5 May 2016

It's not him, it's us

I've encountered over the last few weeks several centrist and liberal people who have, after once denouncing him as a dangerous embarrassment, come to argue that Trump As President would merely be ineffectual and harmless. Concern gives way to a contrarian acceptance. It's a reversal that feeds the Trump support late in the game, and one I hadn't anticipated.

There are, I suspect, several impulses at play here. One is the hope that your original concern was either exaggerated or over-generalized. And in fact there has been a lot of rhetoric surrounding Trump criticism that started at the superlative and increased from there. Once you run through all manner of labeling him most vulgar, most ineloquent, or basest, there comes a point where you hope that few people are That Bad and question if someone That Bad could really get This Far. Thus, fallacies be damned, since he got This Far he's not That Bad. Another impulse is, possibly, the simple desire to contradict the global concern that is being voiced. The entirety of Republican politicians dislike Trump (albeit less than they dislike Cruz) and so such absolute polarity must be countered with a balance or equivalence, false or not. It's a natural impulse to consider the opposite when one opinion is prevalent. Rutting around for a counter-debate angle is intellectually healthy, even if the results are sophistry.

And coming from the once anti-Trump contingent, these weak approvals of his vulgarity-as-performance-defense reinforce and at times echo those defenses of his defenders. The mincing, contrarian crowd are indiscernible from those who support Trump because he "tells it like it is" and "isn't afraid to be brutally honest" at one moment and deflect that "he was just joking" at the next. This is the same approach that makes Bill O'Reilly respected and the same that produces "because I just don't trust her" as an thoughtful explanation.

[ posted by sstrader on 5 May 2016 at 9:26:33 PM in Politics ]