Why the flap over Taylor Swift? Because griping and grievance work for MAGA Trumpers | Opinion

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If football is America’s No. 1 sport, No. 2 is griping.

Right now, Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift are fantasy players in both.

The Great American Gripe Machine has moved on from beer or “stolen” elections to celebrity romances. Even former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy grumbled that the Kelce-Swift coupling must be “artificially ... propped up” to promote a future Joe Biden presidential endorsement.

From the other side of the ticket, Democrats complain about rich Republicans not paying taxes, or “fascist” government, or end-times preachers defending Israel.

There’s a reason that griping, grievance and resentment are such powerful tools in American politics.

They work.

Think about it: Two of the last five U.S. presidents were impeached. House Republicans want to make it three.

Democrats and Republicans both challenged elections. A candidate claimed the sitting president was not even really an American.

Then, America elected a Blamer-In-Chief.

Former President Donald Trump didn’t invent “us vs. them” politics;. But he escalated it to today’s fever pitch, Texas political science professors from both sides of the aisle say.

Grievance politics “motivates a politician’s base,” wrote professor Brandon Rottinghaus of the University of Houston.

“It’s a strategy that works,” he wrote. Trump didn’t cause nasty politics, “but it did bring it more into the open and demonstrate that it can be successful.”

If inflation is worse, it must be because Corporate America is gouging us.

If healthcare costs are up, it’s a globalist scheme to reduce the population. If a football player dates a pop singer, it’s a Pentagon plot to promote Biden and vaccines.

See? It’s easy.

The Trump era “took currents that were already percolating in our political culture and kicked them into overdrive,” assistant professor Matthew Wilson wrote by email from Southern Methodist University’s Center for Faith and Learning.

If a politician draws opponents, they must be cheating. Or they’re part of a sinister plot.

Republicans claim voter fraud to motivate voters while Democrats claim voter suppression, even though both are rare, professor Mark P. Jones wrote from Rice University’s Baker Institute..

Nobody argues back. That allows resentment and grievance to fester, he wrote: So, “strategic, albeit often insincere, politicians take advantage of it to win elections and raise money.”

Do tell.

University of Texas government professor Eric McDaniel said there’s another strategy behind it.

Yes, grievance claims simply reflect populist politics and the idea of “the corrupt elites against the innocent and pure masses,” he wrote by email.

But we don’t all react the same way.

White Americans tend to get riled up and vote.

Black Americans more often grow cynical and disgusted, and they stay home.

“What Trump was able to do is anger both,” he wrote.

It’s not just about Swifties.