It’s been a while, MND readers! No doubt some of you won’t be happy I’ve resurfaced, however briefly.
Truth be told, I’ve been very busy writing a book about law and economic policy, a departure from my usual research interests of immigration, drug policy, and sometimes politics, which brings me to Trump (ugh).
I recently stopped smoking because I thought I might like to see my young children grow up. The tradeoff has been severe insomnia. I tend to sleep with the news on, and have dreams of hearing, “And today President-elect Donald Trump said that all . . . .”
Yes, I wake up in a cold sweat, reminiscent of my bout with dengue two years ago in Quintana Roo. And yes, I’m suffering from a severe case of Trump fatigue, and believe you me it’s worse than dengue, but I took a pill that is supposed to paralyze my gag reflex so I can get through this short piece without ruining my Toshiba with half-digested flautas.
As reported by Mexico News Daily and other news outlets, the Mexican peso recently plunged to record lows against the dollar, largely on the sickening revelation that Donald Trump is climbing in the polls against Clinton, and has a puncher’s chance at becoming president of the most powerful nation on Earth.
That’s right, a person with a megalomaniacal personality disorder, a charlatan, a serial liar and an all-round mendacious douchebag with a soul darker than that of Bernie Madoff or Jeffrey Skilling of Enron fame, may be commanding the U.S. armed forces, writing executive orders and nominating Supreme Court justices. (This tends to make financial markets a little nervous.)
(Don’t misunderstand. I don’t like Clinton either. But I have to go for the non-crazy person for a job this important.)
Okay, I’m back. Luckily there’s a trash can next to my desk.
Enrique Peña Nieto recently invited Trump to Mexico, and nobody really knows why. (When your neocortex is the size of a lentil you don’t really need to have a reason.) But I don’t want to talk about that head-scratcher. It’s another enigma that puzzled me until very recently.
On September 20 the Pew Research Center released yet another study showing in unassailable detail that the unauthorized Mexican immigrant population began declining after 2007 and has continued to shrink, putting it now at more than a million below its 2007 apogee.
(Meanwhile, unauthorized immigrants from other countries like China and India – mostly visa overstays – have risen dramatically.)
Being that illegal Mexican immigration has been, and remains, the tree upon which Trump has hung is bag of other bad ideas, this newest study must spell bad news for The Donald. Well, no. Not at all.
Having spent the better part of the last two days debating Trump supporters (a tiny minority of them turn out to be quite skilled in the art of sophistry), something occurred to me. The rules of logic, reason, let alone reliably established facts, have no purchase within the minds of Trumpistas.
They know he’s a carnival-barking, shameless fraud. They just don’t care.
Wait, it’s coming up again. Okay. Whew! I’ll have to clean that up before my wife gets home or she’ll think I’m drinking again. That pill – probably a placebo. But I’m almost done.
It’s seems unlikely that Trump has ever read a book cover-to-cover, but if he has, it must have been UCLA sociologist Barry Glassner’s The Culture of Fear. In it, Glassner explains how easy it is to sell fear – of Mexicans, of terrorists, of crime waves – despite the fact that we’re far more likely to be killed by lightning or bees.
Other studies in psychology have shown that we are predisposed to blame our self-made problems on others and that our very nature is tribal (an inherent fear of others that don’t look like us, talk like us, or have a different religion, among other things).
Another recent study in England indicates that people with conservative social views have consistently larger amygdalae – the area of the brain that processes fear. Given the endemic economic decline of America’s white middle class whose jeremiad is growing louder by the day, one can see why persuading Trump supporters to use their higher powers of reason is a lost cause.
Our very biology combined with general ignorance is a perfect storm descending upon Clinton’s rickety junk filled to the waterline with optimism and the overstuffed steamer trunks of her own personal baggage.
And although I’ll surely be watching next week’s presidential debate, I’m under no illusion that Trump’s inevitable gaffs will change any minds among his mostly undereducated and toothless hillbilly apparatchiks.
Am I being too pessimistic? I don’t know. He’s defrauded students at his fake university, he defrauded his charity by using its funds to buy a life-size portrait of himself, he’s in an active unrequited bromance with a Russian despot, he’s openly admired the ignorance of his own supporters, and he’s a not-so-subtle racist and bigot, and those are only the minor criticisms of his character.
Perhaps the only things that could derail the Trump train would be a WikiLeaks video of him molesting a child. But then again in my mind’s ear I can hear a chorus of supporters saying, “So what if he’s a pedophile, he’s really shaking things up!”
Fear and loathing. It’s what’s for dinner.
Glen Olives Thompson is a professor of North American Law at La Salle University in Chihuahua, a specialist in law and public policy and a frequent contributor to Mexico News Daily. Some of his other non-academic work can be viewed at glenolives.com.