The Exterminator in Chief

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Raccoon and kits. Photo by Holly Jorgensen

Over the past two years, I’ve read at least a dozen books, magazine articles and essays, from Hillbilly Elegy to Washington Post op-eds, that attempt to explain why Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters shrug off negative character traits that, in another politician or in an earlier time, would be toxic, would be automatic deal breakers.

Nothing has hit me harder or rung clearer, however, than a Facebook post I saw recently. A woman I went to high school with in Mississippi, a church-going grandmother and enthusiastic, self-professed Trump backer, shared an essay she had read. Her posting quickly inspired “likes” and positive comments from a long line of people, including other former classmates of ours.

For those who still don’t get Trump’s appeal, she said, “This may help. It says it all.”

She attached the following, author unidentified. I reproduce it here verbatim:

“You’ve been on vacation for two weeks, you come home, and your basement is infested with raccoons. Hundreds of rabid, messy, mean raccoons have overtaken your basement. You want them gone immediately. You call the city and 4 different exterminators, but nobody can handle the job. But there is this one guy and he guarantees to get rid of them, so you hire him. You don’t care if the guy smells, you don’t care if the guy swears, you don’t care if he’s an alcoholic, you don’t care how many times he’s been married, you don’t care if he has a plumber’s crack, you simply want those raccoons gone! You want your problem fixed! He’s the guy. He’s the best!

“Here’s why we want Trump. Yes he’s a bit of a jerk; yes he’s an egomaniac; but we don’t care. The country is a mess because politicians suck, the Republicans and Democrats can be two-faced and gutless, and illegals are everywhere. We want it all fixed! We don’t care that Trump is crude, we don’t care that he insults people, we don’t care that he has changed positions, we don’t care that he’s been married 3 times, we don’t care that he fights with Megyn Kelly and Rosie O’Donnell, we don’t care that he doesn’t know the name of some Muslim terrorist.

“This country became weak and bankrupt, our enemies were making fun of us, we are being invaded by illegals, we are becoming a nation of victims where every Tom, Ricardo, and Hasid is a special group with special rights to a point where we don’t even recognize the country we were born and raised in; “ AND WE JUST WANT IT FIXED “. And Trump is the only guy who seems to understand what the people want.

“We’re sick of politicians, sick of the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and sick of illegals. We just want this thing fixed. Trump may not be a saint, but we didn’t vote for a Pope. We voted for a man who doesn’t have lobbyist money holding him back, a man who doesn’t have political correctness restraining him. We all know that he has been very successful, he’s a good negotiator, he has built a lot of things, and he’s also not a politician, not a cowardly politician. And he says he’ll fix it. And we believe him because he is too much of an egotist to be proven wrong or looked at and called a liar. Also, we don’t care if the guy has bad hair. We just want those raccoons gone, out of our house, NOW.

“You are welcome to pass this on. Thousands of people who haven’t voted in 25 years seem to be getting involved. And the more people get this post the more that will understand why Trump was elected. The raccoons have got to go! I copied this from a post and I thought it hit the nail on the head.”

This is not a parody. And it doesn’t matter whether this racist, misinformation-filled “essay,” which likens freedom-seeking people from Mexico, Guatemala and other Central American countries to rabid animals and the President to a ruthless exterminator, was created by a Russian-paid troll or a native Kentuckian hopped up on Mountain Dew. What matters — what’s telling and sad and scary — is that nasty crud like this is being embraced and shared on a regular basis by folks who, in other respects, we would be lucky to have as neighbors.

The Exterminator in Chief will never reunite a country in which a majority of the citizens consider him to be a vile animal. But whoever succeeds him in office will never accomplish that goal, either, unless he or she can figure out ways to allay the anger and fears of the anti-raccoon contingent.

Written by

Mississippi native, award-winning veteran of The Orlando Sentinel, the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Newsday, stand-up storyteller, lives in Athens, Ga.

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