I write nonfiction. Most of my reading is, and has been for most of my adult life, nonfiction. (With the notable exception of 19th century British authors, my comfort food of reading). So I normally relate to and agree with the concept of 'telling it like it is'.
In the past eighteen months, that phrase is one I've heard often from Trump supporters. And that makes me wonder what it means. Trump inflates his income, brags about molesting women, mocks people with disabilities and, well, we know the list by now. It's endless, and endlessly offensive to many of us.
What does this kind of speech, this way of being in the world, have to do with 'telling it like it is'?
And whose 'it is' are they talking about? (Oh dear, I sound like Bill Clinton in a deposition.)
Because lying about your wealth and about your opponent's criminality, deriding people who are different, and bombastic, sensationalist speech are not reality - they're not any 'it is' I know about or care to participate in. And I keep trying to figure out what is so appealing about Trump's rhetoric.
And I've decided - or as near as I can come to anything as certain as a decision - that it's about fear. Trump is tapping into and exploiting the fear of people who (1) feel left out of the power and economic structures of this country, and (2) subscribe to the belief that this is a white, Anglo-Saxon nation that is being taken over and ruined by immigrants, Jews, blacks and anyone different from them.
I wrote about #2 in yesterday's post, "We, the [white men] of the United States, in order to form ..." (below).
It's a cynical, manipulative effort on the part of Trump and his campaign to garner support and votes from people they don't really care about, at least on the evidence of the way they've lived their lives.
What's also distressing is that, in their fear and sense of disenfranchisement, his voters don't or won't see that.
Ultimately, he will betray them. Yet they will only feel betrayed if Clinton is elected.
The class and race divide is indeed deep in America. Trump's candidacy and the enthusiasm of his supporters make that achingly clear.