Recently, Trump enjoyed a small uptick in his approval ratings. Pundits tell me this is because of “the economy,” but personally I believe it’s because Trump is now really shoving it to all those immigrant children that Trump voters hate so much. Mexico is sending its national guard to its southern border to do god only knows what (do you even want to think about it?). Pointless cruelty is now the official policy of CBP, ICE and DHS. Are any of these policies working? It doesn’t matter. Pussies are getting grabbed. That’s what matters in Trump land.
As Adam Serwer wrote in The Atlantic last year, “The Cruelty is the Point.”It’s how Trump voters bond and it’s why Trump got elected. It’s what E. Jean meant when she wrote that, “I run the risk of making him more popular by revealing what he did.” Trump voters wanted to shame and humiliate Hillary Clinton, and Trump did. They wanted to hurt the “libs” and stick it to Obama and black voters, and Trump did. They wanted to “win,” which in Trump world means putting your expensive Italian loafer (pun intended) on the neck of everyone else, and Trump did that, too.
It doesn’t matter that Trump has done nothing for their health insurance or bank accounts. The Mueller report doesn’t matter; they all know Trump is a criminal sociopath who would sell out his country for his name on a candy bar. They don’t care. Just like how Brexit voters are willing to hurt themselves and risk breaking up the UK, restarting the Irish civil war and crashing the economy, as long as foreigners are hurting worse.
Many people were shocked to see what conditions are like in immigration detention, but they shouldn’t be. Mistreatment is the point of detention. Detention is the government’s way of reminding people it can do whatever it wants to them. Brown children in detention is what Trump voters voted for. It’s what they want.
I am not saying that Congress shouldn’t investigate detention centers, or push to have them shut down, or give money to improve conditions. I’m not saying the media shouldn’t investigate and publish stories and photos. I’m just saying that these stories and photos are showing Trump voters that Trump is doing what they hired him to do. They help mitigate Trump’s various failures: his failure to put Hillary Clinton in jail. His failure to make China beg for forgiveness. His failure to force Mexico to pay for a wall. His failure to deport Obama. But as long as brown children and the feminazis are suffering, that’s enough for many Trump voters. Just like how Italian voters don’t care Salvini took money from the Russians, he’s sticking it to that uppity ship captain and her boat full of immigrants, and that’s what they’ve all been waiting for…for years.
Unfortunately, this creates a viscous feedback loop whereby Trump and other far right politicians are pushed into ever more grandiose and obscene orgies of cruelty, like the Roman emperors of old, in order to keep their base sated. I believe a Democrat can win in 2020, but first we need to let go of the illusion that Trump voters are somehow going to abandon Trump because of his cruelty. The cruelty is the point. And he’s going to need a lot of it to win in 2020.