In 1987, after being acquitted in a high profile racketeering trial, New York mob boss John Gotti earned the media nickname, “The Teflon Don” due to the inability of any of his charges to stick. Gotti was eventually sent to jail in 1992, and died a decade later of cancer, but even if he had avoided those fates, he’d still have to abdicate the nickname to the true “Teflon Don,” the melon-tinged, racist, wannabe autocrat who currently holds the position of President of the United States, one Donald J. Trump.
Only that didn’t happen.
If anything, as Trump’s delicate, yet oversized ego began to get even more inflated by the power and the glory of his new office, he doubled down on the kind of behavior that is—shall we say—unbecoming of a world leader. He continued to call opponents “losers” and other schoolyard pejoratives, he used his position to further the financial interests of himself and his cronies, he embraced despots while alienating longtime allies on the world stage, he did everything in his power to try to derail a legitimate investigation into collusion with Russia… oh, hell, you guys know the list. It’s unending.
How can this be? Why is this unrepentant asshole so untouchable? I think the answer is simply… because he is an unrepentant asshole. If someone is totally unpossessing of shame, humility, empathy, and self-awareness, it’s kinda hard to cut through that armor with things like empirical evidence and civility. It makes him invulnerable to criticism. And so every assholish thing that this assholey asshole does and gets away with only solidifies his support amongst Asshole America.
If you need any evidence that the tone is key, look no further than the rally in June of 2018 at which he declared, “We got more money, we got more brains, we got better houses and apartments, we got nicer boats, we're smarter than they are and they say they're the elite. You're the elite, we're the elite!”
|Dr. Jack & Curtis|
But he made this speech at a rally in North Dakota. A landlocked state. And yet still, they whooped with wild enthusiasm (if that’s redundant, I apologize, I’m a little worked up). Did anybody in the crowd turn and look at the person next to them and say, “I don’t have a boat. Do you have a boat? Also, I’m living paycheck to paycheck in my parents’ basement, what the fuck is he talking about?”
I’ve watched pundit after pundit after pundit try to parse this seemingly inconceivable state of affairs, wringing hands over uneaten plates of breakfast pastries, begging historians for hopeful precedent to end this national nightmare, asking Democratic POTUS hopefuls how they can defeat Trump next November, all digging way deeper than they need to.
It’s simple. It’s superficial. It’s the ultimate triumph of anti-intellectualism, greed, hatred, and selfishness. It’s more insidious than Idiocracy. We’ve officially become Asshole America. And I honestly don’t know if we can ever recover.