Trumpism’s Infinite Vulgarities

editorials, October 2019

Republicans have come to accept what they once professed to abhor.

Charles M Blow


The terrains of acceptability and respectability have shifted under the American conservative.

That which was once forbidden is now embraced. That which they once condemned they cheer. Conservatism has been unveiled in all its craven glory. No longer is it shrouded behind morality, small government, traditional values and spending concerns.

President Trump is the new doctrine, and Republicans bought it. There is no amount of cruelty or crudeness he can display that Republicans won’t cheer and defend. His corruption has become theirs.

And, it is possible that Trump is growing bolder in his coarseness, and it is revealed that there is precious little that will shake loose his base and its blind devotion to him.

Last week, Trump went on more profanity-laced tirades. At a campaign rally in Minnesota, Trump said of Joe Biden: “He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

Let’s ignore for the moment that one could not find a more obsequious vice president than Mike Pence, a man who looks at Trump like he’s made of rainbows and cotton candy.

Let’s instead focus on the coding of the charge against Biden, whether Trump is conscious of it or not, whether it was intentional or not.

The insult invokes a fear and disdain that white racists have had throughout American history: The subjugation of the white man to the black one.

Indeed, Jim Crow was born out of a fear of “Negro domination” in which white Southerners were deadly afraid that they could be forced to live under black rule in the wake of the Civil War.

This was a real possibility. In the 1870 census, the first after the enslaved were emancipated, several Southern states were majority black and several others were within striking distance of that marker.

And many Southerners despised Northern liberals for seeming to encourage the ascendance of black people in the South.

So, Southern states, beginning with Mississippi, called constitutional conventions to write white supremacy into the DNA of those states.

The subjugation of Biden, the Northern white liberal, to the black man is not only a symbol but an omen. The white supremacists see this as a particular kind of racial betrayal and racial subjugation that can never be made normal.

To them, these white men and women who would happily play second fiddle to a black man — or white feminist, or someone who is Hispanic or Arab, or someone who is LGBTQ — is engaged in surrender of the white racist patriarchy. It is a sign of weakened, misplaced affections, and a lust of annihilation. These white liberals to them are N-word lovers.

That is why Obama stays on the tip of Trump’s tongue. The invocation of him is a hot-wire shorthand that gives an emotional charge to his statements that his audience receives intuitively. The racism is coded, received, without the burden of delivery.

The disdain for and distrust of Obama is still strong and abiding.

Conservatives scoured every facet of his life looking for a scandal and found none. They picked at every imaginary faux pas — wearing a tan suit, putting his feet on the desk, putting mustard on his burger — and yet they not only defend Trump’s truly vulgar behaviors, they cheer them.

Sarah Palin made a whole campaign out of saying that Obama “pals around with terrorists,” while Trump quite literally cozies up to murderous dictators and brags about the love letters he exchanges with one.

Republicans see nothing wrong here. Trump is a rich white man defending white supremacy and white nationalism. For him, the rules are different. For him, certain dispensations must be given.

According to Politico:

“One of Donald Trump’s most prominent Christian supporters will argue in a book due out before the 2020 general election that American evangelicals ‘have a moral obligation to enthusiastically back’ the president.”

How can that be?

Pat Robertson, upset last week over Trump’s unconscionable abandoning of the Kurds in northern Syria, said: “The president of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.”

As if he had a mandate from heaven.

The way that the Religious Right has bent and distorted biblical doctrine to support this vulgar man is absolutely obscene. It makes a mockery of their faith and their supposed philosophies.

The moment that Trump insisted on separating immigrant children from their families, locking those children in cages and arguing in court against having to provide soap and toothbrushes to those children, or against turning off the lights so that they could sleep, should have been the red line to any true Christian — or for any human being with a shred of compassion, regardless of faith. But it wasn’t. So, now I no longer know what to call these people.

Righteousness simply can’t be this transactional and situational. What is the point of your books of rules if you will gladly oblige a man who flouts them? Either morality has meaning or it doesn’t.