Contact Me By Email

Contact Me By Email

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Opinion | Gods Don’t Bleed. Trump Is Bleeding. - The New York Times

Gods Don’t Bleed. Trump Is Bleeding.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

"I wrote in 2019 that Donald Trump ascended to folk hero status among the people who liked him, which meant that his lying, corruption, sexism and grift not only did not damage him, they added to his legend.

The folk hero is transcendent. He defies convention and defies gravity — in Trump’s case, political and cultural gravity. He overcomes the impossible, wins the improbable, evades authority.

He was a classic trickster figure, common in folklore.

For instance, for a Black child growing up in the American South, Stack-O-Lee (or, among other variations, Stagger Lee, as we pronounced it) was a folk hero. “Stack” Lee Shelton was a Black man, a pimp, who in 1895 shot another man dead for snatching his hat. The story became the subject of so-called murder ballads. Shelton bolstered his legend when, after being released from prison, he killed another man during a robbery.

This man, this figure, who negotiated the space between slavery and freedom, between criminal and hero, “came to personify the collective feeling of blacks at the bottom of society, and it was in this sense that Stagolee became a symbol of the Black community,” as Cecil Brown wrote in his book “Stagolee Shot Billy.”

Writing in Mother Jones in 2011, Joe Kloc described how Stack-O-Lee became a hero in Southern Black society by unapologetically breaking its rules. The murders he committed “only serve to illustrate the injustices of southern society,” Kloc wrote. “For all the myth surrounding him, there is something very rational about Stack-O-Lee’s character: Why follow some of society’s rules when so many others work against you?”

This is why I so instinctively understood Trump’s appeal and heroizing.

Years, decades, of twisted propaganda had turned working-class white people into a victimized class. These white people saw themselves as the new Negro, in a turned-tables alternate reality. Society’s rules threatened to — or, had already begun to — work against them.

Trump, the trickster and rule-breaker, emerges as an amalgamation of their anxieties and rebellion. He was a politician, but to them, above politics. The Donald was approaching deity. His followers embraced a cultish zealotry.

But things have changed.

Trump’s announcement of a third run for the White House landed with a thud. High-profile Republicans have refused to sign on as early endorsers. Trump himself is cloistered at Mar-a-Lago, having not held a single public campaign event since his announcement. In fact, he has been reduced to the low and laughable position of personally hawking digital trading cards of himself. (Trump has always seen his die-hard supporters as customers to whom he could sell a product, whether a candidacy or a card.)

And a recent poll showed that Republican and Republican-leaning voters, at least at this point, prefer Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida to Trump by double digits.

So, what happened? In short, God bled. And once you see God bleed, you can no longer believe that someone is God.

It is impossible to overstate how damaging the results of the midterms were, not just to Republicans, but to Trump himself.

For years, Trump had been able to blame losses or defeats on other people, or even recast them as victories.

Even though the Robert Mueller report was damning in many ways and went out of its way not to exonerate Trump, the fact that no charges were brought against Trump left him with the opening to claim total vindication.

He wasn’t disgraced as much as a victim of a politically motivated plot. Impeachment, he told his supporters, driven by my political enemies, had twice failed to remove me. He wasn’t the most flawed president, but the most resilient.

When Trump lost in 2020, he blamed corruption and a stolen election. That, of course, was another lie. According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history,” and “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Nevertheless, Republican state legislatures across the country used Trump’s election fraud lie as a rationale to “fix” election systems that weren’t broken, to implement even more oppressive voting restrictions.

But there was an unintended consequence: By boasting about making their electoral processes more secure, Republicans took away whatever latitude they had to lie about elections being stolen when they lost.

And, in the midterms, they lost some major races, including in states that had implemented the most regressive voter laws, like Georgia and Arizona, where Democrats handily dispatched Trump’s anointed candidates. There was no way to wiggle out of the devastating truth of the cycle: The Trump brand was too tarnished and toxic to win in many battleground states. He was no longer able to defy political gravity.

At the same time, Trump’s legal losses are mounting as multiple investigations close in on him. The man many had compared to Teflon is beginning to appear more like fly paper.

Where some Republicans once saw invincibility, they now sense weakness and injury. And in the pack mentality of politics, this is the moment that they are most likely to turn on him."

Opinion | Gods Don’t Bleed. Trump Is Bleeding. - The New York Times

No comments:

Post a Comment