What Donald Trump Tells Us About Ourselves


I normally don’t watch CNN, but they show it on the TV at the food court at my local Gelson’s, so I couldn’t help watching it while I was waiting to use the men’s room. Donald Trump had given a speech at a retirement community somewhere, and he had gotten a good reception. However, one woman who was interviewed said, “He frightens me.” When asked why she gone had to see his speech anyway, she said, “He’s a celebrity.” Trumps’ candidacy shows the triumph of celebrity in our society. Trump is a celebrity, so he must be listened to. Fame trumps all other considerations.

Trump first came to national attention during the 1980’s. The eighties were a decade of make-believe. President Reagan presided over a humiliating military retreat from Lebanon, nevertheless we were told that he had made America “great again”; he had shown the world that we were not to be trifled with! Trump was another fantasy. A man who filed for bankruptcy three times, he was touted as a financial wizard, a man who had mastered “the art of the deal”. Does the re-emergence of Trump suggest that we are heading into another period of make-believe? Perhaps we don’t want to deal with the disappointments we’ve had. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were a bust. Obama’s promised “hope and change” have merely been a weak economic recovery and a deeply flawed health care bill. Trump offers us a fantasy world in which one only has to proclaim oneself great, and – hey presto! – one is automatically great.

The election of Ronald Reagan was seen as a symbol of how movies have come to dominate our culture. Trump promises to do the same thing for tacky reality TV shows.

3 Responses to “What Donald Trump Tells Us About Ourselves”

  1. les Says:

    an excellent, but unfortunately depressing analysis. if donald trump wins the presidency, then the next morning every one in america will have to wake up and put on their clown make-up.

    • The Spanish Prisoner Says:

      He would indeed be a disaster as President, but I suspect the Republican leadership will not allow him to get the nomination.

      • les Says:

        yeah, you’re probably right. but the kind of “tacky reality tv show” populism (or maybe postmodern populism?) that he seems to represent is so widespread it now seems woven into the very fabric of our culture. which, frankly, is an even more depressing thought.

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