The title kinda says it all, doesn’t it? File this one under “if this goes on…”
The question is, does President Donald “Joffrey” Trump think he’s having a fun wrestling-entertainment-style feud with CNN and most of the rest of the US press in order to boost his personal ratings, as if he were a television show himself?
Or is Donald J. Trump having a Kim-family-of-North-Korea kind of experience, finding himself enraged that the people His Royal Totally Not A King-ness owns dare do something other than gather in solemn worship of The Totally Not Thinning Or Dyed Haired Demigod Who Walks Among Us Little People?
I think the answer is yes, both, and even more still.
Have you noticed he keeps having rallies? Either he must refresh himself with the blood of mortals on a regular basis or he’s having rallies so he can bask in adulation and remind himself he is worshiped. Which, really, are almost the same thing.
And he does think he’s having a fun feud (I’m sure he’s enjoying himself to some extent, rubbing his hands together and muttering to himself, “that’ll really piss them off” like a standard-issue online troll). But it’s not just fun, it’s active publicity seeking. After all, doing outrageous things for the press is the way he kept his name in the public eye for decades. He craves attention terribly — if only his parents had frickin’ hugged him once in a while we might not be where we are. But we can say that about a lot of famous White (mostly) guys (mostly) who for some reason are always referred to by all three of their names, Donald John Trump.
He obviously loves working a crowd up, and political crowds probably give him the loudest cheers he’s gotten in his life. I’m sure it feels like a blast of pure crack to the naked brain for a lifelong attention junkie. To get those big rally cheers he’s got to keep the mob worked up. If they start thinking the cheers might become less lusty. We see the understanding of that in the disdain and disgust for things like education, expertise, and experience, which he campaigned against nearly as much as he campaigned against Hillary Clinton, and which he has mostly driven out of the Executive Branch and anywhere his direct influence can comfortably reach. It dovetails nicely with the pseudo-anarchic smash-everything-ism of (co-?) President Bannon, as well.
Keeping the mob riled up and validating his feelings of superiority also keeps bothersome qualities like reason, empathy, and humanity from surfacing in his vicinity. And those would be problematic for him because not only might someone question him instead of just shouting WOOO! YEAH! but also I’d say his entire life as a unit is a long illustration of the fact that he just doesn’t get those things. In fact, not only does Donny “the J stands for “teeny hands”” Trump not understand reason, empathy, and humanity, but he appears to hate and be disgusted by those qualities.
Which perhaps is a way of life he learned at the knee of Daddy The Slumlord or Daddy the Racist or Daddy Who Never Said I Love You But Called Poor Little Donny A Screwup Way Too Often.
Which, yes, is sad. But we’re the ones suffering for it. If he’s suffering, it’s down deep in a withered empty shell where once he hid the nascent humanity of his youth, but now keeps a raisin that is probably long dead like an inhabitant of the crawlspace under the house of that famous clown’s house.
At seventy-one years old, he has made the awful lessons he learned his own, and has obviously passed it down to his cold, casually-dehumanizing progeny. A proud heritage.
Before I go further, let me bring the title in.
Journalists who publish things other than the praise and uncritical adulation Trump craves are, in his words, “the enemy of the American people.” By which he means that as President, the United States is a thing he owns and therefore the people in it are things he owns and therefore people who are journalists and don’t do exactly what he wants are broken things he owns that defy him. And those are things to be hated and crushed.
Your free press is to be hated and crushed.
Your free speech is to be hated and crushed.
You, too, are an enemy of the people, unless you come to praise and only praise Lord Donald “Being Born Rich Makes Me Better Than Mere Humans” Trumpet Solo.
But, you say, it’s all hyperbole.
I say, he doesn’t know what that is. He believes in his own superiority and your inferiority. He believes it deep down and he avoids thinking otherwise, because he avoids thinking. He has told us just that many times.
All the rest of what I’ve said follows because he has no introspection and/or ambition to be a better person. He sees no need. He believes he is already the best person ever, and he has believed that since grade school.
He doesn’t think. He hasn’t the depth to keep someone by his side to whisper “you are just a man” into his ear. He hasn’t — he avoids — understanding who and what he is and why he does what he does and thinks what he thinks and feels what he feels and wants what he wants.
All of the above bleeds and oozes from his every word and action because he doesn’t understand hyperbole, but chooses it as a way of life and mode of communication. And he doesn’t understand civil rights, society, the press, government, human beings, or himself. Period. He’s the ultimate know-nothing, and he doesn’t want to know anything about you except whether or not you’re a Trump worshiper or the enemy.
In the best of Trump voters, there’s deep and intense dissatisfaction. A feeling that anything must be better than the politics of our memory, whether that memory is the few years of the 18 year old first time voter or the several decades of the elder Trump voter.
In many, I think, there’s an approach to politics that is identical to the approach to sport. You choose a team, and you root for them no matter what. Which is a foolish and dangerous approach to politics no matter who you’re voting for, and a core failure of civic education at school, in our communities, and in our homes.
But I’m not talking about the best of Trump voters here. I’m not talking about the rah-rah-go-team voters, or the reluctant ideologues who don’t like Trump but hate anyone outside the GOP more, or the impulse-shopper voters who went with whoever’s last sound bite they liked more, or the strategic ‘he’ll pick SCOTUS justices I’ll like’ voters or the on-the-fence voters who aren’t quite sure, somehow, who best represents their ideas and ethics.
I’m talking about the hard Trump core. The people who love the guy for all he represents. Not the Russian bots and foreign provocateurs, but the ones who sound like Russian bots despite being born and raised in the most corn-and-apple-pie-fed settings across the country.
Theirs is the triumph of the won’t.
They call themselves “alphas” and their perceived enemies (most of the citizenry of the United States of America) “betas” and “cucks”…
…and “feminized” (because being a woman is bad, or means you’re inferior, or means you’re genetically programmed to serve men because quite a few of the Trumpite hard core love them some 19th century pseudoscientific genetic determinism and its cousins eugenics and eugenic-style theories, and possibly phrenology and physiognomy and phlogiston and phlat earth ‘theory’ and who knows what else) and, well, whatever flaccid insults help them feel turgid and ready to lash out violently — because manliness, to them, is not showing humanity, but is found in behaving like a rage-blind distempered ape.
They imagine that by naming themselves dominant and aggressive, that makes them paragons of rock-jawed will.
They have little clue what it really reveals: it doesn’t reveal will. It reveals won’t. A humanity-paralyzing fear of tomorrow, of today, and of anything that doesn’t cater to their fussy, prissy, whiny control-freak demands of reality. A boy-tantrum “I WON’T” to the inevitability of time passing. They’re pissed off that reality itself won’t cut the crusts off their PB&J like mommy used to, but insists on being reality.
The “f–k your feelings” crowd runs on the feeling that they are offended that the universe will not treat them like the little princes and princesses they know they are.
That failure of adapting to the facts of life is their motive force, just as gasoline is the motive force of your car: there are a variety of other ingredients and factors, some important and others not, but without gasoline and failure Trumpism Car DOES. NOT. MOVE.
Of course, that’s not what they see in the mirror.
Trumpites, just like “God Emperor Trump” mostly cast themselves as alpha-male towers of will (or equivalent, or admirers of same, when women) — an army to proudly march back into the middle of the 20th century. Or maybe the 19th or 18th, depending on the Trumpite.
As if a past can ever be re-lived. As if the past was ever half as idyllic and perfect as many of them seem to believe — and an awful lot of them can remember the middle of the 20th century.
It is, after all, the land of their childhoods, the land of their childish dreams and childish ambitions. It is an age of shelter for many, even those whose childhoods were difficult or even abusive — what comes after, dealing with the adult consequences of childhood deprivation and/or abuse, often seems even harder than childhood, especially to the adult living it in the now.
And the remembrance of childhood is veiled in the ignorance of the child, and that is hazed by the passage of decades as well as the bitter demise of childhood dreams at the hands of reality — and both white male Boomers and GenX, key Trump demographics, had big dreams that died hard. Dreams of privilege expanding endlessly, dreams of unlimited world-altering success, dreams of the industry and union driven white middle class boom of the 1950s trending up, up, forever up, three chickens in every pot and three cars in every McMansion garage on a solid acre in the suburbs with a tall white privacy fence and a dog and a cat and 2.5 children educated at the highest standard in the world.
Only, the Boomers grew up to be Yuppies and ‘vulture capitalists’ and GenX grew up to build the dot-com boom and bust and found the ‘gig economy,’ and the ‘leaders’ of both have spent, collectively, the last 40 years gutting that goose that was laying the golden eggs, haven’t they?
There were a lot of rich guts in the American goose. Gutting it has taken a long time. But the work is almost done, now. What do you do with a fowl once you have it gutted?
You cut it into pieces and fry it, that’s what. It’s delicious.
Then you throw the bones away. Might take another 40 years to get there. And the process is part of the problem. The Boomer and Gen X gutters know they’ll almost certainly be dead and gone by the time they’ve gnawed this goose down to the greasy bones.
And here they are, writing and tweeting and bitching and Trump-voting away, flailing about wildly for someone else to blame. We (white male GenX, of which I am one) aren’t about to blame ourselves collectively. We’re all about ego and the importance of the individual, by which we mean ourselves, singular, not any other white male of our generations and certainly not any other individuals beyond that demographic. I, me, me, I. And if something is wrong you must be to blame and that’s why we have Trump yelling at his fans to ‘knock the shit out of’ people who dare voice dissent and why we have ideological zealots stabbing people for not agreeing with their politics (yes, enforcing the ‘correctness’ of their politics by killing those who disagree. Or, in milder form, by calling them rude names on Twitter.) and attacking people for having brown skin or the ‘wrong’ religious/spiritual/ideological/scientific/educated beliefs and knowledge.
Let’s go back, for a moment, to that perceived childhood idyll they’re so hot to “take our country back” to.
For me, childhood was the 1970s. In my memory, there’s sort of a glow around those years. That glow is the better side of my childhood. A glow of carefree play. What did I know or feel of the ugliness of the war in Vietnam or the national humiliation of Richard Nixon or the horror of Kent State?
Little or nothing, of course. I was a boy, a poor boy to be sure, but one who was wandering field and forest of rural Wisconsin with a faithful dog at my side. I was concerned with wading in creeks, gathering hickory nuts, snacking on wild apples and plums and berries, climbing trees, playing games with my friends, reading books, and so on. I wasn’t watching or comprehending much of the news.
The 1970s were no golden age, to be sure. But they look a bit gold to me when I remember them. Because I was a child, and the cares of adulthood were not yet upon me. The 1950s are no different. Or the 1930s, or 1990s. Wherever your childhood is.
Trumpism is no yearning for utopia, and it is no brave embrace of the hard work of making a better tomorrow. It is a fleeing in the hopeless direction of lost childhood. It is a cowering. For tomorrow is always uncertain, and doubly so for those who wish, uselessly, to live in the past.
The thuggish threats and violence and posturing with gun and fist are not strength. They are the bared teeth of the rat backed into a corner — only the Trumpite corner is built of fear-rhetoric and scaremongering taken to heart by the fearful. It’s not real. But more than imaginary, it is a huge corner packed full of a whole chaos of rats constantly telling each other how hellish and awful life and the United States and the world are. And no matter how much the rats tear into each other, no matter what other of their fellows they manage to bite, what they rage against is impossible to bite, because it is tomorrow itself, and the blood they taste is their own.
They’re raging against the only true constant in the universe: change itself. A constant that nothing can turn aside, delay, or even touch.
And, perhaps fittingly for the generations of Boomers and GenXers that are the meat of the ranks of Trumpism, their idea of a better world is an action B-movie. No actual leaders, just stars whose charisma is a scriptwritten Hollywood facade of strength, whose power is all spectacle and cheesy one-liners and costumery (Mike Pence and Scott Walker on Harleys, anyone?) whose will is the will of the moral and ethical and emotional weakling: the temper tantrum, the uncontrolled rage, the urge to mass murder with big guns and exciting stunts and technicolor explosions, and of course lots and lots of angry, violent intimidation.
Bully tools, but played out in real life instead of the theater.
Yearn for an angry, bloody version of childhood all you like, Trumpites. That way lies chaos and loss and disappointment. Adulthood can be quite a bit more boring, with its reason, and compromise, and sometimes painful ethical choices, and hard work, and compassion. But one way leads into a better future for our children, and one leads into Lord of the Flies for children of all ages, even the balding ones with deep crows’ feet.
The choices, of course, are endless. Choosing might be a bit tough. For example, Lex Luthor is a tempting choice – billionaire, elected President, has an adversary he can’t stop obsessing over and who some hold up as a hero figure and others regard with suspicion (calm down, Hillary – you’re no Superman), has his own vision of how to use the power of the United States to fulfill his own goals – and yet, can you really compare Trump’s intellect and planning ability to Luthor’s? I would argue NO FREAKIN WAY, OBVIOUSLY.
You might even stretch the definition of villain a bit. I mean, you could certainly call Trump a Salacious Crumb.
The name fits. Perhaps not the role, but ol’ Salacious fits my purpose here, which is to make a clumsy transition to my own choice.
I have a reason to make this choice here: I’m removing the most glaringly obvious one so you have to come up with something different. Ha-ha!
Donald Trump is… *DRUM ROLL*
They’re both filthy rich, emphasis on the filthy. They’re both ALLEGEDLY WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE in bed with organized crime. They’re both misogynistic – just look at that getup he stuck Princess Leia in so everyone could gawk at what a “young and beautiful piece of ass” he had.
They’ve both got their slimy tentacles deep into the levers of power and are happy to use them to enrich themselves.
And they’re both gluttonous pigs. Whether the feast is food, power, wealth, or flattery.
If you have your own ideas about which villain Donald Trump is, kindly leave a comment and I’ll be happy to discuss Donny’s villainy with you. 🙂
Follow the Leaders: one piece in a series by artist Isaac Cordal.
You may have seen the piece of art above already. It has been bouncing around the internet for some years now, often billed as “politicians debating sea level rise” or “…climate change.” Well, it kind of isn’t, and it kind of is, and following the link in the caption might shed some light on it.
It is a FANTASTIC representation, inadvertent or otherwise, specifically of the current US GOP/Trumpite approach to climate change and rising sea levels.
And that approach…
…yeah. That’s going to be SUPER EFFECTIVE.
But our Fearless Glorious Leader and his Band of
Thugs Merry Men (they’d surely call it sexist to acknowledge the women who choose to support him rather than lump them together under a masculine collective) aren’t restricting themselves to climate change. If you’ve been following current political events, he/they is/are not just ignoring climate change science, but rolling back environmental protections that have cleaned up industry-polluted land, water, and air over the last 40 years, acting to revive coal use and hobble the increasing use of solar and wind power generation, which I might add, is rising because it is now cost effective due to technological advances perpetrated by that terrible villain, science.
In other words, the 21st century is SCARY and THINGS ARE CHANGING and LET’S HIDE IN THE 20TH CENTURY. Unless you’re a public school student, in which case they’re shooting for the 19th century. No, really. The target there is getting rid of all those troublesome public schools and leaving education to corporations and churches, which I’m sure will work out great in an alternate timeline where suddenly technology stops working.
The only problem is that hiding in the past is a gigantic mistake, and it will always be. Yes, there’s such a thing as tradition. But traditions only make sense as long as they help people. If things change and they become harmful, or you realize they’ve been harmful all along and we don’t have a need to accept that harm — I’M LOOKING AT YOU COAL WITH YOUR BLACK LUNG AND OPEN PITS AND TOXIC RUNOFF AND OH WHAT A SHOCK BURNING THOUSANDS OF ANCIENT FORESTS IN CONCENTRATED FORM EVERY DAY MIGHT RELEASE GASES THAT CHANGE THE CLIMATE A TAD GEE WHIZ WHO WOULDA THUNK IT — then you say “yay, positive change!” and start using wind turbines to charge your iThingiee. And we all breathe a little easier, and people who live near the ocean like me start thinking that maybe, just maybe, our descendants won’t have to flee farther inland in the 22nd century.