Musings —09.10.2017 09:37 AM—
I did a radio panel yesterday. The subject-matter doesn’t matter.
I only mention it, in fact, because I did what I often do on TV and radio, this year: I reminded everyone that supposedly-smart guys like me know SFA. We don’t know anything.
I thought about that when I picked up the New York Times this morning. It was thick as a brick – the theatre season has started anew, apparently – but here was the only part worth reading:
Mr. Trump’s candidacy was dead when he announced it. (Mexico is sending “rapists.”) His candidacy was dead when he insulted a former prisoner of war named John McCain. (“I like people who weren’t captured.”) His candidacy was dead when he cast suspicion on an entire religion. (“Donald J. Trump is calling for a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”)
Dead when he attacked a federal judge, a Gold Star family, the pope. Deader than dead when he bragged about grabbing women by their genitals. (“When you’re a star, they let you do it.”)
The more Mr. Trump’s candidacy was said to flatline, the more life I saw in his crowds.
In August 2015, a month after a high-ranking Republican National Committee operative promised me that America would never tolerate a man with no military service disparaging an American military hero, I was standing on a football field in Mobile, Ala., surrounded by 30,000 screaming Trump fans, an unheard-of turnout six months before a primary. Were they mad about the candidates words on Mr. McCain? No. The opposite. “He’s not afraid of anybody,” one woman told me.
I don’t think the nameless woman had the blinding insight the author was after. These nameless Trump fans did, however, further into the piece:
“Trump sees us,” his supporters would tell me, everywhere we stopped. “You don’t.”
It’s not a revelation. I (and others) have said as much before. Trump’s voters (like the Ford brothers’ voters, who called themselves a “nation,” so desperate were they to be rendered visible) had their socio-economic beefs, to be sure. But, mainly, they were sick of being forgotten.
In one of my books, I forget which one, I recalled a conversation with a smart Liberal friend at brunch in Ottawa one morning (people in Ottawa love brunch, I don’t know why; being a member of the Calgary diaspora, I think it’s stupid). He said to me: “Kinsella, you’re too much of a CBC and Globe and Mail Liberal. You need to be a Toronto Sun and talk radio Liberal.”
There being more votes on Main Street than Bay Street, I took his advice, and was thereafter rewarded with being a very small part of five very big majority wins: Chrétien and McGuinty in 1993, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2007 – and 2011, when we got just a seat short of a majority.
But old habits die hard, eh? Here I am, this morning, reading the New York Times and listening to CBC, and still trying to know what seems unknowable. Trying to figure out MAGA and Ford Nation.
Yep. Old habits die hard.