My mother-in-law habitually used to drive with her left arm propped in the window frame. The dimensions of her arms being what they were, it meant her middle finger caught the top of the frame as her elbow rested on the windowsill. We pointed out to her that she was effectively flipping off everyone she passed. I don’t remember the good Christian woman’s exact response, but it was along the lines of “it doesn’t count unless I do it on purpose.” She had a point I guess, but the look on the faces of people she drove past with her coincidental bird told me they might not agree.
Giving or getting “the finger” has been around since ancient times. It seems to be a constant form of insult across the ages and cultures. The Greeks did it. The Romans did it. Medieval people did it. Americans…we may have perfected it. We know how to give it subtly – scratching the nose casually – and we know how to throw it down double barreled both birds flying straight and true. And we know when we’re getting the finger too. We know the difference between Memaw’s casual flippy finger in the car window and the nasty curly finger resting in our direction on the cashier’s chin. We know someone is giving us the finger even when we can’t call them on it. It’s instinctive. Maybe it’s even primal. What do you do when someone gives you the finger? What do you want to do? Don’t hedge here. What do you really want to do. Subtle or not, most of us feel the urge to give it right back. Some of us have more restraint than others. You can get the bird thrown at you by the jerk in the next lane a time or two, but if he (or she) keeps it up, it is going to evoke a response.
You want to know the answer to the question “Why Donald Trump?” No need to look any further than your own middle digit. Well, maybe not yours, but a whole lot of people who’ve been getting the middle finger from a small powerful group of people who set policy and promote points of view and insinuate their attitudes into every aspect of the life of the country including all forms of entertainment. This group is not Democrat or Republican as much as it is elite and established. It is not a majority although it governs and speaks and imposes itself upon the scene as if it is not only a majority, but a super-majority; unquestionable and not to be opposed by any serious or sane person. Here are a few middle fingers they’ve stuck out at the country:
Abortion on demand and without limits
Gay marriage equivalent to traditional marriage
Transgender bathrooms as a necessity
Unmitigated unpoliced and unlimited immigration
The name Islamic terrorism treated the same as the name Voldermort
Obamacare as a solution to anything
None of these things has the support of anywhere near a majority of the citizenry. The subtleties that exist in each issue all play upon a widespread virtue held in common by Americans: we love fairness and we hate unfairness. In each of the things I’ve listed the virtue of the people has been used to create false narratives leading to policies that are not in line with core values. Take gay marriage for example. Saying that a gay couple can’t or shouldn’t get married sounds unfair, so it tweaks that American nerve. But we responded to that by agreeing that gay people should have the same protection under the law as straight people and that domestic partnerships should carry all the legal benefits as marriages do. But the elites were not satisfied with this. It wasn’t enough for them that gay relationships were legal; they demanded that they be called the same thing as their straight counterpart. They were not accomplishing anything other than that. The gay marriage decision by the supreme court did nothing for a gay couple other than change the name of their relationship. Nothing. But it was important enough to the loud minority that they forced it upon a nation that is 96% (or more) straight. You must call marriage marriage no matter who gets married, they said. It doesn’t matter that you have deeply held beliefs about what marriage is and where it came from, you will call all marriage marriage. In doing this (and we could walk through the list above and find the same pattern) the elites pushed from basic fairness to bullying foolishness. They took each one of these things and turned it into a middle finger aimed at either our traditions, our integrity or our common sense.
There really is no question about who and what Donald Trump is. He is the middle finger of the silent majority who’ve been bullied beyond what their generally mild mannered, easy going, live and let live attitudes can take. They’ve gotten the finger one too many times from their “betters” and “masters” in the ruling and establishment class. Trump is actually not who they are on their best day the same way that we usually end up wishing we’d had a little more restraint before we finally flipped off the idiot who cut us off in traffic, managed to blame us for it and proceeded to give us the double barreled screaming birds. Trump may not win. He may not get the silent majority to vote for him. But if he loses it won’t be because the mass of people hasn’t reached it’s boiling point. We have. It’s just that some people can never return the favor to people who flip them off and blame them for all the mess they’ve made of things. And you can be sure of this; Trump winning or losing will not quiet the people who have had their sense of fairness questioned and aroused. They are alert now, and the virtuous sword of fairness in the hands of the people will cut a wide swath into the bullies and fools who used it against them. Trump isn’t the sword, though. He isn’t virtuous. He’s a message. We’ll see if they get the point.