Reckoning with the chaos voter


On Feb. 17, the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne asked, “What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States?”

Not even a month into the current presidency, we had seen the ouster of Michael Flynn; the percolating questions about the loyalties of The Current President (TCP) to Vladimir Putin, to Russia, to his own business interests; and the attempts of congressional Republicans to slow-walk any and all investigations into the sordid TCP reign.

His Churlishness had that day decided to take no responsibility. He had, rather, assigned blame, calling out the media and the leakers: “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia.”

Nearly three months later, can anyone make the case that things have improved for him? Or for us? Kellyanne Conway has reappeared on television, so maybe she got the gig.

Mr. Dionne asked at the time: “Isn’t it rash to declare him unfit after so little time?”

“The answer is no,” he said, “because the Trump we are seeing now is fully consistent with the vindictive, self-involved and scattered man we saw during the 17 months of his campaign. In one of the primary debates, Jeb Bush said of Trump: ‘He’s a chaos candidate and he’d be a chaos president.’ Rarely has a politician been so prophetic.”

And that’s a long lead-in to a question: If he is the chaos president, then what of the chaos voters?

We’ve heard pundits and voters alike say that the people who voted for TCP just wanted to tear it all down. Stephen Bannon, who wanted to tear it down even before the election, certainly believes the voters gave him and his boss carte blanche.

I still don’t buy it.

Since Nov. 8, I have mourned that so many Americans voted for a man so supremely unqualified. I still mourn that evangelical so-called Christians voted 81 percent in favor of a man who literally does not know the difference between the collection plate and the communion tray. I still mourn that a majority of white women voted for a man who bragged on tape of committing sexual assault with impunity.

I admit that I’m torn. On the one hand, I want the chaos. On the other hand, I’ll try to do what I can to mitigate the disaster. My contribution might be writing a simple blog post here and there.

But if chaos results, then we can’t say we don’t have it coming.

And yet, I can’t help but think that the people who voted for chaos didn’t really want chaos. They may have voted for chaos because they were sure it wasn’t gonna happen, so they figured they’d cast the vote and stand up at the bar and proclaim, “Well, I didn’t vote for Hillary.” They may have voted for chaos just to stick it to women, or the media, or “the elites,” whomever they might be. They might even have voted for chaos in order to stick it to minorities. (No, they did that, for sure.)

But I still think they expected the rest of us would bail them out by outvoting them. The chaos voters stuck it to all of us, because it was just a flipping of the bird. They didn’t know there were so many like them.

The chaos voters expected a bailout. It’s what America does. People sometimes complain when we bail out others, but when their own ox is gored, they call the government for assistance. Think of those politicians (mostly Republican, but not always) who vote against disaster aid. Doesn’t karma always come calling in their district? Aren’t they always the first to stand up in Congress to tell us why they deserve help, and why their own case is different from those people in that other state?

Here’s one: Southerners in the 1930s were all for the New Deal, until they found out that poor blacks were going to receive the same amount of aid as poor whites. Then the New Deal became anathema. They still took all the aid they could, but they bad-mouthed the government that took care of them (it was Obamacare for the 1930s).

Here’s another: We bailed out the Wall Street bankers who drove the world economy to the brink. Nobody outside of Washington, D.C., wanted to do it, but it was done, and some low-level guy went to jail because the bankers got tired of hearing that no one had been convicted. That guy went to jail, and the rest of ’em went back to making money.

America is the home of the second act, or it was until Republicans came to power. Now they’re all about personal responsibility, unless they personally know you, and know that you’re part of a certain stratum of society.

So the question is, will we bail out the chaos voters, who figured that we’d step in if their rage against the government proved ill-considered?

I admit to being torn.


3 thoughts on “Reckoning with the chaos voter

  1. This is great! I think you hit the nail on the head — many of the Trump voters didn’t expect him to win. Next time, maybe they will pay more attention to the candidates before the vote, or better yet, do us a favor and stay home.

    Liked by 1 person

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