Thursday, October 20, 2016

The resident-alienated threat

In "Trump's Rigged Game", Atlantic senior editor Yoni Appelbaum quoted a Trump voter (via a Boston Globe article) who said, among other things, that if Hillary Clinton wins the election, "I hope we can start a coup." He continued,
"We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it's going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country."
Another Trump supporter (again, quoted by Appelbaum from the Globe piece) said,
"We don’t have a voice anymore, and Donald Trump is giving us a voice."
If Trump voters are worried about the resident aliens, legal and illegal, the rest of us are worried about the resident-alienated — those citizens who feel totally powerless against the tide of economic, social and demographic upheaval. They think "we" are out to get them, and only Trump stands in the way.

My first reaction is that they picked a hell of a standard bearer in Donnie: they couldn't have designed a more perfectly repellent candidate if they'd tried.

As for alienation, having been an outsider in a lot of respects for my entire life, I kind of understand how they feel. It's not easy being on the outside, feeling like the in-crowd is laughing at you. You've got to hide the things you think will make you a target for bullying. In civic life, things get even worse: bullies at school can't do much about your core beliefs. But the power of the government can, or so you might think. I have no patience with what's called the assault on religious rights (I think it's a bogus victimization pose) but I don't doubt some well-meaning people buy into the rhetoric.

Between the hysterical ravings of fringe far-right media and Donnie himself, these people are aggrieved and feel like their backs are against the wall. They're desperate, whether or not they have a real reason to feel that way. And they've so completely bought into the idea that The Whole System Is Crooked, why would they hesitate to destroy it?

Desperate, aggrieved, and not recognizing that they have a stake in society, these folks are primed and ready to do some damage if the right spark comes along. The election, particularly if it's a squeaker that nevertheless ultimately results in a Clinton victory, might be that spark.

Frankly, that first fellow, the one who prophesies bloodshed, reminds me of Timothy McVeigh and other mass killers — seething over unpunished injustices, convinced he has nothing to lose by killing a whole bunch of people in the name of retaking "his" country.

I don't know what it's going to take to get it through these people's thick skulls that the rest of us are trying as best we can to make this country better and that we don't hate them (though our patience has worn thin). But if Hillary wins, her first job — or rather, Obama's last before leaving office — may be to contain the damage these thoroughly alienated residents do in their fury and frustration.

They no longer accept that they're bound by the norms of our democratic process.

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