So I did a round-trip to Peterborough to clear out the last of my shop stuff today; leaving early in the morning and returning before the rush hour through Toronto started. It was an uneventful trip, except for something that seriously irritated me on the drive home.
I was Niagara-bound on the QEW when I came up on a red pickup truck doing 80kph in the middle lane. You know the type — the standard southern Ontario “you better red-neck-ognize” Ford 4×4: a jacked up crew cab with oversized tyres, extra-wide mirrors and running boards, big chrome smokestacks which are unlikely to be attached to the exhaust system in any meaningful way, lots of gun company logos in vinyl on the rear windscreen, a “support the troops” yellow-ribbon magnet representing the entirety of the male driver’s mindfulness regarding past or present members of the military, et cetera, et cetera. It was a mercy that no “truck nutz” were in evidence.
What caught my eye, as I was changing lanes to pass this enormous scarlet statement of thunderous masculinity, was the brand-new bumper sticker affixed to the tailgate: Trump Speaks For the Silent Majority.
Okay, two things.
First, those were Ontario plates, so I figure it’s unlikely he’ll be able to cast a vote one way or another. Not impossible, of course, because we are close to the border and I don’t know how expatriate balloting works in a US Presidential election, but unlikely. I see a lot of New York plates in this part of the world and I think I would have found that bumper sticker a little less irritating on a truck with New York plates. But Ontario plates imply that he either thinks Canadians are included in American politics, or he wishes we were, which makes him an idiot.
Second, there is no such thing as a “Silent Majority.” Like, at all. The whole “great silent majority” myth is a cynical lie devised by amoral right-wing politicians to justify whatever corrupt, minority-bashing, self-serving dick move that they feel like pulling this week.
The myth of a silent majority is framed as opposition to those vocal minorities that irritate white people with their strident demands for things like equal rights, or legally-recognized marriages, or cops who won’t shoot them based on the colour of their skin. Invoking the silent majority is dog-whistle politics, and what the Right really means when they say those words is exactly what I said above — they mean white people. Not those irritating liberal white people, of course, but the “right” kind of white people.
And everybody knows who they are.
The phrase was actually injected into the modern vernacular by Richard Nixon, which should ring every warning bell that an intelligent and informed electorate has. If a scumbag politician invokes this elusive silent majority and you think “he’s speaking for me” then you really, really need an agonizing reappraisal of your whole scene, because you’re likely as big a shithead as he is.
If not more so.
You know what the silent majority is actually a euphemism for? Sheep. Shallow, silly, stupid critters which will contentedly follow where somebody leads until it comes time for them to be fleeced. And cynical right-wing politicians are fully aware of the comparison. They like the comparison. It amuses them to play the silent majority card and smirk inside when gullible voters lap it up.
I haven’t touched on Donald Trump’s bizarre and increasingly frightening Presidential campaign on this blog because I’ve been busy with the move and a great many intelligent people have written excellent posts on the massive, insane problems with his meteoric rise to prominence. Seriously, google it. You can read for hours.
But that bumper sticker really got to me.
Because if it is true, if Trump’s racist, sexist, xenophobic stream-of-consciousness dishonest shitmouth somehow does represent some vast, nebulous, sleeping constituency which will elevate him to the most powerful office on the face of this planet, then we as a species are downright fucked. But more likely he just represents a bunch of stupid herd animals who can’t think far enough into the future to see the consequences of blindly following whatever is loud enough to get their attention away from filling up on grass long enough to start ambling in one direction or another.
I just hope it’s not too big a herd, lest we all be trampled.