Sideshow Bob surrounded by rakes

We need to talk

Eight-minute read

Dear “Resistance,” we need to talk.

Since the early days of the Trump campaign, a pattern has emerged.

Trump does or says something, you erupt in fury. The press and anti-Trumpers frantically clutch at their pearls as they dramatically plunge down upon their fainting couches like Margaret Dumont, barely able to mutter “well I never!”

The networks immediately begin flood-the-zone coverage. We’re subjected to Wolf Blitzer intoning gravely to a stoney-faced panel of political experts who, naturally, represent the full spectrum of viewpoints from A to B.

“So, in your estimation is Trump stupid, evil, or some combination of stupid and evil?” he asks, more in sadness than in anger.

Even as the press is high-fiving each other over “finding their spine” and being a “Fourth Estate check upon the excesses of government,” even as a doddering Nancy Pelosi measures the drapes in the House Speaker’s office, a sudden realization occurs – or it should occur.

Trump actually got what he wanted. And I mean that in both small and in meta ways.

Before I pull that thread a bit more, let me state this clearly, unequivocally: I did not vote for Trump. I would not vote for Trump. Ever.

If you are a person of the Left or a Trump hater, what I am about to say will not be something that you want to hear. But you need to hear this.

You are Sideshow Bob. For the love of god, stop fucking stepping on rakes.

You are losing. Bigly.

You are losing because you should be winning easily. You suck at resisting. You are as bad at resisting as I am at dating.

I look at events and am deeply dismayed at an anti-Trump “Resistance,” such as it is, that seems to have learned nothing and to have forgotten nothing.

“Yes,” you may say, “I’m right and more importantly a good person and Trump is all evil and old and also orange with weird hair and don’t forget Russia! Also his name is Drumpf.”

Congrats, that gets you jack fucking shit. Rather, it got you jack fucking shit because you did all that and Trump still won.

This isn’t a fucking Pollyanna movie. Politics doesn’t matter at all about what or who’s most good. It’s about what is believed to be true. It’s about outcomes. As I tell my friends who “Hulk out” and flip over tables at the mere mention of Trump, I don’t care if you are actually right.

People make three basic mistakes about Trump:

That’s not to say he’s smart, correct or politically savvy. My position has been and remains that this whole Trump thing will end badly.

No matter how many times these assumptions prove not true, they are catnip for anti-Trumpers, who, like their anti-Obama counterparts before them, seem willing to believe anything no matter how transparently ridiculous, e.g. The Gorilla Channel. They lie there purring and licking the latest toy mouse from Salon or Slate of Huffpost, content in their rightness.

Trump doesn’t need to be a clever strategist when he is so extraordinarily fortunate in his adversaries. They hate him. Loathe him. Despise him. “Purple-faced, spittle-flecked rage” hate him.

Rage leads people to do stupid things, say stupid things, embrace stupid ideas. 1 It keeps the “Resistance” from fundamentally understanding its adversary. The “Resistance” just can’t stop stepping on its own dick.

This helps Trump in three ways:

  • Trump’s goal is to institute a policy change or law, but his adversaries’ goal is to destroy Trump. Trump has the easier goal.
  • It plays into his persona as an oppressed outsider
  • It is a given his adversaries will act at least as crazy and uncivil as he does, if not more

And even if Trump doesn’t know this, he’s surrounded by very smart people who do.

Looked at objectively, Trump should be an easy takedown.

I like to say that Trump just can’t “not.” Instead of rising to the occasion, he rises to the bait. He can give a well-received, vaguely presidential-sounding speech and then the next morning unleashes a juvenile tweetstorm that undoes everything.

He is the king of unforced errors, a veritable shitshow of fails.2 Or he would be were his adversaries also not as good or often better at the same thing.

The press, the Democrats etc, also can’t “not.” They point out fact errors like some pedantic prig correcting someone’s grammar. 3 They go nuclear. They act crazy.

So what’s “crazy”? Maybe crying on the air. Maybe calling detention centers that have been around through multiple administrations “concentration camps.” Maybe getting basic facts wrong. Maybe calling someone a “see you next Tuesday” as part of witless joke. Maybe saying the president’s son should be locked in a cage with a pedophile.

And, more importantly not realizing anti-Trumpers are wildly overplaying their hand – yet again.

True, Trump rescinded child-separation policies, which by the way was also practiced by the Obama admin. But then it was “necessary,” so shut up.

Still, congrats on that. Go team! It was bad policy and politically stupid, and even Trump-backers hated it.

So, a clear win! High fives all around!

Was it a win? Well, I’ll let you decide. Here’s a Harvard Harris poll taken last week at the height of the “immigration crisis” sturm und drang:

  • Trump’s approval rose to 47 percent
  • His approval rose 10 points among Hispanics
  • 63 percent favor Trump’s DACA compromise
  • 61 percent say our current border security is inadequate
  • 60 percent back a border wall
  • 69 percent say that ICE should not be disbanded
  • 64 percent believe border-crossers should be sent home immediately
  • 84 percent are against sanctuary city policies
  • 72 percent oppose restaurants discriminating based on political views

So the outcome of the Fortnight of Immigration Rage was to – uh – help Trump’s poll numbers rise? Among Hispanics? Yay?

But Trump is wrong! So what? Remember, the goal here is not to be right but to win.

A truly smart move would have been:

  • Bait Trump into defending the policy for at least two weeks
  • Shut the fuck up entirely about open borders and abolishing ICE
  • When Trump hits bottom, use that as leverage to get what you actually want

Efforts to change underlying policy or swing public opinion didn’t work despite a full frontal assault of outrage. If that didn’t work, how exactly do you intend to turn public opinion? Free kittens?

Here’s another stat from a CBS poll:

Do you approve or disapprove of how Donald Trump is handling the matter of children and parent separation at the border?

  • Approve: 42%
  • Disapprove: 58%

I suppose some will rage about how those 42 percent are evil Nazis etc. But let me repeat: The goal isn’t to be right or show how good you are. The goal is to win the argument.

In keeping with anti-Trumpers learn nothing, forget nothing policy, they were jizzing themselves over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s 4 primary upset win and rushing ass-over-elbows to call for abolishing ICE and reviving FDR’s court packing scheme.

Rather, anti-Trumpers are acting like a bunch of people so sure they are going to win that they can’t be bothered to control their message.

Which is why this is all so bothersome for those of us who don’t hate Trump but want him reined in. I was discussing politics a few weeks ago, and my friend mused about why people aren’t jumping from the Trump ship. “It’s simple,” I said. “They look at the alternative and it’s worse.”

Maybe from where you are sitting it isn’t, but let me say this again: What you prefer doesn’t matter.

Maybe being vile and vulgar and petty and throwing the president’s spokeswoman out of a restaurant and bragging on social media about how butthurt she must be will win the day. Maybe flinging a bedpan full of hate at the Trump admin will work.

Maybe Democrats will ride their wheezing, farting Rocinante of unpopular ideas to a midterm tsunami. Maybe we’ll see “Abolish ICE” signs popping up in the industrial and upper Midwest and South where Democrats need to make inroads.

Maybe you’ll get the open-border policy you want. Maybe ICE will be converted into the U.S. Immigrant Welcome Wagon Agency.

Maybe the “Resistance” will get its shit together 5 and act like a sane opposition.

I wouldn’t bet on it.

  1. For example, wishing that Hillary Clinton, a dour, uninspiring Nixon-in-a-pantsuit was president so she could rubberstamp eight years of Obama fecklessness like a county clerk. Here’s a political tip for winners: Run anyone else.
  2. A prime example is Trump’s stupid, offensive Twitter battle with Mika Mxyzptlk, one half of America’s Most Insufferable Political Couple that is not James Carville and Mary Matalin.
  3. Like me, for instance.
  4. Her working-class-hero schtick is, like most politicians’ electoral claims, total bullshit. She grew up in leafy Westchester County and attended Boston University, tuition cost $66,000 per year.
  5. If you want to know what happens to a minority party that can’t get its shit together, look no further than Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, the British Labour Party. They couldn’t win an election to save their lives, even against the hapless Theresa May.