Trump touches us where we long to be touched

Did that title make you a little bit nauseous? I know I had a hard time writing it. And then sharing it…

But every now and then I think, maybe I will vote for Trump.

Isn’t that crazy?

I wonder about the impulse. I find the man disgusting, and I often consider what I’ll do if he is elected. (Options so far: leave the country, protest, get involved in politics and run for office, or strangle him. Only kidding—I would never run for office.)

So many Americans support Trump, and I can’t imagine that every single one of them is a total idiot. (Though it is tempting.) So what is it?

While I watched the PBS NewsHour a few nights ago, something struck me: people like Trump because he’s different.

Before you say “well, duh,” hear me out.

There is this thing called sensitization. Put simply, sensitization is the process of making something more sensitive. Desensitization, perhaps obviously, is the process of making something less sensitive.

I first studied sensitization in a class on the biology of the brain. The teacher used the example of touch. Imagine someone touching your arm. If they touched your arm in the same spot every single time, day by day, the spot would become less sensitive. The cells would desensitize and you would cease to experience as much sensation. Conversely, if someone touched your arm in that spot only on occasion, or if they touched a spot on your arm that was seldom touched, you would experience more sensation. Your cells would sensitize.

Our cells sensitize and desensitize. Stimulation or lack of stimulation causes it.

I think we are politically desensitized. I know I am. My cells are overstimulated, and I no longer receive pleasure from someone touching me in my political places. Democrats and Republicans alike keep running their fingers along the same political line, and I’ve simply stopped feeling.

Trump touches a part of people’s arms that hasn’t been touched for a long time. He’s straight forward. He’s brutally honest about how he feels. He says things that most people edit or keep hidden. He’s sensitizing our desensitized parts, and I think that feels good for people. Even if people don’t like him, they enjoy the experience of actually feeling something.

I long for a new conversation in politics. I long for change. I long for truly new ideas and new actions. I long to feel something again, and I’ve grown numb to our political discourse.

And so I sometimes think, maybe I will vote for Trump.

But don’t worry, I won’t.

In love and liminality,

Annie Rose