The Last Straw?
Was Donald Trump’s election victory America’s “last straw?”
The idiom “last straw” comes from the 19th century English proverb: “The final straw that broke the camel’s back.”
My answer: I think not.
While as many as half of American voters feared this astounding upset, I don’t believe that we have quite reached our limits. Look at how many “last straws” Trump had in the past year and a half. Each time he personally attacked one of his primary opponents (Little Rubio, Crazy Cruz and on and on), the national media pundits said that might be the straw that broke the proverbial primary camel’s back.
Then when he brow-beat and bullied all of his opponents to win the primary, the straws of the general election began piling up. From ridiculing a disabled reporter, to insulting a Miss Universe pageant winner, to calling our U.S. military a disaster, to insulting a Gold Star family and a judge because his parents were of Mexican heritage, to calling Sen. John McCain a coward…. it seemed, like we waited daily for the debut of each new “Trumpism.” Most any one of those could have been considered the “last straw.”
The repetitive “straws” seemed to numb both the populace and the media. Ah, but then, came the infamous “locker room” tapes……surely that would be the last straw? Um, guess not.
My take is that when people are mad they have passion, and there are obviously millions of very unhappy folks out there and Trump knew just how to fire them up. While they might not actually know what they were mad about, whatever it was, people seemed to feel that Trump must be with them because everyone was mad at him, so, obviously, he’s with the collective us. It didn’t matter “what” he said, the angry supporters liked the “way” he was saying it. My take is that anger generates passionate ire which in turn generates action. The “action” translated into votes. It happened in the primary with the most GOP votes in history…..clearly there were newly energized voters for Trump.
Plus, it was the biggest wipe out of “general wisdom” that I have ever witnessed. I and many others thought that Trump would flame out no later than October 2015. Looking back one could watch any presidential news segment and Trump’s name would come up as many times as all of the primary candidates and was used four times to any one time use of Ms. Clinton’s name in the general election.
General wisdom (yep, me too) said Ms. Clinton was much more qualified, would turn out the coalition of minority groups (all labeled with derisive insults by The Donald), and that things would then settle down. Most every Republican I am acquainted with said they simply could not vote for The Donald.
Yet “general wisdom” didn’t account for passion and action on the other side. Other than the Hispanic vote (generated mostly against Mr. Trump), Hillary simply didn’t generate the kind of devoted passion or excitement that turned into votes cast.
Even though the president-elect tossed out enough straws to cripple a platoon, I think we will survive. For more than 240 years, our nation has survived wars almost from its infancy, including one four-year bloodbath against ourselves (the devastating Civil War); many scandals, as well as multiple crippling depressions. Yes, many foundation-shaking straws have been tossed on America’s back. Not only have we survived, we have prospered and become the richest, strongest and finest nation on earth.
We can and will survive the Trump straw. But, now’s the time, Mr. President-elect, for resting the straw tossing for just a bit.