Regular readers of this blog–for that matter, even occasional readers–could hardly avoid noticing that I’m no fan of Donald Trump. When I read through the comments, it’s pretty obvious that most of my readers are equally repelled.
Sometimes, however, it is hard to put into words the (numerous) reasons so many usually civil and thoughtful people become tongue-tied and sputter when asked to identify the characteristics that most appall them–which is why I’m sharing one of the best descriptions I’ve encountered. (If I did embroidery, I’d make it into a wall hanging….)
Trump lacks certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem.
For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour and no grace – all qualities, funnily enough, with which his predecessor Mr. Obama was generously blessed.
So for us, the stark contrast does rather throw Trump’s limitations into embarrassingly sharp relief.
Plus, we like a laugh. And while Trump may be laughable, he has never once said anything wry, witty or even faintly amusing – not once, ever.
I don’t say that rhetorically, I mean it quite literally: not once, not ever. And that fact is particularly disturbing to the British sensibility – for us, to lack humour is almost inhuman.
But with Trump, it’s a fact. He doesn’t even seem to understand what a joke is – his idea of a joke is a crass comment, an illiterate insult, a casual act of cruelty.
Trump is a troll. And like all trolls, he is never funny and he never laughs; he only crows or jeers.
And scarily, he doesn’t just talk in crude, witless insults – he actually thinks in them. His mind is a simple bot-like algorithm of petty prejudices and knee-jerk nastiness.
There is never any under-layer of irony, complexity, nuance or depth. It’s all surface.
Some Americans might see this as refreshingly upfront.
Well, we don’t. We see it as having no inner world, no soul.
The writer goes on to say that Trump is not merely a spoiled child of wealth, but “A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.” There’s an image I won’t soon forget!
And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully.
That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a snivelling sidekick instead.
There are unspoken rules to this stuff – the Queensberry rules of basic decency – and he breaks them all. He punches downwards – which a gentleman should, would, could never do – and every blow he aims is below the belt. He particularly likes to kick the vulnerable or voiceless – and he kicks them when they are down.
So the fact that a significant minority – perhaps a third – of Americans look at what he does, listen to what he says, and then think ‘Yeah, he seems like my kind of guy’ is a matter of some confusion and no little distress to British people, given that:
Americans are supposed to be nicer than us, and mostly are.
You don’t need a particularly keen eye for detail to spot a few flaws in the man.
This last point is what especially confuses and dismays British people, and many other people too; his faults seem pretty bloody hard to miss.
After all, it’s impossible to read a single tweet, or hear him speak a sentence or two, without staring deep into the abyss. He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum.
God knows there have always been stupid people in the world, and plenty of nasty people too. But rarely has stupidity been so nasty, or nastiness so stupid.
He makes Nixon look trustworthy and George W look smart.
In fact, if Frankenstein decided to make a monster assembled entirely from human flaws – he would make a Trump.
I have taken the liberty of quoting most of the post, because it is so perfect–it captures virtually everything I find despicable about Trump and incomprehensible about the people who–despite it all–support him.
Some even, apparently, like him.
That’s the worst part of all of this–the fact that so many Americans can look at the damage being done, not just to this country’s policies, norms and institutions, but to the very ideal of decency, by this fatuous, empty, self-absorbed facsimile of a human, and not recoil in disgust.
I want to ask them: are you raising your children to behave like this?
For that matter, if you were drinking in a bar, and someone at the other end of that bar was bragging ungrammatically and embarrasingly like Trump, wouldn’t you assume there was something really, really wrong with the guy, and edge away?
The last poll I saw gave him a 38% approval rating. It’s shaken my faith in my fellow-humans.