Dismissing Trump as conniving, failed hustler disregards his self-deified status
The Trump Convention spectacle, so gripping I barely watched, clarified for all his strident refusal to be pigeon-holed as mere political “candidate.” Nor as mundane party “standard bearer,” mirrored in the cult presumptions as well as the unshakable faith of his acolytes. Nothing earthly shifts the Trumpian dial for true believers: neither his iniquity nor venom, neither endless scandals nor insider (family!) indictments, neither laughable lying, nor absurd conspiracy bluster – not even pushing poisons as pandemic cure.
Having dumped the archaic Party Platform as piffling (a big tell), and judging by Republicans fleeing in horror, Trump barely acknowledges his own party – except to bludgeon horrible, nasty Democrats. How banal and tiresome to be tied to any establishment (he can’t run over). Even comparing Trump the great pretender to elected professionals, those posing as public “servants,” does a disservice to both. Where’s any evidence the Donald wakes up and says, “I will be presidential today.” Not his job, which is absolute loyalty to his sole master: that ordained, holy of holy – his gut instinct.
And yet if not a Republican candidate, ever the non-politician “outsider” (no mean feat), what does he presume to be? His transparent fantasy is being Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen, the absolute monarch who cuts off critics’ heads – or that being messy, exiles them to Siberia. That’s a tough role in a nominal republic with elections, a few laws still on the books, and executive orders devoid of funding clout. Thus, only piddling miles of Mexican wall built, not one (systemic or serious) reform, and that damn pandemic just won’t vamoose when ordered.
Thus, his phony “Convention” served as coronation of the cult, perfectly consistent with Trump the Savior-in-chief. Only if re-elected does absolute monarchy loom. Thus, who cares about widening his support or thinking tactically about gaining voters? In his world, might makes right, and gross popularity a luxury. He’s less president than Proclaimer of Trumpian Truths, like Biblical prophesy of old. He need not “prove” his proclamations for he is his own Alternate Truths, as fully admitted. Thus, he doesn’t lie when falsifying so many widely-held consensual truths; he follows the messiah mode: to disrupt conventional reality, turn black into white. make up down and evil good.
Trump is so nervy he can violate our core grounds of being, per this devilishly brilliant. sobering essay, “The Republican convention messed with something more fundamental than logic. It screwed up our sense of time.” Imbued with higher powers, Trump uber alles denigrates all “outside” validation as a bore. Thus all critics are fools, blind to both carnage and the sacrificial redeemer in their midst. You don’t have to be religious to act the messiah, only find overwrought, apocalyptic language that matches endless ambitions. Are not religious/political messiahs all about assailing “carnage,” then calling down fire and brimstone to cleanse mass immorality? Don’t they explode this world to remake it, obliterate the old, tired ways to retrieve the lost golden summer of lost greatness?
Staying the higher course
That’s why alienating his base never worries Trump. They aren’t looking for logic or planning to improve their lives, certainly not enhance indulged minorities, not in their tribe. Trumpers have no confidence in government, ridiculing more promises for more handouts for the undeserving. Trumpers like his zero agenda because they only need to endorse Trump and Trumpism as symbolic expressions of deep grievances felt in their bones. “Reform,” like compromise, is a dirty word. Thus their hero must speak an Alternative Truth, for that separates him from all other corrupt politicians. That’s what hacks, like Biden the sold-out Trojan Horse, do: promise unmerited, earthly payoffs to the wrong people. Religious Trumpers trust their goodness will earn them a higher, eternal reward. Thus they oppose government as a fount of welfare or, horrors of horrors, affordable health care for all, even “open borders” where riffraff rush in and spoil “their” paradise.
When will we anti-Trumpers realize our secular, humanistic, heart-on-our-sleeve delusions are for his base the real lie? You can’t fix inferior clans by denying their lower status or throwing money at them. You can’t make everyone rich and healthy. Even majority rule is rejected, thus the unspeakable rightwing quest to crush voting rights. And the worst of all: such conspiratorial elitist myths are only fought by the right’s truer, better, more heartfelt outpouring of conspiracy models that reinforce their justified victimhood.
Does this model not make sense of what seems deranged and a betrayal of one’s best interests? Does not the Donald messiah thus trust his mystifyingly loyal fans, no matter how badly he fails, how many fistfuls of corrupt advisers are indicted, even how he can violate (and brag) about all the laws that don’t apply to his “special case.” Lying (to correct worse lies) thus morphs into truth-telling, failing is success (showing how worthless is government), and perfidy to his own Constitutional oath is greatness (because the ends do justify the means).
Is there enough time left?
Time matters, even to timeless redeemers. Even Jesus wasn’t really hot until a century after he died on the cross. And it took almost three centuries, 323 AD to be exact, before Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, thus insuring its brand, its structural integrity, and its future dominance over the west. Early Christians, transforming the evolved Jesus into the guarantor of eternal life for believers, would admire this more secular, but equally fervent Trump ploy on redemption.
Of course, Trump would do better were he not such a petty, malicious, divisive mud-slinger inept at re-election campaigning. Or maybe if he ever (alone or together) actually fixed anything. But the oppressed don’t get to pick the savior: the messenger picks his time and place, if not those sinners in desperate straits.
Let all that bide. Despite jugging the contradictory goals of being king, one-time billionaire, and populist savior, the Trump Trauma is morphing beyond a cult of personality, though that’s never absent. The latest pitch is pure messianic fanfare in which this self-declared genius predicts not just the end of the current U.S. (if he’s rejected), but implies wider chaos – more war (absent all his overseas wins), more pandemics, more natural disasters, more gouging by foreign traders, eventually domination by all the socialist/anarchist/nihilist revolutionaries at large. That way lies conspiracy thinking galore; that way lies appointing QAnon leaders or anti-vaccine yahoos to the cabinet, maybe a white supremacist or two.
The mistake the left has made is treating Trump as if only deviant politician with a Svengali gaze and a coarse Midas touch. Why not momentarily judge him in his own terms (however dubious)? He’s the champion of “attitude,” manipulating grievances that his 42% attribute to the evil ways of the world. Why else would Trump badger and denigrate so many public figures (judges, officials, bureau heads) for not honoring Trumpian values? He even dares impugn Biden for inappropriately touching staff because no Democrat can be a divine messenger, readily let off the hook for grabbing pussy.
So, banish that outdated (Reaganesque) call to arms, “is your life better now than four years go”? For by that measure only Trump crony-tycoons, polluters, Russian hackers, and pardoned lackeys will raise their tainted hands. When do we noble humanists learn that judging palpable failures in terms irrelevant to them may be irrelevant?
Let us know our foes first in their terms before applying ours. Trump is still the underdog, whether as politician or savior. History offers up no selfish, mercenary billionaire redeemers, and none that match him in lying, ignorance, and denial of citizen deaths. For better and worse, it takes a god-awful time, usually centuries, before humankind separates real purveyors of wisdom from stadiums full of false prophets. Why, I bet there are 10,000 fake prophets for every true sage who augments human truth. But who’s counting? Western churches only posit one messiah and one Second Coming. Let us pray there is no second round for Trump: the world has enough trouble without electing a flawed leader with a very flawed gut instinct. If nothing else, that will do him in.