“That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
-Karl Rove in 2002, unintentionally explaining how the 21st Century will function
Ah Donald, your time grows short…
Books will be written and video lectures will be uploaded to YouTube for hundreds of years about what occurred from May 2015 up until the Old Yeller-ish end on November 8th, 2016. I want to throw in my two cents now on why the Donald means more to us at this particular moment in human history than he has been given credit for.
Donald, your politics are bullshit!
Donald appeals to fascism, he appeals to racism, he appeals to sexism and xenophobia…yada yada yada, etc. More important than this, he appeals to a hope that America may be able to go back to a time when manufacturing was king, and that globalization could be blown to bits. (The digital age and globalization are the best of friends so that’s never going to happen.)
Oh Donald, if only you were on the ball enough to realize that the skills you are elite at; speaking, persuading, branding, and keeping the attention on yourself, were all you needed to find yourself elected President if you didn’t handcuff yourself to a demographic and worldview which is growing smaller and older with every year. Without the birther nonsense you championed in 2011 I’m sure you could have run on a center-left platform for the Democrats and be elected handily. (Then again, the sexual assault allegations would have crushed Trump anyway, so Donald you also should have kept your hands to yourself, and kept your words away from Billy Bush.)
Donald Trump, the First 21st Candidate, or How the Internet is Huuuuuuuge
We’re overexposed to information nowadays, and this overexposure is only going to heighten, and I doubt there will be a solution to this in the near future. The more information is out there, the harder it is to discern lies from reality. (“What is truth anyway?” would say our friend The Rauschmonstrum.) It is this quality which makes the modern world the perfect lair for The Donald. Everything he has ever done his entire life has prepared him to thrive in this current environment.
For him, blurring fact and fiction has just been a way of life. Case in point; take a look at the term he invented, “truthful hyperbole,” which means to lie in a way where it sounds plausible. The Donald is also a positive thinking junkie, (the minister at his old church, Norman Vincent Peale, invented it after all) so he’s incapable of thinking anything flawed about himself. If something is wrong it is somebody else’s fault, and if the majority of expert opinion say he is lying about something then that means powerful forces are conspiring against him in a sinister plot, and have altered time and space specifically to screw him.
Most important to Donald’s success is the combination of a burning desire to get himself as much exposure as possible, matched with a top-notch understanding of how to use both traditional and digital media in order to get this exposure. For his campaign Trump took a gambit, a gambit which ran successful way past the expiration dates most pundits gave it. Trump’s gambit was that truth is absolutely irrelevant, that it is something which had a good run and should now be put out to pasture. Trump didn’t get this quite right, but how close was he?
The Donald wouldn’t be able to d this is he had the empathy levels of normal people. If he did, he’ feel guilt for his behavior. Trump doesn’t care if he lies or if he’s caught lying because he does not sense consequence the same way regular people do. Thus he can keep tweeting his blend of self-promotion and disinformation with much greater quantity and effectiveness than at least 99.999% of the world, and definitely 100% of American politicians.
Trumpian Death Drive
If you’re a young male hothead who just can’t follow orders, and you have your own ideas about how everything should be done, you’re probably going to have an ever-tougher time in the labor markets of the future. There won’t be much room for a ‘rebel without a cause’ or, for that matter, a rebel with a cause.
“Average is Over. Powering American Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation”
Not everyone can discharge their furies on an analyst’s couch, for some angers can be relaxed only by winning power, some rages are sufficiently monumental to demand that one try to become a hero or else fall back into that death which is already within the cells. But if one succeeds, the energy aroused can be exceptional.
“Superman Comes to the Supermarket”
Few will argue that the bulk of Trump’s supporters fear a future where they are less relevant. This dread of living insignificant lives plagues white working class American men For these people, the pipedream of a 50s utopia is easy to yearn for, and Trump taps into this yearning. In their malaise, it must have been ecstasy for them to see Trump crash the Republican primary process. The GOP just wanted him and his unorthodox style to go away, yet no, he wouldn’t go away, and he trolled his way to the nomination with the entire party kicking and screaming behind him the entire time.
For men stuck in a rut dreading the future, The Donald offered them a potential cure. His solution? Completely shift the way society is going through pure “triumph of will”; kill globalism and political correctness, and restore the white working class to their pretend former glory. In other words, Trump ran on a platform of parting the sea and raising the dead. He also captured their imagination for how they may change their own lives. “Gee if that orange billionaire is able to beat the odds and do the impossible, maybe I can do the same thing too.”
And of course, there’s the little matter of Freud’s concept of the death drive, which is unalterably linked to the Trump Campaign. I’m sure deep down The Donald’s deepest supporters understood that victory had little chance of happening. However, when you feel as though you are doomed for destruction anyway, you may as well have fun during the process. It is this death drive which I’m sure is most responsible for the rapid way in which devotees drove to him, why they stocked up on those red hats, and why they don’t care that he’s apparently abused several women. It’s because in an ailing sort of way in the reptilian part of their brains, they thought “If I have to go out, I might as well go out pedal to the medal with my adrenaline flying high. And hey, maybe the stars will somehow align in just the right way and the Donald will pull out a victory, and then my dread will go away.”
Running for president was Trump’s way of undergoing his own particular brand of death drive. Psychological Biographies will be written on his campaign for hundreds of years, and even then we’ll never get a handle on why Trump made the decision to run. He did so many things during this time which would have destroyed any other candidate yet somehow only made him stronger, in a way tempting destiny in every turn to leave him with a shattered reputation and an irreparable self of self. And what about this? I wouldn’t be surprised if a great number of his supporters think somewhere in the back of their mind that his election may have caused total disaster, and they may have welcomed it because it would have been flashy, fun, and brought them rest.
Finally the fatal blows seemingly have struck, and nobody can say they are surprised its gone down so disastrously for him. Ultimately that’s the problem with running a campaign based on death drive, your end is already predetermined.