The New York Times recently revealed that, due to claiming a nearly billion dollar loss in a single year in the mid 90’s, Donald Trump could theoretically have paid no taxes for the following 18 years. Since he claims to know the tax code better than anyone, and since he refuses to disclose his tax returns, it becomes very easy to believe that this is, in fact, the case. In addition, there was at least one year in the past in which it was revealed that he didn’t pay a cent.
This information exposes the Trump phenomenon as a movement of bigoted anger with little in terms of justifiable substance when it comes to the basis for that anger. Trump supporters have been said to be angry about feeling shafted economically for years and believing that the system is rigged against them. Their chosen savior? The person they think can and will fix their problems? A billionaire who very well could have lived for nearly twenty years in opulence and luxury without paying anything in taxes. Donald Trump is the EMBODIMENT of the rigged economy that these people are said to be so angry about.
Who do these people think have been picking up the slack? Do they not realize that THEY have? Do they really still think it’s just great that someone like Trump can live high on the hog for years while they struggle paycheck to paycheck to make ends meet?
The Trump phenomenon, then, isn’t really about economic anger. It’s about anger, definitely…But it’s part of a culture war, being waged against gains in recent decades made by minorities, women and gay people. These people want to go back to an America where English is the only language option at ATM’s, and where black and brown people and women know and remember their place in society. They want a “strong man” to take their anger out on those fucking terrorist Muslims and border-hopping Mexicans. They don’t want an actual answer to their problems, unless it involves fucking over the “others” in some way.
In short, Trump’s popularity and the closeness of the race to this point is really because of an electoral temper-tantrum. His supporters don’t want an America of fairness and equality. They just want America to be THEIRS again.
This is another piece of wisdom, the source of which is uncertain. Some have attributed it to Mark Twain, others to Lincoln, among several other notable figures.
But there’s no doubt about who embodies it perfectly – TRUMP. The man who is his own worst enemy, who couldn’t keep his mouth shut to save his life (or his campaign.)
I have been reading different reactions to these statues of a naked Donald Trump that have popped up in cities around America, and it seems that most people find them somewhat distasteful. There’s also the “imagine if someone did this to Hillary…” trope. Some people say that while Trump may have it coming, that we shouldn’t stoop to the level of “body shaming,” etc. The statues are from the art group INDECLINE.
I look at it in the context of protest art. Sure, the statues may be in poor taste, offensive to look at or humiliating. But let’s not forget that this is a man who has slandered the president as the founder of America’s most hated terrorist enemy, as well as not so subtly suggested that people shoot his opponent. These are just the recent examples of the type of garbage that has come from Trump’s mouth, and don’t begin to demonstrate the types of things he has said and done to shame and mock other people.
So, it’s not surprising to me that an artist or group of artists might go to extremes in desecrating Trump’s image. To quote Cesar A. Cruz, “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” The time for politeness regarding Trump is long gone.
And comparing it to someone doing the same to Hillary is bogus. Like her policies or not, Hillary Clinton has not gone out of her way to insult and degrade a multitude of people across the nation. So, yes, if someone did the same to Hillary, it would be seen as going too far, and with good reason. It’s just not the same with Trump.
As a general rule of thumb, when talking about how people relate to one another, “when they go low, we go high” should be the approach. We should try our best to not stoop to the level of someone like Trump. But when it comes to art, I think all bets are off. I don’t see this the same way I would see someone sending out private pics of Trump to humiliate him, for example.
Donald Trump has taken a no-holds barred approach to his campaign. He speaks his mind. He says what he means. He’s not “politically correct” Let’s not expect the opposite from artists making a statement about him.
There is a meme floating around that proclaims that the Sandy Hook tragedy was, in effect, the end of the debate on gun control in America. That if nothing changed after children were slaughtered, it never would.
I think the same can be said about that time Donald Trump mocked a disabled journalist. If that didn’t convince people that this man is of so low character that he is truly unfit to ever be president, I don’t think anything would.
A big emphasis that came through loud and clear from the Democratic National Convention was a consistent critique of Donald Trump’s scare-mongering and bleak vision of current-day America.
While repudiating Trump’s attempts to frighten people into voting for him as the one person who can fix America is important, Hillary Clinton needs to be careful not to make him out to be a near-mythical boogeyman who exists in a vacuum. While Trump is, in fact, trying to utilize the fear and anxiety of Americans, he isn’t the sole source of it. The apprehensions that he is exploiting are very real and have real-world catalysts.
While Bernie Sanders was running, some people noted how there was a parallel between his campaign and Trump’s – they were both positioned as the “outsider” whose followers were angry and disillusioned with the “politics as usual” that they have been forced to expect from America’s political machine, as well as feeling shafted by the 1%. There was some validity to the comparison, although Sanders and Trump couldn’t possibly be more different on myriad issues. Not to mention the key difference that Bernie Sanders is not a complete and utter asshole. But, I digress…
But the point is that many of the people Trump is appealing to are people that have faced the decimation of the middle class, while corporate America thrives, and who are justifiably worried about their job outlook and prospects. They see politicians as being bought-and-sold, without their interests in mind, while in contrast, Trump appears as though he can’t be bought. They see a GOP establishment that for years has asked them to settle for what they perceive as Republican-In-Name-Only (RINO) candidates like McCain and Romney, who lost, and a party elite that has failed to deliver on both social issues, as they see minorities gaining ground on things like gay marriage, as well as the economy as their incomes have stagnated. They are also scared by the frequent news feed of terror attacks around the globe. That fear is real and tangible. Sure, Trump may exacerbate it, but it was there before him and needs to be addressed.
There are many Trump supporters who will never, ever vote for Clinton for whatever reason. There are a ton of die-hard racists, misogynists and Islamophobes whose minds have been subverted by Fox News and the right-wing media machine for years. Those people are a lost cause. What I’m referring to are the people who are open to voting for Clinton, but who (in some ways justifiably) see her as a status-quo, “business as usual” candidate. If Bernie’s popularity showed us anything, it’s that millions of Americans are truly fed up with what has been coming out of Washington for decades. They just aren’t buying it anymore. Clinton needs to work on somehow convincing those voters that she hears their anxieties, that she sees their anger, and that she feels their apprehension about the issues that affect their daily lives. She needs to remember that Trump is merely a symptom of a larger problem, and she should work to try to validate the emotions of the voting populace rather than give off the impression that once Trump is out of the picture, everything will be rosy and hopeful. Because it won’t.
Hillary Clinton photo credit: By lorie shaull (source) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
An exchange happened about a week ago at one of Donald Trump’s rallies between the champion of making America great again himself and a female audience member. For myself, it has come to symbolize everything wrong with Trump, his followers, and the state of stupid in this country.
As seen in the Youtube clip below, during a Q&A session a woman asks Trump why we’re not putting military retirees on the border or perhaps to work for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA,) and in the process, getting rid of all of those “hibeejabis” they wear there.
In case you are wondering what the fuck “hibeejabis” are or what this person is talking about, she is referring to hijabs, the traditional headscarves that those Mooslim women wear, and I guess the fact that she has seen people wear them at the TSA.
It has become difficult for me to decide what part of this exchange is more problematic – the bigoted, xenophobic anti-Muslim sentiment or the flat-out ignorance on the part of the woman…Or Trump’s failure to correct the embarrassingly incorrect name that was used or the anti-Muslim sentiment behind the question, and simply answer by saying “we are looking at that….we’re looking at a lot of things,” which not only fails to really say anything (which is nothing new for Trump,) but also reinforces the ignorance and bigotry.
It has become abundantly clear to me that Donald Trump and his campaign have offered up and fed upon the xenophobic and racist anger of many working class and poor Americans that feel resentment of “the others” (as in minorities,) in particular brown people such as Mexicans and Muslims, who are seen as people to fear and the source of America’s problems. Oh sure, supporters of Trump will offer up all sorts of excuses for his bigotry, but I think any reasonable person would have to be wearing massive blinders to not see the glaring, ugly truth at this point.
And all of that is obviously disconcerting, but none of it surprises me. I have been awake to the fact that America is still a very racist nation for a long time. Racism from whites directed at minorities, to racism from minorities to other minorities, to that of some minorities toward whites – take your pick, it’s there. What’s particularly insidious about the Trump campaign, though, is that he has the support of a pretty formidable voting block (white people.) While racism and xenophobia can emanate from a variety of demographics, it has more institutional and social influence when it comes from the dominant population.
But perhaps what may be more unsettling is the extreme stupidity of it all, which is allowed to pass, by Trump and the crowd as if it is completely normal and okay. The rise of news media outlets like Fox News around twenty years ago was reflective of a growing trend in America away from things like facts and towards blatant bias and ignorance, which has only seemed to have metastasized among disgruntled right-wingers since then. Maybe Trump didn’t see fit to correct the woman, or maybe he didn’t want to alienate his xenophobic base or appear to be too “politically correct” or “elitist.” Or maybe he is simply not that smart or doesn’t want to appear to be so. And this is what we’ve got, people. Isn’t it sad that having an education and not being ignorant is now seen as elitist by a lot of people? People that vote? Can you picture someone like JFK or any of the other notable past presidents fielding and responding to such a question in the same manner?
The late George Carlin mused about the sad status of intelligence in America often. I can’t imagine what he would say about Trump’s candidacy if he were alive today.
Look, not everyone is going to be a rocket scientist. People need to do the best with what they’ve got. But this is willful ignorance. Meaning, this person probably has the mental capacity to see the error of their ways if they would only bother to actually read something or do any kind of analytical fact-seeking, but it’s a culture of laziness and mediocrity that has infected this country for years. And regarding Trump’s response, shouldn’t someone who is trying to be the president of the United States him/herself be, or at least aspire to be, intelligent or at least smarter than the average person? Don’t you want your president to be smarter than you are? I do. If America elects Trump, we truly deserve him. As Carlin has also pointed out, if you have ignorant, selfish citizens, you’re going to end up with ignorant, selfish leaders. That has probably never resonated more truthfully than with Trump’s candidacy.
Donald Trump photo By Marc Nozell – https://www.flickr.com/photos/marcn/24622320840/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46901376