Reading between the lines of the events of the last several years, the rise of Donald J. Trump is understandable. That said, that does not mean that it is either permissible or to be forgiven.
The election of President Obama must have hit many traditionally-oriented and exceptionally conservative Americans like the shock wave from a nuclear blast. A black man trounced a very traditional, conservative candidate that would have won in a landslide any other election of the last fifty years. In the years to come that black man hit many of the conservative institutions hard and instituted liberal programs that must have grated on the nerves of every conservative in the nation, undoubtedly infuriating their corporate backers in the process and stimulating a seething racism that had long hidden in the shadows because it was politically incorrect.
Along with the new liberalism in the White House, President Obama not only permitted, but also encouraged social change that must have sickened his conservative enemies: gay rights, gay marriage, transgender rights, etc. Along with other social events that occurred during the Obama administration, such as the transformation of Bruce Jenner into Caitlin Jenner, conservatives who believed in traditional American values such as might be seen re-runs of “Leave It to Beaver” or “The Andy Griffith Show” must have been in a state of shock and disbelief at what their beloved nation was turning into.
I can’t say that I blame them. I was raised on the same values and treasure them still; I do have a strongly conservative streak in me. Some of the events I have mentioned nauseated me as well. However, I can see that change is the nature of the universe and that our country is going through a period of great social change whether any of us like it or not. Therefore I gritted my teeth on occasion and toughed it out and I still do occasionally, knowing that, in accordance with our national values as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, all people should be treated equally and have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
Then Donald Trump slithered out of the reality-show world and into the political spotlight promising to make America great again, conjuring in the narrow minds of many conservatives visions of Mom; apple pie; saluting the flag on the 4th of July; ticker-tape parades in honor of returning astronauts; honorable, intelligent white men making up the government government; “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”; and all the other pleasant memories of the past. Living in the past is undoubtedly much more secure to the mind than facing an uncertain, kaleidoscopic future that is rapidly spinning and changing too fact to comprehend. The conservatives applauded the idea of taking America back to the security of the 50’s and 60’s.
Of course there was another side of the 50’s and 60’s: the side of segregation, gays forced to live “in the closet” out of fear for their careers, lack of social programs to help people off drugs and alcohol, lack of disability rights, equal employment opportunity, environmental protection, McCarthyism, and so on. Though not publicized, Trump’s vision apparently included a return to this side of the 50’s and 60’s as well, as evidenced by his rapid elimination of and attacks against agencies and offices that protect us from a return to the social dark ages. His supporters (most prominently the racists, ultra-nationalists, and alt-right extremists) perceived this and quickly embraced whatever policies would take them to their ideas of Valhalla.
Too bad that it was all lies and bullshit spread by a narcissistic demagogue backed with the insidious support of a foreign power that was the Satan incarnate of the times to which they longed to return, and who, apparently, wants to institute a new feudalism where the 1% have complete authoritarian control of the other 99%, who exist only to support their masters.
Many will probably never awake to the realization that they have been suckered.
Tragically, many won’t want to awake and will be like Joe Pantoliano’s character (Cypher) in the “Matrix”, who sold out his bothers in arms so that he could go back to his cocoon and live out his personal fantasy. Trump, using the strategy of a dictator on the rise, has fostered these delusions as best he could by trying to discredit the media at every opportunity (which must be like the legendary crystal blue meth of “Breaking Bad” fame to the conspiracy theorists in his camp), and replace the any tendency toward objective truth in their minds with his own delusional rantings. This is like that smug guy in your office that tells you “ah, don’t listen to that crap; I’ll tell you what’s really going on”. Except Trump tells his followers what they want to hear, so they have a greater tendency to believe him. After all, wouldn’t you tend to believe someone who tells you that you’re right, no matter how crazy or objectionable the rest of the world finds your statements. He supports their fantasies. Using a theoretical “Matrix” scenario, it’s like Agent Smith saying, “come on back to the cocoon, Cypher, it’s warm and comfortable inside there and you can have whatever world you want and all you have to do is vote for me.”