Imagine, if your stomach can take it, being with Donald Trump on one of his wedding nights. Imagine standing there nervously as the big man strips down, discarding even his gold lame y-fronts and socks. Imagine that moment of self doubt as you wonder whether it was worth the gain to tie the knot with the millionaire Donald.
And then imagine that moment when the hair comes off and, beneath the synthetic weave, the darkest of rumours prove true. And there looking back/up at you from his baldy pate is a creature not entirely unlike Kuato from Total Recall. A groaning, wheezing homunculus, gasping for air once free of it’s stifling disguise. Eyeing you arrogantly and planning who knows what behind those beady, sinister eyes.
If you’ve made it that far with the image fixed in your mind you’re now in a similar position of shock, awe and fear to that of the establishment bastions of the Republicans, Democrats and many in between. Because like them you’ve been confronted with the mad impossibility of Trump’s potential. Strange as it is he could just be what all logic dictates he can’t. Be that a viable candidate or a terrifying example of genetic fucking around/alien parasitism/demonic possession gone awry.
Like an Eastern European catalogue bride in the Trump penthouse on their wedding night the US mainstream is rapidly being confronted by what they hoped never to see. The Donald proud and victorious, primary results clutched in a sweaty fist like a bitter guy’s disappointing manhood. And the only reaction emotion allows for is jolting panic. Trump is the Devil, Trump is Hitler, Trump is the impossible artefact in a hitherto logical world. Just like the Kuato beneath the wig. And he must be destroyed before he starts unleashing his unholy will upon the world.
The establishment, across the political spectrum, is stupid.
As myopic as the court of any Byzantine palace they see their battles as personal dramas, played out in the hallowed halls of Washington DC. At the heart of a source of power so absolute, so correct that no influence can ever seep in from the world beyond. A world where a demagogue like Trump can only prosper by standing on the periphery, inciting lumpen masses beyond the walls of civility to inappropriate madness. Lumpen masses who neither need nor deserve recognition as a force unto themselves.
To the old Republicans especially the rank and file bearing – and acting – on grievances of their own is absurd. Like sheep writing a manifesto, or dogs looking up, it just can’t happen in the natural world. So they fight the fight they know using the tools they know. They throw up a Bush. They back slap a Rubio. They declare the right of the Grand Ol’ Party to marshal it’s members to the old order, an order decided by them and them alone – the venerable arbiters of political sense and wisdom.
The stupidity of their personal warring against the man Trump is shown most clearly by their own power. For one thing this particular establishment has never shied away from the sort of right wing populism Donald is riding high on. Big talk of wars and walls isn’t exactly an anathema to a political class which has enthusiastically bombed a good portion of the world on it’s own account and which has long danced a delicate fandango around racial issues. Half whispering about the horror of say, a black president, half reticent to go all out on the burning crosses and white hoods. Hell, the conditions of fear and hate a demagogue like Trump thrives under have been steadily bolstered by a GOP (and Democrats too to an extent) which has hoped for a rich demographic mine in paranoid reaction. But where that was done by edict from within the heart of the party Trump, like the semi-renegade Tea Party before him, is doing it in direct accord with the silent mass who were, as the plan went, just supposed to do what they were told. A cardinal sin in itself.
Second to that is the sad truth that, in the cold light of day, those same Republicans scandalised by Trump’s rogue declarations must know that they’re, ultimately, meaningless.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that Trump would be more than happy to carry through on even some of the most absurd ideas he’s riding on now. But for all of his many, many, many faults he’s no Hitler. Hell, he’s probably not even a Thatcher in his radical destructiveness. No, like all good demagogues Trumps wants power and fame above all else. That’s what drives him to plaster his name in gold coloured concrete on the side of every building he’s involved with, that’s what inspires the narcissistic (and self-delusional) vanity of a man whose ego is so inflated and so fragile that any slight is borne like a festering, life long wound. And that vain, attention seeking self-regard bars him, I think, from being the apocalyptic catalyst some people think he is. Not that he wouldn’t, perhaps, step into the abyss of insanity but he can get most anything he wants without having to, because all he wants is his name in big, gaudy lights. And, no doubt, a tidy profit on the side.
So he may build a wall. It’ll cost a fortune and serve no practical purpose. He may well deport people, but never eleven million of them, whose place in the US economy is ignored but obvious and who really could only be forced out by the sort of dawn raids that’d make Elian Gonzalez look like friendly community policing. He may well hack and slash at public service budgets, but then what Republican wouldn’t? That particular atrocity is routine these days. He may declare a mini trade war on China, but he won’t go to the point where it imperils the grand corporate interests of US capital. Not just because he is, in himself, a firm part of that but also because both the Republican and Democrats own old, corrupt powers just won’t let him. For all their offence at the rabble rouser Trump they’d no more let him risk their interests than they would Bernie Sanders on the Left or Obama with his ploddingly ineffective (and routinely stifled) efforts. His rhetoric and half-arsed policies are, like the man himself, a thin veneer of gold spray paint on a vacuum of hot air.
And again, just in case you missed it, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be a terrible President. The race baiting, torture loving, ignorance praising rhetoric would all still hold true but when have any of those things ever bothered the GOP? Or Democrats, when it’s suited them? Only now, when the person advocating them isn’t standing firmly within their circle.
The true misfortune, or terror even, in this whole situation doesn’t lie with Trump though. It lies with the people outside of established order he’s using to fuel his narcissistic pleasure cruise. The one firmly establishment Republicans have gleefully fed fear and hate for years. The ones they were happy to rally, in whispers and innuendo, to call Obama a gay, Communist Muslim. The ones Hillary Clinton and the Democrats have long ignored completely and who they’re now to busy side-lining Bernie Sanders to bother courting at all.
Unlike Trump’s integrity or belief in what he says they do exist. And whoever wins they’ll continue to exist. Whether they end up disillusioned by Trump’s tough gimmickry doing nothing to change their lives or outraged by Hillary’s firm indifference to them. They and their real problems, they and their misplaced hate, will endure until the point comes where no demagogue will be loud enough to placate them without following through in potentially horrific ways. And with Donald Trump as their focus the old order won’t lift a finger to confront that. Because they are, ultimately, stupid, for all the cunning and experience they have in their own internecine battles.
P.S. I didn’t talk much about Sander here who, as a Socialist myself, I do think is the best hope of moderating and helping those dispossessed Trump supporters whose economic situation is, in a lot of cases, a real and grim concern. But that – and it’s impossibility, is a different piece for a different day.