There is a scene in an episode from The Simpsons, “Lisa the Vegetarian”, in which Lisa has ruined Homer’s barbecue by pushing away a pig roasting on a wheeled grill. She uses a riding lawn mower to drive it over a hill, where the grill begins a series of travels through streets and waterways. Homer runs behind it, telling himself things like, “it’s just a little slimy, it’s still good, it’s still good.”
Setting aside the fact that in its seventh season the show was already deeply into preachy territory, that episode often springs to mind these days when I see and hear people defending Trump.
This week has been an especially bad one for the President, and there are few indications that his situation is going to significantly improve. His defenders shifted from having to defend moral bankruptcy to having to defend criminality. As with the moral failings, the criminality defenses tend to fall into the same categories:
- What he did was not truly (morally repulsive, criminal) but is merely being interpreted that way by his enemies.
- He can be forgiven these failings because of the wonderful job he is doing in other ways as President.
I have every expectation that I will see more people drift away from their support of President Trump. I have made clear in the past that I will be prepared to forgive their devotion to a known fraud (see: Trump University.) This is not due to any special level of grace I claim to possess. It is due to pragmatism.
I feel the same urge to remind people of my warnings that anyone else does… and that certainly includes many of the readers on this site. But the goal must be kept in sight, and that goal was never to self-aggrandize; the goal is the betterment of the country, a return to founding principles, basic morality and reasoned debate.
Now, to science:
There is an electronic device called a silicon controlled rectifier, or “scr”. Simplified, the scr acts to block current from passing through it… until a certain voltage is hit, at which point current passes. Without reaching that key point, nothing happens. Once it’s struck, electricity flows.
This is what I expect will happen with Trump. His defenders are not going to give up their positions easily, because one of the most difficult things for people to do is to admit they looked at a situation, gathered all available facts, and then came to a wrong decision. It is an admission of fallibility which most people are loathe to make.
This is the tendency which Trump exploits. Once people have begun to defend him he knows he can make virtually any future action and they will continue to do so, rather than admit their failure to themselves. Announcing publicly a mistake is far easier than personally accepting that a mistake was made.
That does not mean such a moment of recognition can never happen, though.
I believe the breakover moment will come when people realize that Trump is such a liability that he can be beaten by people such as Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Faced with the real possibility of handing over the country to that contingent of the Democrat party, there will be panic on the part of the Republican base which still supports Trump. This will happen because Trump has made his primary selling point that he can keep the Democrats from gaining power. Once it becomes obvious that he cannot do so, he will immediately shift from being invaluable to being worthless for his throng.
Until then, we will see further frustration as many people whom we know to be intelligent and rational, our friends and family, excuse criminal behavior under the premise that it’s not “really” criminal (although I’ve never before seen someone sent to federal prison for being unpleasant… in my experience that’s always required an actual crime) or that the criminal behavior isn’t “collusion” (as if that were ever the specific charge being investigated… it isn’t.)
When it does happen, even though the timing of it will be obvious, there will be denials. Again, people are loathe to admit mistakes to themselves. They will say they’ve never really supported him. They will ignore dozens or even thousands of prior statements, or claim they were just going along. They will bring back “But Hillary…” writ large, ignoring her continued incompetency at nearly everything she’s tried and pretending she would have been a monster who would have altered our country irreversibly.
(She is also incorrigibly corrupt and there are things which would have been worse, such as not having Gorsuch on the court, and I’d have been constantly nauseated that she had achieved her goal, but fundamentally she would have remained as ineffective as she’s been her entire life.)
When that happens, again, I suggest we let it go. The end goal must be kept in sight.
So, what we do to vent some of the frustration we feel at the recalcitrance and truculence we see from the Trump supporters?
As suggested by August West, I suggest we laugh. Enjoy ourselves. Cheer ourselves on. That is what one does when one is truly winning.