Jesus God, I despise Donald Trump with nuclear-fusion heat of a million stars. Wait—a million’s not huge enough. A billion stars. Quality stars—like a billion red giants. Not a bunch of brown dwarf losers. Terrific stars.
What I love about Trump is the spectacle. Trump is nothing if not a glorious showman—a megalomaniac with no filter whose sole interest in life is promoting himself. His posturing, braggadocious, say-anything style is entertaining in the context of a political contest. As a reality TV star, Trump didn’t hold my attention for five minutes—he was just another coarse East Coast loudmouth, like a member of the cast of Jersey Shore or the Real Housewives of New York. But on the campaign trail or in GOP debates? He’s terrific. Huge.
What I really love about Trump is far more important than the theater: Trump has completely monkey-wrenched the Republican Party. The GOP establishment’s leaders are now looking around for Who To Blame—and of course, it’s the media.
That’s not to excuse the media of blame for the rise of Trump. They shower rock-star attention on the dude, while largely ignoring Bernie Sanders (the other anti-establishment guy). Why? Bernie doesn’t have Trump’s showmanship, and the media—especially TV, where most Americans get “informed”—are looking for a car chase on the freeway, not substance.
As the late Hunter S. Thompson put it: “The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.”
But blaming the media trivializes the importance of what’s happened. Trump’s ascendance is more important than the lurch to the right represented by the Tea Party movement, which some time ago sank under the weight of its inability to get anything done other than lecture others on its self-perceived monopoly on correct interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
What’s happened is a populist revolution by the GOP’s groundlings. The rank-and-file have finally realized that the people who run this country—the Republicans and Democrats who truly steer the ship—form a plutocracy, and do the bidding of that plutocracy. Millions of people who have been thoroughly chumped finally realize that they’ve been getting hosed for 35 years—that the middle and working classes are worse off than they were before—and they’re pissed. Pisssed off enough to kick some establishment-types to the curb.
I tip my hat to those groundling Republicans. In the face of frenzied efforts by establishment Republicans and the right-wing media to dump Trump, they’ve had the huervos to fight back. Democrats have had the same chance with Bernie, and shamefully it looks all but certain that they’re going to try to anoint President Clinton II. Gutless.
Of course, there’s also plenty to dislike about Trump: The man is a collection of bad traits, many of them fairly repugnant.
As an orator, Trump has all the skills of a strip club MC. “Let’s hear it for Kitty, people! Isn’t she terrific? Aren’t those fantastic bolt-on bazooms? Incredible quality! For the next 15 minutes, lap dances are half price!” He’s celebrated as being the antidote to what has become oppressive political correctness. As someone who chafes at political correctness and often flouts it, I get it. Unfortunately, Trump’s refusal to kowtow to PC often takes the form of xenophobia, sexism, ethnocentrism, several other –isms, and just plain blowhard buffoonery.
As a policy maker, he’s going to build that wall, and Mexico will pay for it. He’ll put an end our botched World Police interventions and nation-building adventurism, but he’s going to kick ISIS’ ass. He’ll ban people from entering the country based on their religion. How can anyone take any of this stuff seriously?
As a leader, Trump has shown little evidence that he’s ever cared about anything beyond promoting his brand—and his brand ain’t all that great, people. It’s a brand that was actually enhanced by his stint as the host of a God-awful reality TV series. And while people are fed up and are clearly looking for someone who isn’t going to continue on the path of always putting the best interests of the plutocracy first, shouldn’t we be concerned that Trump is a member of that cohort? And that his business model is that he’s always for sale?
Finally, there’s what’s most concerning about Trump: His nods toward authoritarianism, and his appeal to those among us who admire the authoritarianism of Vladimir Putin. What if, as some worry, Trump is our Mussolini? Around 80 years ago, fascism emerged as a populist movement in Europe. That didn’t work out so well.