Attempting to write an article about one Donald J. Trump is an incredibly exhaustive experience; I would never claim to be a seasoned political analyst, nor could I argue that the coverage this store-brand cheese puff receives from the media is in any way fair or encouraging. Inflammatory remarks such as that last one are perhaps the only place I can find solace when confronted with such mesmerizing, nigh inexplicable, absurdity. Donald Trump’s rhetorical approach denies the possibility of meaningful contemplation; it is at the same time enraging and captivating both in spite of and specifically because of its amorphous quality. However, some things don’t change. History does not change.
The only way I could ever really hope to explain what Donald Trump means to me is by examining him through the historical contexts and movements that have allowed him a podium of such profound pomposity, and by interrogating the media’s complicity in his rise to the top of the American political landscape. Before I begin, an obvious disclaimer is needed, I’m drafting this in July and I am one hundred percent sure that by the time you’re reading this, things will be irrevocably different… such is life.
Perhaps the most common rhetorical attacks launched against Trump are the continual comparisons to Adolf Hitler. I would immediately resist the urge to accept this comparison for a number of reasons. People always argue that Hitler was democratically elected and therefore Donald Trump represents the same level of danger. This is false. Hitler was never elected to the chancellorship of Germany, he was appointed by the aging President – Germany has both a President and Chancellor— Paul von Hindenburg on the suggestion of a very small group of far-right autocrats. Similarly, although a popular party, the Nazis were never elected to a majority government, and gained the brunt of their power through violence and intimidation.
We have obviously seen similar attempts made by Trump and his constituents, in threatening Republican primary voters or just by the general air of violence and hatred that cling like a miasma to his rallies, but to consider Donald Trump a true fascist he must express a desire to violently overthrow the current mode of government in the United States in favour of some form of ultra-nationalist autocracy. I am in no way trying to suggest that his message is not dangerous but I will always argue that fearing his ludicrous policy ignores the real issue. He has skyrocketed the significance of apolitical issues and myths to the front of everyone’s mind.
In 1964 when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted JKF’s “Civil Rights Act” he permanently changed the political landscape of the United States, particularly in the South. Previously, the poor southern voters had sided with the Democrats because they understood that a Republican candidate heralding the rule of elites would do little if anything to help elevate them from poverty. However, white southern voters soon realised that the fear of minorities overshadowed the fear of poverty, and the Republicans promised to assert the dominance of white Americans, and thus began the era of personalized politics we still inhabit today.
The Republican party has utilized what is essentially the same “White Southern Voter” strategy for over fifty years, but now that Donald Trump holds the reins, he has thrown pretence to the wind.
Trump has exposed the lie of American right-wing politics to the world, by demonstrating that an intensely racist, xenophobic message is all it takes to rally the good ole’ boys to your banner, and it hasn’t changed a thing. Essentially he has convinced millions that economic prosperity for all “real Americans” will be wrought from the suffering and condemnation of immigrants and minorities. His rhetoric, similar to the rhetoric of most previous Neoliberal Republican candidates doesn’t make a lick of sense and is riddled with contradiction and error.
A wall will not protect American jobs, and to a degree I believe that Trump understands this. He has expressed a desire to renegotiate NAFTA to prevent American companies from outsourcing labour to Mexico and Canada, and yet he himself employs sweatshop labour in Asia to produce his Trump branded suits and ties. His campaign baseball caps were made in China, a country he has lambasted countless times for devaluing currency and selling out labour from under the feet of good, hardworking Americans. Then stop buying their labour, Trump. In reaction to the horribly tragic Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting of June 12, 2016 he tweeted out the most buffoonish “I told you so” in the Internet’s history and he praises Scotland for “taking their country back” even though Scots voted to remain in the European Union during the Brexit referendum. How could we all be so unendingly aware of his immense stupidity and yet powerless to stop him? Its simple.
From day one, Trump told his supporters that the “liberal” media would do everything in its power to prevent him from becoming president. Therefore, every lie or hateful comment he makes, for which he receives widespread criticism only strengthens his case; it’s Donnie against the world. The American people obviously love underdog tales, they started as one. Therefore, when we are all hyper aware of his mistakes he wins. The only reason we are even able to be so painfully aware is because of the hyper speed of hyper-text, the ceaseless CNN, MSNBC, and FOX coverage, and the belief that all of us reserve the right to hate Trump more than anyone else does. Of course keep doing it, keep complaining, keep sharing, do it all—but don’t expect it to change anything. You’ll always be an annoying liberal to those who have eaten up his rhetoric like -insert unflattering livestock simile here-; that’s ok.
What then is the true danger of a man like Trump? Is it really in his ludicrous policy, or his “whites first’ agenda? Can we even accept any of these things at face value given his propensity towards inconsistency? I think the biggest danger here is that we all cannot stop talking about him, myself included; however, this does not mean he can be ignored. As I stated earlier, by the time any of you are reading this, we might be dealing with an entirely new beast. If the events of this summer’s Republican National Convention have taught us anything, it’s that there is no shortage of uncritical, deeply personalized voters out there who will accept Trump’s lies all the way to the polls, and this is a YUUUUUUUUUUGE problem.