Donald Trump is like a Vince McMahon of American politics. The owners are supposed to buy and sell the players, not become one themselves.
McMahon made news when he stepped out from his privileged place as the owner of the World Wrestling Federation, and decided to join the fray, becoming a wrestling star himself. A creative example of total horizontal and vertical integration of one’s power over the sport, in not only owning the game, but making one’s bid to stand atop it as a performing champion, as well.
Trump and his fellow plutocrats have spent decades buying and selling those who play the political game, but now he’s blowing apart the status quo of the game by interjecting himself directly onto the playing field itself. Where this will go, and what its longer term impact may be, well… it could be creatively destructive of the ossified oligarchic domination of the processes. Or, more likely, it could very well be a harbinger for the ascendency of the total dominance of the military-industrial-surveillance-incarceration-entertainment complex (i.e. modern corporate fascism) over our society.
Before he got his grip on power, many in Germany thought that Hitler was a joke: bad haircut, ill-fitting clothes, vulgar accent. Hitler was known as the “Bohemian Corporal,” a euphemism which in colloquial American English translates to “Hillbilly Grunt.” As a result, “good” Germans just couldn’t take Hitler that seriously. They underestimated him — and when they tried to move against him, it was far too late.
Of course, I’m not saying that Trump is some kind of Hitler. The circumstances have some very important differences, in particular the lack of a large, organized left, particularly in the shape of a Communist Party vying for power, nor the levels of economic destitution that afflicted Weimar at the time. What I am saying is that popular demagogues are easy to make fun of — easy, that is, until they gain power.
And Twitter blogger Billmon makes some quite salient points with some recent postings on “The Donald”…
“One of Trump’s secret weapons is his ability to bring every argument down to kindergarten level — the same emotional level as his supporters.
“For Trump, it’s always about him, his opponents are always motivated by personal jealousy or resentment of his greatness.
“The Trump crowd just eats this shit up: The swaggering, blustering, egotistical guy who personalizes every issue. A vicarious thrill ride, as his followers live through him, as he says & does things they could never actually say & do themselves. He rescues them from their impotence.”
“Trump is shallow, vain, petty, emotionally stunted? “So what!” his audience roars. “So are we!”
“The emotional bond between Trump and his mob is something the elites will never get — their minions are his loyalists.”
All of that said, there is a reason that Trump resonates with so many. Like with the original rise of the Tea Party (before its rapid co-option by the interests of corporate capital), it spreads onto the scene because it taps into a deep and legitimate grievance. In this case, a fundamental understanding by the great majority of the electorate that the system is thoroughly rigged and fatally flawed, serving as simply a purchased commodity of the rich to do their bidding.
And as Bill Astore referenced, the use of the Hitler analogy, regardless of any criticisms of having invoked Godwin’s Law, has some applicability to this situation. For the Nazis *did* generate sympathy and support in spite of their often politically vulgar approach, and the use of what were often dismissed as clownish characteristics. This was because they were the only ones to tap directly into the nature of the suffering that the German people were experiencing at the time, and some of truths regarding the injustice of it. Trump is doing the same in regards to people’s disgust with the American political system, and it is why the elite interests who currently own and control governance in the U.S., are determined to derail him, for making explicit what they have fed off of implicitly for so long.
Mike Whitney highlights in Counterpunch on how Trump’s triumph is in how this bloating billionaire exposes our fake political system.
How often does a fatcat billionaire-insider appear on TV and announce that the whole system is a big-fat scam run by crooks and patsies?
Never, that’s when. But that’s what Trump did last night. And that’s why the clatter of ruthless miscreants who run the system behind the smokescreen of fake politicians are sharpening their knives right now before Manhattan’s rogue elephant does even more damage to their precious system.
Just think about what the man said. He not only explained that the whole system is rigged (Baier: “And when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.”…TRUMP: “You’d better believe it.”), he also said that the politicians will do whatever they’re told to do. (TRUMP: Well, …with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn’t have a choice because I gave.”)
Doesn’t that confirm your darkest suspicions about the way the system really works, that money talks and that elections are just a way to get the sheeple to rubber-stamp a corrupt, fraudulent system?
Of course, it does.
So, let’s summarize: Moneybags capitalist loudmouth explains to 80 million dumbfounded Americans watching prime time TV, that the system is a total fraud, that the big money runs everything, and that even he thinks the system is broken.
Pointing out the obvious in a way that may meaningful enlighten people, and to do so with impunity, is not something the elites of power can nor will afford. Trump is dangerous; to some because he tells the truth they don’t want told, while others will be threatened by his ability to hijack these truths, not to enlighten and liberate people, but to attain dominance over them. The only person Donald Trump is interested in liberating is himself, from all constraints over his capacity to wield power.
Trump both blows the curtain off the fraud, while simultaneously and flagrantly exploiting that very same fraud. Brilliant really. Or perhaps simply sociopathic in its execution.
Regardless, we may laugh at antics, but in the end the joke is on us.
POST NOTE: We should be on the look out for elite power, the guardians of the neoliberal order, to more and more attempt to conflate right wing populist nationalism with left wing social democratic initiatives, in order to discredit both for the threats they pose to established power. We’re seeing it in examples like This and This.