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

Sunday, December 3, 2023

The Outrageous, The Incorrect, The Untamed - Donald Trump As American As Apple Pie

The election of Javier Milei in Argentina is a watershed event in the political history of that country, long ruled by Peronistas and socialists, liberation theologists, and magical realism and because of them turned into a failed state.  


Despite its natural resources and beauty, European-descended population, favorable climate, and limitless possibilities for growth and influence, it has remained a Third World nation in which nearly fifty percent live in poverty, inflation is never lower than 500 percent and spikes above a thousand, productivity is far below wages which are periodically and artificially raised, the peso is worth nothing, and because of profligate spending, low tax revenues, and perennial borrowing, deep in debt. 

Milei has promised an end to Peronism, the fantastical worship of the embalmed Evita, goodbye to Catholic socialist idealism, and a return to basics.  'Afuera!', he shouts as he tosses inefficient, indolent, and entitled ministries aside.  'Afuera!' to the fantasizers who talk of the miracle of progressive socialism as the country's panacea. 'Afuera' to the community organizers, the Paolo Freire utopians, and the social reformers.

He will abandon the peso in favor of the dollar, this eliminating a central bank which has tinkered and toyed with the economy, shill of the socialist dream of its Peronist patrons.  We are not giving up sovereignty, Milei says, we are gaining fiscal control; and when spending is driven down, when private sector enterprise replaces boggy, desultory public management, and when employment increases, the country can consider returning to fiscal autonomy. 

A difficult task?  Of course, he avers.  How can one get rid of decades of indolence, false promises, and the entitled elite without opposition?  Yet we will do it.  'La lucha empieza!', he shouts, turning the once famous chant of Che Guevara communists. 

Yet these sensible, revolutionary ideas are not the only reason why Milei was elected.  It was his persona, his charisma, his absolutely incorrect, outrageous behavior which caught the fancy of the electorate.  A young man full of energy, bombast, excitement, dynamism and destiny, Milei dismissed the old, tired, shopworn chestnuts of the past. He was macho, gaucho, and tango - a child of the barrio, a Maradona speaking the verse of Gardel with the perspective of Borges - a true Argentine unashamed of calling his nation and his people anointed and destined for greatness. 

Immediately the American Left, feeling their own vulnerability as years of progressivism have resulted in little and left the electorate with only the dismal hectoring of years past - the climate, the environment, women, people of color, transgenders, compromise, and international conciliation - pounced on Milei with the same invective, the same heated, hysterical rhetoric once reserved only for Donald Trump.  Fascist, retrograde, Argentine MAGA destroyer of liberal values; a Mussolini nationalist, a political poseur, a clown, a nothing. 

The American Left simply does not understand that the tedious, shaming narrative of progressivism has had its day; that American voters have had enough of the self-righteous posturing of the entitled elite, the corrupt nanny state of arrogated authority, the total disdain for unbeliever in the creed of inclusivity, diversity, and race-gender-ethnicity. 

There is nothing more American than Donald Trump for the same reason that Las Vegas is the American city - not New York or Chicago.  The glitz, glamour, and outrageous performance of performers and the city itself are what define the American middle class.  The Washington elite looks down on the shiny, the plastic, the pastel. The success of the movie Barbie, disillusioned progressives say, was an example of the dumb, uninspired majority - a frivolity.  


Yet they should have taken it seriously.  Disney's attempts to reformulate fairy tales into a happy story time of gayness, blackness, and the magic of inclusivity fell flat.  No mas! said moviegoers.  

Who wants moroseness?  The Left has made it their icon, their meme, their calling card; and no one's buying it. 

Both the master showmen Trump and Milei are no simple performers.  Their hoopla, dance numbers, and vaudevillian, runway shows are the context for substance.  Both men have solid libertarian and conservative credentials.  Neither man is a demagogue - that title is reserved for Juan Peron of Argentina - and both are solidly for fiscal restraint, dismantling the ponderous bureaucracies of government, removing unnecessary restrictions on private enterprise and encouraging its growth, and leaving governance to the people.  

Donald Trump's policies back his promises - if elected, he will use all his presidential power and the support of the new Republican Senate and House to enact legislation which will roll back the most intrusive progressive programs and policies on record.

The people of America who have voted for Trump did not vote for a rebelThey 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.

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 BeyoncĂ©, Shakira, and the Kardashians.  

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.

Donald Trump, a man of Hollywood and Las Vegas, a glitzy showman, squire of beauty queens, owner of yachts, resorts, and mansions, Wild West gunslinger, and his own loud, outspoken man is not only an American man but the American man. 

Once and for all Americans are through with the coasts, the establishment, received wisdom, and political elitism  Not only their rejection of Biden and his progressive supporters a denial of extreme liberalism, but an embrace of their own cultural ethos.  The same is true in Argentina. 

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