I am struck by, among many other things, the repeated use of the phrase ‘unmitigated disaster’ among once-were-left, neoconservative journalists and social commentators in response to the trompe l’œil that gives us President Trump.
It is not that I disagree with the prognosis—but it does have the ring of cliché, and as such deserves a partially respectful dissection.
Surely exactly the same phrase was used when Ronald Reagan commenced his eight-year sleepwalk, and surely again when the greatly mis-underestimated George W. fell from the sky after flying too close to his presidentially oiled father and commenced his eight years of Blairific blundering.
And, most surely, there were disasters. Very, very serious disasters.
Even Nixon had his redeeming China, Reagan his collapsed Wall, Blair his Northern Ireland and Johnny Howard his Timor Leste.
Trump has been nothing if not chameleonic throughout his campaign. He has changed colour, bias, allegiance and promise more often than a herd (there has to be a collective noun for chameleons—perhaps an invisibility) of chameleons. It may, in fact, be this quality that has magnetised so many Americans (and even a fair few champagne-glugging galah Australians) and fleeced a vote from their back, or hip, pockets.
When someone is that indefinable, un-pinnable (in the tail-on-the-donkey sense) and elusively provocative he will either be ridiculed or elected—in this case, both.
Almost every American with a grievance—financial, spiritual, political (barring those who wanted a better deal for women)—was invited to identify with Donald’s fireside chatting and mumbling innuendo, and to plug in their each and every disaffection with the Obama quo.
Truth was not the point, and it’s easy to forget what guile and skill it takes to lure millions of people into identification with your fantasies—knowing how to attract the projections of others onto you, so that you appear to be the answer to all of their prayers (delusions.)
Yes, it is narcissism unabashed. But there are billions of less charismatic narcissists in the world.
And Donald played this trump card (he had several back pockets full of them) repeatedly.
‘Plug into me, and I will cleanse you of your disaffections—I am the way. And the way is confusion.’
With consummate, and I believe natural, ease he led the flocks to a vast island where frustration and morality vanish: the land of confusion.
And how do we know when we have reached the land of confusion?
That’s dead easy.
We start to sound definite and unconfused about everything—the delusion of clarity.
We spurt clear and simple solutions to every single human problem.
‘I will build a wall!’
‘I will calm the savage Russians.’
‘I will walk to Mars!’
‘I will shaft the Europeans!’
‘All Mexicans were born in Nigeria!’
And almost half the people said that it was good.
And they were fucked, unmitigatedly, by their need to believe in their own omnipotent hero.
As it has always been.
That he has become something totally different to each one of them will become more and more apparent in the months and years ahead. But let’s not let that get in the way of a good delusion.