We live in a funny country. That’s why Trump still has a chance. 

By Alan S. Chartock | November 25, 2022


Donald Trump is just a despicable, dangerous man. We know that he has tried to game the system for years.

Many people believe that Trump is all about personal enrichment and that is just bad for this country. What terrifies me, and so many of you, is that despite all his failings, Trump still has a very large part of the populace behind him. Maybe when he runs the next time, he won’t win. I just don’t see how he can after the disgrace of two impeachments. He has already announced that he is running, and we know, unbelievably, that lots of Americans will vote for him. What we can’t know is how many votes he will get.

I have always believed that the split between the rich and the poor in this country is no more than a continuation of the Civil War. There are still many very smart people who believe that the south could and should have won that conflict. Many believe Trump has enough Americans behind him to win. I just don’t see that. He really can’t win. With all that we know of the character and chicanery of the man, I can’t fathom why people will cast a ballot that, if successful, would make him the leader of the free world. Nonetheless, an awful lot of people will actually cast a ballot for this miserable, corrupt human being.

What is it that will make so many of your friends and neighbors cast a ballot for a Trump? I keep thinking about that. Maybe it is the traditional battle between the haves and the have nots. There are a lot of would be Trumps in this country. When your kid is attacked by a bully in school, he is being attacked by someone who will grow up to be a Trump. I’m sorry, but when I see his miserable face on television my sense of revulsion is so pronounced that I have to question how a low life like Trump can rise to his present stature (or lack thereof). Think about all the bullies you knew as a kid. If you read Archie comics, you had to really dislike the rich bully who was always on Archie’s case. Yet people still love the guy.

We like to think of this country as fair and equitable. So many of our films show our soldiers in the world wars fighting for the freedom of mankind. The word “democracy” fits so well into our national self-image. The word democracy implies that we can arrive at an understanding of sharing and dividing equally. That’s why the Democratic Party has always been the party of the have nots and The Republicans have always been the rich kids in the Archie comics. We all understand that most Americans are addicted to at least the possibility of getting rich.

Socialism is a dirty word in this country. The idea that everyone would share equally even if they didn’t work to get there is an anathema to our American belief system. If your job involves picking up trash, you don’t get the respect that you deserve for your hard work. You should get that respect, but you don’t. The people who have the most are often the most respected. There was this guy on Fire Island where I grew up who had a great big yacht. He owned blocks of real estate and surrounded his property with inlaid brick paving, as if to declare, “MINE!” Many of us don’t hold contempt in our hearts for the rich people, but that’s not to say we didn’t have the hope that maybe someday we, too, would have a big house and a yacht.

We live in a funny country. That’s why Trump still has a chance to win.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected]