From the Veterans Writing Group workshop, December 3, 2016—
“What are you feeling today?” was the question at the check-in. I hate questions about “feelings,” partly because my wife is a psychologist and the subject of “feelings” comes up a lot. There were about thirty of us, and I couldn’t think of what I was actually “feeling” until it was my turn and to my surprise I blurted out frustration!
We’re supposed to read only what we write today, something new, fresh, not something we’d brought that we were already working on. In need of something to write about, I wrote about my current frustrations.
It was just about this time a year ago, right after the first Republican debate, that I had the idea to put Trump’s face behind the international NO sign and combining it with a slogan: Don’t Be a Trumpie. I asked my wife, who is pretty handy with a sketch pad, to come up with a cartoon caricature based on a photo of Trump I took off the internet. I couldn’t make the whole face work inside the circle, but the hair by itself did. I came up with a few more designs using old artwork and freebies off the internet and put them up for sale on Zazzle.com, a site that turns your graphics into T-shirts, bumperstickers, coffee cups, ladies thongs, you name it. I set up a “store” (www.Zazzle.com/NoTrumpZone), and by early January had a dozen products up for sale competing with thousands of other Trump items.
I tried to register the domain notrumpzone.com, but somebody beat me to it, so I settled for notrumpies.com. I had already signed up for a spring class at the JC in social media, hoping to learn how to use Facebook and Twitter and other social platforms to promote my novel. Now, with Trump leading the field, it occurred to me to put up some graphics mocking Trump, especially bumperstickers. With 2,000 books published in the U.S. every day, perhaps a Don’t Be a TRUMPiE! site could help get the word out about the book?
Like hippie and yuppie and preppie, it seemed to me that “trumpie” was the obvious choice for a nickname. I Googled it up and saw that it had been used a few times in a couple of conservative publications opposed to Trump, so I hadn’t been the first to coin it. Damn.
As the primaries dragged on the big-time pundits were all over the map trying to get credit for coining the right nickname—trumpers, trumpists, trumplings, trumpsters, trumpkins and trumpistas come to mind. None of them roll off the tongue like “trumpie” and none carry the perorative connotations associated with hippie, yuppie, and preppie. And then there’s the poetics. It just “sounds” right.
So I started emailing pundits like Krugman and Brooks as well as editors and writers at places like Slate, Salon, Huffpo, The Nation, Fox. Whenever I saw some other term, I wrote cajoling notes like: “What’s wrong with you? You’re a writer. Have you no ear, no sense of what it takes to make a nickname really stick?”
All my emails were ignored, dispatched into the ether, never to be pixilated again. Pundits don’t seem to respond to emails. Oh well.
I had obtained the Twitter handle @notrumpies as part of a class assignment in March, but had not done much with it. Then late in August, after Trump had won the nomination, I tried playing more seriously with Twitter, the social medium which most seemed to obsess the punditry (they all love their Twitter accounts). It turns out that the 140 character thing was not quite true. You could actually load graphics and attach them to tweets without using up the character count, and the bumper sticker format works great in a tweet.
But it could backfire. What if the trumpiess actually like their new nickname? Most Republicans and conservatives use the term “hippie” as a pejorative, as in “dirty hippies.” But the hippies themselves gleefully adopted it as their own, thought it complimentary and were proud of it. What if trumpies actually like being known for being trumpies?
I suppose that depends on how the term ends up being defined. Will a trumpie mean anybody who voted for Trump even if they did so holding their nose and later come to regretit, or only those who attend alt-right rallies and cheer at the thought of mass deportations? If Trump brings about peace and harmony and widespread economic prosperity, and like the TV Superman of his and my youth, he ends up standing for truth, justice, and the American Way, then pretty much everybody will claim to have always been a trumpie. Go with the winner and all that. It’s human nature.
It’s frustrating that Trump will be president, and that the pundits still haven’t come around to “trumpie” as the best nickname. But I’m working on it, or rather, tweeting and blogging on it. I adapted many of the graphics for the Resistance, and have already come up with new ones (e.g., Mussolini-Trumpolini coffee mugs). It’s a way of dealing with frustration.