There is a televangelist by the name of Peter Popoff. He professes to be a faith healer. With his funny hair and his claims to be able to make people richer and safer, he has amassed quite a fortune and quite a following. He has been caught numerous times, for using secreted listening devices, for planting collaborators in his audience and for various schemes to swindle the sick and the greedy. But the more he has been exposed, the more outrageous he has become in response, the more his desperate and oblivious flock just keep believing and growing… just like Trump followers.
In Donald Trump’s case, the fraudulence has been a bit different. Since he has neither facts nor positions, he shows his slipperiness by making things up or evading questions with empty slogans and self-aggrandizement. In place of political debate he prefers juvenile name calling. In the guise of trying to elicit greatness, what he actually appeals to are people’s basest instincts, prejudice and ignorance. And every time he is called out, for racism or sexism, for lies or gibberish, or for his many flip-flops despite presenting himself as the anti-politician, or his many corrupt, ruthless or failed enterprises despite presenting himself as the model businessman, his supporters defend him with even more fury and in even greater numbers.
Charges that Trump is a racist have been largely met by either excuses or attacks on “political correctness.” Pride in incorrectness and uninformedness appears to be winning the day. It goes beyond his having said that “they,” referring to Mexican immigrants, “are rapists,” criminals, leeches, etc. Let us for now fast forward past the facts that, even if this were not expressed as a collective racist stereotype reminiscent of similar and similarly purposed characterizations of African Americans during Reconstruction, there is no basis in reality for any such assertions according to law enforcement or simple statistics. And as many of the immigrants are from Central America as from Mexico, which apparently makes for a difficult distinction for Trump, as it was for his party’s transfigured hero, Ronald Reagan. Let us also not dwell on any enlightened perspective as to the reasons so many from Latin America have been forced to come here, including the impoverished and brutal conditions in their native countries thanks to the raiding of their labor and natural resources by American corporations such as United Fruit, and the installing by our government of dictatorships considerably more friendly to our politico-economic interests than to their own people. Beyond all of this, we have other examples of Trump’s racist history and appeals with which to expose him.
As arguably the leading spokesperson for “the birther movement,” certainly Trump was conveying a message that Barack Obama, America’s first African American President, is “not one of us.” But even those who might dismiss that interpretation would find it hard to justify one of the off the cuff remarks Trump is not only known to make but, rather than well thought out and factually supported statements, is actually a great part of his appeal. In an interview with the Associated Press several years ago, Trump wondered out loud how a “terrible student” like Obama could have “merited” admission into two elite schools, raising the implication of affirmative action, similarly to how his fellow Republicans have referred to Obama as “the food stamp President,” with no records and no sources. It was a little like when he was asked at the first debate where he had gotten his information about the rapes and such and his response, after first trying to dodge the question, was something vague about some unnamed members of the border patrol saying some unspecified stuff. Lest we forget, he had gone down there with the intention of meeting with them but they refused to involve themselves in his media stunt. But he assures us that he has “a great relationship with the Blacks,” just like he assured us that Hispanics love him just like he loves them because so many work for him (including so-called “illegals,” by the way). I’m sure most Hispanics simply loved when he castigated Jeb Bush for speaking in Spanish, and I wonder if that “great relationship” with “the Blacks” was at all strained by his proclamation that “laziness is a trait in Blacks.”
So at least Trump is an equal opportunity racist. “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” He used an offensive mock Asian dialect in describing Chinese and Japanese business practices during a stump speech in Iowa, and attempted to sue the American government to declare Native American run casinos, one of the few sources of revenue left to the severely impoverished Indian nations, unconstitutional to close them down, presumably so that they couldn’t compete with his own casinos, in court even saying, “They don’t look like Indians to me!” This is from a man who tried to have an elderly woman evicted from her home so he could bulldoze it to make room for VIP parking for one of his casinos.
Then we get to Trump and women. The Donald has two ways of dealing with women, patronizing and insulting. (That is unless one doesn’t include raping, as alleged by his former wife.) He also has a habit of cheating on and divorcing them, it appears when they, unlike Donald of course, age and, like Heidi Klum, are no longer a “perfect ten” who looks like his daughter, of whom he said that given her “nice figure” he would perhaps “be dating her” if he weren’t her father. After all, in his inimitable words, “You know, it really doesn’t matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” He tells us that all of the female contestants of his other reality show flirted with him, and who could resist someone who publicly fantasized about how good one of them must have looked on her knees in front of her?
Those of us who watched the first debate surely remember that exchange with Megyn Kelly, of friendly Fox News, which began with a question about his belittling comments, and how at first he tried to pretend that they were restricted to Rosie O’Donnell. It took only a few seconds before he admitted that he had just lied, but those alone speak to Trump’s character, having referred to her as a “slob,” a “fat pig” and a “disgusting animal.” He even brought her partner, Kelli Carpenter, into it by not only saying that her parents were “devastated at the thought of their daughter being with (her),” but that he should send one of his friends to pick her up (and presumably “straighten her out”) because, “I mean, would you want to wake up next to that?”
Of course, Ms. Kelly’s question about him having referred to women as pigs and dogs and animals, while generously leaving out “sluts,” “whores,” and a word starting with “c” that she could not even hint at on television, ignited a firestorm, because nobody asks “hard questions” of The Donald, that’s just not fair, waah waah. So needless to say, he, in his schoolyard bullying ways, had to respond to Ms. Kelly, by calling her a “bimbo.” “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes… blood coming out of her wherever.” Trump later denied that he was referring to women’s irrationality when on their period, which was as convincing as when he said about opponent Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the race, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?!”, and then trying to tell us he was referring not to her looks but to her persona. Donald has a history of difficulty with women’s womanhood. He once had what was reported as “an absolute meltdown” when an attorney had to take a recess to pump breast milk, which he found “disgusting.” Oh, and while Fox quickly got back into the good graces of The Donald, by apparently promising no more tough questions, Megyn Kelly found herself on vacation.
Okay, enough of the interpersonal. Let’s get to the would-be political. Now recognizing that his platform is about as hollow as one of those breakaway blocks used by impostor karate show-offs, this one might not be so easy. His talking points on the issues of the day, no matter what they might be, nearly always come down to, “I’ll do such a great job you wouldn’t believe it.” He did, however, promise us that he would hire some unnamed people who actually know something about foreign policy, so that by the time he’s President, even if he himself still knows nothing about all those strange names and places out there, ignorance he pretty much unabashedly admitted to at the more recent debate, we will be fine, no, better, we will be “great again.” Plus, we know he knows how to make shrewd deals. So convincing Mexico to pay billions for that two thousand mile wall with that “big, fat, beautiful door” in it somewhere (probably near the Trump insignia), built to keep in Mexico the Central Americans coming from the south and the American-born babies flying over it from the north, or China to agree to less favorable trade conditions for no apparent reason other than that The Donald always talks “tough” and gets his way, should be a piece of cake. And he’s sure he’d “get along with Putin,” but there’s always name calling as a first resort. So there we have it.
Oh, wait, he does have one somewhat more tangible strategic position. His answer to the threat of ISIS would be to “bomb the hell” out of Iraq to get the oil from them and take it for ourselves. Now it’s easy to understand why the idea of hoarding other people’s (the Iraqis’, although Trump contends there “is no Iraq”) assets would come easily to Trump. But wasn’t he supposedly against the invasion of Iraq in part because of all of the deaths caused? Or perhaps he was only talking about American deaths and not the inevitable mass civilian casualties caused by such “shock and awe” bombing, whose only effect on terrorist movements is to help them grow by creating greater anti-American sentiments that drive otherwise moderates to their side and sow the seeds of eventual world war. Trump’s sympathy with American soldiers is well known; how can one forget how he attacked John McCain, and by extension all POW’s, for having been captured? That’s not heroism, according to The Donald, he’s a real hero. It’s a good thing then, that he evaded the draft, first with four separate student deferments and then with a mysterious medical deferment that he has been unable to clarify, otherwise he wouldn’t have been so stupid as to have been captured. He’s smarter than all of us, as he constantly reminds us. “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault.”
Trump’s popularity stems from the fact that he’s not a politician. So what are his qualifications? Or as Rand Paul pondered just yesterday, “How could anyone in the GOP think that this clown is fit to be President?” He brags about his wealth and how successful a businessman he is. He fails to mention that he inherited his wealth and almost squandered it several times, having filed for bankruptcy on four separate occasions. Presumably that’s the way he’d bring the American economy back. Hopefully America would be one of his successes, given how many failed business ventures he’s had: “Trump Airlines,” “Trump Vodka,” “Trump the Game,” “Trump Magazine,” “Trump Steaks,” GoTrump.com (for luxury travel), “Trump University,” “Trump Mortgage” and the Trump Casinos in Atlantic City. But it’s only money, trump change. So why do his followers support and identify with him? It’s the illusion of the “American Dream.” Americans, since the time of the “robber barons,” have been conditioned to believe that they too could climb the ladder to infinite success if only they were to step on those beneath them who are, in some twist of logic, blocking their way. The richest one percent of Americans hold more wealth than the bottom ninety percent. But it’s not the billionaires, freeloaders benefiting from tax loopholes, corporate welfare, golden parachutes, off shore accounts and oligarchical inheritances, who are the ones taking our money, oh no, it’s the immigrants, “welfare mothers,” public employees and those struggling with their mortgages. Trump shamelessly brags about the ways in which he played the system at the expense of our economy while telling us he’s on our side, and how he “bought” politicians while telling us he’s running against the corruption. And when was the last time he built anything for anyone other than the rich?
But people want to be like him, though that’s not quite the way the system is rigged. People see this as leadership, but the only place he’d lead us is over a cliff. People are drawn to his ignorance and, at the same time, his brilliance, his being an outsider and, at the same time, the ultimate insider, his speaking for and being one of “us” and, at the same time, being a celebrity with luxuries and arm candy that we can only emulate in our dreams. Did he give a damn about “us” when he outsourced his companies, when he laid off workers, when he displaced homeowners, when he squashed small business competitors, when he rigged the system to his benefit… and who is best known for the phrase “You’re fired?” Because someone shoots from the lip that doesn’t mean they’re speaking the truth. Because someone isn’t a politician certainly doesn’t mean they are uncorrupt. And because someone is “entertaining” it doesn’t mean they are qualified. The Trump lemmings need to wake up before they follow him over that cliff, and take us with them.
P.S. Just yesterday Trump finally came out with something concrete, other than a foundation for his luxury buildings. It sounds kind of promising until one gets into the details, which is why he has avoided details for so long. He would lower taxes on everyone, including the rich, costing the U.S. economy trillions of dollars which would be made up for by cutting social programs of course, specifically education. He said he would be eliminating a bunch of loopholes that he has benefited from, but he would also lower the corporate tax rate, so his businesses would get a windfall, and would completely eliminate the estate tax, so he could pass down his entire fortune to his children, and they to their children, keeping the Trump dynasty lording over our descendants forever Plus, when asked on Fox News, of all places, to name one specific loophole he would actually eliminate, besides an easily circumventable one for hedge fund managers, he couldn’t attest to a single one, and when asked about business write-offs, as for luxury jets or baseball tickets, he said no, they would stay. Even conservative analysts have determined that this smoke and mirrors plan would actually benefit rich people like him.