Today I went by my local bookseller, a big chain merchant, and noticed that the Art of the Deal was on the best seller shelves located up front. Mildly perplexed, I asked one of the associates if that were true. He told me it was, and said I should have a closer look at the pages.
When I asked him what he meant he picked up a copy and thumbed through it. The books type font seemed to possess all the validity of a badly smeared photocopy, as if the publisher had simply picked up an old copy, went to the Xerox machine, said “Good enough” and rushed off to the printers, cash in hand.
The blurring of the type would render the book difficult read. But I suspect that most of the people who purchase Trumps book aren’t interested in reading it. Like Das Kapital or Mein Kampf , owning the Art of the Deal today is making a statement, about which side of a widening cultural divide you are standing on, what news you believe, and maybe who you are as a person.
The other day the news broke that there was a report maybe of a video possibly existing that might show Donald Trump getting pissed on by Russian Whores.
None of the above sentence makes any sense, except it happened, the non-news story rumor, and it was widely reported, albeit by journalist afraid of libel and societies mores, dancing around the ideas contained in my above sentence with terms like allegedly and certain claims. But once the genie was out of the bottle it was impossible to contain it, and Donald Trump responded wrathfully, by tweeting in all caps, by shouting down a group of reporters to vigorous (bought and paid for) applause. It was either a scene out of Orwell, or Mr. Smith going to Washington, depending on which narrative you believed.
The fact was it was neither. There was no proof that the wild story was true, no document existed as a smoking gun. It was Trumps Obama is an African born Muslim claim, you believed it if you wanted to, you didn’t if you didn’t, Whichever narrative fit your particular echo chamber, that was where it went. There was no monkey business photo, no Watergate break in. People screamed at each other on the internet, and maybe in real life.
How did we get here?
In 2016 Donald J. Trump formally announced his candidacy for Presidency. He did so by railing incoherently about Mexican Rapists crossing the border. The media laughed, scolded, and wrote him off completely. Over the course of the next year, Trump would attack women, minorities, Gold Star Families, veterans, and anyone who bothered to cross his path. Who would continue to be laughed and scolded, and written off by all the people on television whose job it was to tell America, and thusly the world what would happen in life.
Except a strange thing kept happening, and that was Trump was winning. One political primary opponent after another would cross his path, and one after another would drop out. Until he won the Republican nomination. Chaos followed in his wake, opponents and party elite alike refused to endorse his campaign, until it was election night, and every channel reported that An Historic Woman was running against someone plainly unfit, as said by none other than The Historic Black President, and tonight’s outcome was plainly clear for all to see.
But that didn’t happen.
The Trump hand grenade was lobbed by Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio- all states won by Obama in two consecutive elections. Trump won in a landslide. The Hillary supporters cried, then they screamed, then they burned the American flag and protested against the truth of what had happened. The people on television stopped for exactly five minutes, stunned out of their self righteousness, and then hurriedly went on to tell us what was going to happen next.
And they were wrong. And continued to be wrong.
The funny thing about social mores is that they exist because we believe that they do. We hold a lot of faith in pieces of paper written hundreds of years ago, when the fact is that the reason we are not assaulted by our neighbors, or the police, or anyone is because certain mores exist and society says we should are shouldn’t do certain things. For example, you should judge people by their actions, and not their nationality. You shouldn’t mock people with disabilities. You should have compassion on those who lost loved ones in service to our country. And even if you disagree with the outcome of a democratic election, you peacefully abide by its decision.
Today a Civil Rights leader from the 1960s, who marched next to Dr. King called Trump an illegitimate President. Trump counter-punched, saying how his political constituency was a ghetto hellhole. These are powerful people with a wide audience, with legitimate constituencies. And they are being sicced on each other like rabid dogs in a circle, with people cheering on the outcome over social networks. This is not only the cheapening of political discourse, it is the disregard of social norms. Trump is a hand grenade, Trump is a middle finger, Trump is every foul gesture you can think of. He inspires chaos and holds no ideological coin, save that of victory. The high road will not beat Trump, but neither will the low one.
What is needed is for government to recover from its shrapnel wound and realize that people are two things- angry and disgusted. What is needed is for leaders to say “We get it” and realize that Obama was elected in 2008 by people scared for their economic future, and Trump was elected in 2016 for the same reasons. Donald Trump is not Hitler, any more than Obama is Osama Bin Laden. He is a foul mouthed orange faced lunatic, who enjoys being talked about and has no other ambitious than to win the next thing, whatever that is. But the chambers keep echoing. People talk to each other, not realizing that when they share the same views, they end up talking to themselves.