My readers may have figured out that I have a strange view of Donald Trump, that I both loathe him with an intensity that is hard to put into words, and grudgingly admire his magnificent, bastardly traits, how he plays the game and manipulates the pieces on the board.
I will endeavor to explain both to you, because it ties into something Scott Adams wrote awhile ago. I should note that, like myself, Mr. Adams appears to have a sort of grudging admiration for the man, although he may lack the loathing disgust I also have for Mr. Trump. Scott Adams does tell us, however, that Trump is a con man:
Donald Trump is a con man. He’s also a fraud, a liar, a snake-oil salesman, and a carnival barker. Clearly he is running a scam on the country.
Trump calls himself a “deal-maker.”
I call Trump a Master Persuader.
It’s all the same thing. Trump says and does whatever he needs to do in order to get the results he wants. And apparently he does it well. Given the facts, you can either see Trump as highly skilled or morally flawed. Maybe both. I suppose it depends which side you are on.
He’s right, of course. Trump doesn’t make deals in so far as two people come together, hash out some particulars, and make an exchange. Trump, instead, persuades you to accept him as a person. Only then will the particulars make an appearance if, indeed, they do at all. “I’m going to build a wall,” he says, “it will be the biggest, baddest wall ever. It will be yuuuuuge.”
I don’t know if he’ll really build a wall or not. But either way, that’s not really the point. The point, of course, is to make the people see Trump as their man, the man who will stand up against his fellow elitists and demand concessions for the little guy, who has been ignored at least as long as I’ve been alive. He found an under served market that the Establishment folks left on the table and ignored, and he spoke to them, resonated with them.
But why would he care? The answer is, like any politician, he really doesn’t. Trump doesn’t know you, or your problems, or give a damn whether you live or die. But then again, is that really different from any other Presidential candidate? Does Hillary care? Kasich? Cruz?
Trump supporters will be asking themselves, by now, why I loathe Trump, what I hate about him. And the answer to that is that it’s not really him I hate, so much as what he represents. My disgust for celebrity figures like Kim Kardashian (whom I have variously compared to heaps of dung, dumpster fires, and well-used hotel bed sheets) is on record here at The Declination.
The human tendency to ascribe virtues to popular people has irritated me for most of my adult life. I don’t care what Whoopi Goldberg thinks of white people, or what Tom Hanks had for breakfast. Whether or not Miley Cyrus displayed her vagina on stage holds no value. I don’t care about what they think politically. It doesn’t matter if somebody slaps Dr. Dre’s name on a pair of headphones, except that if they are going to charge $300 for the set, I’ll go elsewhere, thank you very much.
That is what irritates me about Donald Trump, what I loathe about him. I don’t want to care what this man thinks, I don’t want to vote him into high office. When his show came on, back when, I turned off the TV (except when my friend was a contestant on the show, in the second season). In fact, I don’t even watch TV anymore. It’s all annoying, these days. Branding has become farcical on modern America, a sort of mindless propaganda that convinces people Dos Equis is a great beer, because some fictional rich guy drank it sometimes. That’s Trump. He’s a brand more than he is a person.
When Donald Trump clambers onto the stage and tells me “it’s gonna be yuuuuuge” a part of me instinctively shudders. I agree with him. I want border security, a wall, more agents, active suppression of illegal migrants. But I can’t help but see something vaguely cartoonish about all of this coming out of his mouth.
Yet I can’t help but admire how he plays the media, how he takes a constant barrage of hate from all sides of the political aisle. I have never seen anyone in my life weather that much concentrated rage. Every day, I see many posts, videos, articles, blog posts and comments about how this man is a racist, a woman-hater, a disgusting pig, ugly, mean, a fascist, Hitler reborn, the end of the entire Earth, etc…
Both Left and Right media are constantly attacking him, and he just grows stronger, channeling their rage to his followers, who increasingly worship him as some kind of savior. I’ve never seen anything like this.
Or, as one popular meme put it:
Some of his followers will openly admit that he’s an asshole, a self-centered nut, and yet they still love him. Trump is the strongest case of antifragility I’ve ever seen in contemporary politics. Everything he does is designed to persuade, to build his image, to further the reach of his personal brand.
Even Donald Trump’s tweeting style shows evidence of deliberate rhetorical persuasion techniques, and a firm grasp of classical rhetoric. This man is not just antifragile, he is trained on this. Caleb Q. Washington explains:
Aristotle bases his discussion of rhetorical arguments around a construction known as an enthymeme. He defines an enthymeme as a syllogism where the premises are not all included. Aristotle introduces the term syllogism in Prior Analytics, his theory on formal logic. A syllogism consists of two or more premises which directly leads to a conclusion. Here’s a simple example: A Toyota Camry is a car. All cars have wheels. Therefore, a Toyota Camry has wheels. Pretty simple stuff, but it has a particular name to describe it. As an enthymeme, this might simply be: A Toyota Camry is a car, therefore it has wheels.
At this point, you should see where this is going. Trump tweets in very well defined enthymemes with two premises followed by a conclusion. His choice of two premises is particularly useful, as it feels like the construction of a simple logical argument, even though it clearly isn’t. If you accept his two premises, you feel like you ought to accept his conclusions.
This deliberate construction and its relation to classical rhetoric makes it plain that Trump has studied rhetorical technique. His use of it on Twitter is especially interesting and innovative. Normally, 140 characters isn’t enough to formulate an argument. However, by sticking to a formula, Trump is able to blast out a complete rhetorical argument in a single tweet. This is what makes him so effective on the platform, and what makes him stand out.
Trump is not some simple minded buffoon hurling hate because he’s a dick (though he might be one anyway). His style is deliberate, planned, and carefully calculated. It has a basis in classical education. It is formalized in a way none of the other political candidates have understood because they are not classically educated. That was something, by the way, which took me by surprise. Most of our candidates lack the education you would think they would have. Many are educated at Harvard, Yale, etc… why don’t they understand this?
The answer is that college education has become a bastion for Cultural Marxists to spread their filth, and the old classics have fallen by the wayside. We’re starting to see the fruit of that today. Wherever Trump got his understand of rhetoric, it clearly wasn’t a safe space for Marxists.
Trump is a magnificent bastard, a man you can simultaneously hate, yet have a strong appreciation for his competency in emotional manipulation, populism, and persuasion. But beyond all that, Trump represents the Patriarchy, oh yes, that very thing RadFems love to hate.
Again, I will refer to Scott Adams:
So what happens when a white male my age gets out of an expensive vehicle and walks up to a policeman doing his job? Answer: The policeman gets nervous. He went to great lengths to explain his actions. (And did it well.)
In other words, he was afraid of me, at least in terms of keeping his job. And he should have been. If the encounter had gone in an unpleasant direction, we both knew his job was on the line.
That’s the patriarchy. And I have to say I enjoy that part of it. I am completely aware of being the most powerful person (society-wise) in nearly any room.
The Patriarchy is alive and well (sorry, RadFems, it’s true). But it is also absurdly small. To be a member of this exclusive club, much more than a functional penis is required. You need to be powerful, wealthy, famous, and drive expensive cars. In fact, if you have a driver to drive you around in the expensive cars, so much the better.
Women adore them, following them around like lost puppies, making eyes at them. Men hate them, envy them, admire them, and secretly want to be them, all at the same time. Policemen defer to them, doormen don’t need to see their IDs. The world is their oyster.
But most men don’t live in this Patriarchy. Most of us live in a Matriarchy:
When I was young, poor, and penniless, my experience was that of a being in a matriarchy. My mother was my dominant parent. My first teachers were women. And I later failed at two careers because of my employers’ gender preferences for women. I tell those stories in mybook. In both cases my bosses told me – in direct language – that the company had a diversity problem to fix and the executives had ordered them to stop promoting white males.
I’m not complaining, just reporting, for context. That was a long time ago. Obviously things worked out well for me.
When I was a young, unattractive male with no money, I had no social power, no dating power, and some very real career obstacles because of my gender. My subjective reality was that I was living in a matriarchy, even if those around me were not. I knew a lot of women my age, and they seemed to be living the dream. That was my subjective impression anyway.
This is the dominant experience for most male Americans. Women have all the power. They say yes, or they say no (you don’t have a choice) in everything. Dating. Sex. Children. Who pays for dinner. All of this is the choice of the woman and rarely (if ever) the man. Preference is given to women in everything from jobs to college scholarships and admissions. Feminine values are seen as good, masculine values as bad, or at best, a form of cartoonish buffoonery (the beer, bacon, and boobs masculinity).
A woman holds all the power in divorce court. She gets custody. She gets money. Men get the shaft. Men commit suicide far more often, men are expected to do the dirty, disgusting, and painful things in life. When the dog craps in the house, it’s a man’s job. But, according to the dictates of modern feminism, he should also take care of the baby, do the chores, and make enough money to keep the woman happy.
Everything is about women’s happiness. And everything in a man’s life is about getting the approval of women.
Now since the majority of men live in the Matriarchy, what do they think when they see Donald Trump on stage? What do they see when a man’s man, however dickish, tells them exactly what they want to hear? It’s like a breath of fresh air to them, like water to the parched lips of a man dying of thirst in the Sahara. It is a near-religious experience for them because they’ve never seen it in their lives.
Nobody cares about the men in flyover country. Nobody cares about bikers and oil drillers (evil environment-destroyers that they are). Nobody cares about divorcees slaving away to pay the alimony. Nobody cares about folks who lost their jobs to hordes of illegals and/or H1B holders. They’ve been denied a seat at the table for so long, left to starve on the crumbs, that a man even looking at them is new.
A man from the Patriarchy, a thing that usually holds them in contempt, if it deigns to see them at all, noticed them. It’s like what happens when one of Justin Bieber’s fangirls gets noticed. They squee and jump for joy, for their idol has given them the tiniest bit of attention. Except that nobody has paid attention to flyover America and working-class men for most of my life. That anyone noticed them is considered near-miraculous.
And what do use high-IQ folks do? We call them low information voters. We dismiss them. We heap scorn upon them, and then wonder why they don’t vote for our candidate. “Hey dumbass, you need to vote for me.” For being smart, most of us have acted like complete morons.
Most of the intellectually-minded folks don’t understand it. It’s puzzling to them, because politicians appeal them based on either logic and dialectic, or at least a higher form of rhetoric and pseudo-dialectic. In other words, they think they are being rational about their choice. Of course, most of them are fooling themselves, but that’s a post for another day. The hoi polloi are just supposed to nod while the intellectuals and elitists choose for them, for they are smarter and wiser, no?
They are just low information voters, right? Well that’s why Trump appealed to them. The rest of us ignored them at our own peril.
Such geniuses as we could never push into power a monster, right? The Communist intellectuals found out the hard way after the Bolsheviks came into power and didn’t need them anymore. Time to go up against the wall and share in Trotsky’s fate. Historically, I’m not sure who has the worse record, the populists or the intellectuals.
Oh, how Socrates would laugh at all of us, supposing any of this were funny. I don’t like the term intellectual because it presupposes a wisdom that is illusory. I am not wise.
Kate Paulk had a guest post over at According to Hoyt, wherein she laments the consequences of Godwin’s Law, namely that calling everything and everyone a fascist, and then trotting out the words “Godwin’s Law” renders the whole conversation pointless. The Boy Who Cried Wolf… and then all of us who cried the Boy Who Cried Wolf. All of it is irrelevant to whether or not there are actually wolves among us.
If I could eliminate one thing about the Internet, it would be Godwin’s law. Why? It’s made it next to impossible to make actual comparisons about what is probably the best documented instance of the rise of a populist dictator. The instant the magic words come out, any semblance of rational discussion gets defenestrated and the next thing you know people are shouting past each other and the whole thing dies.
Even the low information voter has come to see the absurdity of Hitlerite comparisons. Most people can remember the protesters chanting Bush=Hitler, carting around signs with Bush brandishing a Hitler mustache. Even your average country bumpkin can figure out that the whole thing is a lie. It’s a lie, in fact, lobbed about so often that he has come to assume the exact opposite. Whoever is compared to Hitler almost certainly is not a fascist dictator and in fact, is probably a pretty nice guy.
People have come to distrust the media so much, many of them assume the exact opposite of what the media says must be the truth. Therein lies the secret to Trump’s popularity. Every time some talking head on CNN calls Trump a racist, a fascist, or some other unpleasant thing, his supporters assume the exact opposite.
And so Trump continues to gain strength, because the media (on both sides of the spectrum) just cannot bring themselves to stop attacking this man. And Trump knows it, encourages it, and riles up his detractors so that they continue to act emotionally instead of rationally.
They will tear into his rallies and attack his supporters, convincing more fence sitters that what they are seeing is true, that everything Trump says is true.
Everything about Trump’s campaign is designed to appeal to the true oppressed class in America. Not radical feminists, or transsexuals, or gays, or “people of color.” No, the real oppressed people in America are the ones everyone hates, everyone points at and laughs, that every court will rule against if they possibly can, the last ones in line for jobs, college admissions, scholarships and the like. Worse, the people everyone calls stupid country bumpkins, or hicks, or rednecks. These are the people the intelligentsia looks down upon on their flights from ‘Frisco to NYC. These are the people who have lost their jobs to outsourcing, to illegals, to H1Bs, and government over regulation.
Trump found them exactly where both the Democrats and the GOP left them.
And now he’s about to beat both parties to death with that cudgel.
I lament what this means for America. I loathe the celebrity persona, the snake oil, and the emotional appeals. The Republic has been dying for a century or more, but this could be the nail in the coffin. I know that, and for this, and more, I loathe Donald Trump.
But I can’t help but admire how he found the fracture point, how he played his enemies, how he gains from every attack, and how he continues to brilliantly play to his constituency. I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t think Trump is a Hitler. I never did. I don’t even think he’s a Mussolini, as others have speculated.
He’s something different. I often wonder if this what Julius Caesar was like, for history tells us that the common people adored him, even though he was of the elite. They idolized him, and were willing to speak in hushed tones that word all Romans feared: rex. Whether or not you consider Julius Caesar to be a good man, consider also that with his death, the Republic likewise died, and was never to return.
It’s a curious thought to have on this day, the day after the Ides of March.