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Why Was Donald Trump Ever Popular? Explanation No. 1. A Lot Of People Just Hate Themselves.

October 29, 2015


If Trump’s poll numbers really are (finally) on the slide then future historians will be interested explaining in the bizarre footnote that is (or was) Donald Trump.  I offer “Self Loathing”.  This explanation has much to commend it – in terms of logic.

For the 2016 contest the Republican Party has offered a rather congested field full of very right wing people in suits.  These people all smile a lot and have sensible hair.  How and why does Donald Trump stand out in a field full of people saying more or less the same thing?   I mean, apart from the whole hair issue.

I think it’s about aristocracy and contempt for others.  These Ryans and Bushes and Walkers and Cruzes etc. etc. etc.(who’s still in, who’s dropped out, who cares?)  all look as though they want to be loved.  They’re constantly expressing their love and respect for folk they call “The American People” (however narrowly conceived).  But Trump is different.  Trump clearly despises just about everybody on earth.  When Trump exhibits just how much he believes that the rest of the world is just dirt beneath his feet, at least you feel you’re in the presence of something truthful.  Something authentic.

The kind of shameless rudeness and habitual boorishness and awfulness that Trump offers is something that only a landed aristocracy can provide.  Having been born into a very wealthy family Trump has never known what it’s like not to feel superior to just about everyone else on earth.  The kind of arrogance that Trumps demonstrated pretty much the exclusive preserve of the landed aristocracy – which is what Trump is.  He’s rich because his Daddy was rich.  He Daddy seems to have become rich exploiting depression era construction contracts – using Big Government to profit his family by means of an elaborate system of contracting out services to different versions of himself.

Trump has never known what it’s like to have to work for a living.  He’s never “worked” in the same sense that the 99% do.  His “work” is a form of recreation.   He spends time in the office merely because it amuses him to spend his day striding down corridors in a shiny suit yelling at people.

It’s been estimated that if Trump had left his inheritance in a very lazy sort of tracking fund  and spent his entire life in bed – then he’d be considerably wealthier than he is today.  His bankruptcies evidence a complete inability to create anything of any value and a hopeless sense of how the market actually works – but his massive inherited wealth and numerous friends in high places mean that he’s always been able to walk away unscathed from the serial consequences of his greed and folly.  That’s what being a landed aristocrat is all about.  Trump, the embodiment of self perpetuating hereditary oligarchy – shows yet again that being wealthy isn’t about how you make money but how you spend it and the sangfroid with which you lose it.  Trump is that guy who walks slowly away from a massive explosion without looking back.

Thorstein Veblen, you should be living at this hour.

Perhaps… now just perhaps… Trump’s popularity makes sense if enough people hate themselves enough to be in reverent awe of all of the above.  Perhaps… just perhaps… there are enough voted out there who have embraced their inner serf sufficiently to want to be beaten about the head and shoulders by someone they regard as genetically superior to themselves.  Perhaps people crave a belted earl (or nearest North American equivalent) who will ride into the village,  strike people with a riding crop, abduct a few peasant daughters and set fire to a few thatched roofs on the way out.”  Perhaps the interior monologue of such voters runs roughly as follows…

“Those other guys don’t despise me enough. The Rubios and Bushes and Jindals and whoever they are.   Only you Lord Donald are honest enough to despise me the way I truly deserve.  Because Donald, I have sinned.  I sinned early and I sinned fatally when I exited the wrong sort of birth canal.  I failed to acquire wealthy parents.  And this I now know is what theologians call “The Sin Against the Holy Ghost”.  The one sin that cannot be forgiven.  Christ’s agony on the cross cannot save me from this sin – which is to be visited upon me, my children and my children’s children forever and ever amen.

Only you can save America from the last trappings of democracy and restore the rule of sacred hereditary money, kicking untermensch like me (and my family) back into the mud where we belong.   The others lie to me – tell me I might be worth something.  Only you speak truth and only your contempt is real. Now just throw us a few guns to play with and go back to burning money you magnificent beast.”

There is a big problem with all of the above.  It adds up.  It represents a logical response to something that is profoundly true about Donald Trump.

The real truth is bound to be far more messy and contradictory and make no sense whatsoever.

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