Remember Archie Bunker? He was the central character in Norman Lear’s “All in the Family.” Archie was the working-class bigot we all laughed at when Carroll O’Connor brilliantly played him during the 1970s.
Everyone loved Archie. Someone even printed a T-shirt: “Archie Bunker for President.”
The O’Connor character admired Herbert Hoover. He longed for a time when “we didn’t need no welfare state,” and when “‘goils’ were ‘goils’ and men were men.” He was patriarchal, racist and xenophobic. He despised “homos” and called liberals like his son-in-law “meatheads.”
Well, believe it or not: We just followed through on that T-shirt slogan. We’ve inaugurated as president Donald Trump — a billionaire Archie Bunker. Better put, America’s Archie Bunkers voted in Trump as (in Norman Lear’s words) “just another version of you”
Like those who elected him, Trump is tired of having to pussyfoot (ahem!) around the sensibilities of blacks, women, Hispanics, non-Christians and others who have exhibited annoying touchiness around the epithets white men have applied to them so comfortably in the past. Like them, he is the sworn enemy of “political correctness.”
True, Trump doesn’t know much about history or politics. He can’t even define the “nuclear triad.” But he wonders: “If we have nuclear weapons, why don’t we use them?” The man is even mistrustful of scientists warning about human-induced climate change.
But to his admirers (in Orwell’s words) such “ignorance is strength.” It means Trump is unencumbered by indoctrination into the Beltway’s arcana and by the restrictions of international business-as-usual. None of that is working anyway. So to hell with it all.
Since things can’t get much worse, why not elect a climate-change denier and someone accused of and having bragged about multiple instances of sexual assault? Why not vote for a man endorsed by the Klan — or one who has promised to punish women who have abortions. So what if he wants to build a wall along the Mexican border; prevent Muslims from entering the country; reinstate torture, racial profiling and stop-and-frisk policies; deport undocumented Hispanics; lower taxes for the wealthy; dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and punch those who disagree with him in the face?
We Archie Bunkers love all that stuff.
And maybe it’s just what we all need. It may bring the entire dysfunctional system down. I mean, Trump remains hated nearly as much by the Republican establishment as by Democrats. This may be the end of them both.
And at least his vaunted friendship with Vladimir Putin may keep us out of the nuclear war that both Democratic and Republican neo-liberals appear to salivate over. As well, Trump seems less trustful of NATO than mainstream politicians who love that particular engine of war.
Moreover, The Donald will predictably mobilize the “Meatheads” among us. In fact, we somehow seem to do better when people like Nixon or “W” are in power. So just watch progressives from Black Lives Matter activists to Dakota Access Pipeline Water Protectors mobilize in unending protest.
Finally, the surprising election results where (once again) the victor received fewer votes than the defeated, may lead to election reform. It’s time to insure that everyone’s vote actually matters, rather than those cast in just a few “swing states.”
Reforms should include shortening of the electoral season, reversal of the Citizens United decision, prohibition of gerrymandering, abolition of the Electoral College, universal reintroduction of paper ballots, reinstatement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and elimination of voter suppression tactics that militate mostly against people of color.
Perhaps choosing Archie Bunker for president was not entirely without merit.
Reach Mike Rivage-Seul, a retired Berea College professor, at Mike_Rivage-Seul @berea.edu.