I’ve been meditating on this for awhile, and P.J. O’Rourke beat me to the punch on it with a fantastic article about how “Donald Trump is America”.
O’Rourke hits on the similarities between Trump and America from a stylistic standpoint, with his typical slicing edge.
He’s right. I’m going to take this in a different direction.
Trump is simply the candidate America deserves.
Celebrity-worshipping, reality-obsessed America.
Come on, how much longer do you think it would be before we got an actual reality show candidate for President?
We don’t have a Presidential election anymore. We have a popularity contest. It’s why Steve Forbes was not a prominent candidate and Bernie Sanders inexplicably is.
People aren’t voting for ideas or positions, they’re voting for personalities.
Trump is one hell of a personality. There’s a certain elegance in someone who is what they put in front of you. People are tired of double-talking politicians. Sure, Trump donated lots of money to Hillary, supported different political positions in the past, and underwent bankruptcies (plural). He’s running against Hillary, as a conservative and a good businessman, and we want to believe him. Our desire to believe him trumps reality. But why?
We live in the generation of reality TV, which is one step removed from actual reality in that we have storylines derived from real people’s lives as they’re living them. It’s the 50s “in the near future” fever dream of a woman ordering items from a home shopping network as they’re being displayed into hyperdrive.
We want to believe reality TV is 100% real, and we want to believe that the character’s reactions to shocking events (Kim vs Lisa on RHOBH in Amsterdam tho) are real. Our desire to believe that they’re real is just good enough for us.
We’re in an economy with enormous deficits and record debt, facing threats from Iran and ISIS, and dealing with a bevy of issues that are at once urgent and real that we’re simultaneously totally-detached from. The deficit is real, but do you feel how real it is? We felt the reality of WWII, with American men dying by the thousands on another continent. We felt the reality of the Great Depression, with the bread lines and the empty pocketbooks.
We’re aware of the deficit and of ISIS being a threat, but it’s not really real to us, is it? It’s a reality TV show being written day by day. The news follows it the same way it follows reality TV stars. Kourtney breaks up with Scott, Greece defaults – which gets more coverage? In fact, if you polled most people to see which actually happened, I’d bet they’d believe the first before the second.
Just because you’re a good reality TV personality doesn’t mean you can’t tell the truth. Kris Jenner says she emphasizes hard work for her daughters, which is evidenced by the fact you see them everywhere with her cracking the whip in the background. Donald Trump is right on immigration – there’s an enormous criminal element to illegal immigration that is little discussed.
Political observers and Washington hate Trump in the same way Hollywood hates reality stars. He’s a threat to their tightly-controlled content delivery model. He speaks off the cuff and he’s beholden to no one’s pocketbook, in the same way the first reality stars didn’t follow a script and didn’t need a network TV production to get a fan base. Until they find a way to manufacture Trump-like candidates, Trump is still the Trumpiest.
In an era when we face real threats of unreal scope, why not support a real candidate with unreal ambition?