There has been a huge amount of confusion about how Trump could garner so much support. So how did we get here? One thing that, especially the progressive left, is guilty of failing to understand is that there is pervasive anger and resentment rife in middle America against the Democrats. They are sick and tired of being called racist, bigot, homophobe, red neck, idiots, “who are ruining this country”. They are tired of their values being laughed at and their skin color vilified. This speaks to a larger demographic problem in the United States between the cities and the country. The needs of the two populations are different and it is extremely frustrating to non city folks when they must suffer all the policies designed for the cities (where they might be appropriate) but be unable to have their needs represented because the city has more electoral pull. These people are pissed off and feel marginalized and ignored by the mainstream. They are looking for a giant middle finger to wave at the left and found it in Trump.
I think it is important to separate Trump, the man, from Trumpism. Trumpism is what most people have been drawn to. It is a reactionary movement against the increasingly shrill regressive left that politicians and the media pander to. It hates the establishment which it sees as no longer for the interests of the people or rule of law. The thing is, that they’re right. We need change and it’s not in the direction we’ve been going.
However, their chosen vehicle is Donald Trump. He is a great diagnostician but a terrible Doctor. He is outspoken on the real problems and speaks openly about them. His speeches on terrorism, and police violence are great. But his policies leave a lot to be desired. He is also, personally, an awful candidate. That same brashness that many found so refreshing causes him to say dumb things. He has a sordid history and doesn’t really represent any of the values of his base except for anger at the status quo. He is off putting to large swaths of the American people to put it mildly.
But this election is an existential conflict for both sides. Because the Democrats choose Clinton and the Republicans Trump, they have created an atmosphere where this election is the last election. If it was Bernie, Republicans could gracefully abandon Trump and focus on the next election. If it was Rubio, Democrats could do the same. However, neither side can distance themselves from their awful candidates because doing so would hand the race to their greatest (and not unjustified) fear. Instead we see intellectual dishonesty reaching new heights as both sides are lying about their candidate and refusing to fully acknowledge their flaws. I don’t know where we go from here. Either way it swings, people will be furious. It has the potential to get really ugly, really fast, unless we can understand where our ideologies diverge and reconcile that divide.