• Don't underestimate the power of stupid. (AAP)Source: AAP
It’s easy to dismiss politicians and their policies as dumb. But as Helen Razer points out, we shouldn’t underestimate the great power of stupidity.
Helen Razer

28 Sep 2016 - 2:37 PM  UPDATED 28 Sep 2016 - 2:42 PM

“Donald Trump is stupid”. This declaration will trouble few who are familiar with the words both “Donald” and “Trump”. Whether you’re a scholar of US domestic policy, a hairdresser (especially a hairdresser) or just someone who watched yesterday’s presidential debate, there is a good chance that you’ve arrived at the “stupid” conclusion. And, you’d be right. Boyfriend’s not the brightest bulb.

Where you may be wrong, though, is in underestimating the great power of the stupid.

You may already believe that stupidity has great sway in the US. You may even be inclined to say “Americans are stupid”. Of course, this claim becomes more difficult for us, an increasingly stupid nation, to make; here at home, our literacy rates are dwindling, our poverty is growing and, let us not forget, the anti-vax movement. Nonetheless, some of us comfort ourselves with the thought that we are “better” than US citizens and less susceptible to the bluster of a person like Trump.

If you have a limited understanding of the way a national economy works, you are more inclined to vote for the person whose solutions are similarly limited.

But, whether we despair only for US citizens or we acknowledge, as it is difficult not to with the release of the Pauline V 2.0 update, that we live here among the stupid, we are, I think, inclined to overlook just how powerful a sentence like, “I know words! I have the best words!” can be.

Elsewhere on this non-stupid site, we have written about the means by which stupid politics comes to be. If you haven’t got time to make the journey by link, I’ll give you the short version: regions deprived of education resources produces people less able to deliberate. If you have a limited understanding of the way a national economy works, you are more inclined to vote for the person whose solutions are similarly limited. Ergo, a stupid “policy” like “Muslims are destroying our way of life” is passed on like an intergenerational flu.

So, there are social and historical reasons for stupid, and I am pretty sure that among those convinced by the stupid “policy” of ISIL are the former babies of Iraq whose bodies and brains were starved of food. Just as ISIL knows how to tailor propaganda to a deprived group, so does Donald Trump. You can point out his spelling and grammatical mistakes to those who disagree with him and say “Look at how stupid he is!”. But, you’d do well to remember that the guy now has some pretty serious advisers who are all telling him how well this stupid stuff plays.

Trump is speaking the language of people short-changed on education. His opponent addresses the college-educated. In their efforts to win, each candidate is engaged in brutal class warfare and every time an under-educated undecided voter hears an expensive voice attack with, “Donald Trump is stupid”, that strange haircut gets closer to the oval office.

Trump is speaking the language of people short-changed on education.

I’m not saying “Don’t say out loud that Donald Trump is stupid”. I mean, the guy is stupid, and it’s very difficult not to mention that glaring fact. His racism in particular makes it impossible for many to stay silent and if I imagine if I were Muslim or Hispanic, my first instinct would be to remark on his stupid characterisation of my identity. My first thought, though, would likely remain as it is: don’t underestimate the power of the stupid.

Stupidity, for the reasons we’ve just yakked about, is a useful political tool. At a more intimate level, it works well too. I mean to say, is there a woman alive who hasn’t purposely acted a bit thick once or twice to get a little of what she wants? I learned long ago that it was better in certain professional situations to look like I hadn’t learned things long ago. A bit of, “Oh, really? That’s a fascinating new way of doing things, thanks so much for your advice” can go a long way.

What I am saying is: sometimes, there’s no aphrodisiac like stupid. We must learn to respect and fear the force of this dangerous drug. Now. I am sure you will agree that I KNOW WORDS! I HAVE THE BEST WORDS!

Watch Dateline's I'm Mr Trump on SBS On Demand:

More from this non-stupid site
We fact checked Donald Trump's debate performance
The first US presidential debate has concluded but now that it's all over, comedian Ben McLeay checks the facts on some of Donald Trump's most outlandish statements.
Comment: The twisted logic of 'go back to where you came from'
'Go back to where you came from' might be the catchcry of racists everywhere but it’s long been part of a national rhetoric that frames immigrants’ Australian identities as provisional, writes Neha Kale.
Comment: When social inequality leads to bigotry
Harsh conditions produce harsh reactions in people.