Friday, July 22, 2016
A Shorter Version of Trump's Acceptance Speech
Imagine this scenario: You are in a physician's office, waiting to get the diagnosis for that nagging pain you've had for a while. Your doctor steps out to get some of the test results, and you sit there, biting your nails.
Suddenly the door opens and in comes an orangey guy with a very weird hairdo, dressed in Speedos and carrying a hammer and a saw. He takes your doctor's place behind the desk and tells you that he's your new surgeon, that you have a condition that will kill you, slowly and painfully, and that all there is between you and a miserable death is this man: Your surgeon, a man who dares all, who can fix all, but only he can help you. He knows how rotten the medical system is and that's why most of the time he works as junk bond trader. And what you need is someone untainted by the system.
Everyone inside the medical system is an elitist money-grabber, only wanting to exploit you and responsible for your pain. And you are gonna die! Unless he is allowed to hit you with the hammer and then saw a couple of fingers off.
Well, he isn't going to tell you how that will cure you, and you mustn't ask any questions, either. You must obey. If you obey, he will save your life, and make sure that you can skip all waiting lines while other patients are left to suffer. If you obey (and click your heels together and make the right gestures), then the gloom, the sinister gloom will be lifted, and you will be saved.
Otherwise you are gonna croak.
That's not as good as it sounded inside my head, but then neither is Trump's actual speech. I can't be bothered with the fact-checking which you can get elsewhere. But it's worth noting that the speech wasn't meant to be about facts: It was all about fear and an odd kind of careless fascism as the remedy for fear.
What makes that fascism careless is this: If you read the speech carefully you will notice that Trump only mentions two actual policies he would carry out, and they are a) ban immigration from certain Muslim countries, and b) erect a giant wall between Mexico and the US.
He also vaguely promises to get rid of crime by 2017 or so (except that most crime is fought on the state and local level, not on the Federal level), to fix the labor markets, to pull the US out of most international trade agreements (which presumably would have no repercussions) and to simply wipe out all terrorism (which he wouldn't be able to do).
But none of that matters to the true believers. For them the speech gave much: Hillary Clinton is responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the world since 2009! She is so powerful that some might then conclude she should be the president, or at least that no earthly power could keep her away, given her superpowers.
On the other hand, she is also a hybrid of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Ivan the Terrible and every single woman who refused any Republican man the blowjob he felt entitled to. That, my friends, is how the Trumpians* see Hillary Clinton, the unacceptable alternative to Donald Trump.
The true believers also heard Trump's law-and-order arguments. To me they sounded fascist, but to the Trumpian believers they meant something different:
To regain control over the country and the globe, to restore the old racist and gender hierarchies, to remove all that fear Trump was fanning as the engine of his speech. That Trump gave only two policies for achieving such a heaven (or hell, depending on which side of the various walls you might be) means that all the law-and-order talk was gesturing, intended to provoke the desired emotions and to provide some temporary relief from the gnawing anxiety and burning rage.
But only temporary relief, because the anger must not go away before the elections. What happens after the elections is irrelevant to Donald Trump, though it's pretty clear to anyone who can put two thoughts together that he can't do what he promises in that speech, just as my trader-doctor cannot cure a patient with a hammer and a saw, and that those who adore him now would be discarded as no longer useful once Donald gets the crown.
Was there anything in the speech, anything at all, that might be worth thinking about?
I believe that the effects of globalization on American working class people is the one serious part of the general Trumpian anger** that deserves attention from the Democrats.
The mainstream Republican Party is a lost cause when it comes to caring about jobs for the ordinary people, but the Democratic Party shouldn't be that. Globalization has raised the incomes of the very rich in this world and may have helped certain groups of the poor, especially in China, but the earnings of the working class people in the industrialized West have stagnated.
But other than that the speech was almost exactly the equivalent of the little parable at the beginning of this post. Frightening.
* My term for the supporters of Donald Trump.
** The part that comes from sexism, racism and other nasty -isms needs the attentions of a therapist, not the attentions of politicians, at least in the sense of re-creating a more unfair and unequal world.
*** Though I did find bits of it funny, such as the few paragraphs adding all the traditional Republican stuff about cutting taxes for the rich, to help the middle classes, killing the chances of any decent health care for lots of Americans and so on. Those are probably the bits in the speech that Trump-the-president would actually try to carry out, or let Mike Pence do it for him while he takes care of America's greatness.