Donald Trump is ahead in the polls, with 34 days left to the election.
WTF is this bloated braggard’s appeal? Hundreds of millions of people in the US and around the world can see that Trump is hard-wired from his Id to his mouth, that he is stunningly ignorant, and that he can’t put his factoids and crypto-concepts together into coherent thoughts. But this is music to the ears off many of America’s lost and angry ones.
A legion of linguists have recently pointed out that Trump’s sentences are a series of half thoughts, and when his audience finishes his sentences for him, they fill in the blanks with their own fears and enjoy the shared thrill of outrage that envelopes the crowd, whatever they are each think they’re hearing. George Lakoff, guru of linguistics at UC Berkeley, points out that this is what Trump “has been doing for a very long time as a salesman — that’s what he is best at."
A learned man I chatted with at the swearing in of Byron Shire’s new councillors last week reckons Trump is an entertainer, which is ludicrous on one level (what’s entertaining about calling Mexican immigrants rapists?), but the only person I’ve seen with comparable delivery is stand-up comic Joan Rivers – both of them New Yorkers who made a living screaming one-liners while riding the rapids of consciousness. (She’s “the late”, sadly he’s not.)
But another Trump appeal is that he’s not Hillary. When Bill and Hillary emerged from Arkansas way back, she went on TV with a hokey accent talking about baking cookies, but even then, before google was a verb, she was outed as a feminist and a wonk. Over the 25 years since then, she’s been First Lady, a senator, Secretary of State, and she’s become a star in the oligarchs’ universe – and that’s a good reason she’s not trusted. Yes she’s pushed for social programs for all Americans, but she’s also pushed like a fullback to get on corporate boards and, in cheerful concert with five-star generals and Wall Street banksters, to exercise America’s right to rule the world.
On Crikey last week, Guy Rundle argued that her current slide down the polls is because, since adopting light versions of Bernie Sanders’ policies (eg maybe free tertiary education) to win over his followers, she’s offered no policies that will make life better for the working or middle class voters. He points out that the Democratic Party, in the hands of the Clintons, banked on “free trade” deals as engines of growth for the American people – but they turned out to be jet-propelled profit-engines for the global corporates who invented them. Malcolm Turnbull, like the Clintons, keeps selling this globaloney which actual Americans and Australians aren’t buying.
I’ve written here previously about the madness of the American electoral system – how either Trump or Clinton will win with the votes of maybe 25% of the adult population, and how the president might ultimately be chosen by the (2017) members of Congress, who could choose either Clinton or Trump, or either of their vice-presidential candidates Tim Kaine or Mike Pence (very unlikely scenario), or the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (extremely unlikely). Pence is hideous, Johnson awful, Kaine same-old-shit.
But let’s come back to the second most-likely what-if -- after President H. Clinton – what if it’s President Trump?
It’s hard to say what policies this guy would actually pursue. For all the deplorables, as Hillary so tactlessly called his gut-driven supporters, there are millions of voters who’ve heard Trump bullshitting for decades about what a genius he is at business – a multi-billionaire must know how to run things right? Actually, Trump made his small fortune by inheriting a large one. Last week former Secretary of Labor (under President Bill Clinton) Robert Reich said this:
“In 1976, when Trump was just starting his career, he said he was worth about $200 million. Most of that was from his father, and he says he’s now worth four and a half billion. But if he had just put that $200 million into an index fund and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth twelve billion today. And he got about $850 million in tax subsidies, just in New York alone.
“He’s not a businessman, he’s a con man.”
I lived in New York through all the decades of Trump self-promotion, and even though the papers liked to put his smarmy face on their tabloid covers, Trump stories in the business pages were always about his strategic bankruptcies, his routine of stiffing suppliers and contractors (workers? fergetaboutit), and his life-long finagling of tax subsidies and grifted gifts to his companies from the storehouses of public property.
Beneath this awesomely horrible President Trump there will be the usual pyramid of cabinet secretaries, advisors, and operators who set the agenda for the US government -- insofar as they can get around the competing interests in Congress. But those interests will be represented predominantly by Republicans since many of the Party’s billionaire backers are buying them seats instead of wasting money on the uncontrollable Trump.
Under Trump we can expect an administration that’ll make George W. Bush’s Cheney and Rumsfeld look like a couple of smart and gentle dudes. Like Ben Carson, the nice-idiot pediatrician who famously averred that “Joseph built the pyramids to store grain” could be in charge of the nation’s health; Gov Chris Christie who shut down the key bridge between his state (New Jersey) and Manhattan, just to show the millions of drivers who were stranded what a tough guy he is, as US Attorney General; former New York mayor Rudy Guliani, a flaming racist, misogynist deplorable, as Director of Homeland Security; and the maniac from Duck Dynasty in charge of parks and beards.
For his Supreme Court, expect Trump to name Judge William Pryor, who described Roe v Wade, the main US law giving women the right to abortions, as creating "a constitutional right to murder an unborn child", and Judge Diane Sykes who is a crusader for the rights of employers and anyone else really to discriminate against LGBT employees or customers. And then there’s Judge Allison Eid who ruled that students at the University of Colorado’s have a lawful right to carry handguns on campus, including in class…and so on.
As Paul Waldman wrote in The American Prospect last week:
“There is no gaffe Trump will commit, no outrageous statement he'll make, no new disclosure from examinations of his businesses, that will undo his campaign. When it comes to Trump, nothing matters anymore.
“It isn't that Trump's supporters are untroubled by his reversals and lies. It isn't that they put them aside in favor of a greater purpose. No, they love it. They cackle in glee and revel in their part in the greatest scam of all.”
The largest part of Trump’s votes are a profoundly simple, simple-minded “fuck you”. That’s the mood in many of those disunited states today. Many of them wanted to vote for Bernie Sanders because he understood their mood, and knew why they felt that way. And unlike you know who, he had useful ideas about how to make Americans co-operate again.
I’m glad I moved to coorabellridge.com, 15523 km or 9645 miles from Noo York City.