How could someone as ignorant, as blatantly narcissistic and thoughtless,
as full of meanness and a racism that is both hateful and casual,
how could such a person be a serious contender for president?
The answer must be some combination of powerfully irrational forces. It
can’t be that half the American people are racist and cruel and unthinking
to this extent; in fact, it is remarkable how many likely Trump voters say
that they don’t believe that Trump will do the things he’s threatening. They
don’t take his declarations seriously. They like the performance – the
outrageousness of it is the appeal. The magnetic charm that people felt
when they watched The Apprentice is what they continue to love now, even
though the context is picking a president, not watching a preposterous
comical TV show.
Nothing Trump says or does rebounds against him. Asking the
Russians to spy on his opponents, saying he’ll break treaties if he feels
like it, that he thinks about shagging his daughter, locking up Moslems, building
a 500 mile wall to stop the “Mexican rapists” who are flooding in, and all the
rest, it’s no big deal. It’s the thoughtlessness, the ruthlessness that
counts. Because the obligation to care about what your words might do –
like encouraging white supremacists and racist cops to shoot black people –
Trump denies any such obligation and asserts his right to ignore the
well being of, much less the rights of, anyone else. Shut up with that crap,
he says. And he shows us that in American in 2016 you can get away with that.
So many people want to hear this message – they are so tired of being asked
to care about other people, about what’s right. They love him for giving them
the right to act out their anti-social impulses. Look, he’s saying what
The way people communicate with each other now – and therefore the way that
we think about things, especially about other people and politics and culture-
are the hyper-fast, hyper-shallow ways of internet & ‘social’ media: email, texting,
twitter, facebook and the like. All encourage fast shoot-from-the-hip
rat-a-tat-tat responses. We find on the internet – surrounding whatever valuable
information or cool entertainment and social connection we desire –
that we are awash in thoughtless, abrasive, self-aggrandizing expressions of loud,
obnoxious, profane outrageous sentiments. “I’m great, me and my friends think
that you suck” is the most common text or subtext. Hyperbole meets hyperbole,
generating the infinite varieties of interminable morphing shitstreams of
cybertude. In such a world, in such a universe of discourse, Donald Trump’s
politically hideous violations of decency seem tame by comparison. No biggie,
no worries, it’s all good.
All of us think within the world of our social communications. The fact that
people can be vicious and thoughtless in public and be proud of it and get
away with it has poisoned the rivers in which expression, thought, and
human connection must swim. Donald Trump is the president from Twitter.
Intelligent and humble analysis of why the world is the way it is and
what to do about it rarely fits into 140 characters. It’s so yesterday.
There’s a phrase from Joseph Conrad often used in literary criticism:
“The fascination of the abomination”. We can’t take our eyes off someone
who behaves like Donald Trump – the more outrageous, the more dishonest
and slanderous, the more rude and mean he is, the better. The tabloid media –
and what medium is not tabloid now – egg him on. We’ve grown accustomed to
our fellow citizens being vile in public, and getting rewarded for it.
Donald is a mutant fascist celebrity politician bred in and adapted to
our grievously polluted skin deep sorry ass society.
This story does not have a happy ending.