Super Tuesday and Trump Americana
On Wednesday, Lady Liberty awoke like a hung-over sorority girl and rolled over in bed to find the leather patch of orange skin that is Donald Trump. Today, she would awake to the bed she had made. The billionaire bulldozer conquered Super Tuesday, grabbing seven states and leaving one piece for his nearest rivals, the reptilian Ted Cruz and the boring Marco Rubio. It’s happening. Trump is the front-runner for the Republican nomination and quite possibly the next president of the United States. After Tuesday’s primaries, there is no going back. His campaign has essentially dynamited the Republican Party from within and shattered the rigid, evangelical-dominated currents that have defined the party since the 1980s. The Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush is finished and it remains to be seen what will be put together from its pieces.
Trump is like some kind of media monster fueled by hysterics. The more offensive he becomes, the more votes he grabs. I suspect the recent controversy over him Tweeting a quote by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was intentional, a kind of rude rib jab inspired by the people calling him a “fascist.” Trump isn’t so much a fascist as a mere right-wing demagogue. Mussolini had an actual, however crazy, political philosophy behind his movement. And unlike Trump, he got along quite well with the Pope (even Winston Churchill was a fan before World War II). Trump instead takes the mold of American firebrands like George Wallace, who knew how to tap into American xenophobia and ignorance to gain political power. But the key to Trump's particular success is that he is both tailor-made by American media and American culture itself.
Donald Trump is winning because he IS modern America, or at least a good chunk of it according to his primary victories. Trump is every post-Reagan, free market, consumer culture, get-rich-now aspect of the U.S. made flesh. If he became president, he wouldn’t be a repeat of Hitler. It would be a combo of Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko from “Wall Street” and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort from “The Wolf of Wall Street” sitting in the Oval Office.
It is very possible that for many voters, even millennial ones, what makes them cringe is Trump’s antics, not his ethos. This is a post-Cold War, post-counter culture world where radicalism among students usually means going vegan and cultural icons are self-made billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg. Financial independence is nearly unattainable for many millennials and the dream is to become rich before hitting 30. If Trump played nice with everyone and loved Muslims, I suspect many young voters would see him as a shining example of the American dream: A financial success, a business powerhouse who can say and do whatever he wants because he’s earned it and a savvy business mind who never slacks off.
On Super Tuesday, they voted for him in droves, largely because they want to be him. They crowned a mogul who sees their country as just another notch on his belt of purchases. The masses don’t care, because in America success means being able to live like Donald Trump.
The hit single “New Americana” by Halsey says it all. It’s vapid music, yet it frames the times well:
“Cigarettes and tiny liquor bottles/Just what you’d expect inside her new Balenciaga/Viral mess turned dreams into an empire./Self-made success now she rolls with Rockefellers.”
Of course, the Republican Party did this to itself. The two remaining contenders are Marco Rubio, a pre-adolescent-looking babbler who speaks like some kind of animatron and Ted Cruz, a religious fanatic who in the third Republican debate claimed he was eager to hasten the Rapture if he became president (comments plowed under by all the Trumpmania in the media).
Offering nothing but third-rate salesmen and cynical religious conmen, the Republican Party was not prepared for a money-pumped bulldozer who doesn’t give a shit about the establishment (he’s part of the national oligarchy anyway) and will do and say as he pleases.
On Super Tuesday, the Party reaped the whirlwind, and so will the entire country if they crown him Caesar. If Rome burns while the emperor fiddles, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.