If there’s one thing we know about Donald Trump, it’s that he loves to get freaky with his freak base of lunatic rage-heads. The best way to do that? Wedge issues, baby! Get ‘em riled up! Get the dummies frothing at the mouth over some specious nonsense!
This is especially effective when everything else is falling to pieces—when your healthcare fantasies are going up in smoke because of John McCain, when your best idea for Puerto Rico relief is to throw paper towel rolls at journalists, when your own cabinet members are calling you a moron. When the heat gets a little too hot, there’s always relief in the precious wedge.
The NFL protests gave Trump a hell of a wedge. A couple players knelt to support the always-controversial issue of racial equality, conservatives somehow made it about troops, and pretty soon the rage sparks were flying as the conflict ballooned. Of course, Trump spotted his chance a mile away and amplified the hell out of it until the entire country was at each other’s throats. It was bold, it was masterful, and it was wedge-y as hell. He gave all of America a wedgie.
That said, the NFL story is fading, as every wedge story must. Some wedge stories are one-and-done, some are seasonal, and some, like gay marriage, get left in the dustbin of progress. But if Trump wants to keep his crazies in Frenzied Mob Mode, he’ll need something new. Here at Paste, we have our finger on the pulse of American politics, and we believe we can help. Below are ten ideas for future wedge issues Trump can employ. Some are old classics, some are totally new, but all of them will get the stupids a’seethin.
1. THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS
Yes! You knew it was coming, baby. Bill O’Reilly may be buried six feet in the ground (or maybe he just got fired…we aren’t paying attention), but his pet issue lives on. We’re only a couple months away from this year’s celebration of the birth of Jesus, the man evangelicals in this country pretend to worship without understanding what he did, why he did it, or how his lessons can be applied in modern life. Instead, they place far more importance on the symbols of his holiday, because if there’s one thing that would have really mattered to Jesus, it’s that everyone in America had a fir or balsam or pine tree to represent him, kinda. And Trump knows as well as any of us do that there’s always some nasty liberal somewhere trying to get a town Christmas tree taken down, or some hippie teacher forcing her elementary school to hold a non-denominational pageant, or some other outrageous teen vandalizing a manger. You have two months of A+ wedge material here, Mr. President Trump, so get the hell on it.
Troops connection: Every good wedge issue has to have a troops connection. If you can’t accuse libs of insulting the troops, you’re not giving the nation a true wedgie. In this case, it’s easy—our troops are over there, in those countries, fighting those important and completely necessary and justified wars, and there are only a few things they can count on. One of those? Christmas. Christmas reminds them of home. A war on Christmas is a war on troops. Why do you hate the troops?
2. BATHROOM STUFF
I don’t think this was every truly maxed out. Sure, you had Republicans in North Carolina
and Texas making political hay out of bathrooms for a while, but there’s no reason this can’t go national. Basically, the strategy here is simple—just insist that trans people using the correct public bathrooms is an actual problem. It’s particularly frightening to conservatives when you invoke the specter of a person who was assigned male at birth, but who now identifies as a woman, using a women’s public restroom. Even if the evidence of any actual crime resulting from this situation is less than scant, always remember that evidence isn’t required. Just shout things like: THEY’RE PREYING ON OUR DAUGHTERS! Alex Jones will make up a few assault stories, the New York Times will assign some concern trolling stooge like Bret Stephens to pretend there’s meat on this bone, and soon they country will be eating out of your palm.
Troops connection: Hey, look, our TROOPS didn’t fight in those foreign countries in totally necessary and justified wars only to come home and have these MONSTERS prey on their PRECIOUS DAUGHTERS in PUBLIC BATHROOMS. Why do you hate the troops?!
3. ANTIFA IS OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM
The American right hasn’t fully ignited against Antifa yet, but you can feel the heat rising. These people scare the bejeezus out of them. Liberals are supposed to be cowardly whiners, but these guys and girls wear black masks, destroy property, and make it difficult for fascists to march in public. It’s the perfect opportunity to create a false equivalency. Trump tried it, briefly, after Charlottesville, and met with an enormous backlash. But if he can get his Russian troll army to start spreading news about Antifa murder sprees, do we really think his supporters are going to fact-check? In fact, if there’s one criticism I have of Trump, it’s that he hasn’t exploited the total credulity of his supporters enough. Just outright lie to them. I don’t think these people ever leave their house anyway, so broadcast the message on Facebook and Fox News, and you’re set.
Troops connection: Hey look, if these Antifa punks had any courage, they’d save their fighting for the military, where they could be deployed on totally necessary and justified missions to foreign countries. Our troops are protecting our freedoms abroad, but the ‘Tifas are terrorizing us at home? That’s anti-troop all the way.
4. BLACK LIVES MATTER IS OUR BIGGEST PROBLEM
Easy—they’re black. It says so right in the name.
Troops connection: Not necessary. Again, this group has the word black in it.
5. LIBERALS DRIVE WRONG
Thus far, we’ve mostly relied on the old standards, but if Trump is going to be one of history’s great wedge artists, he needs some new material. I have a great idea—the highways. Nothing is more American, and nothing inspires more anger than driving. They even have a term for it: Road Rage. I’ve also noticed that Republican men who own pickup trucks are the angriest drivers in the world. If you happen to be in front of them on the road, and have the audacity to slow down for a right turn, they’ll tailgate you, scream bloody murder, and then rage-honk as they pass. Conservative aggression is never quite as raw as when they’re driving. In other words, this is a perfect fit—start spreading the message that liberals are weak, cowardly, and also dangerous drivers, and you could have a brand new movement on your hands. If there’s a deadly accident involving a car with a Hillary or Bernie bumper sticker, get Breitbart on the case, and start stoking that white-hot fury. I swear to God this will work.
Troops connection: Any driver of a car without a yellow ribbon decal hates the troops and should be run off the road into a ditch.
6. ANYTHING OTHER THAN FAST FOOD IS ELITIST
This is already brimming underneath the surface—when you think of healthy eaters, you think of liberals. Throw in the word “vegetarian” or, God forbid, “vegan,” and you can really piss off a conservative. Imagine Trump at the podium in front of 10,000 raving lunatics in Alabama, just introducing the theme slowly. “Folks, do you notice these liberals won’t eat fast food? It’s true! They won’t eat McDonald’s. Is something wrong with McDonald’s? I eat McDonald’s. Believe me, if there was something wrong with it, I’d know. I’d be the first person to know. But there’s not. So why won’t they eat it? Why won’t liberals eat McDonald’s?” Pretty soon, you’d have conservatives committing false flag acts of vandalism at McDonald’s (like this idiot), attempting to further the narrative that liberals are fussy eaters and that they’ve declared war on fast food.
Troops connection: Our troops eat fast food. We could probably put a compilation together of soldiers abroad eating fast food and smiling to some sad country song. It would be powerful. I mean, is it just me, or is it pretty bad that liberals think the food that our own troops eat isn’t good enough for them?
7. TREES ARE ANTI-AMERICAN
There’s already a dumb conservative talking point about how trees should be banned since they kill so many drivers (it’s their way of trying out a bad reductio ad absurdum vis-a-vis the gun argument). Why not take it a step further and actually demonize trees? With words like “tree-hugger” already in the lexicon, it’s amazing this hasn’t been done yet. Conservative leaders, including Trump, are always trying to find new ways to desecrate the environment for profit, but they’ve always focused on trying to hide or minimize the environmental impact. Why not own up to it, and make the case that trees are bad and should be destroyed? The record is clear—trees are liberal. Anyone who protects them hates America, hates money, hates jobs.
Troops connection: Trees were always being used to disguise our enemies in Vietnam. Less so in Afghanistan and Iraq, since there’s no jungle there, but the point remains: Trees are anti-troop.
8. WHY DO WORDS HAVE TO HAVE MORE THAN TWO SYLLABLES?
I can write an entire thing on the goodness of using short words by only using short words. It’s easy. No person on the planet should have to use long words. In fact, only one longer word should be allowed: America. Or no—just shorten that to ‘Murka. See? I’m doing it. I’m doing it, daddy Trump. I’m only using little words. Big words are for bad people. God help me, I’ll never use a big word again like those bad bad libs. Bad and good are good words. Evil. Jobs. Muslim. Murka. I am the happy Trump baby and I speak simple.
Troops good: Good. Troops.
I don’t know, can we do something with Lithuanians? Are they bad in some way? I’m honestly running out of ideas here. Ten wedge issues may have been too many.
Troops connection: Start a war with Lithuania.
Let’s start murdering! THE ULTIMATE WEDGE, BABY! MURDER IS OKAY NOW! MURDER IS ALLOWEDDDDDDDD YESSSSSSSSSSSS OH HELP ME PLEASE MR. DONALD I’M IN SO MUCH PAINNNNNN! RESURRECT ME, PRESIDENT TRUMP! MAKE ME YOUR BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE WORLD AND I WILL ATTACK THOSE TREES WITH A MIGHTY CHAINSAW! LIBERALS ARE BAD DRIVERS! ANTIFA ARE IN OUR BATHROOMS! BLACK LIVES MATTER ARE SECRET LITHUANIANS! I EAT FAST FOOD AT CHRISTMAS WHILE THE PRANKSTER TEEN MUSLIMS ARE SWITCHING OUT JESUS FOR THE WISEMAN THAT RIDES A SHEEP AND BRINGS FRANKINCENSE! FRANKINCENSE IS TOO LONG A WORDDDDDDDDDDD GAHHHH!!!!!