Voices From the Inside Out: Debating Trumpism

February 2, 2021

From the January-February 2021 issue of News & Letters

by Robert Taliaferro

Heard recently this bit of idealism in a conversation between two white Wisconsin inmates: that any football player who kneels during the playing of the National Anthem is a traitor to the country. Both Trump’s minions pointed out one Black football player after another, from both teams, expressing disgust that they were “disrespecting the country, the flag, and those who have served her.”


When asked if Trump’s recent actions to commute or pardon many of his convicted cohorts was treasonous due to his blatant disregard and subornation of the law—as he gave clemencies to individuals who lied or committed criminal acts for him—their response was a rousing, “No!”

Of course, they never have a reason why they feel as they do, though they swear they are not racists, xenophobes, misogynists or imperialists. Yet they never fail to embark on conversations that denigrate any social movement that is not “Trump approved.”

They feel Black Lives Matter, #Me Too, and similar social movements are conspiracies of the far Left to create a socialistic and globalist new world order. They listen to the same radio programs, religiously, as they feel that conservative AM talk radio is the only place where they can get “honest” news that does not cater to the “socialist Democratic Party agenda.”

Their heroes are people like Rush Limbaugh (one noted that he now is a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers because he found out that Limbaugh is a Steelers fan), Michael Flynn and other staunch Trump supporters, and they believe all of the conspiracy theories that Trump and others have presented, regardless of how insensible they are.

Since the election, they have touted, and spouted, every single conspiracy theory known to the Trump realm of minions, and created some of their own, whining about how their beloved candidate was robbed by Joseph Biden and the Democrats.

These men are not ignorant; they are well-read and well-spoken. Like most Trump supporters, however, they feed off of each other like leeches feeding off animals who’ve crossed a stagnant pond. Though they say they aren’t racist, their rhetoric and ideas are so xenophobic, homophobic, anti-immigrant and misogynistic that it is hard not to think otherwise.


What’s sad about Trump supporters is that they, like their icon, seek an audience; they are always looking for someone to debate so they can spout their rancorous dialogue, and if you try to reason with them, you are met with blank stares and a prevailing wall of prejudice.

Trying to reason against a prejudice is like trying to fight against shadows or ghosts. It is exhausting because one has to first get a person to realize that such things exist. Even if that occurs, rarely does it have any effect on the prejudice.

One can always argue any point, pro and con, but if a person is permanently blinded by the cataracts of rhetorical ignorance, then no argument, logical or otherwise, can change those ideas and beliefs any more than a candle can take the place of sunlight.

In 2021 we—as a nation—finally came to grips with what a divided and tribal country we are, and how far some people are willing to go to maintain and widen that social, cultural and ideological division. In that regard we are still walking with the ghosts of this nation’s founding fathers. Their mistakes and shortcomings are haunting every aspect of what the U.S. can accomplish in the future.

Donald J. Trump has shed light on those shortcomings. We can no longer complain that we can’t see the problems within the forest because of the trees in our way; the trees no longer exist. Trump napalmed them.

What remains is a barren cultural landscape ready to be replanted if we have the guts and the will. Here’s hoping that we do.

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