(The suffix “ism”: a belief, attitude, style, etc., that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix – ism.)
I keep mulling over, if not fixating, on the emergence and obvious staying power of Donald Trump. I have never met the man, I don’t know any of his family, I have never read “The Art of the Deal” (written by Tony Schwartz) or watched his reality TV program; nothing. So where exactly do I get off using descriptors like buffoon, racist, narcissist, homophobe, xenophobe, and neo-fascist? As my train of thought traveled down this track, I realized I needed another way of looking at, and more fully understanding, this bedeviling phenomenon.
I don’t deeply dislike, distrust, and have disgust for Donald J. Trump per se; my great concern is the philosophy empowering Trumpism.
The concept of Trumpism resolved two problems for me. First, when I hear someone say they “hate Hillary”, I flinch. How can anyone hate someone they don’t personally know? Secondly, “The Donald” has produced and puts on display a persona which emerges from a script; the way a skilled actor must do after reading an intriguing screenplay. As we have seen, Donald has had many personas over these past many years. He has been a pro-choice Democrat, a shrewd and cut-throat businessman, a mean boss who appears to love saying, “You’re Fired!”, and now he is playing the role of Donald J. Trump, Republican Party nominee for the presidency of the United States of America. He is polishing and perfecting this new persona because this persona needs beliefs, attitudes, and a unique style so he can embody Trumpism. (As an actor he has just one major flaw, he has the attention span of a nine year old on a post-Halloween sugar high…but I digress.)
Now I don’t know how much of this new character truly reflects whoever the real Donald Trump is, heck, I question who the real me is sometimes. But one thing is for sure, this constitutes for me a whole new way of approaching this 2016 campaign, and these final 100 days. I am going to try to forget the character actor Donald J. Trump as much as possible. I am still puzzling over whether Trumpism and Republicanism are the same because it seems the better share of those who embrace Trumpism are incredibly skeptical of Republicanism; and vice versa. It is just that their sulfur-like smells have a distinct similarity.
With this as my newest approach to understanding this bizarrely novel campaign, the task then is to separate out, as much as possible, the character actor from the beliefs that go into making up Trumpism.
Trumpism is first and foremost nationalistic (having strong patriotic feelings, especially a belief in the superiority of one’s own country over others).
“My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people, and American security, above all else. That will be the foundation of every decision that I will make. America First will be the major and overriding theme of my administration.”
“It is extremely unfortunate that in his speech Wednesday [April 27, 2016] outlining his foreign policy goals, Donald Trump chose to brand his foreign policy with the noxious slogan “America First,” the name of the isolationist, defeatist, anti-Semitic national organization that urged the United States to appease Adolf Hitler.”
Frankly, I trust most people who believe in Trumpism have no idea what the historical roots of America First are. They are likely more familiar with the concept of globalism; and Trumpism is diametrically opposed to globalism. Trumpism intends to create trade barriers that protect American businesses and the American worker. The idea that we are going to divvy up our economic pie is tantamount to giving certain industries away to a foreign “trading partner”, and in Trumpism that is economic suicide. Businesses can move to cheaper labor markets, but the workers can’t. Therefore, under the philosophy of Trumpism, physical and trading walls need to be built high and strong, and just as an individual is on their own in this world, America must stand on its own two feet. If other nations starve and their people become hopeless, that’s not America’s problem. Trumpism makes it clear that we are being used and abused by lesser nations, and that’s a sign of weakness and is anti-American-first.
Secondly, in Trumpism, there is clear admonition for the idea of political correctness (the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against).
“Donald Trump’s excuse for his latest offensive idea, to ban all Muslims from the country, is the same one he used when he insulted Mexican immigrants, women, and prisoners of war: People are just being too ‘politically correct.’”
Trumpism seems to attract those who want to reinstitute a day when Caucasians were the heart and soul of this nation, and people of other races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs other than Christianity were “the other.” In the world according to Trumpism, being of “the other” was not necessarily a bad thing; it was just that “they” knew their place in the natural pecking order of our Christian nation.
Putting down political correctness gives tacit approval for saying what is really on one’s mind. After all, if the speaker knows they are better than the person they are talking about, the rightness of their comment should not be ridiculed simply because they were honest enough to say it out loud.
Thirdly, Trumpism is anti-government and anti-collectivism. When one man stands before his supporters and says; “I alone can fix it”, this demonstrates that somebody is finally willing to step up and run the show. All of this talk about building consensus, and we are “stronger together” is horse pucky. Trumpism acknowledges the basic fact that we come into this world alone and that’s how we will go out. The individual, therefore, is responsible for themselves, and whatever they have, and whatever they have accomplished is due to their work ethic. Therefore, if someone outside of government has proven themselves to be a strong and successful person, that’s someone we can look up to. All of this talk about checks and balances, and this nonsense about working together to make a better country are antithetical to nature. The idea of a rising tide lifting all boats is an act of God; human beings on the other hand get what they deserve because they were willing to work for it.
Therefore, because Donald Trump has acquired the trappings of success, and has proven his grit by climbing the ladder of success to the top of Trump Tower, he is to be admired and he has earned our respect. Conclusion…why shouldn’t he have the country’s top job? In fact, when a hardcore Trumpist thinks about it, that’s why we begrudgingly owe respect to great men like Vladimir Putin or that terrorist killing machine Saddam Hussein. These are real men, not a compromising pussy like Obama.
Another interesting aspect of Trumpism is the idea that facts are a relatively unimportant nuisance. “Trump makes Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again, even though fact checkers have demonstrated them to be false. He appears to care little about the facts.”
I remain curious, however, that this aspect of Trumpism could well be misunderstood. What I mean by that is the issue may be a lack of trust for the source of these claims of falsehoods (i.e. lying). These so-called “fact checkers” can easily come across as intellectual jackasses; my dad often used the phrase, “over-educated idiots.” At the heart of this skepticism is the concern that just because someone has a degree from an institution of higher education, does not make them any smarter than the average hardworking man. They might know a bunch of information about a specific subject, but it must be amusing to Trumpets to watch this “smart” person mishandle a problem the average Joe deals with all of the time and fall on his “pointy little head.”
Truthfulness is always a critical aspect of a trustworthy person, but that trust has to be earned. But once it is earned, and that person shows the good sense to agree with my opinion, it almost does not matter who shows them to be incorrect, especially if they come across as a “smarty pants.” People almost always give the one they trust the benefit of the doubt, and the new Trump persona demonstrates a self-confidence that makes facts inconsequential.
The final aspect of Trumpism I have witnessed relates to the whole question of the glass being half-full or half-empty. If the Trumpism glass is half-full, that means the people and ideas they hold sacred have worked. When the glass is half-empty, however, that is because the forces in which the Trumpet has no confidence are flawed.
Trumpism has taken on the saying “Make America Great Again.” Clearly this is a statement aimed at the glass being half-empty. From this perspective America has been great, but the people who have been running the show have blown it and it is going to take a strong leader to make her great once again.
Here are just a few examples of this half-empty-half-full concept at work.
We have all seen the situation of President Obama coming out with an idea or an approach, but by definition, it is immediately suspect to the perspective of a Trumpist. Heck, according to Trumpism, Obama isn’t even a real American. Take the Affordable Care Act as a good example. It started out in the mid-90s as the Republican’s response to the Clinton health care plan. Then Republican Governor Mitt Romney adopted those ideas into his plan for Massachusetts, and the experts that helped him put their successful plan into effect were many of the same people President Obama turned to for designing and implementing the Affordable Care Act. To this day, people who do not trust Obama want to repeal or replace the ACA, irrespective of whose idea it was.
Another example is the idea of cutting carbon emissions through a plan referred to as cap and trade. The idea essentially came out of several Republican administrations. However, when the Obama Administration wanted to implement it in order to reduce greenhouse gases, it became seen as a plan to injure business and job growth, and it was defeated by Senate Republicans. In fact, climate change does not even exist anymore according to the 2016 Platform of Trump’s Republican Party.
One more example of this aspect of Trumpism; the Obama Administration, especially that nasty woman running the State Department (2009-2012) was personally responsible for the death of the Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other brave Americans. According to the Republicans and Trumpets, the ambassador asked for more protection for their outpost in Benghazi, but because Secretary of State Clinton was, according to them, so incompetent, those poor people died…lock her up! Under the George W. Bush Administration, however, there were 13 attacks on embassies resulting in the death of 60 people; but Congress worked with the Bush Administration to improve the situation. Apparently, the glass was half-full under Bush.
The hypocrisy and the politics here seem a bit obvious, and I only raise these examples to make my point that Trumpism seems particularly harsh and fear inspiring on a whim. One cannot listen to or read Mr. Trump’s acceptance speech at their Cleveland convention and not be scared flaming silly that America is now a hell hole. Trumpism has gone passed suggesting that America’s glass is half-empty, indeed, it is bone dry.
Trumpism, therefore, is the belief system, and Donald Trump is the lead actor and rapscallion in this political reality-like production. Does he really believe everything that comes out of his mouth? I have gotten to the point where I don’t know, and I could care less. Much more importantly, Trumpism is a political odyssey that has captured the attention and votes of about 9% of the American electorate, but its various aspects have the potential to transform our founder’s creation of a democratic republic into a dystopian nightmare (an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one) from which only one man can save us from total annihilation.
At its heart, Trumpism rejects the idea of a global community and reinstitutes a walled off and isolationist America. Trade agreements that don’t exclusively, or at least primarily, serve our interests are discarded. The idea that we have win-win agreements is considered to be a weakness. Military agreements that don’t properly recognize our superiority and reimburse us for our greatness, irrespective of the role others play, will be ignored. If the world falls into disrepair and increased warfare is the result, maybe next time they will find the money we demand if they want our protection. (Al Capone would love this shit.)
Trumpism will also reinstitute the respect and admiration we expect for the true master race. People from around the world will respect us for our dominance, and those of more colorful races will either; come to America knowing White Christians run this show, or they will be sent back to the hell holes from which they came, or they will be locked up. It’s all quite simple in Trumplandia.
Next, Trumpism is not about the collective good. That pansy-assed concept makes us weak and servile. After all, we don’t elect our leaders to make life as comfortable as possible for slugs and deadbeats, we elect our leaders to lead and build great things that showcase our greatness.
Trumpisms are always the truth. We sure as hell don’t need any snobby intellectuals explaining their latest theories to us. We will know the truth when our leadership tells us what it is. Heck, just a few hundred years ago these eggheads were telling us the world was flat, or more recently, that there were 9 planets in our solar system. Worse yet, these know-nothings are trying to peddle the idea that the Earth is billions of years old; ridiculous! Science evolves; the Bible, however, is the permanent word of God.
Finally, since that Kenyan-born Muslim and that horrible witch, Hillary, have been in charge of our once great nation, according to Trumpism, America has become hell on Earth. Internationally, no one respects us, and we are getting our throats cut and have had our balls cut off by Muslim terrorists. We have sold the middle class down a Chinese made toilet, and crime is on every street. That’s why Americans have to protect themselves and buy all of those guns and ammo. The race problem has gotten out of control, and Trumpism shows we need some God-damn law and order again.
We need to make America great again!
No sir, Donald J. Trump is just another guy trying to make a buck. You see, Donald will come and go, but Trumpism is a reality production that lives in the minds of its followers now, and that problem will not go away after Election Day.
August 2, 2016