigotry, and xenophobia that has been directly implemented by the GOP establishment over the course of the last sixty years. This country has been programmed to fear and to hate, and we’re seeing the final results of this strategy unfold before our very eyes. What the future holds is uncertain, and I’m not going to begin to speculate into it too deeply. Some believe Trump will coast to victory, some believe he’ll self-destruct, and there’s the possibility of a brokered convention to consider as well. Regardless, there is no more room to deny that something terrible has happened to American culture. This is real.