What Saves America from the Blight of Trumpery?


Not the Left, Relishing the Amateur Wedge Slicing Chronic Wedge Politics

As a verb, “Trump” is true to its meaning, a sudden power play that negates a vulnerable action.  Thus, the Donald’s graceless indictments of immigration and immigrants, US “loser” status, fellow candidates and journalists, US trade and foreign policy (for not being belligerent enough!), all without visible positive alternatives. He “trumps” but does not solve. But in its fanciful nominative form, Trump’s name shines as “Trumpery” describes both his campaign and his low-brow appeal to the disgruntled and disempowered.


So far none of the usual suspects, let alone the well-paid king’s men, counter the terror of the Teflon Trump. He may last well into the primaries, even take his anti-everything message (except “Trump can make America great again”) until the Convention. One undeniable surprise: the once farcical Republican boast — “look at our remarkably strong team of candidates this year” — is utterly kaput. One mouthy Trumpster, one Fox debate, and the allegedly credible, experienced front runners run for their lives, some with shock and awe.

Their bad for high-priced advisers caught unawares.This, from a very sobering New Yorker overview of Trump’s scary fringe supporters, justifies his calculated demagoguery: “I play to people’s fantasies,” he writes in “The Art of the Deal,” his 1987 memoir. “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and a very effective form of promotion.”

So, what force stops this deceptive promoter from mucking about, playing at politics? And who answers Matt Taibbi’s challenge, “Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny”? His splashy “blunders” only rev up the Donald’s militant confederacy of dunces, sucking up contradictions and vitriol like chocolate kisses. Reversals are in! Yet, not cable or print media, not establishment Republicans, not opposing wingnut candidates, certainly not Democrats can end his summer’s contagion of palaver. Why Dump the Trump, say Democrats, with neither the money nor smarts to match his cudgel, cracking open two decades of thunderously divisive wedge politics? Let us appreciate the Trump drone, igniting bombs that could permanently disable the billionaire force field.

Retribution and Reaction

Curiously, establishment Republicans, though aghast at Trump’s demagogic appeal, won’t yet grab this double bull-horn by the towers. That changes when enough Trumpettes threaten to stay off the reservation. Is it not telling that 2/3s of Republicans snicker at Trump’s cunning and bluster, deriding his heartfelt “populism” as poppycock? If Trumps find government leaders “stupid,” how can he magically embrace the yahoos who keep electing the stupids? Trump’s ever-changing losers are useful when counting profits and when bragging about poll numbers. They will come for his hide.

Whatever, this inexorable truth looms: the GOP has an uphill battle, worsened when Trump raises all the “wrong” issues and offends critically-needed voters. Reality: unless the GOP ticket captures the 24 states Romney won plus 64 MORE Electoral Votes (or 2/3s of those in play), Democrats win again. Do the math: Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20), Ohio (18), Virginia (13), Colorado  (9), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4). Which ones will embrace the Donald — or the badly-tainted GOP “winner” surviving the Trump ringer? Strange outcome I suspect from Citizens United: the ever-strident right dominates state politics but remains the underdog nationally.

What’s happening IS historic. but not predictive how long Trump lasts: his contagion certainly reinforces the “bush league” quality of establishment “frontrunners.” Do not the current empty suits called Jeb Bush or Scott Walker already make the distasteful Romney look almost substantial (he survived early primary foolishness)? Rand Paul staggers while John Kasich and Marco Rubio advance, but without gravitas IMO sufficient for prime time. Every time Knuckles Huckabee concocts his own Constitution, folks who know law cheer the comic relief after Jon Stewart’s departure. Oh yeah, somewhere are Cruz and Sanctorum and Perry? Oh, please. One other dramatic insight: Trump’s tantrums, cutting through media resistance and ad money, are canceling out tens of  millions squandered on countless “losers” by benighted super-riches. What a pity.

Toast the Three-Ring Attraction 

What a thought, that Trump qualifies as the most cunning, slickest GOP operative, highlighting the mind-numbing mediocrity against him. Not that Trump, spawn of Limbaugh and Palin, isn’t expert at numbing gullible minds on his altar of reductionism. Does one-quarter of the right truly believe the galaxy’s runaway winner of the “most self-absorbed billionaire ever” speaks honestly for the common man? In lifestyle? divorces? bankruptcies? business hiring? basic manners? charitable giving? If he lasts long enough, Trump will certainly build his wall, that is, between those voters the party desperately needs — women, moderates, Hispanics and minorities — and the voting booth.

Trump isn’t playing on exceptionalism, but Yankee deviance, with a fistful of dangerous concoctions unmatched since Dick Cheney. So Trump delivers his laugh-out-loud theatrics, at least for connoisseurs of grim wit, but the week he takes over the White House, we know his agenda: what’s the next best job title? “Your Majesty Donald” would crown his career and fit his ego, as any number of loser citizens can be president. Too bad he’s not Catholic or he could fancy himself Pope’s Francis’ replacement: Trump pontificates enough for five popes. Is there an empty Emperor’s job up for grabs?

Though I view vulgar Trumpery as the ultimate political selfie, a defeated Donald would still covet the role of kingmaker. Would that not tickle his limitless fancy, picking the least objectionable “loser” to carry his “populist” scepter? And yet, if Trump himself doesn’t do himself in, destiny looms, we trust, supporting Lincoln’s sense about not fooling most of the people most the time. Or modify P.T. Barnum’s alleged key to success: never overestimate the intelligence of the buying public.

What’s really new here — except GOP wizards are flatfooted in combatting this know-nothing Birther who looks with Palinesque stupor to John Bolton for military expertise? Bolton is the hyper-partisan Bush-Cheney lawyer-diplomat who joined the National Guard to avoid harms way in the “losing” Vietnam battlefield. It’s beyond outlandish for Trump to lie about getting “military” advice from no expert. Is there no body-blow against this buffoonery, gleefully reducing every complex problem into sneering reductionism?

Thus we return to today’s ultimate trumpery, captured with “Trust me. I get things done. I am Trump.” That makes his campaign a mock-religious, faith-alone crusade dependent on one deity.  And doesn’t he deserve a good, old-fashioned campaign motto, reminiscent of his racial bigotry: Trumpery today, Trumpery tomorrow, Trumpery forever? Until Humpty-Trumpty has a great fall. And we can cheer that, too.


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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.