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The most commonly heard question these days (aside from WTF?) is "how in the hell did this happen?" I ask it myself at least a half dozen times a day, and I hear it asked by pundits on TV and people in supermarket checkout lines.

trump phenomenon

What I'm wondering, along with so many of my fellow Americans, is how we wound up being led by a guy like Donald J. Trump, a man whose hair-do alone should have alienated enough voters to keep him from being elected to anything.

I mean, really, would you hire a guy who looked like the Donald to be a dog catcher in your town? I wouldn't in mine. How would he catch dogs with hair like his? Frightened dogs are hard to catch, and that pile of cotton candy on Don's head is so weird looking that he'd scare dogs from a block away.

What I'm wondering, along with so many of my fellow Americans, is how we wound up being led by a guy like Donald J. Trump, a man whose hair-do alone should have alienated enough voters to keep him from being elected to anything.

Dogs ain't dumb, ya know, but too many Americans are, and they exhibited that stupidity by voting so enthusiastically for a guy they'd move away from if he parked himself near them on a bus or on the bar stool next to them.

According to polls, a majority of those Trump voters were white males who felt aggrieved, threatened, imperiled or insecure about their masculinity. The most avid supporters of Donald Trump, it turns out, were two categories of men: 1. Those who came of age listening to Mama Cass singing "Words of Love," or 2. Men who came of age a generation later hearing Roseanne Cash singing the song "Hold On."

For readers who weren't part of either of those demographic categories, let me remind you of the lyrics to those songs.

Words of Love, by the Mamas and Papas, exposits the following message:

"Words of love, so soft and tender
Won't win a girl's heart anymore
If you love her then you must send her
Somewhere where she's never been before
Worn out phrases and longing gazes
Won't get you where you want to go. No."

The Roseanne Cash song, "Hold On," offers a similar message; to wit:

If you want to keep a woman like me, you got to hold on
If you want to see how good it can be, baby, hold on
All my friends think that I'm a fool
I tell you something honey, they're not that cool
If you want to keep a woman like me, you better hold on
If you want to know how far we can go, you got to hold on
If you take it slow then I got something to show you
Baby, hold on
All those girls with their empty heads
Can't fill 'em up with the lies they've been fed
If you want to know how far I can go, you got to hold on

"Words of Love" hit the pop charts in 1967. Adolescent boys of that era thus heard the words of this song repeatedly at precisely the time in their lives when their emerging male egos were being menaced by the performance insecurity engendered or enhanced by those lyrics.

On the eve of uncountable prom nights, young men were nervously donning ill-fitting rented formal wear, slipping condoms in the unfamiliar pockets, hoping and fearing they would get "lucky," but not sure how that luck might play out. For many of those boys, the evening would end with a less than memorable episode that left them scarred, forever cursed by anxieties about penis size, sexual performance, premature ejaculation, or general studliness.

Think of those young lads, driving home in their ridiculous garb, the prom night dream having ended in a dozen muttered apologies, followed by the hollow reassurances from their dates, or worse, the laughter and derision of girls who may have been less kind.

And then imagine that song coming on the radio of their dad's car just as they were pulling in to the pre-dawn driveway, going to their lonely suburban bedrooms adorned with posters of Michelle Phillips, Linda Ronstadt and NFL quarterbacks, all staring down from the walls at them as they silently wept into their soggy teenage pillows, assuming that all the guys in their graduating class had outshone them on that night of nights, and with much prettier girls.

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Flash forward to 2016 and those boys are now all retirees, many of them riding Harleys, their once long hair now reduced to scraggly pony tails dribbling from the back of their balding heads, their once flat bellies now hanging well over their belt, their egos artificially inflated by the sounds of their engines.

They've lugged a lifetime of memories of sexual failures or inadequacies since those long-ago prom nights, with more assaults to their egos along the way on drunken nights when they faced rejection at countless bars, or scored, going home with one or another of the bar flies they met, only to find themselves suffering the embarrassment of alcoholic impotence, not for the first time.

Or, thanks perhaps to that song that came to seem more and more like a personal taunt, they experimented with same-sex experiments that only added to their concerns, especially when those interludes failed to make them feel like the "real men" they thought they needed to be.

Those guys turned out in large numbers at dozens upon dozens of Trump rallies, bringing with them the additional insecurities about masculinity rooted in them by the ethnic stereotypes that made men of color so intimidating. And, through all those dreary years of eating shit dispensed by a succession of bosses, enduring the nagging complaints that came from a wife or two, they remembered that damned song, with Mama Cass telling them that words just wouldn't cut it anymore. And so,they crept toward the grave worrying that maybe they had never, not once, been able to send any of their lovers where "she'd never been before."

Add to that all the props they failed to receive for all they tried to do, all the disrespect from their kids, all the shame they felt when a credt card was declined, a car was repossessed, or a contribution they'd made at work went unacknowledged.

What were such men to do? What was it about being at a Trump rally chanting "lock her up, lock her up" that made them feel better, more empowered, and more bad ass than they felt nearly every fucking and non-fucking day of their lives?

And what could it have been about Donald J. Trump that made them, for a few fleeting moments, feel whole, feel complete, feel bigger. Trump was wealthy. He'd had all the conquests that had eluded them all their lives.Trump had a wife that made the women who rode behind them on those Harleys look like feed sacks with legs, a wife three decades younger than he was with a body they'd all lusted for when her nekkid pics began turning up on the internet.

And Trump didn't have to eat shit from anyone. Everyone kissed his ass. He was a businessman, and he was rich, and people bowed down to guys like him. He talked tough. He didn't care what all those snotty "elites" thought or said. He didn't give a damn what those pointy-headed intellectuals, libtards, or candy-assed snowflakes thought. Hell, he didn't even care about scientists or books, except for his own and the Bible.

And so, as they cheered Donald Trump, they drowned out that long ago voice from a fat bitch singer who died, they'd heard, choking on a ham sandwich, but only after she'd sung that song that echoed through their sad sack lives.

So those were the oldies but not so goodies from the '60s, grown old and angry, joined at Trump rallies by middle-aged guys who had had much the same life experience but with Roseanne Cash on the internal soundtracks of their lives, undermining their self confidence, pissing them off with the experience they came to associate with the words of her damn song: "If you want to keep a woman like me, you've got to hold on."

And now, pushing 50, or past it, they'd lost a few women, were paying alimony or child support, or both, as just part of the dues of being the losers they feared they just might be, except for those moments when they, too, stood to cheer, "lock her up, lock her up, lock her up."

So there you have it, and it's damn near scientific. The whole Trump disaster has been nothing more than yet another cultural manifestation of male insecurity about coming too quick.

You know, like war, misogyny, racism, free-floating angers, resentments, and Talibanic-style religiously enshrined Muslim or Christian oppressions of women from Teheran to Tulsa. All that shit.

Roseanne Cash and Mama Cass were just one damn thing too many, and too soon. But I'm fairly sure Cass and Cash didn't really mean anything by those songs they sang. Unintended consequences are real, but who would have thought Trump would be the result of a couple of pop songs?

jaime oneill

Jaime O'Neill