The rage of the Trumpkins, however, is far beyond any pedestrian impatience with parties and presidents. Watch them on social media. Read their Facebook pages. They’re mad about everything. They hate everybody, mostly for not respecting them enough—or something. Loath as I am to credit Maureen Dowd for finding this, she nonetheless picked up a gem of a comment from novelist Walter Kirns that I think is spot-on: “Trump,” he tweeted after the debate, “is simply channeling the bruised petty enraged narcissism that is the natural condition of Selfie Nation.”
My Federalist colleague Neil Dewing captured it even more succinctly in a phrase I’ve been stealing from him for weeks. Trump loyalists, he said, are people “who fetishize their outsider status.” That is, they embrace being the underdog because it gives them a sense of importance and specialness that comes from believing they are in an ongoing struggle with The Man or The System or The Cartel. Thus they love it when The Donald says things like “everybody is stupid,” because that’s how they feel all the time.
This obsession with the stupidity of everyone else is pretty ironic, since the Trump surge is itself rooted in a child-like stupidity that relies on taking seriously the kind of nutty bumper stickers Trump hauls off. “I’ll make Mexico pay for a wall! I’ll scare Putin!” These are not actual political positions: they are the kinds of things the guy next to you in a dive bar says after a few shots and beers. If Cliff Clavin did meth, he’d sound like Trump. That’s not Cliff’s fault, but if you sit there stroking your chin while thinking, “Hey, that drugged-up mailman has a point,” then you’re the idiot, not him.