Why do so many of our fellow Americans (and now, some Europeans) cling so tightly to Trump’s signature promise to “Make America Great Again”? The promise itself is the vague promise of a new utopia. Well, vague to some of us, but incredibly clear in the dog-whistle language of those who yearn for a return to a mythical era of American history when the world was controlled by white male Christians. It was a time when only a high school diploma was good enough for a white male Christian to get a great job right out of high school… a good enough job to support a stay-at-home wife and a brood of little white Christians. Roughly, I believe, a return to post-WWII industrial America. A time when a war-torn and destroyed world depended on American industrial might to supply the needs of that destroyed and battered world. It was a time before the Civil Rights movement, and a time before Women’s Liberation. We were the strongest and richest country in the world. Those were the days, and many people want them back. This is the Trump Utopia.
Of course, the problem with any utopia (as opposed to rational incrementalism) is that the goal (the utopia) requires a hard mindset that believes that any means can be justified in order to meet the ideological goal. It requires that status quo methodologies be swiftly swept away, and that individualism and free speech be suppressed. It requires that all people and ideas that are different be expunged from the utopian society. Open hatred and violence become sanctified… actually… expected.
In a utopia, there must always be an existential enemy. The enemy can be a foreign country(s), or the enemy can be people and ideas that do not fall within the acceptable guidelines of the utopian ideologies. A closed society is always the goal of any utopia, so enemies are necessary for a closed society to exist. In a closed society, control of the non-ruling people in that society requires that no new ideas leak in and contaminate or threaten the control of the elite ruling class (there’s always an elite ruling class).
I know a lot of Trump supporters, and many of them find Trump to be just a noxious as I do. But I’ve learned (as many practitioners of rational incrementalism have NOT) that arguing about the behaviors of Trump as a human being makes little or no difference to them, because Trump is not what these people are thinking about. For them, noxious as he may be, Trump is a means to an end. The end, of course, is a mystical and unattainable utopia.
So… don’t question Trump… question the utopia.
Have a day.
primum vivere, deinde philosophari