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December 19, 2016


Oh, this is funny.  It’s obviously especially funny on the eve of an electoral college vote that gives desperate people a desperate technical hope that a vicious and ignorant sociopath might somehow be blocked on his way to the Oval Office and the nuclear codes.

This hope is forlorn of course.  Donald Trump will achieve the office and the codes.  And this will be despite the fact that not only did most Americans vote for someone other than Trump but most Americans (rightly) actually despise Donald Trump.  But the electors will not break “precedent” today.

The fact that Trump can tweet “unpresidented” for “unprecedented” illustrates something we already knew – that Trump doesn’t read much, if anything.  When he pledges to uphold the constitution of the United States, he’ll be relying on aides to have given him the gist of it.  He hasn’t read the constitution and has no intention of doing so.

A structural and cultural problem that will linger long after the horrors of a Trump presidency is the fact that ignorance is considered “cute”.  Everybody knows that Trump is ignorant, but a false relationship is posited between ignorance and innocence – as though Trump’s sheer lack of knowledge constitutes a kind of purity, a lack of contamination by “elitist” assumptions. Some people thought Sarah Palin was cute on the same basis.

The truth is, of course, that when somebody who has had every expensive opportunity to learn remains ignorant into adulthood – ignorance is cognate not with innocence but with arrogance.   Trump doesn’t read and Trump can’t spell because he’s a hereditary aristocrat who has spent his entire long lifetime despising his fellow creatures.  Humility is a precondition for learning anything.  To be able to learn requires the patience that sustained listening and reading demands.  To learn anything involves recognising a deficiency within oneself – and acknowledging that others can offer something of value.  Indeed, it is impossible to escape crippling ignorance without a notion of gratitude and reciprocity.

Trump’s administration will be devoted to hurting people.  Like all extreme narcissists Trump has extreme ego weakness and his idea of conducting  business is entirely zero-sum.  If you can cheat others you should.  You are only strong insofar as someone else is weak.  The world consists of “winners” and “losers”.  It’s a bleak and cruel world view – as well as a monumentally dull one.   Trump fears that “Trump” will disappear unless he’s being reinforced by applause or by crippling his enemies.  Alone in his room, he is nothing.

Appalling spelling is just a very small and very revealing symptom of this.  He would not be an especially stupid man, or an ignorant man, if he could acknowledge even for a moment, that he can learn from others, something that would convey the notion that other people have their own innate value.  For Trump, basic literacy is for losers – people who failed to exit the right birth canal – people for whom work is not merely a vicious form of recreation, but necessary for life itself.

Trump will not be “unpresidented” today.  But what will happen over the next few years will indeed be unprecedented.


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