These are the labels Trump supporters, (especially the dudes) readily lob like verbal grenades at guys like me, who push back against the unfettered cruelty of this president, who advocate for Science, who make an appeal for compassion. I suppose they imagine that these brilliant salvos level me.
I always get a good laugh at how ironic their insults are, given the truth:
MAGA men are weak.
I was looking at the scenes from the Sturgis Bike Rally today, seeing thousands of people (most of them professed Trump supporters) pressed into close proximity, not a mask in sight, in the throes of the worst public health crisis in our lifetime. I watched these men peacock around as if they were undersized high school boys trying to inflate their biceps to impress the older girl across the street, who they know is too good for them.
Listening to them posture about freedom and America, in their loud, anti-mask, paper-tiger rebellion, I was reminded again of how “tough” male Trump supporters always claim to be; how that faded, macho, John Wayne aesthetic is such a part of both his identity—and theirs.
But the truth is, they are flaccid followers: sheep of the greatest sheep of the pasture. All of them lack the ability to withstand the peer pressure to do something reckless and asinine, simply because they don’t want to be perceived as “soft.”
Whether bikers or Evangelical churchgoers or Republican Senators or guys at the gym or country club brethren, they are all so desperate to prove their “strength”—yet they completely cave in the face of the herd mentality around them, no matter how ridiculous it is. They are men who cannot assert themselves, even if it puts them and the people they love in danger. They would rather be seen as unflinching alpha males than actually leading with conviction and breaking from the pack.
They’ll refuse to wear masks to keep themselves and others safe.
They’ll send their kids to school, willingly exposing them to sickness.
They’ll deny Science and refuse to protect their older relatives from a virus that can ravage them.
They’ll run headlong into calamity that has already taken 160,000 people.
And they’ll do it all to preserve the illusion that they aren’t terrified, that they aren’t worried—that they are indeed the strong men they’ve spent their lives pretending they are.
I call BS.
I think strong men protect those who rely on them to make difficult decisions.
I think strong men have the humility and wisdom to listen to people who know more than them.
I think strong men use restraint even when recklessness is the easier and more popular path.
I think strong men do all they can to make sure they live as long as they can with the people who love them.
I think strong men consider already overburdened healthcare workers who don’t need any more patients than they have.
I think strong men stay home and sacrifice a little bit now, so everyone can have a more normal life sooner.
I think strong men are capable of empathy for other human beings.
I think strong men walk away from the crowd when the crowd is walking into an oncoming train.
The sad irony of America, is how terribly terrified the quivering coward is who professed to lead this nation: how much he hides behind a phone screen, how he ducks from accountability, the way he runs from reporters, how he used our military as a shield—his complete inability to stand in the raking light of criticism without withering like a tiny orange flower in the scorching midday sun. He is a man fully lacking humanity.
Sadder still, is a generation of American men who’ve so placed their identity in him that they have lost the ability to criticize him or oppose him, men who cannot stand up for themselves and their loved ones, men who are so enamored with this fraudulent shell, that they will risk their own lives just to flex in the face of a deadly pandemic that is not impressed.
And they call us beta males…