Donald Trump (is there anything to add?)
Why, you ask, would I even write about him?
That he is an “embarrassment” to the Republican Party, who cares? The whole party and all of its candidates are an embarrassment to any notion of an actual democracy.
And as for an actual democracy… In the end, we’ll have Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton to choose from. It’s enough to make you weep if you’re still capable of shedding a tear over the ritual joke that is a presidential election. (There’s always Bernie Sanders and if you participate at all in choosing someone to be in charge, he seems to be the only real possibility).
Well, of course, it’s not the man anyone truly cares about; it’s not the physical incarnation on this plane of whoever and whatever Donald Trump is—it’s what he symbolizes, what he seems to represent in current American culture.
Interestingly (was it on purpose?), an article attempting to explain Trump’s popularity among a surprisingly large number of American right-wing voters, appeared right next to a report on the phenomenal populist appeal of Mexico’s worst drug lord, “El Chapo” (Joaquin Guizman)—a psychopathic mass murderer, corrupter of governments and drug dealer to the world.
Populist appeal—Donald Trump and El Chapo.
Reporters have interviewed people showing up at Trump rallies and speeches in various primary states. When asked why they’ve come to see him, most people—almost exclusively white, and somewhat past 40, say they are there because he “speaks the truth”; that he says what a lot of people are thinking and don’t have the guts to say out loud.
People don’t necessarily say they like him; that’s certainly understandable since he seems to go out of his way to be unlikable. Being an insensitive, sneering tyrant is his carefully cultivated, long time persona. No, what his supporters admire about him seems to be that he alone among all the other Republican candidates does not mince words—he says what the other candidates know is true but won’t say for fear of offending some large segment of voters.
“Mexico is sending us their rapists and murderers.”—an excerpt from Trump’s most provocative remarks to date. I have no doubt that such bigoted idiocy is believed to be the truth by hundreds of thousands of Americans. And that’s all part of a larger group that is afraid that America is fast becoming not America anymore. Feelings of becoming a minority in their own country (White and Christian) are causing tremendous fear and eliciting harsh reactions from millions of people. Watch out! The Mexicans and the Muslims are taking our jobs and our schools and even our government—soon their language and culture and laws will erase “our” own.
Now I don’t want to be some knee-jerk liberal about this. I can understand the fears these people have (if not their often extremely harsh reactions); this competition for jobs and space in schools and hospitals is real; it’s been that way with new waves of immigrants (legal for the most part) since the beginning of our country. Arriving cultures always have and still do change the old culture—become mixed in with it to create a yet newer culture. The structure of the American political, cultural and economic system has allowed for these changes—even if there are always the inevitable violent reactions in the beginning.
What fuels this fear—actually, what makes the situation more than just a fear—is that there are just too many people in the country and only a limited number of jobs, hospitals, and schools.
The country’s ability to provide jobs and services has been and continues to contract, not expand, but the population keeps growing. Once America was able to successfully digest waves of new arrivals but now that is increasingly difficult. There are complex political and economic reasons for this; the primary one, in my opinion, being the monstrous income inequality in our country and the ridiculously low tax rate on the rich. But Trump has fixed on the “aliens”—the invading hordes from other countries—as the cause of all our troubles…
So, although Trump is shielded from the effect of such things by his billions—and doesn’t, in my opinion, give a damn what happens to people—he seems to be empathizing with the problems of the working and middle class white citizenry.
Trump’s appeal is primarily based on this “speaking the truth that one else will”. It doesn’t matter that he has to resort to bigoted, damaging stereotypes to do it—it’s enough for a lot of people that he says it in the first place. And yes—the other Republican candidates—a sad mix of extremist clowns and the usual hypocritical opportunists—won’t offend anybody if they can help it (some of them won’t even risk offending Donald Trump—though his recent remarks about John McCain finally were too much for them to be completely silent).
Not offending anyone during the run up to the primaries and the election is the time honored way of electoral politics.
And speaking of being cautious about expressing any real opinion, it’s not much different with the Democrats. Hillary Clinton (despite her good points) is the latest public face of the same tired, war-mongering multimillionaires that have occupied the center of the Democratic Party for decades now. And, of course, to get elected, she will always go out of her way to please as many people as she can, including her real constituency, the rich.
…Anyway, to Trump enthusiasts, he is refreshingly honest—not a politician but man who speaks from his heart.
…Who knows what’s in Donald Trump’s heart?
Does the man really believe all the nastiness and stereotyping that spurts out of his mouth? Maybe he does. A lot of people in this country do (including some Democrats and liberals), so he’s just serving as a mouthpiece for them. Maybe he doesn’t believe this stuff—but he knows that he can gain leverage over his party by capturing the minds (if not the hearts) of this fearful, generally conservative element. But what would he do with this leverage? What does he want in return for going away and leaving the Republicans alone?
What I think what Trump really wants is to be a nuisance and make a spectacle of himself. He’s like a badly neglected, willful child (Obviously I’m not the first person to have pointed this out), who throws tantrums and smears poop all over to get his parents to pay attention to him. Really, I think that’s what he’s all about. He’s saying, constantly and loudly, “Hey, what about me?!!”
And that, as I mentioned earlier, is another of his major attractions for the crowds that say they enthusiastically support him. They’re afraid they’re being ignored, left behind, abandoned—that their lives aren’t important anymore and they count for nothing; a feeling by the way, which is not limited to just this particular segment of voters.
Trumps supporters won’t go so far as to be as publicly mean as Trump but they very much feel neglected and endangered—and he seems to speak for them. Of course he doesn’t, but it’s enough that he appears to be doing so. And again, if anyone thinks that Hillary Clinton and her crowd give a damn about what happens to the average American, they are buying a massive load of bullshit.
This “going against” the establishment—speaking, and acting out—against the powers that be in his own party, the politically correct majority, and even the government; this “outlaw” behavior is another of Trumps appeals. His supporters see him as an outlier, as ignorant and absurd as that belief may be.
Trump was born rich, the son of a multi-millionaire real estate developer—he took over the business from his father.
When Donald Trump says (said), on television, “you’re fired”, it wasn’t only the punchline of a TV show. The joke was (and is) on the people who rally behind him.
It’s people like Donald Trump and other vulture billionaires in search of obscene profits that have been behind the REAL firings of hundreds of thousands of Americans—many of them the same people who support him.
In New York City, where Trump is generally detested, people know him for what he really is—the very opposite of an “outlaw”. He is the worst example of brutal, predatory capitalism and has wreaked havoc on many New York Neighborhoods. He is, far from being an “outlaw”, a supreme example of the real “establishment”. He is (as they used say back in the day), a stone greed-head, with no redeeming values—at least none that the public has ever really seen. Maybe, as he says of himself, his children love him. But nobody who has ever been really affected by him in a public way has anything but contempt for him.
And when it comes to populist support, Trump is no “El Chapo” (the Mexican drug lord), save for similar traits of out-of-control greed and lack of conscience. El Chapo didn’t inherit his fortune to begin with—and in no way excusing the depth and breadth of his murderous brutality—is actually a genuine outlaw.
Millions of Mexicans cheer him on when he beats the army and the police. But they aren’t “fans” because he is drug dealer and a killer. They identify with him because he succeeds in outwitting and triumphing over the Mexican establishment.
El Chapo is no Robin Hood; robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Like Trump, he’s as unrepentant a thief as you could ever fear to find. But at least he has consistently made manipulated and outwitted the Mexican authorities, who seem to be dishonest and corrupt at almost every level. There is some vicarious pleasure to be had in that.
People are sick to death of the hypocrisy, cynicism and corruption of their own political systems and politicians. They are tired of suffering from the excesses of monstrous income inequality. Even being middle class is turning into a not-so-slow slide into debt and ultimate poverty—while the rich, with the deliberate connivance of the government, get richer.
Average Americans and average Mexicans have a legitimate contempt for their own governments—a righteous disdain for their respective establishments.
So, when someone (even if he’s actually the problem and not the solution) publicly flouts the ruling classes, he automatically gets some sympathy and support from millions of people that these government establishments treat like dirt (except for the brief periods when they need their votes to put a stamp of legitimacy on their piracy).
Finally, Donald Trump draws crowds because, like El Chapo, he is a “celebrity”. He is famous for being famous.
This celebrity status automatically gives him some credit in a world that increasingly cannot tell the difference between the “virtual” and the real, between fake blood and real blood, or between a holographic version of democracy, projected from some Wall Street financed movie studio and the real thing.
When a real man or woman of the people actually does show up, and I don’t mean Donald Trump; when an actual flesh and blood democrat like Bernie Sanders declares himself, he is treated by the establishment and most of the press as the imitation! He is portrayed as a not quite serious troublemaker who doesn’t belong on the same platform as the fakes who successfully masquerade as real.
Trump is, by this point, almost a fictitious impersonation of his actual self. I doubt he even knows who he really is anymore. So, as he increasingly loses his hold on an integral self, he relies, ever more desperately, on his supporters to project back to him some recognizable version of Donald Trump.
So, Donald Trump, celebrity and populist spokesman…
“O brave new world that has such people in it.”