America’s outlaw mentality is revealed after a recent viewing of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
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America loves an outlaw. That’s it.
Since November 9 most of the world, the United States, Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between (and probably Trump himself), have been wondering how this happened. How did Donald Trump become the president of the United States?
Really, by most accounts, he shouldn’t have won — not if we were trying to do what was “right” anyway. Instead, we did what made us feel “righteous.” And by “us,” I do mean all of us — the supporters and the detractors — we have all been feeling righteous, but none of us right.
Donald Trump railed against the establishment. He insulted political correctness. He bashed free-speech and the freedom of the press. He mocked, threatened and bullied anyone in his path. He opposed political niceties in presidential debates. He encouraged foreign governments to hack the opponent and refused to denounce the hate rhetoric many of his supporters embraced. He used lies like bullets, firing away with relentless recklessness. He used the power of capitalism like buckshot to shatter the faults of democracy.
This was the political Wild West and Trump was quickest on the draw, no matter the opponent. No matter the odds.
That brings us to Jesse James, or rather the 2009 film The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford — a movie by all account that captures, with painstaking accuracy, the life and death of American outlaw (and hero) Jesse James.
James was a former Confederate soldier, who fought in favor of slavery and opposed the ideals of change and equality of the North’s democracy. He was noted for his psychopathic brutality fighting as a guerrilla against the Union. Following the war, he led a gang of equally cruel bandits raiding trains and banks. He was a robber and a murderer. However, due to his anti-establishment viewpoints, and his support of the South, he was largely viewed as a heroic, Robin Hood-like figure. Regardless, he never gave back to anyone or actually promoted social change. No, he robbed and killed purely for his own capitalistic gain.
But man, oh, man, do we love the lore of Jesse James. Even when we know what an inhumane man he was, we continue to celebrate him as both a hero and a villain.
In the movie, as in real life, James was portrayed as a loving family man battling against the Northern aggressors as a rebel, not a terrorist. He was supported and praised by Confederate sympathizers. And, when he was killed by Robert Ford, it was James who becomes an icon of America, and Ford the pariah. After James’ death, he became an iconic figure of the Wild West, not so much for the atrocities he committed, but for the Southern “righteousness” for which he stood.
I doubt if most post-Civil War era Southerners condoned his criminal activity, but rather so despised the Union, that they found a voice in James.
Similarly, this too could be said of Trump. So many who support him simultaneously disavow themselves of his viewpoints. While they don’t agree with him they are so disenfranchised from the establishment of Democracy that they find a voice in Trump.
Trump’s actions have never shown that he will be a man of the people, but rather an agitator of democracy and an enabler of capitalism to the fullest extent.
I ask again, “How did this happen?”
America loves to hate the outlaw. It is a country built on an outlaw mentality chasing what we view as righteous (but rarely what is right).
Here we are, it’s the Wild West once again and the outlaw Donald Trump has been given a badge.
Hold on tight … there’s a new sheriff in town.
By Brian Barsuglia