“Nancy Pelosi’s haircut is by far the biggest story on Facebook right now. Thirteen of the top 25 top-performing link posts on US Facebook in the last 24 hours (and 4 of the top 5) are about it,” Kevin Roose, tech columnist for The New York Times, noted on Twitter. This while President Donald Trump was urging supporters to vote twice (which is illegal), violent street confrontations were taking place in an increasingly polarized society, the pandemic kept spreading and killing, the country’s east coast was battered by a hurricane and its western one by fire, and unemployment was rising.
A few days earlier, a carnival of nepotism and lies at the Republican convention confirmed that the party’s leaders and its representatives in Congress are unconcerned by racial and political polarization, by the violence and instability, by the climate crisis. And in this torrent of events, what most concerned those in the American agora – Facebook – was the charge that House Speaker Pelosi cut her hair inside a beauty salon, in violation of rules demanding that this be done outside in order to limit the pandemic’s spread.
Trump’s re-election strategy is based to a great extent on violence and the pandemic spreading. In this way, he does not run the risk of trying to solve the difficult problems and failings; instead, he positions himself as the guarantor of law and order even as his policies and statements undermine both.
In this way, he hopes to persuade any voters who are not already fanatically in his or his rival’s camp to vote for him. His indifference toward the problems and to his own violations of laws and norms grant him asylum among his followers, as he presents every difficulty as a conspiracy against him. He is, however, more than ready to pounce on any rival at the slightest opportunity. In 2016, the storm around Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state most likely cost her the presidency, whereas the torrent of revelations around Trump’s behavior and character served only to provide him with immunity.
Now Trump and his supporters have found another reason to accuse their rivals of hypocrisy. And citizens are carried away en masse, boiling over with passion on the most minor of issues, disregarding the dangers around them. It is pitiful for all who care about the future of the planet to see that when politics do not generate solutions but give way to rage and intellectual indolence, then demagogues and division can weave a noose around the neck of a democracy as mature, as tested, as that of the United States.