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Politics

These People Are Morons

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien and son-in-law Jared Kushner behind Donald Trump
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

If Donald Trump won it was always going to be because a critical number of Americans, scattered just so across an electoral geography explicitly rigged to give them minority power over everyone else, prized his particular variety of asinine worthlessness. It would not have been because that asinine worthlessness amounts to a kind of brilliance. He’s a fucking moron. The people around him are fucking morons.

The temptation is to say something would-be backhanded like, “The only thing they are good at is enriching themselves,” but that would be a fairly straightforward compliment in a society as broken as America’s, and anyway, more importantly, it isn’t true. They are bad at that. They are bad at everything. What a white person of means in America does, or can get away with, is to merely continue existing, as flabbily and with as little industry or self-examination as possible, and America takes care of the rest.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but, well, that was the whole idea. Who knows what the verdict of history will be. The verdict of history was that Andrew Jackson belonged on the $20 bill. What it should be is that a society fitfully engaged in the long-term pursuit of equity and, at the very least, a certain disappointing boardroom diversity elected and then re-elected a black president. Then, in a spasm of reactionary grievance, a coalition of white bigots set out on a mission not only to restore an avatar of white manhood to the White House, but to prove to itself that it could elect the single most venal, most worthless, most flagrantly unqualified shit-for-brains failson imaginable to the highest possible office in the land. It needed to prove that it could not only elect him but then sneeringly, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, insist not only on his personal greatness, but that he was succeeding and winning at all times.

This outcome would only deliver the desired fix if he were just an absolute shit-pile, if the only credible explanation for his election were that the arbitrary will of reactionary white people, alone, in the total absence of any justifying qualities of his person or his record, had selected him for no good reason at all. If he could be, in every conceivable way, the opposite of what a standard-issue milquetoast liberal meritocrat would look for in a president, and in no way anything else. He would have to be a fucking moron, is the thing, and surrounded by fucking morons. That way his ascendancy to the White House could not be attributed to him, but rather and entirely to the cross-section of white-identity voters who’d organized for the purpose of demonstrating their supremacy to themselves.

The idea here is to think about what specifically you were afraid of. When it came time to execute precisely the invalidation of the electoral process for which the right had spent months preparing, it amounted to Trump’s campaign manager, son-in-law, and various inept lawyers crying that it’s not faaaaaair to say that somebody else has more votes than Donald Trump. It amounted to sending Rudy Giuliani to a landscaping company’s parking lot to tiredly free-associate some bullshit about how he heard there was one guy who wasn’t allowed to stand as close to the ballot-counters as he’d have liked, and this amounted to a massive left-wing conspiracy to steal the election. It amounted to some storefront loser lawyer in a banker’s collar trying not to cry while a judge in Michigan drop-kicked the Trump campaign’s nuisance lawsuit into the trash.

It’s important to note that all of this is happening within systems designed by and for men broadly like these. Their ineptitude and amateurism is astounding, even relative to their dopey inbred class. Mitch McConnell is not some sinister genius. He is a guy who knows how to use tools and operate within systems literally made for guys like him. Next to Donald Trump and the assbrains he thus far has entrusted with the effort to preserve his presidency, that is enough to make McConnell an essentially supernatural figure. Because they are fucking morons!

I have been having a series of “Oh, right, these people are morons” realizations since this past Tuesday. Or a more acute series of them, amid a longer one stretching back to 2016. These are, after all, the people whose early attempts at legislating via executive order collapsed when it became clear that their Dark Lord of Strategy, Steve Bannon, had no idea how to write a legally upstanding executive order; whose attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, a key campaign promise for literally every Republican, collapsed after a little over two weeks of negotiating with a then-friendly House and Senate; who airballed point-blank layups on infrastructure and pandemic relief; who are now living through the second COVID-19 outbreak inside the White House just in the past six weeks. They’re malign, sure, but they are not special in their malignity. They are special in their incompetence.

The chronic fear that comes from knowing you live in a country that elected a serially bankrupt charlatan from reality TV to be its head of state never goes away. But this feels nice, anyway. I have been high on schadenfreude and relief since the incoming results made clear that however long it took, the vote counts eventually would deliver at least a declaration of victory to the people who’d organized and mobilized toward the ending of this awful presidency. That high has only gotten stronger since Trump’s elite guard of addled penny-ante divorce aficionados sprang into comical, feeble, immediately self-defeating action. Since it started to look like the election results might finally and for all time dispel the poisonous hashtag-resistance liberal fantasy of Donald Trump as some cunning mastermind capable of elaborate devious schemes.

The world is a wreck, but the hope persists that we might all at least inhabit the same one someday. These people are morons. Right there where everybody can see it. It’s a start.