Trump is a terrible politician. Not only is he incompetent, but he seems to have major ideological shifts from one day to the next. He is, however, a skilled culture warrior. He’s one of the best in modern history, as he’s spent his entire public life crafting this persona of the polarizing yet independent businessman, someone perfectly suited to comment on topics of the day from outside the “swamp” of professional politics in Washington DC. Someone only beholden to the whims of the market, and only limited by the personal effort put forth. Of course it is all total bullshit. Trump is a failure as a businessman, getting by from selling our equivalent of snake oil, but he does understands the (current) liberal ethos far better than the rest of the right. He understands that there is this underlying desire for liberals, the ones with enough power and influence that is, to define the moral boundaries in so many cultural spaces that he can just pick one after the other. If something doesn’t stick, surely the next thing will.
It works well for both. (We don’t talk enough about the “regular” people who are doing well right now. Small business owners, professionals and managers. They are greatly influential politically on both sides.) Liberals get to project moral superiority, wear it as a sort of cultural badge they can flash whenever prompted, and Trumpites get to live out their jerk off fantasies of being “persecuted” by the Pontius Pilate of the day; the “liberal media,” some marginal and wacky professor (Kevin Sorbo did his best george ciccariello-maher in the stunning film “god is not dead”) or whatever. This is the only environment that works for Trump. This is where he can survive.
Meanwhile, economic insecurity is internalized and normalized. It, of course, lays the foundation for the cultural battles. Sometimes it’s talked about, even seriously and in context, but then one side or the other will pull us back to where they feel safe, whether that be the virtue signaling of the right or the right.
So, I heard that new Roseanne is both funny and evil and people will be not watching but also watching!