"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, February 6, 2017

Donald Trump–If Anyone Doubted The Revolution, Sorry, It Is Here

Donald Trump’s advisers have advised him to pull in his horns.  The bull is always killed in a bullfight.  Better to feint, dodge, and evade like all politicians.  ‘No’, says he.  The time for that is over.

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Trump’s cabinet, family, and nexus of advisers may have some success in taming the Beast, pulling him in from the political margins, and into the mainstream; but good luck.  The man is more than a ‘maverick’, the term applied to the most old-fashioned conservative politician still on the public stage – McCain.

The Beast is of a different order, far different than so-called outsiders’ like Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter who, although from potentially populist roots, were as elitist and Inside-the-Beltway as any politician who aspired to high office.  Donald Trump is an American of the 21st Century.  No longer rural, basic, family-oriented, simple, and essential; but high-tech, image-driven, and glitzy popular.

Anyone who thinks America is still Bolivar, Ohio or Ames, Iowa is just whistlin’ Dixie.  The America of Donald Trump is Twitter, social media, image, posturing, melodrama, and stage. 

The talk shows, ‘thoughtful’  editorial commentaries, intellectual musings on the nature of governance provided by Park Avenue, Beacon Hill, Rittenhouse Square, and Georgetown are things of the past.

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Donald Trump represents two very different but complementary  worlds.  First, the people – Ronald Reagan’s people who feel alienated, dismissed, and marginalized by the politics of progressive ‘inclusion’ and compromise.  Second, those rebels against the Washington Establishment who finally can, once and for all, throw off, dismiss, and consign to the dustbin faded progressive ideals of compromise, collaboration, and harmony.

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President Trump’s first year has been been, in the eyes of his opponents, antagonistic, divisive, and counter-productive.  He needs to rein in his instinctive reactions, opponents say and repudiate the legacy of his previous incarnation, child of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the mean streets of New York – and to become more ‘presidential – temperate, careful, and judicious.  Yet the Beast cannot and should not be tamed. Like asking a leopard to change his spots; or a wolf to be less predatory.

The people of America who voted for Trump did not vote for a rebel a la McCain.  They voted for a revolutionary who would not just challenge received progressive political wisdom, but the socio-cultural dominance of the Washington elite and the Eastern Establishment.

What does this mean? It means that Donald Trump will not only challenge traditional liberal Democrat policies and GOP old-guard Rockefeller-Hoover-Reagan-Bush sentiments, but will strike off in entirely unexpected but welcome directions.

Populism is not merely the expression of native convictions of religious righteousness, secular justice, and moral authority; but a vindication of popular culture. 

Of course Trumpists disregard the ‘truth’, ‘objective’ reality, and the considerations of pundits and academics; but what is not appreciated or understood is the cultural expression of populism – the embrace of Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and the Kardashians.  Americans have never believed or trusted Bill Moyers, MSNBC, the New York Times, or the Washington Post; and have preferred their news live, viral, hot, and subjective.

No one should be surprised at Trump’s executive orders, his impromptu tweets and interviews, or his off-the-cuff comments about foreign and domestic affairs.  That is who he is and whom the American people selected as President.  His policies are firm, established, and doctrinaire.

“Oops”, say his old-line critics. “Shouldn’t have said that”; breach of protocol and diplomacy. 

In an interview on Fox News some months back, President Trump acknowledged a moral parity.   ‘The Russians are killers; but so are we’, he said referring to a reality that most Americans disingenuously credulous about our moral exceptionalism refuse to accept. 

How un-presidential, how provocative, how incendiary, shouted his critics.  Yet, of course the United States has done its best to destabilize if not overthrow foreign governments.  How many times, after all did we attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro and Miguel Allende?

A breath of fresh air in Washington.  A dismissal of cant, evasion, nicety, and prevarication.  Trump supporters like his stance on Iran, North Korea, ISIS, Islamic terrorism, and the regimes which support and sponsor both.  They consider Black Live Matter attacks on the police untoward, the cries for inclusiveness and diversity exaggerated and divisive, and the insistence on 'choice' and limiting religious expression wrong and immoral.  They are not timid in expressing their convictions and want to see a President who is no different.

Yes, there have been histrionics and hyperbole. Yes Trump always seems to be in campaign mode;  and yes some greater temperance in his public statements might be advisable. Why go so provocatively public?  There is no reason to inflame the rhetoric and invite claims of xenophobia. Why not cease the incendiary rhetoric and get down to business?

Because Donald Trump is a child of Hollywood, Las Vegas, and New York; and so be it.

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Trump adds an important dimension to the Reagan image – a total disdain for politics and a total disregard for  how his statements are received by his opponents. He is unabashedly masculine, never shy about his ambition or no-holds-barred business practices, and absolutely convinced of his rightness.

A la McLuhan his personality is the message; and his supporters know that regardless of his unfamiliarity with Washington and the likely missteps he will take in the public and international arenas, America needs a blunt, forceful, and determined leader.

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His ‘lies’ are so obvious that none of his partisans take them seriously.  They are more astute than the most rigorously academic post-modernist and can easily deconstruct his ‘texts’ .  The man, his image, and his personality are the message  No one goes to Trump rallies to hear policy or a long list of facts.  They go to hear bombast, slights, insults, catty innuendos, and unmitigated angry passion.

Trump’s popularity is a result of the felicitous juncture of voter frustration; Americans’ ingrained and innate love of Hollywood stardom, celebrity, and outsized personality; Trump’s own background in Hollywood and the mean streets of finance and real estate; and the incessant media demand for outrageous stories.

Trump's election an rise to power has nothing to do with governance, public policy, or international relations.  Trump has revolutionized politics more than any other candidate in the past.  Ronald Reagan was revolutionary in his own right and his policies changed forever the way government does business; but Trump is anarchic.

What is far more revolutionary is the total dismissal of the old, established cultural powers that be.  Trump has no time let alone respect for the established media, political pundits, think tanks, or received wisdom.  His is an administration of social media, big data, and universal populism.  He is a child – despite his age – of the new, plugged-in, cybernetic, subjective, viral New Age; and the old guard are flummoxed.  They have no idea what’s happening and persistently try to draw the Republic back to truth, veracity, intellectual mediation, and reasonableness.

The people and their President are having nothing of it.  Not only have politics changed but the very social dynamics of the country.  America is no longer the republic of agrarianism and respect and reverence for Anglo-Saxon patrimony.

Donald Trump’s revolution has only partly to do with national and geo-politics.  It’s true dynamics are cultural.  Trump and his populist generation are new wave activists.  They care little for vetted, authoritarian facts and place their bets on subjective optimism and good, old-fashioned patriotism.
Donald Trump is not going away any time soon; and even if he did, his revolution would continue.

The election is long past. Donald Trump won; and his cultural populist revolution is just beginning.

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