Inadvertently, in the GOP debate this week Rand Paul described that segment of modern conservatism which is fueling people like Trump and Cruz. Trump had just been displaying his name-calling, bullying intimidation and Paul asked, Isn’t this 7th grade kind of stuff? Didn’t we outgrow that in the 7th grade?
The answer, I’m sorry to say, is simply No. Trump supporters are thrilled that they can vicariously be 7th grade bullies when Trump blusters and, unable to think of a single fact, resorts to juvenile name calling. Neither Trump nor his supporters have actually grown up yet. They don’t mind sheer ignorance, so long as it is loud. And that is a real problem for America.
They are frustrated — and rightly so — by politics as usual, marked by so much bribery and game-playing that it is very difficult to identify more than a handful of political leaders in Washington who are people of integrity.
There are other signs of American immaturity, plenty of them. Our vulnerability to deceptive advertising, our confusion of possessions with happiness, our inability to read anything beyond a 7th grade level, our suckering for Hollywood’s image of love, our self-centeredness: These and a thousand other qualities which characterize much of America are all forms of immaturity.
Trump and those like him ought to be ashamed of pandering to those with arrested development. And the press, our very juvenile press, ought to be ashamed to be making such a fuss over Trump. He simply isn’t worth it and would have had little impact had the press not happily provided him with a free megaphone.
Interestingly, Sanders is appealing as well to those frustrated with Washington, though he is finding a different part of that group. By being articulate and content-oriented (both qualities which Trump lacks completely) Sanders is appealing to thoughtful critics of our political leadership.