With a worldwide audience watching, a prominent celebrity stood on a stage and proudly uttered, twice, the word that tops the list of things you can’t say on television.
The great actor Robert DiNiro seemed to be taking a page from the Donald Trump playbook with an over-the-top, non-substantive attack on the President during his brief moment in the spotlight at the Tony Awards. What was DiNiro’s point? What was he trying to accomplish with the profane comment?
Aside from making sure everyone knew he didn’t like the President (anyone paying attention was already aware), the point seemed to be to get a standing ovation.
But how many people who didn’t already agree the current president is a disaster and a menace to the United States changed their opinion as a result of DiNiro’s outburst?
I’ll go out on a limb and estimate the number is “zero.”
I will also speculate a much larger number of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016, but have been experiencing remorse, reacted to DiNiro’s attack and the standing ovation by deciding that a “A guy who pisses off a bunch of overpaid liberal elites wearing tuxedos and evening gowns can’t be all bad.”
Consciously or not, DiNiro was playing Trump’s game by revving up people who already agreed with him. That is not how patriotic Americans can expect to end Trumpism.
Trump was perceived by many of his voters as offering hope, if you can call “What the hell do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump,” a hopeful statement. He promised everything to working people and is delivering nothing. In fact, he’s Robin Hood in reverse.
The Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told the Guardian it was profoundly important that international observers were speaking out about Trump’s impact. “This administration inherited a bad situation with inequality in the US and is now fanning the flames and worsening the situation. What is so disturbing is that Trump, rather than taking measures to ameliorate the problem, is taking measures to aggravate it.”
Top of the list of those measures was the $1.5tn tax cutsenacted by the Republicans last December that slashed corporate tax rates. “Can you believe a country where the life expectancy is already in decline, particularly among those whose income is limited, giving tax breaks to billionaires and corporations while leaving millions of Americans without health insurance?” Stiglitz said.
That is what you talk about when you have the attention of a large group of people if you want to end Trumpism.
Though I’m sure it’s exhilarating to be the man dropping F-bombs on a worldwide audience, it is counter-productive. Time spent defending your use of vulgar language, or debating whether you are being disrespectful to the office of the president, etc, is time you could be using to convince voters to examine what their true self-interests are and to support candidates who actually support programs and policies that will benefit working people.
The first opportunity to bring Trumpism to heel comes in November when Democrats can grab control of the House of Representatives (the Senate might be in play, but the smart people think that’s a long shot). For (at least) one chamber of Congress to finally be able to check the president requires Trumpism opponents win elections in their communities. Doing that means communicating policy ideas in language that will be welcomed and which elucidates the real damage being caused by Trump and Trumpism.
Trumpism will end when people who supported the current president based on his promises and not his personality realize they need to act differently in the next elections.
Mr. DiNiro, with all due respect, the next time you have the world’s attention, please choose your words with more care than you’ve used in choosing movie roles (like this, and this) in the last decade.
Trumpism needs to be ended as soon as possible. Trump rode profane name calling and vulgar language to Washington. Trying to out Trump Trump will do nothing to get him out of the White House.