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

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Glitz, Glamour, And Fake Everything - Donald Trump And The Real America

In 2016 the nation got its first look at America's new politics.  Donald Trump was a candidate like no other – an outsized, high-rolling celebrity who lived in glitz and glamour; who was as at home with lawsuits and intimidation as he was with starlets and beauty queens; who had built a real estate empire of hotels and resorts which were monuments to wealth and excess; and who reveled in the use of power and its perks.  Power was indeed an aphrodisiac, and Trump’s women were all blonde, svelte, sexy, and gorgeous.   

He spoke his mind on the campaign trail, energized his faithful with incendiary rhetoric and bombast.  He was free and easy with the truth, understood that braggadocio was no drawback; that machismo was as alive and well as ever; that Americans were fed up with social responsibility, caring, and empathy and wanted celebrity, aggressive ambition, yachts, private planes, and penthouses.

The Left was aghast.  How could this buffoon, this clown, this arriviste think he had any right to Washington?  Not only was he a populist radical whose ideas threatened the very foundations of both conservatism and American liberalism, but his lifestyle – so outrageously bourgeois and middle-brow, and so disgracefully disrespectful of tradition, foundational politics, and political righteousness – was abhorrent.  Not only did Donald Trump represent an outrageous assault on the political status quo, he was an insult to Eastern propriety, education, and class.

Never before had America been so ripe for a Trump-style populist revolution.  After decades of liberal sanctimony and righteous hectoring, Americans had had enough.  Not only did the progressive Left keep  banging on about race, gender, and ethnicity annoy; but its insolence and arrogant dismissal of faith, patriotism, and family turned them purple. 

Before Trump these voters could only let off steam privately.  Yet they watched police be disrespected while the media championed the formless, aimless, and destructive violence of street protests.  Court decisions never seemed to go their way, and they had to accept, tolerate, and embrace legally mandated abortion, gay marriage,  and the entitlement of the undeserving.   Colleges were a patchwork of safe spaces.  Free speech was muzzled and intellectual debate clotured before it began.

Washington elites formed one big cabal, a collusion of Wall Street investors, revolving door lobbyists, venal, self-serving politicians, and media lackeys.  Neither Congress, nor the White House, nor the Fourth Estate looked after their interests.

Barry Goldwater was the first stone-thrower of the conservative era.  An unabashed military hawk and social individualist, he challenged liberal America like no other politician ever had.  “ I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

Yet Goldwater was a gentleman, a respectful, career politician and five-term Senator who understood the machinery of government and worked within political coalitions both in and outside of Congress to promote his conservative reforms.   He was far ahead of his time and was crushed in a landslide defeat by LPJ in 1964.  Only fifteen years later did conservatism finally have its day with the election of Ronald Reagan.

Goldwater, for all his reform-mindedness and political insights was no revolutionary.  His ideas, although radical, still fell well within the ambit of traditional Washington.  Smaller government, more private enterprise, less social entitlements, lower taxes, and a more muscular military were acceptable premises if not universally so.   Reagan himself was also a decent, respectful, generous, and principled man; a two-term governor, and one of the most popular Presidents in American history.  Yet he was also no revolutionary, falling well within the social, economic, and political circle of power.

Donald Trump on the other hand is a true revolutionary.  He has dismissed the traditional workings of Washington, scorned the liberal elites of the East Coast establishment, laughed at the inbred sociality of Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Georgetown.  He has no respect for the lions of journalism – the New York Times and Washington Post – and found them incestuous shills of Washington power-brokers.   He has thrown the Republican canon out the window, and turned instead to mercantilism, anti-business immigration policies, and an absolute intolerance for insider collusion and political compromise.

Trump is indeed outrageous.  Not only does he not come from political roots, he has no patience whatsoever for governance or government.  He has amassed his billions by wriggling around federal regulations, avoiding taxation, skirting SEC rules, and dismissing politicians as venal do-nothings.   He knew that because of his wealth, his worldwide investments, and his economic influence he was far more powerful than any Senator or Congressman.

Perhaps most importantly he is not so much a man of the people, but the man the people would like to be.  His image is what sells, and we  love Hollywood, Las Vegas glitz, big cars, island homes, and private jets.  We are a country of fantasy, image, and allure. We resent insiders, backroom tricksters, and two-faced liars.  and Donald Trump, the quintessential American, is as attractive, self-confident, independent, and absolute as we could ever hope to be.

Trump people don’t imagine a Renaissance Weekend with Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett, and intellectuals from American and Europe.  They wouldn’t know what to do at Aspen, Gstaad, or on Park Avenue even if they had the money.  The idea of Camelot, Pablo Casals, Robert Frost, and Martha Graham mean nothing; but Melania Trump, gorgeous Ivanka,  Trump Tower, and Florida mansion resorts do.  

His supporters, the common people, have always been forced into sobriety, reasonableness, congeniality, and compromise because they have to, too low on the totem pole to be anything but. Theirs is a slow, difficult, and long path to reasonable rewards.  For the time being they – unlike Donald Trump – must do the right thing. 

Without these constraints, they would be like The Donald, squiring the world’s most beautiful women, staying only in the best and most luxurious hotels and resorts, eating wherever and whenever, saying whatever we please, spending as if there were no tomorrow, reveling in wealth, glamour, sparkle, and fame.

The Left is in denial, not so much because they lost to Trump the first time around, but because of the staying power of someone who so completely and absolutely rejects their policies, programs, opinions, and style of life.  They have come to believe their own campaign invective.  If Donald Trump is not a racist, misogynist, and homophobic xenophobe, then there is nothing to justify their humiliating defeat in 2016 and a likely defeat in 2024.  

At every legal witch hunt, every bald-faced, transparent, accusation, every attempt to tar and feather him and run him out of town, Trump's popularity increases.  For eight years the Democrats have tried without success to discredit, dismiss, and ruin the man; but his supporters have always known better.  Of course he played fast and loose on the mean streets of New York real estate.  Of course a dose of vaudeville, some side show tomfoolery, and outrageous masquerade was all part of doing business. He might not be a Jefferson or Hamilton, but he is a down-and-dirty backstreet brawler, a loudmouth bar fighter full of bullshit and braggadocio, and we love him for it. 

The more the Democrats bang on about the rise of the black man, transgender heroism, the feminizing of men, the demise of white civilization, and the invasive, infectious corruption of capitalism, the more Trump's poll numbers rise.  The more Biden and his claque of Congressional shills bang on about racism, homophobia, the curse of the white man, and the corruption of Western civilization, the more the bar fighters roll up their sleeves. 

The Left has tried everything to discredit him, to marginalize him, to politically scourge and crucify him; but the more they have tried and the more transparently shameless their attacks have been, the stronger Trump becomes.

"One of us, one of us" was the refrain in 2016,  now in 2024 chanted even more convincingly. 

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