Last November, nearly 63 million Americans, about 27 percent of all eligible voters, turned out to vote for Donald Trump. While not even a majority of those who voted, it’s still a staggering number and a sizable fraction of the population that cannot be ignored. It’s distressing to think that 63 million Americans actively chose this racist, sexist, narcissistic, wannabe dictator. It’s agonizing to accept that so many believed that he was the best, most qualified, most reliable person among the possible choices, the most trustworthy for steering the American Ship of State.
How is this possible? Who could support this con man? Who could condone his lies and obscenities? Who would trust him with the safety and security of the world today and for generations to come? Who are these people and why would they do such a thing?
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
There are many ways we have tried to answer these questions for ourselves. Not all of the answers have been helpful or insightful. Some, in fact, have largely been myths and fantasies. For instance, many have been chanting the refrains, “We’re better than this”, or “This is un-American”, preferring to believe, despite evidence to the contrary, that the essential American ethos is much too civilized and morally centered to produce this outcome; they wish to believe that the kind of xenophobia we’re witnessing today is nothing more than a fluke or aberration. While it’s understandable that we want to tell ourselves this to shield ourselves from the much darker and more complex realities, such stories can get in the way of real understanding and effective resistance.