Tag Archives: American politics

Donald Trump is a fireship

The_Defeat_of_the_French_Fireships_attacking_the_British_Fleet_at_Anchor_before_Quebec

The question in yesterday’s post was:

Why has Donald Trump survived our discovery of his flaws and deficiencies?

Normally, a new candidate has his or her moment in the sun, until we discover who they really are. Then they’re done.

But this doesn’t ever happen in Trump’s case, however damning the revelations.

The answer, I think, is that his supporters don’t want a president. They want a fireship.

Fireships were instruments of destruction when the world was ruled by wooden ships. The idea was to pack a ship with flammables, set it ablaze, and send it in the direction of enemy ships in the hope that it would set these enemy ships ablaze. Fireships helped defeat the Spanish armada gathered in the English Channel.

Donald Trump promises to make a very good fireship. He lacks the subtlety, intelligence, breadth, and leadership we look for in a candidate. And that’s precisely what makes him such an effective instrument of political disruption.

Reckless, boorish, self centered? Perfect. Trump’s flaws make him a unassimilable. Washington is its own empire with formidable powers of hegemony. Many reformers go to Washington. Virtually all are claimed, colonized, incorporated. The Trumpians believes they have found a candidate so full of himself not even the Borg can absorb him. (If you can’t have incorruptible, unassimilable will have to do.)

But that’s just Step 1 of the Trump disruption, the passive play. Step 2, the active play, is a candidate who thinks he’s smarter than the system. Most Trumpians know that Trump isn’t smarter than the system. They just want him to act as if he is. That guarantees the destructive chaos they’re hoping for. I don’t think anyone doubts that Trump is a bully and a blow hard. They just want him to knock lots of things down when he throws his weight around. (If you can’t have cunning, clumsy will have to do.)

Trumpians don’t want a candidate. They want an agent of chaos. They don’t want to reform Washington. They want to burn it down.

Donald Trump defies the Dorian Gray effect. Why?

I found this wonderful image at the train station in my hometown in Connecticut.

Scratched into an ad on the platform, someone left us a “Dorian Gray” treatment of Donald Trump.

Behold the man behind the mask.

But that’s the thing about Trump. No one seems to care about his deficiencies or his flaws.

This departs from the normal practice of American politics. Normally, it goes like this.

An outsider appears in American politics. He or she expresses some deeply felt issue. There’s a brief period of enthusiasm.

Then the reporters go to work. Debates happen. Interviews are given.

And eventually we get a Dorian Gray revelation of the real man or woman.

And hey presto, that’s the end of their candidacy. (And, like a booster rocket, the candidate falls away even as the issue continues. The candidate has served his or her purpose.)

But it’s not happening this time.

Why isn’t happening this time?