Have We Worn Out Our Outrage?
This week Donald Trump celebrated Cinco de Mayo by extolling the virtues of the taco bowl he purchased at Trump Tower:
Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics! https://t.co/ufoTeQd8yA pic.twitter.com/k01Mc6CuDI
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2016
For any other candidate this sort of tone deaf stab at cultural appreciation would leave an almost fatal dent.
Remember George Allen? The former Senator of Virginia with presidential aspirations whose campaign was derailed because he said “macaca”? That was a different political era.
For Trump this sort of thing is just another day. Because, a decade after Allen’s gaffe, I think Americans are all out of outrage. And that, I think, has been the key to his success.
Outrage was, prior to the 2016 cycle, a potent political weapon. Especially given the rise of blogs, and then social media, where outrage could go viral without the inhibition of the traditional media gatekeepers.
But maybe we’re all tired of the outrage.
Look at accusations of racism. They’ve become rote in modern politics. Something anyone watching cable news for more than 15 minutes, or scrolling through any of their various social media feeds, will see/hear routinely. It happens so often that, for the general public, I think the accusation has begun to lose its meaning.
Like a word that begins to sound funny when you keep repeating it over and over again.
Trump’s rise from reality television star and joke candidate to the presumptive nominee of the Republican party has a lot of explanations which we’ll all be talking about for years. But one that sounds plausible to me is that he timed his campaign perfectly to coincide with a vast swath of the American people losing interest in the politics of outrage.
So much so that they’re often willing to look past things Trump does that are legitimately offensive.