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Donald Trump: Here we go again
Nov. 20, 2022 7:00 am, Updated: Dec. 13, 2022 5:13 pm
Again, Trump has announced his candidacy for President of the United States of America.
Last time that happened, a few of us stood around the break room and chuckled watching him glide down a golden escalator and make an absolute doorknob of himself on national television. It became less and less funny over time as we realized other people weren’t laughing — they were buying in.
Standing in a gas station checkout line close to Election Day, I listened to a pair of roofing contractors in front of me praise their nominee for the way he bullied other Republican candidates in the primary. The way he made a mockery of the disabled, his open disparagement of women, and especially the way he treated his opponent. They found in this behavior a reflection of their own views and values — a vindication of their dissatisfaction with how they felt society had relegated them to a station that was, in fact, beneath them.
Behind them, I felt a knot of unease winding itself tightly in my stomach. There didn’t seem to be any concern between them that not only was Trump’s parlance problematic — he had emboldened them to say the quiet parts out loud publicly as well.
As the years went by, we as a nation were subjected to a growing number of pundits, appointees, candidates, and lifelong politicians seeking to retain relevance and visibility through jumping on the vitriolic bandwagon. Many, even those he had disparaged publicly, latched on to the man himself. It became difficult to identify who was just in it for a quick shock jock buck and who actually believed their own rhetoric. The local news anchor you used to bump into at the deli counter sang his praises from her senate seat and reveled in his endorsement. The Iowa governor took the stage with him for a breezy air kiss and urged the nation to “stop pointing fingers” at those who besieged the U.S. Capitol. This, for the man who insisted that sunlight would kill the Coronavirus. This, for the man who said he would make Mexico pay for it. This, for the man who described breastfeeding mothers as “disgusting.”
In the wake of the red wave that wasn’t, it seemed perhaps the hysterical fanfare surrounding loose cannon candidates had waned a bit. His endorsement didn’t have the desired effect this time around as candidates hoping to catch the tail end of the hatewave instead found themselves attempting to catch a falling knife.
Many of those I know who remained quietly committed to the GOP over the past administration did so with a bit of embarrassment when the subject came up, and are now open about their disapproval of candidates flirting with conspiracy theory and fearmongering as a campaign strategy.
We long for a return to what we remember as civil discourse; a time when facts didn’t need alternatives and candidates had some measure of concern for the accuracy of the words they said.
This week, the announcement seemed … tedious.
I do not want to talk about Donald Trump.
I would rather talk about Instant Pot recipes. I would rather doomscroll Instagram watching foodie influencers teach me how to make tostones and call them smashed potatoes. I would rather launch myself into that season of “Billions” I never made time for. Learn to quilt so the tradition doesn’t vanish with my grandmother.
But in all good conscience, I can’t -
Because last time around, I underestimated his ability to leverage the darkest parts of this nation’s history, insecurities, fears, and greed for his own rise to power. Last time around, I laughed at the boorish man saying ridiculous things on stage while others were silently nodding their heads in agreement. Last time, I was overconfident.
We can’t make that error again.
Sofia DeMartino is a Gazette editorial fellow. Comments: email@example.com
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