A guy walked into a bar wearing a Make America Great Again hat. Unfortunately, this is not a joke.
I was sitting at the bar of a local saloon when the big red hat blasted through the door. The guy asked me if I was a Trump supporter. His tone of voice implied that I’d better be.
“No,” I said. “I’m not. But that’s okay. We don’t have to agree.”
But apparently we do because he was soon in my face, growing angrier and angrier.
I had no interest in arguing, but I was interested in trying to understand his position.
“Why do you support Trump?” I asked.
“Because he’s great!”
“Let me ask you a question,” I said. “Hypothetically speaking, if we found out beyond any shadow of a doubt that Trump committed treason by helping the Russians undermine our election, would you still support him?”
His response was a jumble of: “Hillary! Benghazi! E-mails!”
“Hillary’s out of the picture,” I said. “She lost. She has nothing to do with it. I’m asking you, if you found out that Trump is guilty, do you still support him?”
“Even if he were guilty of treason?”
“So you put Trump above our country. Above the Constitution?”
“Trump no matter what!”
I was floored. This was not ordinary partisanism. This was the willful acceptance of fascism. Of tyranny. This guy would follow Trump “no matter what.” I got the feeling that Trump could ban freedom of the press and this guy would cheer it as stopping liberal fake news. Trump could imprison all non-Christians and this guy would sing his praises. He could nullify the Supreme Court and Congress and this guy would be proud of Trump’s show of strength. He could eliminate the EPA, Health and Human Services, Social Security, Education, OSHA, Centers for Disease Control and every other agency or department that protects Americans from the horrors of Ayn Randism and this guy would wet himself with excitement.
This guy was terrifying. I wondered how many more like him there are out there, itching to don the jackboots and brown shirts.
Our conversation quickly deteriorated into him yelling at me for liking wolves, for being a “granola,” for not being born in Montana.
I tried to ask why he was so full of anger and hate, but he wasn’t hearing a word I was saying.
He was looming over me, face as red as his hat, seething in anger, spitting venom. I was certain that in another moment he was going to punch me in the face. I took a drink of my beer, wanting to enjoy the rest of it before this writhing ball of fear, hate and ignorance put me in the hospital.
Fortunately, the bartender cut him off with, “Hey! I told you, no politics in here.”
He went sulking back to his own bar stool. I paid my tab and left.
But I couldn’t shake this encounter from my mind. I’ve dealt with all kinds of right-wing, conservative, Republican, fundamentalist, jingoist, racist, bigoted people before. They are not pleasant, but they can’t be dealt with. This was different. This is what years of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the Koch brothers have incubated, to be finally unleashed by Trump’s call to arms.
When Trump is impeached or forced to resign, nothing will change. The MAGA Army will refuse to accept that their great leader is no longer president. He will still be “great!” and anyone who doesn’t believe that will be a target.
I have to believe that people like this are a minority and always will be. However, every great crime against humanity, every destruction of liberty and freedom, every tyrannous evil committed in history has been perpetrated by a minority and witnessed by a majority that failed to stand up to them soon enough.
I don’t know what the solution is, but we better figure it out soon.