It takes a certain self-inventorying variety of courage to admit when you have made a mistake. Most of us possess that ability to varying degrees depending on many factors, not least of which are courage and honesty. In the last thirty days or so, nine percent of Americans have managed to find that brand of courageous honesty by looking inside themselves and confessing – to pollsters anyway – that they no longer like nor trust nor believe in Donald John Trump.
It comes not without irony that just as surely as the wall giveth, the wall taketh away. The wall used to be one of Trump’s most potent and enduring symbols. Today, Americans are heartily and justifiably sick of the subject. Even the dullest among them are beginning to realize that there is an unbridgeable chasm between a beautiful wall stretching from one end to the other of a border with Mexico, that Mexico will pay for, and a series of partially covering metal slats with a multi-billion dollar price tag that Americans will get stuck with. And if they don’t pay for it, Trump will ruin the government through this absurd shutdown, and impoverish 800,000 of its workers. So much for Mr “Art of the Deal.”
Thus in the space of a single month, Donald Trump’s approval rating has fallen from 43% to 34%, at least according to one poll, a portentously ominous numeric palindrome that very well may bookend the Trump presidency. Few would be surprised if, after all, it will be Trump’s hubris of intractability that will bring him down, but who would have guessed two months ago that the wall might play so intimate a role?
Those 34% remaining may be all he has left, that minority extant in all random collections of humans that may, simply put, be immune to the common flexibility necessary to change one’s mind, anchored by hate and bigotry and misanthropy. It’s almost as though we were all born in the same house, but when it came time to be adults, some of us left through the front door while others left through the back. With any luck that 34% of backdoor people will very soon no longer have a man they can call their “president.”
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.