Like a mafia Don, Trump pumps ‘family values’ with a vengeance

What happens when informed, powerful critics target knee-jerk Trump nepotism, if not his plagiaristic wife and otherwise unremarkable offspring? Blunders galore attract scrutiny, even litigation. What happens when the Trump clan makes Clinton Foundation “pay-to-play” look like chump change?


“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” Michael J. Fox (seconded by the Trumpster-elect).

Buried somewhere in the Trump black box, alongside incendiary tax returns, are Trump’s unreadable moral or political principles. Yet there’s one conspicuous hill Trump will die on: family values — which for him means building high barriers around his sleazy tricks and suspect profits so his rich and famous lifestyle extends to heirs. Why play the big con if you don’t end up a big shot with a mammoth estate, an epic figure looming above billionaire peers? Typically, the compromised Trump can’t help overdoing it, turning an understandable quest into a morass of legal and ethical mine fields.

Loyalty to family, not love or compassion for others, conquers all in the spirit-less Trump universe. Here’s the ultimate devotee of “more stuff for us is winning” — more money, visibility, celebrity, certainly expanding family treasure houses. His post-election refusal to divest assets, even scoff at modest separation of public and private, prove he’s missing the gene that warns a smarter guy few survive sustained, personal scandals. Worse still, there’s little evidence he understands what “conflict of interest” means, nor how blatant nepotism could doom his presidency.

Does anything really go? Insolent pride (that which goeth before the fall) is no stranger to the imprudent amateur who stumbles into power. Can the insular Trump Tower brain forever deny the outside world, with his absurdly illogical takes: “it’s so obvious, what’s good for me is good for America. Want more jobs and wealth, hand over money, power, and influence.”

However crassly selfish, in fact Trump channels traditional Republican clap trap about the sanctify of family values, the heart of American exceptionalism. Yet his blinkered commitment to family above all invokes for many the Hollywood version of ultimate clan values: the mafia, ruled by an autocratic don who enforces total loyalty. Like the Trumpster, mafia kingpins specialize in control, intimidation, predation, and profiting from stupid, slow-footed losers. Of course, Trump lacks old-world, Italian charm, high impulse control, even a sense of honor that inform appealing movie scoundrels. Apparently, Trump doesn’t get that his pledges to appoint only the “best people” are sharply contradicted when he promotes his yet undistinguished brood. There’s nothing like crude nepotism to dramatize the violation of public trust. Does anyone doubt, the off-camera Trump clan mocks “conflict of interest” chatter as just another elitist, PC talking point?

Ethics, Smethics, All Bets are Off

Really, what’s the point of hitting a grand slam if you can’t share spoils with closest kin? Is anyone more trustworthy than serf-like children, meriting places at top gatherings to make out-sized transition decisions? What’s more American than wanting the best for offspring, flush with opportunity, to echelon quality of life and fabulous estates, all pouring forth from the flowing money god?

Do not Trump and similar billionaires seek immortality on earth — and doesn’t that start by indoctrinating your kin to orchestrate turning transient fame into permanent legacy? If not your clan, then who — to talk up greatness at the funeral, whitewash immorality and commission granite statures to dwarf your grandchildren? Won’t Trump’s high place in history simply mandate his brand of PR dominance after death, welcoming endless applause because everyone knows only a great man could make America great again? Why not finally consider renaming airports and bridges, if not cities and eras, to crown Trumpster glory?

Trump nepotism shouts forth pre-democratic, aristocratic (dare I say, elitist?) values. A king produces princes who aspire to kingship who in turn anoint princes. So much for survival of the fittest or competition on an even playing field. In Trump’s magic realm, not only do parentage, genes, birthplace and last names matter, they determine your tribe, valor and range of heroic doings. Thanks to the Protestant Ethnic, wealth, status and privilege are (allegedly) public signs of inner (spiritual) worth. Is supreme leadership not a gift from a higher power, transcending the tabulated result of befuddled voters in Rust Belt states?

Trump the Pied Piper

Thus, don’t hold your breath Trump will suddenly understand the jeopardy of nepotism or the inevitable scandals from massive conflicts of interest. Trump the Pied Piper proves he will try to get away with anything, serving Mammon in sync with his weird twist of what “public trust and service” mean. Thus Trump’s second commandment, beyond banishing any other gods before him, is advance your children so they appear just as special as papa. Brace for the self-fulling prophesies that awarding power will reinforce their leadership creds, in a never-ending circle that sustains the dynasty.  

Heirs of Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie, plus current super-billionaires know the legacy game, dubious that justification for great wealth is only a heavenly seat near the Creator.  No, pile up the accolades buttressed with engraved names on permanent buildings and monuments. Time to reconsider our obsolescent nomenclature: what is “New” about New York, and what does “York” (rhymes with dork) mean to those on this side of the pond? Wouldn’t the name “New Trump” fit better, honoring the city he symbolically owns — and who knows how much else he’ll wrangle before the final hurrah?

As American as Apple Pie

What makes Trump dangerous, aside from distortions of inflated wealth, is that he plays out what so many parents want for their children. Many Trumpettes see no danger to our republic when an entire family is granted unlimited, prince-like influence over government and global finances. What’s wrong with passing on what we can to our talented brood, presumably superior to others? What’s wrong with a greedy presidential Dad funding the best education and social networks while handing off billions in assets and investment capital? Who cares, because of profound, global economic shifts, that so many of Trump’s impoverished, deluded supporters won’t have larger estates in four or eight years? Envy and hero worship don’t pay off in hard cash.   

No one knows whether Trump embraces higher truths, in this world or the next. We know he lives to win, to keep score, brag, seek crowd adoration and bloated recognition of his intuitive, political genius, vulgar charm, and boasted wealth. But what happens when informed, powerful critics target knee-jerk nepotism, if not his plagiaristic wife and otherwise unremarkable offspring? Blunders galore attract scrutiny, even litigation. What happens when the Trump clan makes Clinton Foundation “pay-to-play” look like chump change? Will Trump have any choice but double down, then double down again, aflame with fury. How dare mere plebeians insult the Greatest Insulter in politics — especially when their attacks are both true and expose corruption?

Just imagine when sharp-tongued critics unravel indefensible conflicts of interest, linking them unkindly to the entire, devilish Trump career. From his throne, the eruption of Trump righteousness will bring down Old Testament-style retribution.  “Vengeance is mine,” saith the Trump. Will that work? Like potentates, kings and mafia dons driven by narrow self-interest, why should Trump not lose it (in rage) when what he most values — his lineage —  is manhandled just like he abuses often innocent foes? What goes around comes around, so they say, for all of us, whether minion, flunky or kingpin.


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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.