Why Donald Trump might be President of the USA.

I think I understand why Donald Trump can get away with anything. I’ve been mulling it over for a while and I think it all goes back to the US Apprentice “reality” series (2004-2016), the TV show that is basically an extended job interview for eight people. Donald Trump was a co-producer and the guy who said “You’re fired!”  At its peak it had an audience of over 11 million though its ratings have been steadily dropping and it has changed to using celebrities rather than real people. It’s still running, although Trump was fired by NBC in 2015 for saying rude things about Mexicans.

Now I don’t have a dog in this race. I’m British, I can’t vote in an American election. I only care whether it’s Hillary or Donald, because I don’t want to be nuked by anybody.

On the one side we have Hillary Clinton, whom nobody seems to like. True, she is a long-serving politician with a few skeletons in her closet and is accused, on small evidence, of corruption mainly because of her years in politics and being married to Bill.

The fact that she’s female in the world of American politics is a huge disadvantage. She has a much longer, more complicated and contradictory set of unspoken rules that she must obey than any man. If she raises her voice she’s told off for being shrill. If she doesn’t raise her voice, she’s told she’s weak. It’s odd but true that old-fashioned Europe is much more comfortable with female rulers. Just to remind you, in the UK we had Margaret Thatcher in 1979, or 37 years ago.

On the other side we have Donald Trump. I honestly can’t imagine a man less worthy to lead America. Based on what he says, repeatedly, he’s a bigot: he hates everyone except white men, or possibly, himself. His misogyny is legendary. He’s presently showing worrying symptoms of Alzheimer’s.  He has a lot of strikes against him on the financial side as well – including self-admitted non-payment of taxes which he regards as smart, routinely bankrupting small businesses by not paying their invoices (also smart) and being in the pocket of Russian oligarchs.

If Hillary or anyone female had that kind of backstory of sexual scandal and financial fecklessness, ridiculous ignorance and bullying of disabled veterans, she would be laughed out of the primaries. She would never run, let alone get a nomination, Republican or Democrat.

None of this seems to matter to Trump’s supporters.

I think there’s one explanation here for some of the male support for Trump. They may not be misogynists like him, but they still don’t like the idea of a woman as President because… well… it reminds them of Mom. We don’t have to get too Freudian here, but this is very clear from a lot of the unbelievable spite hurled at Hillary.

OK, so why does Donald have any support among women, which he clearly does. Why would any woman support a man who clearly hates women, puts them down, jeers at them for being fat and having periods.

Well, some of those women are diehard Republicans. They’re thinking: he may not agree with Republicanism, he may be a misogynist, but he’s our misogynist, so we’ll vote for him.

Now there is an unpleasant (and wrong) attitude in Europe, which looks down on Americans as crazy, ignorant, heavily-armed lunkheads and that’s why they want to vote for Donald. This is a stupid attitude. America still has the most vibrant economy in the world and you don’t get that if everybody’s dumb. You have the normal distribution curve but in general, Americans are smart because that economy is very harsh if you aren’t. Some of them pretend to be dumb, the better to sell things to the snotty Europeans. They’re also adventurous. Only eight years ago they voted in a black man to be President.

So why are any of them, male or female, preparing to elect as President, a man who is less intelligent than most of them?

I think it’s down to the “The Apprentice.” There’s an effect which makes the stars of soap operas and reality shows seem like one of us, friends or at least acquaintances. They come into our living rooms and bedrooms and talk to us, entertain us. We often talk back. Subliminally, we think of them as near neighbours, as people we know.

There’s a long-running radio soap in England called “The Archers” – an everyday tale of farming folk. I once heard that it was a very serious decision if one of the characters was going to have a baby – because the BBC knew that they would have to hire extra staff to cope with the flood of baby jackets, pompom hats and bootees that their fans would send to the fictional baby. The mother was real to the knitting ladies, she felt like a friend, so the baby was real too.

Even being quite a minor celebrity this way helps. Would we have had the Brexit vote in  the UK without cuddly old Boris Johnson, from “Have I Got News for You”, cheering it on? I suspect not.

Anyone we see so regularly, even someone as brazen and bigoted as Donald, unconsciously becomes part of Our Tribe. He gets to be Uncle Don, he’s funny, he shocks the liberals. He’s a character. He’s like the drunken, fat, unpleasant Sheriff that you can’t get rid of because, incredibly, everybody likes him.

They say things like “Uncle Don tells it like it is” and “Yeah, he’s a bit rough when he’s talking about Mexicans/Chinese/women (but who likes them, eh?)” They say, “Hey, Uncle Don, have a beer, big guy!”

That’s why Donald is going to be elected. Because the audience for “The Apprentice” have all accepted him into Their Tribe. Hillary has never been on a reality show, she isn’t considered part of anyone’s Tribe, except her own.

Uncle Don is shocking and funny and a lot of people feel they know him well. “Yeah, sure, Uncle Don, we’ll elect you. Have another beer.”

 

10 thoughts on “Why Donald Trump might be President of the USA.

  1. I have seen a pattern among a number of friends, who are also republicans. At first they condemned him, realizing that he was all the negative things we see daily. As he grew in delegates and appeared unstoppable, they decided that they supported him after all. Tribal loyalty, racism, misogyny, general anger over the ravages of the 2008 crash, bible thumping bigotry, and ethnocentrism come to mind when one seeks an explanation. There is also a deliberate dumbing down in order to follow the party line. Otherwise decent and well meaning people appear to lose 50 or more points of IQ when discussing politics. A discussion can start out civilly, with increasing hostility from the republican person when fact checked. Frequently the republican will descend into uncharacteristic insults and name calling.

  2. Accurate, but incomplete. a lot of the support Trump is getting comes from people who no longer have faith that the political system will do _anything_ positive for them. People who’ve been abused by bureaucrats or victimized by the powerful or who’ve ground their teeth in silence at the slurs and slanders that are routinely dumped on them by the elite controllers of media. This feeling may be misplaced – most of our American bureaucracy is actually quite responsive and honest – but it is very real. They watch liberal commentators mock things like patriotism, respect for elders, and group solidarity, that are important to people in ‘flyover country’. They see how the professional class has turned law and government programs into privileged bastions of subsidy for the upper middle class while at the same time showering visible and verbal contempt upon many of the people they supposedly serve. And they see the steady denigration of the value of work implicit in the massive mechanization that has displaced so many people out of the work force while humiliating their pride in their own worth. So they vote for Trump not to turn this around – they have not faith in him either – but as the only way they can strike back at what they regard as their oppressors.
    I am very, very, tempted to join them.
    I still don’t know how I will vote in this election – but I know that in future elections I’ll be trying to break the political class’ current lock on American life. Down with _all_ the ruling classes!

  3. I have seen posts, claiming that people voting for Trump are really saying F***k You and giving the finger to the country.

  4. Postscript – one thing that may help understand Trump’s traction – listen to two certain Country & Western songs on the internet. Phantom 309, and Big John. Note what gives those men nobility – hard work, and willingness to sacrifice their lives for the sake of others. How often do we see those virtues exalted elsewhere in modern pop music, or on the Daily Show, or for that matter in daily life? They aren’t absent, but they aren’t much talked-up either. There’s a cultural gap in America that’s been steadily growing wider, a basic incomprehension mixed with arrogance and contempt. How do we bridge this gap again? It can only come for really listening – which doesn’t happen in most modern media. Talking, but not listening.
    That has to change.

  5. I’m sure you’re right, Peter Sartucci. It’s the kind of emotion that led to the UK voting Brexit – which is going to take 10 years to achieve and may bankrupt us. It’s destructive but very understandable.

  6. My big fear is that if Donald is elected it is going to take back a lot of important things that the USA has done correctly over the past few years…abortion law, LGBT law, etc. I am actually trying to learn what I need to do legally in the event that my marriage (legal even here in Texas) is “set aside”. It is sad.

  7. Donald isn’t an intellectual; he doesn’t have a systematically trained intellect and simply doesn’t value the things that intellectuals do.

    This makes it very easy for people like us to underestimate him. In point of fact he’s extremely shrewd and very good at reading people.

  8. Half a year in: Our onliest current Prexy is not doing a very good job of reading people at this time – unless you are talking about the people who comprise his “base,” and even there he seems confused. He seems to be unable to tell the difference between, for example, coal miners and neo-Nazis, which makes one wonder just what he really thinks of his base supporters. He values loyalty (to him, of course), but is not good at reciprocating this loyalty. He hasn’t accomplished a lot outside of electing a Supreme Court judge and making everyone either love or hate him. Instead of coming up with useful suggestions, he yells a lot at everyone. If his job came with a probationary period, he’d be gone by now.

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