But right now what I want to do is force myself to read one of those articles. I've chosen something from a website I usually avoid, Salon. I avoid it because it feels like a cocoon for people who want a certain sort of cocoon-y comfort, a kind that's not to my taste. The cocoon that's to my taste is this blog. And here on this blog, today, I'm pushing myself through the exercise of reading a Salon article, by Chauncey DeVega, called "Donald Trump leads an insane white cult — and Pat Buchanan just explained how it works/GOP front-runner leads cult of personality centered around white alienation, racial resentment and authoritarianism."
What Pat Buchanan said was:
[Trump's] popularity is traceable to the fact that he rejects the moral authority of the media, breaks their commandments, and mocks their condemnations. His contempt for the norms of Political Correctness is daily on display. And that large slice of America... relishes this defiance.Buchanan seems to be taunting MSM, but "moral authority," "commandments," "condemnation," and "norms of Political Correctness" seem to imply anti-racism. So maybe what excites the "defiance" of the "large slice" is racism.
[The media] constantly denounce him as grossly insensitive for what he has said about women, Mexicans, Muslims, McCain and a reporter with a disability. Such crimes against decency, says the press, disqualify Trump as a candidate for president.Yes, what Trump says is framed as racist by the media, and somehow a lot of people — a large slice of America — are resisting the demand that they reject Trump. It's a fascinating phenomenon, and it could mean these Americans are drawn to whatever racism or remnants and resonances of racism Trump's various statements contain, but it could also mean these Americans are tired of these insinuations and heartened that Trump won't take the push back that has worked on virtually everyone else.
As Buchanan put it:
[W]hen [the media] demand he apologize, Trump doubles down. And when they demand that Republicans repudiate him, the GOP base replies: “Who are you to tell us whom we may nominate? You are not friends. You are not going to vote for us. And the names you call Trump — bigot, racist, xenophobe, sexist — are the names you call us, nothing but cuss words that a corrupt establishment uses on those it most detests.”So these people, in Buchanan's view, are not racists, but people who have been on the receiving end of the accusations of racism, and Trump represents them, as he stands his ground and wins for them. He's lifted them up. Are people who feel this way an "insane white cult"? Of course, Buchanan isn't saying that explicitly, so how does DeVega set out to put these people back in the low place where he thinks they belong?
DeVega never seriously considers Buchanan's analysis. He leaps into calling Trump "the leader of a cult of personality," "a proto-fascist," and "a classic 'strong man' political figure." He finds fault in his "egomaniacal narcissism" and "charismatic leader persona." Trump is "a type of political cult leader." If Trump is a cult leader, then, I guess, the people who like him must be in a cult. And then maybe the next leap is possible. They're insane:
To understand Donald Trump’s appeal, one must seriously consider the possibility that his followers specifically, and movement conservatives and the Republican Party more generally, are exhibiting signs of political psychopathology....(Garner! It's taking all my power to resist digressing (again) on that ludicrous word. One must seriously consider the possibility that anyone who uses this word is exhibiting signs of psychopathology.)
Donald Trump is using his campaign to garner more money and power....
Look, all of us participating in American politics have human minds, and our thinking is unavoidably infused with emotion. The people who lean in ways that are different from yours are not insane, not for the most part. Don't disparage those who suffer from genuine mental illness by saying the people you disagree with politically are crazy. Emotion is not insanity. You should try to understand the emotion that draws people to candidates you dislike, but to call them crazy is to do something that is, ironically, akin to racism. You're aiming disgust and contempt at them and trying to make other people shun them. (Ah, there! I did stumble into defining racistist.)
Trump is providing a safe space and outlet for conservatives to validate their preexisting racist, xenophobic and bigoted attitudes. Their true selves are being actualized and “liberated.”That's a hypothesis worth thinking about, but DeVega hasn't proved it. Indeed, he's operating within the safe space of Salon, providing an outlet for liberals and lefties who are happy to validate their preexisting belief that conservatives are racist, xenophobic, and bigoted. Who's got the "true self" here and who is being "actualized" and "'liberated'"? It's psychology all the way down.