Excellent analysis by David Ernst. Excerpt:
All this raises an uncomfortable question for people who have no use for PC’s agenda, and who value the freedom to think for themselves. How do you respond to someone who is determined to smear you for your alleged bigotry regardless of what you think and why? How do you win an argument against someone who willfully changes the meaning of words, maintains that the truth is completely relative, and feels perfectly justified in accusing virtually anyone of the gravest moral failure?
Enter the right-wing postmodern antihero. Unlike just about every other presidential candidate who ran on the Republican ticket, Trump grasps our postmodern culture intuitively, and put it to use with devastating effect.
If our opponents are going to accuse us of being evil-minded bigots, regardless of what we say or think, then what’s the point in bothering to convince them otherwise? Let’s play by their own rules of relativism and subjectivity, dismiss their baseless accusations, and hammer them mercilessly where it hurts them the most: their hypocrisy. After all, if there is no virtue greater than authenticity, and no vice worse then phoniness, then the purveyors of contrived PC outrage are distinctively vulnerable.
Protesting an accusation from the Left that you’re not a racist, sexist, etc. on its own terms is a recipe for failure. Recall what happened to Romney when he desperately tried to demonstrate otherwise with his “binders full of women.” Trump offered an alternative: rather than make a fact-based, reason-driven argument, let’s neutralize the charge by denying its very premises, and in so doing, deny the power of the accuser to render any judgment in the first place.
Right after famously referring to the “rapists” Mexico was sending into the United States when he first announced his campaign, Trump responded to shocked critics by claiming that “Latinos love Trump and I love them.” Similarly, after the emergence of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, Trump claimed boldly to audible snickering that “nobody has more respect for women than I do.”
Did anyone really take Trump’s rebuttals seriously? Obviously not. Still, his preposterous responses demonstrated that accusations of racism and sexism had no power over him, and in our postmodern culture, that alone is all that really matters.
Counterpunch the Frauds Where It Hurts
Most importantly of all, Trump understood that postmodern America loathes nothing more than a self-righteous fraud. Hence his reputation for “counterpunching” when confronted with breathless expressions of “offense.” Such was evident in his response to Clinton’s “penchant for sexism” remark by bringing up her husband’s history of sexual assault. Rather than doing what was expected and taking the high road, apologizing, and moving on, Trump opted to call his accusers out for the most certain fact that their professions of moral outrage are cynical power grab and nothing more.
Indeed, Trump provoked PC outrage precisely for this reason. Like Tony Montana holding the mirror up to his slack-jawed country club audience, Trump pulled one delicious, gasp-inducing stunt after another.
Perhaps the best example of Trump’s provoke and win strategy was his approach to immigration. Any proposal for restricting immigration, no matter how modest, will invariably meet charges of nativism and racism. So why fight it? Trump opted to meet the challenge by initially proposing something truly appalling: the deportation of tens of millions of people. When the predictable outrage machine kicked into high gear, he didn’t go into damage control as expected. Rather, he dismissed the accusations and let it ride.
After Trump brushed off his hyperventilating critics who were frantically calling him a racist, fascist, and everything in between, their rage gradually abated because it didn’t have the desired effect. Now, all of Trump’s clarifications on the issue are on the table for consideration, seem reasonable by comparison, and any subsequent PC outburst against them will ring hollow. Like so, Trump tamed and harnessed the outrage machine over and over again: the Muslim ban, killing terrorists’ families, insulting John McCain for being a POW, all until it won him the Republican nomination.
This Is How We Get Trump
Democrats gleefully welcomed Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries with the expectation that they’d bury him in a pile of condescension for being a buffoon and scorn for being the next Hitler. Better yet, they figured that his astounding rise confirmed everything they had long assumed about half the country and were now free to say out loud: they are indeed a basket of irredeemable racist, sexist, homophobic deplorables. Mainstream Republicans would surely hop on board the progressive train rather than be associated with these creeps.
None of this happened, of course. But why? Because what Trump’s enemies failed to grasp was that he wasn’t winning because of the crazy things he was saying, but because of the phony outrage and affected condescension it provoked. Many people empathized with Trump for enduring the contempt that he deliberately brought against himself. Trump kept playing the role of the antihero, and Clinton kept playing the role of the pearl-clutching fraud.
So I’m a scoundrel because I don’t pay income taxes? Maybe so, but it also makes me smart, just like all the other billionaires who are backing your campaign. So I’m a sexist because you found a video of me bragging about how my superstar status enables me to grab women by the p—y? Maybe it does, but allow me to publically introduce four of the women who have accused your husband of everything from indecent exposure to rape. So I’m a greedy businessman who stiffs my contractors? Fine. You’re a corrupt politician who sells out our national interest to line your own pockets.
Maybe everything they say about me is true, but at least I’m authentic, at least I’m real: you on the other hand, are a bloody, disgusting hypocrite.
So say goodnight to the bad guy! Because this bad guy is now our president.