Know Anyone Who's Been Brainwashed By Hate Talk Radio And Fox News-- A Trumpist, Perhaps?
Do you know anyone supporting Trump? If I do, they haven't admitted it. But I hear of friends of friends who who support him.I assume my brother-in-law in Staten Island does but I didn't ask my sister. He fits Bob Cesca's description of ye olde Trumpf supporter at Salon: "Generally speaking, Trump supporters are non-college-educated white men, ranging from younger “bros” to, more typically, white male baby-boomer retirees with plenty of spare time to be relentlessly irradiated by Fox News and AM talk radio." He's one of the relentlessly irradiated ones. Cesca refines the definition slightly: "older white male retirees with massive chips on their shoulders... While the lack of a college diploma binds most Trump supporters together, there are more obvious tells-- ones that we can plainly see but that can’t be fully measured by pollsters. Specifically, it’s not easy to quantify the growing resentment of white males who believe they’re slowly losing their millennia-long grip on societal power. Likewise, it’s difficult to measure the brainwashing of Trump’s loyalists by the Fox News and talk radio echo-chamber. Yet we see it on display every day."
Many of them look like normal people, even balanced and wise grandfathers, not like deranged wild men screaming and cursing at cheap-entertainment Trump rallies, fullyrevealing their "vulnerability to the suggestions of a charismatic would-be dictator." For the last year, I've been uncharitably referring to them as "life's losers." I can't help myself. Cesca says "not so fast."
When discussing Trump’s base, sympathetic words are often tossed into the mix due to the common wisdom indicating how they’re frustrated with the allegedly awful economy, struggling to make ends meet. Therefore their anger is somehow justified. While there are surely stories of Americans who are suffering financial hardships due, perhaps, to the continued shockwaves of the Great Recession, a new study by Gallup shows that economic issues aren’t necessarily driving Trump’s base.
According to this new analysis, those who view Trump favorably have not been disproportionately affected by foreign trade or immigration, compared with people with unfavorable views of the Republican presidential nominee. The results suggest that his supporters, on average, do not have lower incomes than other Americans, nor are they more likely to be unemployed.
The study was careful to underscore how its conclusions are based on averages; therefore, and to repeat, there are certainly Trump fans who are having a hard time. Gallup went on to suggest that other factors could be contributing to the discontent among white working-class Americans, but the economy and immigration don’t appear to be fully animating the mania that’s so prevalent among Trump’s people.
Trump isn’t necessarily responsible for the behavior of his most activated loyalists, but he’s certainly tapped into an existing cache of psychosis and he’s exploiting it for political gain. Trump’s base has been pre-tenderized by what David Frum calls the “conservative entertainment complex.” Since at least the Clinton administration, white men have been slowly indoctrinated and, in too many cases, brainwashed by conservative media and its rather loose grip on reality. A recently released documentary by Jen Senko, titled The Brainwashing of My Dad, covered this particular phenomenon: the poisoning of otherwise decent older white men by interminable doses of conservative entertainment agitprop. The film follows the life of Senko’s father, who was once a Kennedy Democrat and, through daily assaults by right-wing radio and television, transformed into a racist conservative zealot. Similarly, it’s not difficult to diagnose the Kissimmee man and his cohorts as having been similarly brainwashed by the extremist rhetoric of both conservative entertainment and the Republican Party itself, with its “Don’t retreat, reload” bumper sticker slogans and backed with the revolutionary predictions of conspiracy-theory profiteers like Alex Jones, himself a Trump supporter.
If you convince enough men that alleged outsiders (women, minorities, immigrants) are stripping them of their long-held power, as Fox News and others have done, there’s going to eventually be a fight, especially when one of those so-called outsiders is a black president with the middle name “Hussein.” Older white men don’t intend to hand over power quietly, and they’ve been given the green light by irresponsibly influential leaders to bury their humility, their decency and their sense of reality. But based on recent video footage, I wonder if they’re even aware of how ridiculously deranged they appear, alone or most often in large groups. My hunch is they won’t fully realize it until they’re lying in battered heaps in the shrubs directly under the awnings of their houses, their homemade superhero capes strewn awkwardly across their broken bodies.