By Ben Tanosborn
I’ve just received an interesting query from Mingo, a long-standing European journalist friend and expert on all-things-Afghan… someone whose acquaintanceship dates back to the early days of America’s involvement in Afghanistan. Someone, I might add, who did prove to have in 2004 a clearer vision of what was to happen in that country than most, if not all, military experts, media gurus and politicians in the US. My writings at that time can attest to that.
Mingo’s question is about the perception, he claims, Europeans have on US’ current state of the 2016 presidential election, and what he’s calling “the phenomenon Trump.” His incredulity as to the number of possible followers Trump is said to have (if accurately reflected by the polling) seems to match the incredulity by much of America’s media, or of career politicians sucking on Washington’s udder. “How can ‘that many’ Americans take seriously an arrogant charlatan and be swept away by ridiculous and undisguised hyperbole,” is a question that not just Mingo raises, but one that many have been asking for weeks since Donald Trump decided to enter presidential politics.
But it isn’t catchy phrases seasoned with political hyperbole that have been coming out of Donald Trump’s mouth; it’s not just exaggerations sliding out for emphasis or effect. The short, catchy statements coming out of the leading Republican candidate are not the expected quantifiable or qualifiable exaggerations we are accustomed to hearing from the current political version of yesteryear’s traveling medicine man. Hyperbole has been elevated to a new literary status more in line with the stature of its charismatic and billionaire originator: trumperbole. If Trump’s $3 billion wealth can be subjectively inflated to $10 billion, why not just pump hyperbole and call it trumperbole or, in similar fashion, reclassify trump as an adjective and give it comparative and superlative forms: trumper, trumpest, anyone? Well, these days in the US, we are seeing our celebrated and self-proclaimed potential savior, Donald Trump, as the non-politician politician proudly donning capitalist airs and shouting the trumpest trumperbole.
Irony of ironies, however, is the amount of truth that can come out of the mouth of this political babe as he tears apart or diminishes the political persona of GOP adversaries. Not just his party’s peer candidates but other Republican politicians as well who dare stand in the way: Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Rand Paul… all have been cut to sub-Trump size, even ridiculed; while others have not been dignified with a Trump honorable mention, Ted Cruz being the exception with an interesting and secretive question mark. Be that as it may, the entire group of Republican presidential contenders has been irremediably diminished to a sickly and unworthy flock of possible standard bearers for the GOP.
But the Republicans are experiencing more than just the political castration of top party figures, often comically so by someone who lacks any orthodoxy or practicality which favors tradition and fights radical change. Out of the mouth of this political babe, there have been two gems of political wisdom which are likely to hurt Republicans far more than Democrats. Trump’s contention that politicians in Washington are being bought by special interests is no breaking news announcement, but his underlining and writing of this fact in bold letters readily does away with the mockery that ours is a democracy, or that our government is in any way, shape or form a government for the people… only for those who can pay the entry fee. The other gem has to do with iniquity in taxation, likely to make him few friends in the gallery of speculators in hedge funds.
Donald Trump, I could tell Mingo, is no phenomenon or wonder, only someone money has immunized and given a suit of armor under our capitalist system; a person with true elite-freedom. Little wonder that few people in the media, or politicians, are willing to alienate him or, much less, tackle him head on when there is the prospect of a litigious wrecking ball waiting in the wings.
It is precisely this view by many that Trump is impervious to any type of fear that makes him an attractive advocate or champion of causes which people would otherwise keep hidden within themselves. Nativists can now show their passion thanks to Trump’s leadership; and so can racial-mongers; and white nationalist activists; and a few others. They can all come out of the closet and feel safe.
I could also tell Mingo something else. The Republican Party is running the danger, if Donald Trump becomes its nominee, of having its candidate become the counterpart of George McGovern (the liberal candidate) in 1972. For those then around, we can revisit those numbers and look at the prospect of Trump becoming Republicans’ McGovern. [McGovern had just 37.5 percent of the popular vote and only carried Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in the Electoral College (520-17).]
No; Trump is no phenomenon, just a figurehead for those with closeted anger trying to resist unstoppable change in the world and resent their loss of power.