Who knew the face of the devil would be hilarious?
Every stupid or cruel or dangerous thing Trump does and says gets made fun of, criticized, and ruthlessly belittled in the press — but in the back of all our minds, we are not as afraid as we should be.
“Why fear the clown?” we tell ourselves.
The answer is simple, of course: because he only looks like a clown to us. Those who do agree with him see something entirely different.
I know, it's hard to believe that could be possible. In fact, whenever I see one of his speeches where his supporters are set up in rafters behind him, I always look at their faces and wonder, “Who the f*ck ARE these people?”.
The theory my brain usually provides itself with is they have all just escaped a mental institution for the criminally insane and could think of no better place to blend in than at a rally run by a white supremacist who has made a career out of confidently shouting out the first thing that pops into his mutilated brain.
But the hard truth is they are not mentally unwell. No, they are normal, regular, non-criminal fathers and mothers and daughters and sons.
They are real people and there are millions of them, and we have to start realizing that. No matter how much of a bafoonish package his fascism comes in.
Stand up comedian John Mulaney has this amazing joke he made in 2009 (when Trump was still just a hilariously foolish moron on reality television and had, you know, not yet tried to start a race war).
To me, at this point, Donald Trump is not just a rich man. Donald Trump is almost like what a hobo imagines a rich man to be. It's like years ago, Trump was walking through an alley and he heard some guy just like 'oh boy oh boy, as soon as MY number comes in, I'll put up tall buildings with my name on them! I'll have fine, golden hair and a TV show where I fire people with my children!' And Trump was like: 'That is how I will live my life.'
Unfortunately, the goofy, cartoonish Trump who Mulaney describes here is the same Trump who yesterday said we should ban all Muslims from entering the country and a few months ago called Mexicans rapists and thieves — to the cheers of thousands.
The thing is, the public doesn't know what to do when the funny buffoon suddenly has a not-funny knife to all our throats.
It's like if you found out SpongeBob had helped cover up a terrible oil spill. It doesn't fit into our narrative. We can't switch gears.
Basically: We can't efficiently recategorize famous people.
And the reason Trump is doing so well -- despite consistently saying things only your drunk uncle would say -- is that, unfortunately, it's the most perfect camouflage in the world for your opponents not to take you seriously.
Liberals basically don't think Trump will have any lasting consequences because he is too silly. Meanwhile, he's over in his corner mobilizing millions of supporters into a giant, frothing, xenophobic circle jerk.
And the fact of the matter is the things Trump says are being taken seriously, and they will have real consequences.
When Trump started rising in the polls, like a lot of people, I wasn't worried.
“He'll go away eventually,” I told myself. As time has gone by, I've heard people say this sort of thing over and over again.
But it's been months of this and he's still here, and he's influencing the political landscape in a major way, and it's really not funny anymore.
I feel like with Trump, America has been playing a practical joke on itself that has now just gone horribly wrong.
Honestly, I don't think the entire Republican Party is so out of touch they can't spot a fascist when they see one.
Well, OK, considering Dick Chaney and some other notable sadists, maybe I'll take that back.
But I really refuse to believe an entire party is too delusional not to realize Donald Trump is clearly making this all up as he goes along and that he has completely replaced any and all ideas with goofy, mafia-movie bravado.
Unfortunately, it doesn't matter if they realize it or not. Because Trump's integrity, his intelligence and his honesty are completely irrelevant to his campaign.
The truth is, for now at least, the Republican Party rewards whoever can get any sort of media attention -- whether it is good or bad attention doesn't matter (please see Ben Carson).
At this point, Donald Trump could declare that all Mexican immigrants have to stop speaking Spanish and Muslim babies should be secretly baptized at birth to fight terrorism, and his people would still support him.
Trump could just go around pointing at women on the street he'd have sex with, yelling “ME WANNA PORK THAT!” and his supporters would probably still stand with him.
I mean, even statements that would anger any conservative, Trump says with impunity. He claimed John McCain was "not a war hero" because he was captured and held for five years in a POW camp. He said, and I quote, "I like people who weren't captured, OK?"
Saying something like that is like kryptonite for any other Republican candidate, and yet Trump's numbers were untainted.
For comparison, when Mitt Romney made that comment about having “binders full of women,” America lost its mind. But if Donald Trump said that, no one would blink. Because we expect him to say dumb, horrible sh*t — so he is basically impervious to the fallout.
And I'm telling you, it's because he's a cartoon character. You can't get mad at a cartoon character.
When we picture a totalitarian maniac we picture Hitler (shrill, shouting, wild-eyed) or Stalin (menacing, stolid, cruel).
What we don't picture is an ex-reality TV host who calls everyone a “loser” and has hair that looks like an orange cloud hovering around his head.
It just doesn't follow our narrative, and so we don't know how to effectively fear it.
He's like a virus we designed specifically for ourselves. And he has proven that, in a way, our sense of humor seems to be one of our most vulnerable cultural tendencies.
Now, as I come to the end of this rant, I do feel like a bit of hypocrite for making all these jokes about how silly he is in an essay about how his silliness prevents us from fearing him as much as we should — but listen guys, I'm not perfect.
Because the thing is, talking about Trump is like telling people about diarrhea-ing yourself on the subway: If you don't make it at least a little bit funny, you're just going to start crying.
To end, you know that famous Hannah Arendt quote about the Nazis and “the banality of evil”? It's the idea people who do horrible things can be ordinary people who just don't question the state.
Well with Donald Trump we encounter something very different, but no less troubling.
Call it "the comedy of evil."