A lot of focus is being placed on the DNC, HRC’s (lack of) honesty, and Wikileaks. Yes, those are chinks in the armor, but I think what caught everyone off guard is better explained by looking at who voted for Donald Trump.
Chris Matthews during MSNBC’s 2016 election night coverage said (roughly), “…a New Yorker article a month back got it right. Liberals take Trump literally, but not seriously and his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
I think he’s onto something here.
The article was titled, Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally and was written by Salena Zito of a Pittsburgh campaign stop in September and while it said the press rather than liberals take him literally, that’s a thin distinction.
Peter Theil took this a step further during his National Press Club speech on October 31st saying, “…so when they hear things like the Muslim comment or the wall comment their question is not, ‘Are you going to build a wall like the Great Wall of China?’ or, you know, ‘How exactly are you going to enforce these tests?’ What they hear is we’re going to have a saner, more sensible immigration policy.”
One problem with having literal/serious options is that it makes it very difficult to understand the truth. Evaluating his words literally is horrifying — they are often mean-spirited, crude, and uninformed — and many of us just can’t get past this.
But that’s the point — his supporters are free to identify with him literally or seriously (or both).
Even as his literal words horrify the press, they appeal to the KKK, neo-Nazis, misogynists, and far-right extremists (both nationally and internationally). These are the words they’ve been waiting for someone to say out loud and they’re mobilizing.
Living In the area of overlap between literal and serious lets his supporters gloss over the horror of his literal words (“he talks like us!”), but it resonates with what’s left of the oppressed and non-college educated middle class. He uses a language they understand and Trump Nation agrees America needs to be “Great Again!”.
Completely ignoring the literal like Theil and educated conservatives do is freeing — they’re using their own interpretation of far-right ideals of small government, anti-Obama-everything, and tough immigration policy to justify his support. Now that he’s won the election, expect former critics & opponents to jump onboard, including many in congress.
These 3 groups are an odd combination, to be sure. But they’re united against liberalism and they’re ready for change. One can only hope — for the sake of us all — that he breaks the cycle of his past behavior and his literal words aren’t an indicator of our next President.
I take his words literally.
And based on his past business dealings and personal actions, I have no reason to believe he won’t at least try to do some of the awful things he’s promised. Many of my friends and family are supporters — like many others, I’m simply trying to process it all.