The Allure and Illusion of Donald Trump

The Allure

As Carly stated, the popularity of Donald Trump is rooted in an “anger” with the politics-as-usual status quo of Washington[1], and although I agree with the sentiment of that assessment, I think the allure of Trump is more evident in the response of his GOP opposition than in the “angry” followers responsible for boosting his polls (and beating up homeless immigrants in Boston).   The allure of Trump — and cause of his oppositions angst and frustration — I posit, has nothing to do with the contents of his political message, but rather it’s the lack of politics within his message. He is apolitical. Historically speaking, Trump has straddled the political divide on various topics and, descriptively speaking, has no party allegiance, to which he dramatically spoke to in the first debate — if he loses the primary he will run as a third party candidate[2]. In sum, Trump only cares about Trump — this is not a surprise.   This apolitical behavior is, in essence, Trump — with ego in-hand — lifting the veil of the republican ideology, by refusing to hide behind the talking point rhetoric of his opponents. Which is not to say that Trump has the intentionality of removing the veil, but rather it is the product of his sociopathic tendencies and his utter contempt for all that is not himself.

There was a running joke on the Seinfeld television series about how if you wanted to get a secret out of Elaine all you had to do was to get her to drink Schnapps and then she would become a pliable truth dispenser— this weakness was exploited many times on the series[3].   As half-truths and lies of omission seem to be synonymous with politics in practice, wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air to be able to Schnapps our politicians? In some sense, this is what the allure of Donald Trump is all about— he has been Schnappd. I am not arguing that he is speaking some profound Truth with a capital T or that we should be feverishly listening and dogmatically acting on his every word, but rather I am saying he is speaking the truth of politicians.

As Donald Trump proclaimed, “[Mexico is] sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime and their rapists.”[4]   But, how is this effectually different than Rand Paul saying, “as President I will secure our borders immediately […] in order to protect our nation…”[5]?   Or, Mike Huckabee saying, “American has an immigration crisis on its hands […] [w]e have drug cartels running reckless on our southern border […]. If you reward people who play outside the rules and punish people who live within the rules, pretty soon nobody is going to play by the rules.” And his solution to this “crisis” is to “reject President Obama’s unconstitutional executive order”[6], which I can only assume will be done by yet another unconstitutional executive order — I suppose this is the not ‘playing by the rules part’ he is referring to. And then there is Marco Rubio, as he ambiguously reflects on immigration: “If we […] modernize our immigration laws […] the American people will create millions of better-paying modern jobs.”[7]   How are any of these proclamations different than what Trump is saying? And, regarding Marco Rubio, what does that even mean — so the drug dealing rapists from down south are taking ‘better-paying’ modern jobs? Let’s move on to another issue…

Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Rand Paul (to name few) have all been very vocal (mostly on twitter) in speaking out against Donald Trump and his in-your-face rhetorical approach; which became amplified when Trump made the off-the-cuff remark that John McCain’s war hero status needs to be called into question. Although Trump — who later qualified his statements — was alluding to the idea that the notion of calling John McCain a war hero when he belongs to a political party that is supposedly pro-military and makes every effort to honor the military but then “John McCaine’s done very little for the veterans”[8] and this is a rather hypocritical position for anybody who says they are pro-military and does not vote to support veterans and such a person should not be considered a military hero.   The other GOP candidates leaped to respond in defense of John McCain and completely missed the nuanced and insightful commentary that Trump was actually making — as Trump’s comment is “…not just absurd, [it’s] offensive,”[9] as Senator Marco Rubio proclaims on twitter. But, does Trump have a point?   The GOP response to Trump is both comical and robotic, it is almost as if their respective campaign managers are saying: whatever Trump says, say the opposite and say it in a way that makes it seem like Trump a horrible person for bringing up the topic in the first place. In other words: spin it.                  

This aforementioned process has successfully alienated Trump from the other GOP candidates, but not because his ideas are great, unique or any different than the rest of the GOP candidates; but because he is trying to remove the cloak of ideology that hangs over politics. The ideology that takes racism and converts it to issues of security, the ideology that takes bigotry towards homosexuality and converts it to issues of religious rights, the ideology that exploits the poor and converts it to issues of economic liberty.  And, lastly, the cornerstone of republican political ideology: the championing of the military; but when you lift up the ideological veil you see the true message: we will support military efforts insofar as they create big defense contracts and continue to filter money into the organizations that supported my campaign; however, for me and the corporations that funded my political venture there isnt anything to be gained by paying soldiers a decent wage and/or providing adequate benefits to veterans alas, this is the reasoning that will guide me and if you ask, I am unequivocally pro-military[10]. However, to make sure the ideology stays cloaked, we will ensure to call-out anybody who makes any negative comment towards the military an “idiot”, because “senator John McCain is an American hero, period.” [11]— so says Chris Christie.

In a recent article published on Salon titled Donald Trump is an actual Fascist: What his Surging Popularity Says about the GOP Base, they began to make the argument that Trump is a fascist, but by the end of the article pulled back and folded their claim into hyperbole. The irony to their argument is they utilize Giovanni Gentile’s definition of fascism to make their appeal: “fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”[12]   Under that definition of fascism, wouldn’t Trump (considering he is running a self-funded campaign) be the least fascist GOP candidate? He may perceive the presidency as akin to being a CEO and in all practicality, if elected, he may try to run the country like a business — like a dictator. But, he is only trying to merge the state power with his own power, as opposed to the other GOP candidates (and Hillary Clinton) who will stop at nothing to sell our democracy to the highest possible bidder and, subsequently, acquiesce to allowing them to dictate public policy. Trump may be campaigning to make America great again, while implicitly searching for the “one ring to rule them all” [13]— but, if we are going to cast the stones of fascism, Trump may want to run this country like a corporate dictator, but at least he doesn’t mask this agenda behind the mask of (neoliberal) ideology that perpetually merges state and corporate power.

Many people (on both sides of the aisle) see the Trump candidacy as a joke or as living example of our sensationalist political process, or as a recent Rolling Stone article proclaims: Trump is urging the stupid to be let out of their cage.[14]   But, who are these stupids and why were they in a cage to begin with? Or, more importantly, why is there an implication that stupid people should be put in cages or that they’re even stupid? If a large percent of our population is racist, sexist and classist — as depressing as that is — this is part of our reality. If we ever stand a chance at transcending this reality, we need to face it head on. We can’t keep sweeping the bitter truth of our reality under the rug forever; this is, as history has shown us, socially unsustainable. In other words, e pluribus unum, (out of many, one) is inclusive of your crazy racist uncle and the stupid cage people that flood to cheer on Trump. It does not matter if you side with Trump (and his apolitical politics) or not, American culture has a very dark and disturbing underbelly and ignoring it, silencing it and caging it may give the semblance of social progression, but this is mere illusion. So as Trump lifts the veil of ideology and says whatever the fuck he wants, he also, in return, invites the dark-side of American culture to the dinner table to voice its opinion. Instead of laughing, crying and screaming — we should, simply, listen and, of course, keep pouring the Schnapps.


The Illusion

            Trump may be lifting the veil of the ideology of his party and politics in general and perhaps there is value to this and, to be direct, this is not any different than what Bernie Sanders is doing. As Cornel West claims, both Sanders and Trump are “authentic human beings” [15]— neither of them filter their thoughts through the political-ideological apparatus of their respective parties.   Karl Popper argued that the path to world peace is by a deep rejection of ideology and that education was the means to actualizing this rejection[16]. And Trump, in contradistinction to Sanders, is not doing this. Trump is very ideological, but just refuses to mask his ideology with political rhetoric (or political-correctness in his words). And thus lies the illusion of Trump: speaking the truthful intentions of ideology implies speaking truth. Removing political correctness does not make you profound, smart or give you any claim to ideas of truth.  

When Trump was asked in the first GOP debate to defend the fact that his businesses have filed for multiple bankruptcies — with the implication that needing to file for bankruptcy equates to failure and that this is a negative reflection of his leadership. Trump responded by explaining that his businesses were saved and that he utilized the laws of this nation (bankruptcy laws) to protect the livelihood of his employees and family.[17] In other words, he exploited (multiple times) the laws in order to increase his chances of monetary success and opportunity. Trump was born into a wealthy family that financially benefited from socialist programs in the 1930’s and Trump himself went to private schools and was able to easily launch a real estate career with the 20 million dollar inheritance he received from his father.   If Trump, with all his tenacity and stubbornness, was born south of the border, do you think he would argue that running across the border to ensure his child was born on U.S. soil could be justified as utilizing the laws of this nation to secure the livelihood of his family and to create economic opportunities? Of course he would. What is the difference between the rich exploiting laws for personal gains and the poor?   Economically speaking, if this was purely a matter of economics, we could perhaps argue as Trump does and say that illegal immigrants are a financial burden on tax payers, but the fact of the matter is in 2007 the congressional budget office reviewed the economic impact of illegal immigration over the previous two decades and concluded that the total amount of tax revenue generated by illegal immigrants was higher than what was paid out in government services.[18] In fact, illegal immigrants pay $13b annually into social security, but only deduct $1b annually in benefits — the reason for this high delta could be the lower life expectancy due to lack of heath benefits and/or the tendency to deport illegal immigrants that get sick prior to retirement from lack of preventive healthcare. Since an emergency room cannot deny services for terminally ill illegal immigrants it is economically viable and common to airship them back to their homeland rather than treat them. This in comparison to the Trump corporation that uses many loopholes to pay the lowest possible tax rate[19], completely in-step with the many dozens of large corporations that find ways to completely avoid paying income tax. The estimated aggregate value of these loopholes is at $60 billion dollars per year and corporations like Google Inc., pay an effective tax rate as low as 2.4%. How is this not a form of welfare? Does one demographic category have a stronger claim to opportunity than another? If you want to argue that the 33.6% discounted tax rate that Google doesn’t pay is being used to stimulate the economy — to create jobs — you’re wrong. The money sits in bank accounts in Ireland (and other tax havens) and awaits like-minded politicians to evoke a change in the tax code (like Ted Cruz’s proposed flat tax of 14%) or a one time discounted rate. The bottom line is corporations (like the Trump corporation) are exploiting the laws for tens of billions of dollars per year and are not using that extra money to create jobs or stimulate the economy (and even if they were using it in the economy, trickle-down economics doesn’t actually work).  Meanwhile illegal immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits and as soon as they’re too old or sick to continue to positively impact our economy— we ship them away.

But, life is more than just economics right? I mean who gives a damn how much illegal immigrants help our economy and pay in tax revenue if they’re all murderers and rapists wrecking havoc on society?   There is reasonable data showing that on average illegal immigrants get arrested more, as the Federal Bureau of Prisons states: illegal immigrants represent 26.4% of the prison population, but only 8.6% of the actual population.[20]  We could infer from this data that illegal immigrants are three times more likely to commit crime, but that is a narrow view of the data and requires a statistical leap, of which I will explain. Historically speaking, demographic groups with higher rates of poverty, poor health and poor education have higher tendency towards crime.   So it is not that illegal immigrants have a higher tendency towards crime, but rather, it is because they have a higher tendency towards poverty and poverty creates a higher risk of crime.   This may seem like fuzzy logic and an unneeded step to disprove the notion that illegal immigrants cause more crime, but, the majority of people incarcerated (of any race or citizenship status) come from poverty and have less opportunity for adequate education and healthcare. Which means it makes more logical sense to assume illegal immigrants tended toward crime from the same social factors as all other criminals, as opposed to assuming that they are an immoral outlier. Occam’s Razor posits that the argument with the least amount of assumptions has a higher probability of being right. There is ample evidence to show that illegal immigrants are at a greater risk of poverty and there is ample evidence that shows people below the poverty line have a higher tendency to crime — these are statistics with adequate support and don’t require assumptions. To assume illegal immigrants are, categorically speaking, — and independent of economic data — more naturally inclined to commit crime and the evidence of this is because their “illegal” status infers a proclivity to crime, is poor reasoning and there is no evidence to support this assumption.

Perhaps the opposite is true? Maybe Trump is the one responsible for murder and crime? I am not saying that Trump personally goes around murdering people, but if we are going to assess the negative impacts of the illegal immigrant demographic category, lets also examine the negative impacts of the demographic category Trumps belongs to — the ruling class.  In the 13th edition of Jeffrey Reiman’s book The Rich get Richer, the Poor get Prison, Reiman notes that in 2006 there were 15,000 deaths from homicides, but, in addition to that, there were 55,000 “occupation-related-death” caused by unsafe work conditions, needless exposure to disease and various other reasons that are all directly related to employer negligence and once you remove children and elderly as potential victims of “occupational-related-death” this creates a seven times higher likelihood that you will die from negligence of your employer than from homicide. And, this figure does not include the 225,000 deaths a year from botched medical procedures. But how about petty theft? Does Trump’s class also steal?   In 2007 the FBI reported that property crime from street crime accounted for $17.6 billion dollars, in contrast to white collar property crime which accounted for $486 billion in the same period. Meaning you are 28 times more likely to be robbed by a white-collar executive than some illegal hispanic thug. And sometimes these white-collar ethical infractions (which are sometimes completely legal) have the capacity to cause catastrophic damage: the recession in 2008 that was triggered by the finance sector abusing, (or in Trump parlance) taking advantage of the finance laws helped move 64 million people into the category of ‘extreme poverty’, as defined by the world bank as living for less than $1.25 p/day.[21]   A study conducted by the Federal Reserve in Atlanta show that the adverse impact illegal immigrants have on American wages is roughly around 0.15% — which is, on average, a loss of $56 per year per worker. When this is compared side-by-side, who is the real criminal?   How many investment bankers went to prison because of the 2008 financial crisis? The Obama administration employed a prestigious and elite law-firm to prosecute and get retribution for the “largest man-made economic catastrophe since the great depression” and they successfully arrested ONE person. Yes, just one. 64 million people pushed into extreme poverty from the unethical manipulation of our finance markets and a single, 2nd tier investment banker took all the blame. This is capitalism and Donald Trump with all of his narcissism, ego and misogyny[22] is the epitome and the poster-child of the arrogant American Nationalism that forces it’s uncompromising ideology to the world-over. And please note that Trump is trying to make America Great, not Americans. For the every-day, average Joe American, Trump does not care. Unless you want to pose in front of the press in his helicopter at a county fair— well heck, in that case he’s a swell down-to-earth guy. Its not like he has anything to gain from being nice to a group of likely voters in the working-class demographic?

I am not saying that Trump is personally stealing money, or murdering, or keeping money in the Cayman islands or defrauding the IRS— nor am I saying that he is not. I am making the argument that Trump’s very direct and bold language against illegal immigrants, birthright citizenship and the 14th amendment altogether is trying to create an illusion of an enemy. As Freud says, the malaise of the individual and the malaise of the society go hand-in-hand, and as evident in our dramatically increasing political polarization; in the establishment of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement who want to undo the power of modern politics; to the rise in religious fundamentalists who want to undo the power of modern science; to the dramatic rise in mass-murders and the unjust and rampant rate of incarcerations in poor black communities and to the rise of mental and physical illness — it is not a far stretch to say America is Sick. And this sickness, this malaise, is felt by all; but the bulk of his weight falls on the middle and lower class. This deep sense that our aristocratic-technocratic-free-society is slowly crumbling is becoming grossly evident around every turn and in every aspect of life. Trump recognizes this fear, this anger, this disdain, this utter malaise and history has shown us the best way to rally the masses is to create an enemy. An abstracted container that we can objectify, dehumanize and project our anger towards. It helps us formulate the narrative that the enemy of the state, the one who inflicts the pains upon society and the reason for all that bumps in the night is that murdering, raping, illegal immigrant. This is not first time a politician has exploited the fears and anxieties to rally support around a false-enemy and it will not be the last. Trump’s campaign is cemented on the illusion of truth and the illusion that he is something new and great — an apolitical breath of fresh air. But, this is all just a facade, a lie. A fictional narrative ripe for reality television or, perhaps, an Orwellian dystopian novel. If you think Trump is trying to undo politics-as-usual and create some new idea of politics — a grass-roots movement of authenticity, the evidence to the contrary is written in plain English in his campaign slogan: Make America Great Again. Yes, again. Trump is not looking forward, but backwards. Trump is unveiling the cloak of the republican ideology and speaking its true intents: nothing but, more of the same.  Alas, politics as usual.





[1] 1st GOP Primary debate — 2016 presidential election Fox News

[2] 1st GOP primary debate — 2016 presidential election Fox News

[3] Seinfeld TV series, NBC

[4] Trump presidential announcement speech 6/16/15

[5] Rand Paul for president website

[6] Mike Huckabee for president website

[7] Marco Rubio for president website

[8] Trump’s response to MSNBC during the Q&A at a press conference on 7/18/15

[9] Marco Rubio Twitter account

[10] Since Obama has been elected office the GOP has voted down pro-veteran and military pay legislation (7) times: H.R. 466, H.R. 1168, H.R. 1171, H.R. 1172, H.R. 1293, H.R. 1803, H.R. 2352

[11] Chris Christie Twitter account

[12] Donald Trump is an actual Fascist: What his surging popularity says about the GOP base, Salon website, 7/25/15

[13] Tolkien, J. R. R., and Douglas A. Anderson. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993. Print.

[14] Taibbi, Matt, Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny, Rolling Stone Magazine, 8/21/15

[15] Dr. Cornel West facebook page

[16] Popper, Karl R. All Life Is Problem Solving. London: Routledge, 1999. Print.

[17] 1st GOP primary debate — 2016 presidential election Fox News

[18] Pianas, Roque, 5 Theories About Economic Effect of Illegal Immigrants You Shouldn’t Trust Huffington Post, 2/17/15

[19] The taxes of the trump organization are not public and I can only infer this from the numerous articles of many incidents of the Trump organization going out of its way to curb taxes on multiple ventures.

[20] Varughan, Jessica, Camarota, Steven A., Immigration and Crime: Assessing a Conflicted Issue. Center for Immigration Studies, Nov. 2009

[21] Reiman, Jeffrey H. The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class and Criminal Justice. New York: Wiley, 1979. Print.

[22] By the way, if you google “misogyny” you will see Donald Trumps face without having to scroll.

3 thoughts on “The Allure and Illusion of Donald Trump

  1. You, like Clinton, state that requiring a legal process for immigration is racist. The most liberal – by your standards – countries in the world secure their borders. You are not stupid. Like the Republicans, you have an agenda. You want new Dem voters and the Republicans don’t. You use your education and your privileged forum to lie to the people; which you “expose” the Repubs as doing. Even the uneducated – especially the uneducated – see through this nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my blog post.

      In my blog I never made a single judgement for or against illegal (or legal) immigration, nor did I take a stance on securing our borders.

      The question of securing our borders and what protocol/criteria we should have for allowing immigration is a question that is ultimately reducible to very deep questions like the ‘purpose of the state’.

      I would never condemn or critique anybody for having/holding any particular metaphysical view about the purpose of our union and the allowance of immigration.

      What I am critical about is when politicians draw the narrative that immigrants are stealing jobs, destroying the economy, wasting tax payer money and causing crime. This is trying to conflate the aforementioned view on immigration with reasonable (and empirical) evidence. Creating a justification for a belief system.

      I am registered independent and I am just as critical of the democratic party as the republican. My only agenda is that we think critically about the topics and not let ideology and dogma get the best of us.

      If it helps, my next post will be a critique of Hillary Clinton.

      Thank you again for your comment, to me the path to something better is through open dialogue, honesty and respect of all views and perspectives. You expressing your concerns is in the spirit of that, and I thank you for that.

      Be well.



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