June 21, 2020
by Steve Stofka
Americans love the underdog. American colonists were the underdogs, weren’t they? Black people have been the actual underdogs but white people didn’t like to be thought of as topdog overlords. Aggrieved white slave owners advertised in the newspaper when a slave ran away. They paid good money for that slave, darn it. The slave owner was the victim!
How did a real estate billionaire become the leader of an underdog cult of white people? He is a populist who claims persecution, a key component of being an underdog. Who is persecuting the president? The IRS, for one. From his golden tower on 5th Avenue, he has endured constant audit and can’t release his tax returns.
He is persecuted by the media. Yes, the same media that gave him thousands of hours of free publicity during the 2016 campaign. They handed him a megaphone because they thought he was a buffoon in a political side show. Hillary Clinton would win, of course, but she was boring. A policy wonk. Check out Trump. He’s always been a nut. CNN’s ratings went up when Mr. Trump was on. Follow the ratings. More Trump.
Mr. Trump was the ringmaster, the P.T. Barnum of the political circus. He employed his limited vocabulary effectively when he spoke to his cult. Social media had become the carnival barkers of America’s political circus. He understood that and welcomed the publicity. He is fond of conspiracy theories because they attract attention like Barnum’s two-headed Queen from the Amazonian jungle. Conspiracies heighten the sense of persecution and validate his status as the leader of the underdog cult.
Tim Scott is a Republican Senator from S. Carolina. In an interview with the Wall St. Journal this week, he criticized a Democratic Senator, Dick Durbin, for characterizing the proposed Justice Act as “token, halfhearted legislation” (C-Span, 2020). Mr. Scott is black, one of the few black Republican Senators in the past 150 years. Mr. Durbin characterized the legislation as token, not Mr. Scott, but he later apologized. The legislation is a federal effort to impose some constraints on the police and Durbin did not think it went far enough.
In the interview with the WSJ, Mr. Scott thought the word was used intentionally to slight him and he referred to Mr. Durbin as an “elite liberal.” Thus Mr. Scott played to his voters and claimed underdog status. The entire Senate is composed of the wealthy and the powerful, a liberal and conservative elite. Why do grown men in positions of power behave like middle-graders? Why do our political institutions attract people who repeatedly demonstrate an arrested emotional development?
This weekend in Tulsa, President Trump will cover up his east coast eliteness with an underdog costume, stand before members of the underdog cult and speak of his persecution by the institutions of America, by the media, by the Democrats, and by [fill in the blank]. He has claimed to be blameless before God and needs no forgiveness (Scott, 2015). He is Job of the Bible. Is God also on the list of Mr. Trump’s persecutors? Did God send this pandemic to humiliate him?
When a white mob burned down a black community in Tulsa a hundred years ago, they were angry at the success of the black businesses and community, dubbed Black Wall Street. The blacks were taking business and jobs away from whites during the severe recession of 1921. Capitalism be damned. The white community felt it could not honestly compete with black people. That is the underlying truth of racism in this country. Some white people worry that, if blacks were not kept down by discriminatory housing, education and employment practices, whites could not compete with them.
The cult has chosen as their leader a man who is a poster boy of the elite, the paragon of immaturity. He wants A on Monday and non-A on Tuesday. No, he doesn’t want to read his daily Presidential briefing. Don’t bother him about world affairs; he needs to watch the TV and see what people are saying about him. How are his re-election chances? Everyone is against him. Poor little him, the persecuted rich billionaire.
Mr. Trump has already ordered the U.S. Army to stand ready in Washington, D.C. and has threatened other cities that he will take harsh measures with protesters if the mayors of some cities will not. In 1989 the Chinese Communist Party sent tanks to confront and destroy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The soldiers killed an estimated 10,000 people (BBC, 2017). Would Mr. Trump do the same? Would military leaders follow his order? That much is not certain. Without a doubt, he would claim that the protesters had forced his hand. He is the underdog. He is blameless before God and needs no forgiveness. He’s a good dog.
BBC. (2017, December 23). Tiananmen Square protest death toll ‘was 10,000’. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-42465516
C-Span. (2020, June 17). Senator Tim Scott on Police Reform. Retrieved from https://www.c-span.org/video/?473151-9%2Fsenator-tim-scott-police-reform
Scott, E. (2015, July 19). Trump believes in God, but hasn’t sought forgiveness – CNNPolitics. Retrieved June 20, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/index.html