During the last week in April, CNN’s Chris Cuomo had a Twitter debate with a few people who accused him/the media/CNN(?) of attempting to normalize Donald Trump.

Here’s the original tweet by Ann Gosselin(ignore the bit about germophobia–couldn’t delete, and it’s irrelevant to this post), followed by Chris Cuomo’s response:

According to Chris, we should give credit when Trump does something good. Mr. Cuomo’s argument is that by negating anything positive, we cement the divide between “us” and Trump’s base and/or the Republican party. While I understand Chris’s point, I contend the situation is a lot more complicated.

Donald Trump isn’t merely a man who represents “the opposing political party,” and we aren’t talking about someone who simply holds different or opposing policy views. Many of us—yes, I’m including myself in this statement—believe Donald Trump is a dangerous man. We believe he’s a narcissist, a misogynist, a bigot, and a racist, and he’s a proven serial liar. And most importantly, we believe one or more of those personality deficiencies could lead him to make decisions or choices that could be harmful to U.S. citizens and/or to our national security. Some might say he already has, and speaking for myself, only, I believe he has other, deeper issues, but I’ll discuss those topics in other posts at a later time.

Way back in the beginning, when Trump first announced his candidacy, there were a lot of people who thought it was a joke, and those people were saying he would never win. I told anyone and everyone who would listen, “He’s going to win. Watch and see; he’s going to win.” Not despite his racist and misogynistic statements, but because of them. At the time, I knew he was speaking directly to a large-but-hidden and/or overlooked portion of our population made up of three different groups:

  1. Those white, middle-aged (and older) men and women who are closet racists,
  2. Those people who (privately) value looks and money above all else,
  3. Those men and women who feel disenfranchised—who don’t think anyone listens to them—and who believed Trump when he said things about “draining the swamp,” “bringing in the best in business” to fix everything in government, and bringing back long-dead or dying industries such as coal production. Somehow, a rich white man who never, ever showed any interest in “the common man” convinced a whole lot of middle-class men and women that he was a populist who understood their plight and could/would make their lives great again…

Allow me to break this down a little. Regarding the first group of Trump supporters, I have long suspected that there are many more bigots and racists in this country than we, as a society, are aware of, because I know quite a few people who behave one way in public and then say something completely different in the privacy of their own homes or in the company of people they know well and trust. And if I know a dozen or more people like that, common sense tells me there are probably many, many more. Those people won’t publicly admit their true feelings or beliefs. Why? I imagine there are several reasons, but primarily, they can’t admit their racist beliefs because they would be ostracized, called out, put down, associated with groups they may not want to be associated with (white supremacy groups, KKK, etc.)—and these people think they’re classier than those people… Some of these “closet racists” form friendships with people of other races. When questioned, they’ll rationalize and make statements such as, “Well, my black friend Ava isn’t like other black people. She’s different.” Of course, answers such as this don’t change the facts—those people are still racists. They believe African Americans are responsible for the majority of drug problems and violence in this country. They believe people coming in from Mexico and Central and South America are bringing drugs, raping women and children, and causing an increase in crime—not to mention, they’re stealing all our jobs! They believe all Muslims are evil terrorists and should be banned from entering the United States. They’ve held these beliefs for a long time, but they have to keep their views hidden, and, surely, they never thought they’d see the day when a U.S. President would think the same way. And then along came Donald Trump. Not only is he rich and famous, he ran a successful candidacy for the presidency, while saying all the things his followers can’t say out loud. Suddenly, racists had a platform—a legitimate platform—and their new leader had free airtime in the press. While mainstream media wouldn’t give people such as David Duke the time of day because he comes across as unacceptable due to his blatant racist views, Donald Trump tackled these issues by delivering backhanded comments his followers and supporters understood. By coming right out and stating he’s not a racist—in fact, no one is less racist than he is—he believes he covers himself with those who might state otherwise. But if a racist is someone who treats those of other races differently, based on their race, then Donald Trump is most definitely a racist. To review a list of Trump’s racist comments, visit the New York Times website.
Trump won several traditionally blue states, such as Virginia, by large margins, and several writers and reports and political analysts have tried to figure out why. I contend the predominantly poor, second- or third-generation coal miners and others who live primarily in rural areas of the country heard Trump’s statements about banning Muslims from entering the U.S., building a border wall to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and bringing back jobs/rebuilding the coal industry, and they bought every word he said. His populist speeches resonated with these people, but where are the policies to back up his words? What has he done–what does he plan to do–to help those people who helped him win the presidency? The answer? Nothing…because Donald Trump is not a true populist. Compare his tax cut, for example, to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, which helped better the lives of millions and millions of people after the Great Depression.

Throughout Trump’s campaign, no one in the media examined his background like they should have or forced him to answer any of the tough questions—not in any kind of serious manner. When asked how he intended to pay for his wall, Trump said we’d make Mexico pay for it. Oh, yeah, Mr. Trump? How? And how’s that working out for you/us now? Revive the coal industry (at the expense of our environment)? Oh, yeah, Mr. Trump? How do you expect one presidential administration’s politics to alter the course of worldwide economic trends? He cannot deliver on this specific promise, and he never will; even coal industry leaders admit he’s probably done about as much as he can possibly do, and coal is still on its way out.

With the help of a media that refused to dig deep into his projected policies and promises and that gave him a pass on his background, Donald Trump worked to legitimize hate, racism, bigotry, and misogyny. Yes, mainstream media helped normalize Donald Trump, and that’s a big part of why we’re in the position we’re in now. To a large degree, reporters and journalists are still spending hour upon hour analyzing Trump’s ridiculous tweets instead of focusing on the man’s actions and policies and how they’re harmful to individual American’s, American society as a whole, and our position in the world. Unless and until his supporters begin to see—with their own eyes—that Trump hasn’t delivered on many of his promises…either because he can’t or because he knows doing so wouldn’t “fix” the problems, anyway…I don’t believe we’ll see any fluctuation in his approval rating.

Back to Chris Cuomo’s Twitter thread—many of his followers responded by saying they weren’t interested in giving Trump credit for anything he might possibly do that could be perceived as “good” for our country, because overall, they believe he’s a bad man, a dangerous man. As one poster stated:

I don’t believe it’s a stretch to compare Donald Trump with Adolph Hitler or other dangerous, destructive, oppressive dictators. I also don’t believe it’s inaccurate or blowing things out of proportion to say he’s not fit to be President of the United States of America. For the first time in my life, I’m disassociating myself from people based solely on political preferences, with one exception. If someone I know and care about voted for Trump because they bought into his BS about bringing back coal, bringing in the “best,” saving jobs, etc., I will still associate with them, but I have to admit, in the back of my mind, I’m wondering how they can be so gullible, how they could sell their soul/disregard their religious teachings, and how they could be so accepting of a man who lies about all things, big and small, and who propagates hate. I know, I know: “But we needed an outsider—someone who would drain the swamp and stand up for the little man. No one has listened to us/represented us…now we have our man in office!” I understand the sincerity in the assertions, but honestly, I believe those Trump voters would have been better off seeking some sort of couples’ therapy to mend the rift between them and the Democratic party. Voting for Trump, in my opinion, is like divorcing your wife of thirty-six years (because she didn’t understand your needs) and taking up with the local hooker.