Welcoming the Trumpening
Devon Chenelle | Tuesday, October 11, 2016
I’m obsessed with Donald Trump. Initially limited to his campaign, my fixation has grown such that I fear I’ll soon start watching “Apprentice” reruns. Like all true obsessions, my feelings of repulsion and attraction are intertwined so tightly one forgets where one starts and the other ends. A little spark of sympathy, perhaps subconscious, always develops for something you spend time with.
My fascination with Trump began when he captured the allegiance of several radical online political communities I had long found intriguing to observe from afar. My interest grew alongside his popularity, as he stepped up his frequent jabs at our meretricious political class and repeatedly defied pundits’ predictions of his incipient collapse. To be clear, I’m not a Trump supporter; he is a scoundrel and probably just as shallow as people think. I am, however, a Trump sympathizer. I grin from ear to ear after each of his electoral triumphs, for American politicians are finally reaping what they’ve sown.
How can I say such a thing? Certainly some believe it is uncouth to rejoice in the suffering of America’s politicians when the suffering’s cause is a man perhaps capable of greatly damaging the nation. A confession: my enjoyment of Trump’s success isn’t free of spite. I have nothing but contempt for the unaccountable, rent-seeking and myopic political class of modern America. They are the spouses and friends of the bankers and lobbyists, so significant reform of those industries is impossible. Because they are co-dependent with the foreign princes and contractors driving the military-industrial complex, America fights endless wars as military spending spirals unceasingly higher. Our politicians’ incestuous relationship with the media means the media’s laser focus fixates on that day’s #issues, while profound concerns like the maintenance of the Washington Consensus, our society’s cancer-like growth of consumption and the duplicity of our Saudi “allies” go undiscussed.
Trump will not fix any of these things. Yet the mere thought of a bought and paid for stooge like Wolf Blitzer having to announce Trump’s victory, crocodile tear smudging his eye make-up, fills me with joy. Each day Trump’s buffoonish campaign dominates the political news cycle is spit in the eye of the vipers at our country’s helm. Even if the sentiment is tinged with guilt, we’re all a little excited at the fireworks that result from the Trump Hate Machine’s unleashing on Hillary Clinton.
Over the past few months, new developments have further grown my obsession with the man. Trump’s first book “The Art of the Deal” was beyond everything I hoped for. Short on substantive advice, long on surprisingly subtle but omnipresent self-glorification, the hagiography imparts an overwhelming urge to admire Trump, businessman and person of the highest caliber. The message’s creeping power made me cackle; of course the rascal found the world’s greatest encomiast-cum-ghost writer. My Trump mania was forever cemented when an editorial I wrote comparing him to Heath Ledger’s Joker received some recognition, a first for my “adult” writing. My fragile, praise-hungry id was hooked on Trump like a morphine drip. Google News searches for Trump and skimming his — surely purposeful, right? — aggressively juvenile Twitter became daily routine.
Though my fixation on the Donald was initially voyeuristic and disengaged, it has gradually transformed as I have become convinced that he represents not only a moment of crisis for our political parties, but rather that a reckoning for our Republic as a whole. Trump is a reaction to something much bigger than even his own ego. The working-class whites who form the core of Trump’s support have seen the economic, social and political developments of the past 50 years slowly erase their way of life. Their position isn’t getting any better any time soon, and if that isn’t going anywhere, neither are Trump and figures like him who spit in the eye of the powers-that-be. More worryingly still, as the last 50 years destroyed the lower-middle class, so it seems the next 50 years are likely to eviscerate the middling of the middle. What will an America without a middle class possibly look like? Perhaps Trump will be, regardless of when he crashes and burns, viewed as the harbinger of something far more important than himself. 1000 years from now, will posterity view Trump as the first figure that augured the fundamental transformation of the American political system? Things can change in a heartbeat, and I’m certainly not a fatalist nor a millenarian. But I can read a sign, and the Trump campaign is one. American politics are each day more riven by factionalism, nativism and populism, with no signs of letting up soon. Our nation is headed somewhere new, and it’s nowhere good.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.