It is forty-two minutes into the first debate. I had to pull out my laptop to distract myself from the pit in my stomach.
I have spent a lot of energy standing up for Donald Trump supporters. I believe in democracy and freedom of speech and I think that internet users should strive to create a safe environment where we can all exchange our ideas.
But the concern I feel watching this debate takes precedence- even over my patriotism.
I got a CNN alert today telling me that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are virtually tied in the polls. How can this be? How did Donald Trump destroy his republican opponents so brutally? How is he holding up against Hillary? Why are we still standing for this?
I used to think it was because of entertainment. I hastily reasoned that Americans enjoyed seeing his outrageous behavior on the television so much that they encouraged his candidacy. I thought that we had been so socialized to crave stimulation and that we struggle so hard with keeping our attention focused, that a candidate like Trump was the inevitable product. But the desire for entertainment is not nearly a strong enough motivation for what has happened. No.
It’s fear, racism, sexism, and twisted idolization that has fueled Donald Trump’s entire campaign.
The more I think about it, the more I realize what a genius strategy that is. Fear is such an incredibly powerful emotion. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety is theorized as the second most important need for human beings. Donald Trump is making us feel unsafe and when we are fearing for our safety, we are not able to move on to fulfilling the rest of our needs (belonging/love, esteem, and self-actualization). Our entire world is flipped upside down when we are scared and that is exactly what Donald Trump is hoping for. In a period of globalization and technology, we have no shortage of tragic news reports. These are his tools. He plays these up, terrifies us, and cashes out on it.
ALLLLL of that aside, my problem with Donald is not Donald. My problem with Donald is that there are way too many people in this country that like him for the wrong reasons.
There are men who are terrified to see a woman lead the country. They are so scared of egalitarianism and changing power dynamics that they hate Hillary. There are white, privileged Americans that are terrified of immigration and the impending “majority minority”. They have been WAITING for someone to come along and “make America great again” (as if it’s a terrible thing that women and African Americans have rights now). If America is not at one of its greatest periods right now, when was it great? When there was slavery? When women were property? When? Tonight Trump said, “African Americans and Hispanics are living in hell”. Yes, Donald, yes they are. And you are encouraging it. You pestered and humiliated and BULLIED the first African American president for five years to turn in his birth certificate to prove he was an American. You were SUED for racial discrimination. Do you realize that you are running to lead forty-three million African Americans?
But even worse than that…. There are men sitting at home rewatching Charlie Sheen YouTube videos and thinking about how awesome it is that macho Donald loves “winning!”
This guy had Dr. Oz read his testosterone levels on television. And people dug that. People truly, truly like this disrespectful, dominating, hardheaded, money hungry archetype. BECAUSE IT REPRESENTS SO MANY AMERICANS. People identify with him and idolize this behavior. And that is what makes me sick. When I think about the rest of the world, I cannot fathom another country having a potential leader like Donald Trump. The rest of the world is so pervaded by pain, human rights atrocities, and disease that they do not have the luxury of understanding a petty candidate like Trump.