Brow Beat

This Is How We Got Trump

Pee-Wee Herman's bike.
The best bike in the whole world.
Warner Bros.

More than any other recent American fascist strongman, Donald Trump has prompted lots of hand-wringing among the people who didn’t vote for him, and virtually none among the people who did. This is great news for me, because I voted for him and don’t like thinking too hard about what I’ve done or why I did it, but it’s also great news for the left wing, because they need to realize that they are responsible for everything the right wing does, and this seems like a teachable moment. Look closely at the rise of Donald Trump and you will see that there is no reason to play the blame game, unless you are blaming people other than me, in which case, there is every reason, so play away! Conventional wisdom might say that the people who voted for a political candidate have something to do with his or her election, but isn’t it more eloquent and counterintuitive to say that it’s somehow somebody else’s fault? I don’t know or care, but it’s certainly a lot more convenient for me. So let’s look at the facts.

I remember very clearly the earliest indication that Donald Trump would one day rise to the presidency, because, as it happens, it fell on my birthday. I was out for my usual morning walk, when I ran into my neighbor—a well-meaning liberal with whom I enjoy the occasional political debate—out polishing his bright red bicycle. I explained to him that it was my birthday and that my father said I could have anything I wanted for my birthday, and what I wanted was his bicycle. I thought I’d encountered liberal smugness before, but when my neighbor performatively fell onto the sidewalk laughing as though the very idea that I would purchase his bike was too funny for words, I knew I had to act fast, before I was forced to support a white supremacist candidate for the presidency of the United States. Quickly, I riffled a thick stack of cash and told my neighbor, “My father says everything’s negotiable, Pee-Wee,” but he responded with a boilerplate liberal talking point:

I wouldn’t sell my bike for all the money in the world. Not for a hundred billion million trillion dollars!

That kind of bewilderingly complicated math talk might work on the D.C. cocktail circuit, but it fails to resonate with heartland voters, which means my embrace of open white supremacy is really, really, really not my fault, and also it’s okay if I just keep on embracing it, going forward. When I challenged my neighbor to debate his point about not selling me his bike, ideally on a college campus, he engaged in typical liberal name-calling, yelling “I know you are but what am I?” over and over again. I calmly, politely answered him with the simple truth (“I know you are, but what am I?”) until, faced with facts that didn’t care about his feelings, my neighbor fled into the kind of airy abstractions that keep forcing good-hearted conservatives like me to enthusiastically support racists. “I know you are, but what am I infinity,” my neighbor’s final talking point, is the kind of smug statement that forecloses all further debate, which is why liberals love to invoke it when they’re refusing to sell me their bike. In that moment, Donald Trump’s rise to power became all but inevitable.

The second factor the mainstream media fails to consider when judgmentally saying it was bad that I voted for a man who announced his candidacy by claiming that Mexican immigrants were rapists, is the time my liberal neighbor tried to drown me in my own bathtub. I was peacefully playing war with my toy boats when my neighbor burst in, leapt into my tub and accused me of stealing his bike! It was true, of course, that I had stolen his bike, but when I heard the scorn and disapproval in his voice, I felt bad about myself, and knew I was going to have to devote my life to the cause of white supremacy. Only the timely intervention of my butler prevented me from donning a hood right then and there—and indeed, who would have blamed me, besides my neighbor and my butler and anyone else who heard about it?

Fortunately, it didn’t come to that: My father, Mr. Buxton, was able to counter my neighbor’s stale talking points with logic and reason and money and institutional power, and my neighbor quickly saw the error of his ways and apologized. He even gave us both a stick of gum, although it later turned out to be prank gum, which is yet another reason that there’s nothing wrong with me supporting a racist moron and I shouldn’t feel the slightest bit bad about having done it. When liberals lecture, disdain, and correctly deduce that I have stolen their bicycle, they only drive more people into an opposing coalition, which I will refer to as “an opposing coalition” because when people correctly call my political movement “a pack of racist goons,” it only draws more people into my political movement, somehow.

Liberals, I’m trying to help you here. The United States works best when we have two strong political parties, one of which is composed of people who go out of their way to never point out that the other party is pursuing white supremacy as a matter of policy. When Hollywood tells their version of the Donald Trump story, they’ll flatten all the fascinating complexity, turning the rich tapestry that is me—my motivations, my thoughts, particularly my thoughts about how I’m actually a good person despite the things I do—into a caricature. This will make me feel bad, and that, to me, is bad.

After all, it’s easy to say that you’d never sign on for a political program of torture, kidnapping, and murder, right up to the moment you see that another boy has a bicycle you want. So spare us all the sanctimonious talk about how Trump supporters have betrayed our country’s highest ideals. If the left wing is so in love with the idea of America, maybe they should marry it. Or take a picture—it’ll last longer.