Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Wanna Punch You In The Face. The Semiotics of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a Republican candidate for the presidency of the most powerful country on earth.  And he wants to punch protesters in the face:

Donald Trump said he wanted to punch a protester “in the face” after the man disrupted a campaign rally in Las Vegas on Monday night.
“Here’s a guy, throwing punches, nasty as hell, screaming at everything else, when we’re talking,” Trump told the crowd, although CNN reported the man did not appear to be fighting with security officers.
“The guards are very gentle with him. He’s walking out, like, big high-fives, smiling, laughing,” Trump continued, before saying to loud cheers: “I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.”
The incident was the latest in a string of controversial comments by Trump regarding protesters at his rallies. In November, after a Black Lives Matter protester was beaten and choked after disrupting a rally, Trump appeared to condone the rough treatment.
“Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” he said on Fox News at the time.

He also wants to meet fire with fire when it comes to ISIS/Daesh:

“It brings up something,” Trump said. “Two debates ago, they hit Ted Cruz with a question. … They hit him with a question on waterboarding. They said: ‘What do you think of waterboarding? Is it good?’ And he got all messed up. He couldn’t answer the question. He was a mess, because he didn’t want to say waterboarding was good.
“Now, waterboarding — nothing is pretty –but they are chopping off heads, they are drowning people in steel cages … and they are saying to themselves, ‘Can you believe how weak, how weak and pathetic the Americans are?'” Trump said in a reference to the Islamic State, which has released videos showing the group’s beheading and drowning of prisoners.

The Trump phenomenon is going to be fascinating for some future historians to study, assuming that there will be a future.  A textbook case of the way people vote with their emotions*, and another textbook case of the way celebrities are manufactured and created through the media.

Many Americans believe that they know Donald Trump, because of "The Apprentice," his reality television show.  Many Americans are accustomed to his rude comments, arrogance and lack of manners, because of that same reality television show.  And many in the media simply give him the space to be an arrogant a***ole, "because that's just how Trump is."

Can you imagine what would happen if, say, Hillary Clinton had expressed the desire to punch someone in the face?  Indeed, can you think of any other presidential contestant who would be taken seriously after saying something like that?

Here is a man who recycles his wives (no, it doesn't make him an environmentalist), who brags how good he is at bankrupting firms, and who is currently accused of financial fraud.  It is not that these aspects of his life aren't covered at all; it is just that they would be covered at a very different intensity if the candidate was anyone else but Trump.

What drives all that?  Probably Trump's bombastic demeanor.  He's good for the media, produces lots of clicks and some still hope that he might fade away as a serious contender or perhaps just grow tired of the game. 

And he IS good television!  Almost like a reality show...  He seems to be "a man of the people," despite being nothing of the sort, he seems to be "a plain speaker," uttering all those things that the ordinary guy in the street (well, the kind which votes for Republicans)  emotionally feels (nuke them to the stone age, make America great again) and thinks (that politicking can't be very hard, just kick all those furriners in the butt and close the borders).**

Then the blustering!  Once again, imagine another politician, say,  Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders acting like Trump acts.  We would hear a lot about the female hormones if it was Clinton***, a lot about communism and grumpy grandpa if it was Sanders.   But in the case of Trump?  Well, he is just Trump.  

*  For his actual policies, check this site.

**  And, to be fair to Trump, some of his comments have truth in them.  Globalization has not been good for the American working class, as opposed to the top one percent of the wealthy. It has killed many previously well-paying industries and jobs and in return offered lots of cheap crap from China.  But Trump is on the very top of the one percent, not a man of the people, and what he proposes to do about all this sounds impractical and/or vague.

***  What would the reversal for female hysteria be?  Male testiness? There's no good term for how Trump behaves, but it usually amounts to that fist-waving and belligerence and arrogance.