2016, LGBT — September 2, 2015 at 9:25 am

The Trump Effect: Empowering the previously voiceless bigots of America like Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.


It’s easy for Democrats to hope that Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination because it’s easy to believe he can’t win. For those of us who watched in horror as George W. Bush won (twice), we know otherwise. For those who watched the Michigan state legislature be completely taken over by tea party religious zealots, we know otherwise.

Trump, who sat glowering as President Obama skewered him at the 2011 White House Corresponents’ Dinner, has in the past shown himself to be tremendously thin-skinned. However, he now seems to feed on his opponents’ attacks. Attacking him only seems to drive him to be more provocative now.

There is a reason that Trump is leading the pack without having spent a dime on advertising. Donald Trump is giving voice to America’s previously voiceless bigots, racists, and sexists. He says publicly what these people have, until now, been afraid to say where others can hear. What most call being respectful to others, Trump sneeringly derides as “politically correct”. Few people would suggest that the Mexican government is intentionally sending rapists and other criminals to our country. Trump makes headlines saying it. Few people would call women “pigs”. Trump gets interview requests after he does it (and then doubles down.) Few people would suggest in their “out loud voice” that Megyn Kelly asks hard questions during a debate because she’s menstruating. Trump makes that suggestion for them.

Time and again, Donald Trump speaks for the voiceless bigots and gives them courage to be as insensitive and disgusting in public as he is, something they would never conceive of doing otherwise. He’s telling them, “It’s okay to be a disgusting bigot, a hateful racist, and an odious sexist.”

You might think that this American bigot minority doesn’t have enough political power to elect a president. But you’d be wrong. Nobody thought that the tea partiers who became energized after a black American was elected president would ever do more than set up lawn chairs at Sarah Palin rallies and hold racist signs. But now we see states all across America – even blue states like Michigan – governed by tea party members. That’s because they have been activated by clever political operations that feed their racism and bigotry to make them believe they are having their right to deny others civil rights and freedom denied. So they started showing up. Showing up at the polls. Showing up in the offices and meetings of elected officials. Showing up and exerting electoral power that most people don’t bother to exercise. And they have been winning elections for half a decade now because of it. One look at the Michigan legislature proves it.

I contend that it’s the Trump Effect that’s driving Kentucky Kim Davis to become a nationally-recognized figure by denying same-sex couples their legal right to marry. Davis, who says her actions come from “the authority of God”, feels completely comfortable picking and choosing which parts of the Bible she wishes to follow. She herself is on her fourth marriage. She became pregnant by her third husband with twins – who were adopted by her second husband – while married to her first husband. I’m not kidding:

The Kentucky county clerk facing potentially stiff penalties for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has been married four times, raising questions of hypocrisy and selective application of the Bible to her life.

The marriages are documented in court records obtained by U.S. News, which show that Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis divorced three times, first in 1994, then 2006 and again in 2008.

She gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband. They were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second. Davis worked at the clerk’s office at the time of each divorce and has since remarried.

Davis has described her desire to strictly adhere to the Bible in stark terms and thus far has shown no sign of bending to court orders on same-sex marriage. She said Tuesday she fears going to hell for violating “a central teaching” of the Bible if she complies with the orders.

Davis is bound and determined to protect the sanctity of her fourth marriage by preventing others from marrying if they don’t meet her biblically-derived definition of marriage-worthy.

Davis recently gave a marriage license to a transgender man, Camryn Colen, and his pansexual wife Alexis who are now legally married. Davis never inspected Colen’s birth certificate that identifies him as a woman. Apparently the God who speaks to her about issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples didn’t mention anything to her about Colen’s trans status. She has since refused to comment about it.

Kim Davis has Donald Trump – who calls the Bible his “favorite book” but refuses to name his favorite Bible verse – to thank for her current “celebrity”. Thanks to the Trump Effect, anyone who disagrees with her and calls her out on her outrageous hypocrisy and double standards regarding her own life is derided as being “politically correct”. “Politically correct” is the new “liberal” – an epithet for smearing non-bigots.

Don’t underestimate Donald Trump. He shields his “plain talk” bigotry with an anti-politically correct Cloak of Invulnerability. He empowers, emboldens, and sanctifies hate speech and intolerance and chauvinsism and sexism and homophobia. And those that hold these backward views have been shown to be easily persuaded to become politically activated.

They may be a dying breed – my own kids’ generation are increasingly perplexed by such intolerance and hate – but, right now, they have the potential to wield political power that is not commensurate with their actual numbers. That’s because they are fueled by fear and hate and given permission via the Trump Effect to be public with views they would otherwise be rightfully ashamed and embarrassed to espouse out loud.

It’s another reminder for progressives that, if we want our country’s values to be represented by our elected officials, we, too, must show up.

UPDATE: Regarding Davis’ four marriages, her fourth “husband” is actually her second husband who she remarried. The second adopted the the twins she got pregnant with while cheating on the first with the third. Got it?

[CC Trump image credit: Thomas Hawk | Flickr]