Just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” Trump said. “We better get very tough.”
These are the words from Trump at a Colorado rally on Saturday, despite no report from authorities as to what that blast might have been. As of this writing the FBI and Homeland Security authorities are still sorting out details to wring out all the facts.
What is known is that Trump, per standard, shot off his mouth before gathering or knowing the full facts. This must come as a shock to many voters. He says he’s going to “get tough.”
“Going to profile.”
“Things are going to get worse, OK?” Let’s whip up some good old fashioned hysteria to energize the crowd. Better, let’s have a presidential candidate assist in terrorizing an entire nation.
“We better get very tough.” Great. Against whom? For what? How? What could Trump possibly have in mind for New York City’s toughness that it doesn’t already have after 9/11?
Armies of cops or National Guardsmen patrolling the streets? We’d better rethink that one. If you asked NYC cops and security these days just how tough they are, they would say about as tough as you can get without throwing your rights to any lingering privacy down a NYC gutter.
Oh, those pesky rights Trump seems so wanton to trample.
When Trump sows fear, as he often does, citing menacing threats from … out there wherever … Mexico, Syrians, little old sick Hillary Clinton gonna take your guns away … and now this Afghan loser … I hear so much George Bush running up to and around the second Bush Iraq War.
Remember that? We had had Iraqis under our beds! Yellow cake! Aluminum tubes! Anthrax! Tape your windows! Yellow, red, green, and entire rainbows of terror alerts!
Bush made America cower as a people. We were made to be afraid. And we lapped it up then, gave up rights and allowed a terrible war and should be ashamed now.
You know what scared people do, don’t you? They react without thinking. They react impulsively. They seek security, sometimes at high cost of sacred rights.
Let’s face it. That’s why governments and politicians are forever pitting class against class, people against people, nation against nation … in fear of “the other.” Fear gets votes. And usually at a cost of liberty – but dammit, fear is a hell of a vote-getter.
As it turns out, with so much reality-show drama behind him, Trump is indeed a master of suspense, fear elevation, tension and release. Folks get kind of hooked on this kind of thing.
It’s like the highs and lows of reality TV shows and daytime soap operas. Fear hooks. And most often, fear hooks the more poorly educated, susceptible, older Americans.
It so happens these folks are Trump’s largest demographic. Non-college-educated old white folks, often struggling financially post-recession and post I.T. world.
Those struggling to adapt to a new era. Fear of change was already present in the background for much of these folks.
Trump has inherited the perfect audience, prone to manipulation, hooked on a fear that things have turned against them and are now getting worse. First Trump ran the gambit of a Kenyan U.S. president sure to impose Sharia law on gullible Americans.
Next, it was Mexicans taking all their jobs. And then Syrian invaders, then Hillary killing the second Amendment and now – what could be better than an actual blast in Manhattan. Trump just loves the role of Ring Leader of Fear.
“That’s how we get the government we deserve.” We lose our critical thinking. We’re incited by fear and cower toward an authoritarian strong man.
Bush acted as that Strong Man, but in the end, he was proven either terribly mistaken or a terrible liar.
But boy, did he rip apart America’s sanity, and it took a very cool, nuanced Obama to calm us down enough to pull the duct tape off our collective windows. Maybe now we’re bored for the lack of drama.
Frighteningly, Trump has far more showbiz star power than Bush. He is indeed a seasoned performer. His delivery skills and Trump Organization aura of influence empower him to effectively convince apparently 43 percent of our population that, despite huge job gains, despite incredible real estate recoveries, and despite a significant quieting of domestic terrorism, somehow, America has gone to the dogs.
“We don’t win anymore.” And worse – we’re under attack, now, and it’s terrible, terrible. “We’d better get tough, folks.” Real tough. Whatever the hell that means. No details are forthcoming.
And “what it means” doesn’t matter to fearful folks. The fear-baiting turns people into sheeple, and these sheeple into lemmings, and we know what happens to the lemmings at the end of their march.
That’s the real fear and the real threat. Not a pressure cooker gone off in Manhattan. We will get to the bottom of that. But rather of another American fear-monger, more reckless than Bush – pushing us to where we, in saner moments, really don’t want to go.
Do you really want another round of Patriot Acts and window duct taping and Terror Alert charts?
But Trump sees his opening and he’s whipping up renewed thrills and chills – inevitably leading to American spills.
Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.