by Jerome Grapel…….
Oh no, not him again. Is this all there is to talk about in the world’s only Stupid Power? Whatever happened to Brittany Spears? If only Michael Jackson were still alive. Can’t we go back to those good old days when the title of this essay only pertained to card games? Please, Post Consumer Man, do you have to do this?
I’m sorry — I tried my best and held out for a long time. But with the recent appearance of perhaps the one person in America’s pop culture — and I believe this is all much more related to that than to politics or governing — who can rival Mr. Trump with regard to pompous, self centered, ego-maniacal idiocy, my defenses have been broken down. Maybe I’ll have to go through some self examination later on, but for now —
When I first saw Sarah Palin sprinting onto the stage to join the Trump team, I thought, wow, if there never were an expression like “a match made in Heaven”, this is when it would be invented. Imagine if they had met in their formative years, say in their early 20’s. Isn’t it easy to see them falling catatonically in love? This combination of 2 attractive, mega ambitious young people could have been a sizzling exercise in uber-passion. Of course, 2 or 3 years down the line, with the erotic incentives beginning to wane, I could also see a vindictive, face slapping break up. But I’ll leave that to Dr. Phil.
(As a perhaps chauvinistic aside, this writer considers an in her prime Sarah to be far more sexy than the trophy mannequin trolls Trump likes to show off with these days. The woman he is most associated with, something called Ivanka, is perhaps the least attractive “beautiful” woman I’ve ever seen).
As I watched Palin give her valley girl endorsement of Trump, I could not help but think he had made a mistake giving her such a visible role. Sarah is old news. She is over the hill. Her act, unlike Trump’s, has worn thin. Sure, she still has her fans (so do Hitler and Stalin), but in listening to her, one is amazed to think this is so. Who are these people — or better yet, what are these people? Can we please get modern science to do some research here? Can we find the brain of a recently deceased Trump-Palin supporter? Forget concussions in the NFL. This is where the real action is.
Palin delivers her “shtick” with a shrill teen age quality more suited for a high school pep rally than a political campaign (let’s kick some butt for the old red and blue!). Jimmy Kimmel summed it up perfectly on his late night show: he stood on stage with his fingers in his ears and asked, “Is she done yet”?
The most amazing aspect of the Trump phenomena is how little it has to do with policy or ideology. What is actually being said has almost become irrelevant to how he says it. Bald faced lies, factless assertions and blatantly contradictory statements have no bearing on how the mostly white male groupies who swoon for him feel. Policy? Who cares? We love this guy, he talks our language, he calls a spade a spade. Yeah, but does it make sense? Sense? Are we supposed to take that into account too? How old school.
While listening to Palin’s opening act for Trump, I was enthralled by the stupidity of it all. She began blubbering away about the situation in the Middle East, parroting a position Trump has already stated. In trying to figure out her confused presentation, I was able to glean the following: why don’t we just stay out of it and let the varying Islamic factions kick the bleep out of each other (that’s my translation into English). And then, perhaps a minute or 2 later, Palin goes on to say (as Trump has) “we’re gonna kick ISIS’s ass!”
So what is it? Are we out of it, or are we kicking ass? Is anybody listening?
About the closest Trump gets to any kind of policy statement is to kick out the Mexicans, keep out the Moslems, and bomb the crap out of them. One cannot understand this election cycle without focusing on the following: Trump got his traction with his simple minded demagoguery of the immigration issue. He got his foot in the door with this singular artifice. It gave him the opportunity to take his show on the road and build his portfolio. He even had a fortuitous stroke of luck along the way, to wit:
Some of you might disagree, but in my estimation, by the time the San Bernardino attack took place, the Trump Show’s run on Broadway was starting to get stale. The engine that drove it was beginning to misfire and sputter. It needed a tune up. The incident in San Bernardino did just that. His campaign could now turn from Mexicans to Moslems and the traction he’d gotten from the former could now be turned into a powerful 4 wheel drive vehicle that has run over the Republican Party. But it all started with the Mexicans and the vein of gold Trump found in this issue. If not for that, the Trump personality would not have had its chance to cast its spell, and, believe it or not, in spite of his milquetoast personality, Jeb Bush would probably be the nominee.
And this is why the Rise of Trump has such a distressing quality. It is all parts emotional and no parts rational. Whenever there is a goal to be accomplished, the emotion with which it is undertaken is fundamental for carrying it out. But if that emotion has no foundation of rational thinking, it can lead to disaster. In fact, emotion coupled with no thought could be described as a definition of disaster. This is what happens when an athlete loses his or her composure. It is usually the first symptom of disaster.
America has lost its composure.
These assertions can be seen while scrutinizing the Trump Traveling Circus. The supposedly rational aspects of his “policy” delineations — the Mexicans, the Moslems, the faux tough guy foreign policy rants — are not really enunciations of policy, they are applause lines. They are purposely inserted in the script in order to create an atmosphere, a mood, in the same way canned laughter makes a sit-com funny. There is an anarchic, angry, aggressive feel to Trump’s events that could be likened to the beer hall “putsches” in Bavaria where Hitler got his start.
My point in writing this essay is not to debate the propriety of whatever it is we can translate as Trump’s “policies”. That can all be sorted out later. What truly dismays me about this man is his persona and the way he relates to other people. Anyone rising to the prominence Trump has risen to has to be considered a representative figure of what a substantial part of his culture admires. Trump is not being admired for his ideas, for his thinking, for his intelligence, for his policies — no. He is being admired for his combative, confrontational, competitive personality. He is being admired for his imbecilic self confidence and narcissism (which is usually a sign of insecurity). He is being admired for his ostentation and braggart-like qualities. I see him as the quintessential embodiment of a cultural sickness that must be brought under control if the patient is not to become seriously ill. He represents an American culture that is so mired in the propaganda of its own greatness and superiority, it refuses to confront reality in an objective way. He represents a cultural sickness that has begun to value conquering each other more than loving each other. He represents a harsh world, a cruel world, a win at all costs world that shows no compassion for “losers” (or in Trump’s case, for those not born into the wealth he was). He represents a culture whose concept for the solidarity of the common good (which also means each individual’s good) has been waning almost into oblivion.
Trump is not the creator of this attitude; he is the result of it. Everything he represents as a person used to be considered in bad taste — his flaunting of his wealth, his crude attacks on his opponents, his total lack of respect for anyone who does not adore him. Such boorish behavior is now considered his greatest asset. This, not his “policies”, is what distresses me about Donald Trump. Is it “the world according to Trump” we want to live in, a world where we simply compete and squash each other without mercy?
Trump is a poisonous plant that has flowered in the soil of an excessively competitive, materialistic American culture. For the many millions of Americans who find him as distasteful as I do, I say look in the mirror. You’ve been worshiping at the altar of the culture that has created him. It’s time for a little humility.
I’d like to finish with this: most of our political pundits have decided to call Trump a “populist”, in the same way other demagogues like Huey Long or George Wallace were. This is wrong. Trump is a spoiled brat rich kid with about as much feel or empathy for the common man as Marie Antoinette. He is not a “populist”. He is a “me-ist”.
To order you copy of “Because You Never Asked” by Jerome Grapel click here.