Friday 19 October 2018

Trying to understand the Maltese Trump supporter

This blog was first published on Malta Today

This is not going to be easy. To me, dear Trump supporter in Malta, it’s like we are living on two different galaxies, I cannot fathom why you like him and you cannot understand why I detest him so much.

We try to communicate, but the speech comes out garbled and undecipherable as if there is interference in the airwaves, so that I might as well be speaking Urdu and you might as well be speaking Swahili (or scratch that, better make it Russian, as in the circumstances, I don’t think I should be using an African language as an example).

I may be a glutton for punishment but as much as my fingers often itch to do so, I have never unfriended or blocked anyone simply because they like Trump – I genuinely think it is better to know what those who don’t agree with me are thinking, rather than having my timeline and newsfeed replete with friends who all nod enthusiastically in agreement. This means, of course, that at least a couple of times a day since Trump was inaugurated, I have been flooded with comments which make me want to reach for a bucket, and have even started typing out replies, only to delete them because I know it will just end up in a futile war of words.

Trump supporters seem to think I’m so disgusted simply because Hillary didn’t win, and more precisely because she was a woman candidate who didn’t win. In their minds (from what I can gather from their comments) it was a battle of the sexes, and the Alpha male triumphed and conquered. And while, of course, given a choice between the two candidates available, I would have much preferred Hillary (despite all her negative points) than what we have been lumped with instead, I didn’t want her to win because she was a woman, but simply because I didn’t want Trump to win and his only rival was Hillary (who just happened to be a woman). It is a fine distinction, but it is there.

So the first thing I can conclude about your average Trump supporter on this island is that he has a HUGE problem with feminism. No surprises there, right? A lot of men just cannot stomach women who are opinionated and who demand equal treatment – it kind of interferes with their image of a damsel in distress who needs saving by a knight in shining armour. And if you think this does machismo not affect us, well we have already seen Trump-like language splattered all over the comment boards, especially following the Women’s March.

The other, most obvious reason for all this adoration for Trump is, of course, his hard line against immigrants. His rhetoric is being lapped up plenty. And there really is no need to explain why this goes down so well in Malta, is there?

Hatred of liberals and liberal ideology follows quick on the heels – with claims that this is what is at fault with the world today. What I cannot understand is how people square this (along with racism) with their professed left-wing politics. How can you veer to the right, and even far right in your beliefs, while simultaneously supporting the left? Which makes me really wonder, for the umpteenth time, if people actually know why they support one political party rather than the other.

Trump rose to power on the back of the blue collar worker claiming he is anti-establishment, but now has filled his cabinet with millionaires – the contradictions are endless.

What also baffles me is the admiration for him as a “successful businessman”, as if that is the key to knowing how to run a country. A country is not a business, especially when one’s success has been achieved in a dubious manner. He has evaded taxes, refuses to publish his tax returns and has been reported to be unscrupulous by not paying people he owed money to. Perfect. Just the kind of person you want as the leader of the most powerful country in the world.

What I really cannot wrap my head around though is how people can actually listen to him speak, and think, yes, that is a level-headed, inspiring leader who knows what he is doing. Do words and speeches matter that much? Yes, I believe they do. It is definitely a sign of emotional and mental intelligence if one can speak coherently and communicate effectively; if one chooses one’s words carefully displaying a statesman-like attitude.

But I guess these days all it takes to run for office is to throw rude words around and call people names while resorting to slanging matches with anyone who criticizes you on Twitter …which means even a five-year-old can probably do it.

So while I have tried to comprehend you dear Maltese Trump supporter, I confess I have to throw in the towel. I will just have to close with a quote from the political satire of (fictitious news reporter) Jonathan Pie who, when speaking of Trump asked: “Am I blinded by my dislike of the man? “.

No, you’re not. It’s very crystal clear, he’s a (dangerous) moron, alright. And everything he has done and said since his inauguration just confirms it.

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