It’s true. Donald Trump is a frightening character to watch; and his ties to white nationalism and appeals to mob violence are downright chilling. But he has been successful, unwittingly or not, at one thing: lampooning the sham of the American political establishment. For decades the political landscape has been defined by the condescension of its aristocratic elite. And their apathy at growing income disparity and indifference to the suffering of common people are why he is so popular. But as the elite attempt to distance themselves from him it is worth considering some facts.
In the case of Donald Trump, his rise is anything but shocking for those who have kept a keen eye on the trajectory of the collective psyche of the American elite. He is the atrocious id to their inflated ego. He has emerged from an ideology of exceptionalism that is firmly rooted in a narcissistic obsession with arrogance, vulgarity and ruthlessness. His machinations are not foreign to their culture, not in the least. His casual racism, misogyny and intimidation are all defining features of American policies, both foreign and domestic. And he delights in the same cruelty that defines American economics, neoliberal capitalism, its last and most monstrous form. In short, despite their protestations, he is one of them.
But with all of his bombastic flourishes, chauvinism and horrifying endorsements of torture, increased militarism and building of walls along the border, Trump cannot claim the dubious distinction of having had real influence or actually committing any of those crimes. He was never a senator or the Secretary of State. He never held an office that had such power. The same cannot be said of his rivals on both sides of the aisle.
Trump did not take millions of dollars from the industries that profit from America’s endless wars of aggression. He did not have the power to push for the invasion of Afghanistan, or Iraq or Libya that killed or damaged young American lives, slaughtered and displaced untold thousands of innocent civilians and left entire societies decimated. He did not stand in an illegal Israeli settlement and pledge an undying commitment to an apartheid state that actually does have a “wall of separation,” or defend a bloodthirsty dictator in Egypt, or covertly support military coups that installed a right wing government in Honduras or a neo-Nazi friendly government in Ukraine. He did not throw his support behind policies that gutted crucial social welfare programs, or encouraged police impunity and grew the prison industrial complex through unfair laws, both of which disproportionately targeted poor people of color. He did not sign on to sweeping international trade agreements that benefited Wall Street and multi-national corporations and smashed labor rights, endangered child workers and polluted ecosystems.
If Donald Trump is successful in his bid for President it will not be due to his uniqueness, but due to his skill at reflecting the true nature of the American political, media and business establishment. As President he would undoubtedly fill the murderous shoes of his predecessors with gusto. But do not be fooled by the false outrage of the ruling elite at his antics. They are not really disgusted by what he says, only that he has boastfully put words to their thoughts and actions. He is the logical end to all of their barbarity. And they are merely fearful that his odious bravado may shatter the illusion of their piety, once and for all.
Kenn Orphan 2016