Donald Trump: The Man in the Mirror

It’s almost over!  But the main story it has ridden within, that will never be over.  

Some days ago I posted some thoughts on “the Donald” which, for reference, can be reviewed here:  

Since then I’ve seen many articles and posts saying essentially the same thing.  The following by George Monbiot,  which I couldn’t “Press This” or “Reblog” so copying, perhaps expresses the thought best of all.  This is a mirror no one likes to gaze intently into, yet if we do not, how can we ever hope to change?  Ah, but excuse me for assuming: do we actually DESIRE to change, or do we simply wait for “the world” to change for us?

The Man in the Mirror

Donald Trump is not an outlier, but the distillation of our dominant values
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 26th October 2016

What is the worst thing about Donald Trump? The lies? The racist stereotypes? The misogyny? The alleged gropings? The apparent refusal to accept democratic outcomes? All these are bad enough. But they’re not the worst. The worst thing about Donald Trump is that he’s the man in the mirror.

We love to horrify ourselves with his excesses, and to see him as a monstrous outlier, the polar opposite of everything a modern, civilised society represents. But he is nothing of the kind. He is the distillation of all that we have been induced to desire and admire. Trump is so repulsive not because he offends our civilisation’s most basic values, but because he embodies them.

Trump personifies the traits promoted by the media and corporate worlds he affects to revile; the worlds that created him. He is a bundle of extrinsic values– the fetishisation of wealth, power and image – in a nation where extrinsic values are championed throughout public discourse. His conspicuous consumption, self-amplification and towering (if fragile) ego are in tune with the dominant narratives of our age.

As the recipient of vast inherited wealth who markets himself as solely responsible for his good fortune, he is the man of our times. The Apprentice tells the story of everything he is not: the little guy dragging himself up from the bottom through enterprise and skill. None of this distinguishes him from the majority of the very rich, whose entrepreneurial image, loyally projected by the media, clashes with their histories of huge bequests, government assistance, monopolies and rent-seeking.

If his politics differ from those of the rest of the modern Republican party, it is because they are, in some respects, more liberal. Every vice, for the Republican trailblazers, is now a virtue; every virtue a vice. Encouraged by the corporate media, they have been waging a full-spectrum assault on empathy, altruism and the decencies we owe to other people. Their gleeful stoving in of faces, their cackling destruction of political safeguards and democratic norms, their stomping on all that is generous and caring and cooperative in human nature have turned the party into a game of Mortal Kombat scripted by Breitbart News.

Did Donald Trump invent the xenophobia and racism that infuses his campaign? Did he invent his conspiracy theories about stolen elections and the criminality of his opponents? No. They were there all along. What is new and different about him is that he has streamlined these narratives into a virulent demagoguery. But the opportunity has been building for years; all that was required was someone blunt and unscrupulous enough to take it.

Nor can you single out Trump for ignoring, denying and deriding the key issues of our time, such as climate change. Almost all prominent Republicans have been at it. In fact, across the four presidential debates, not one question about climate change was asked. Even when politicians and journalists accept the science, it makes little difference if they avoid the subject like the plague.

James Madison envisaged the constitution of the United States as representation tempered by competition between factions. In the 10thFederalist Paper, written in 1787, he argued that large republics were better insulated from corruption than small, or “pure” democracies, as the greater number of citizens would make it “more difficult for unworthy candidates to practice with success the vicious arts by which elections are too often carried”. A large electorate would protect the system against oppressive interest groups. Politics practised on a grand scale would be more likely to select people of “enlightened views and virtuous sentiments”.

Instead, the United States – in common with many other nations – now suffers the worst of both worlds: a large electorate dominated by a tiny faction. Instead of republics being governed, as Madison feared, by “the secret wishes of an unjust and interested majority”, they are beholden to the not-so-secret wishes of an unjust and interested minority. What Madison could not have foreseen was the extent to which unconstrained campaign finance and a sophisticated lobbying industry would come to dominate an entire nation, regardless of its size.

For every representative, Republican or Democrat, who retains a trace element of independence, there are three sitting in the breast pocket of corporate capital. Since the Supreme Court decided that there should be no effective limits on campaign finance, and, to a lesser extent, long before, candidates have been reduced to tongue-tied automata, incapable of responding to those in need of help, incapable of regulating those in need of restraint, for fear of upsetting their funders.

Democracy in the United States is so corrupted by money that it is no longer recognisable as democracy. You can kick individual politicians out of office, but what do you do when the entire structure of politics is corrupt? Turn to the demagogue who rages into this political vacuum, denouncing the forces he exemplifies. The problem is not, as Trump claims, that the election will be stolen by ballot rigging. It is that the entire electoral process is stolen from the American people before they get anywhere near to casting their votes. When Trump claims that the little guy is being screwed by the system, he’s right. The only problem is that he is the system.

The political constitution of the United States is not, as Madison envisaged, representation tempered by competition between factions. The true constitution is plutocracy tempered by scandal. In other words, all that impedes the absolute power of money is the occasional exposure of the excesses of the wealthy. What distinguishes Trump’s political career is that, until recently, his scandals have done him no harm.

Trump disgusts us because, where others use a dog whistle, he uses a klaxon. We hate to hear his themes so clearly articulated. But we know in our hearts that they suffuse the way the world is run.

Because this story did not begin with Trump, it will not end with Trump, however badly he might lose the election. Yes, he is a shallow, mendacious, boorish and extremely dangerous man. But those traits ensure that he is not an outsider but the perfect representation of his caste, the caste that runs the global economy and governs our politics. He is our system, stripped of its pretences.

28 thoughts on “Donald Trump: The Man in the Mirror

  1. sherazade

    Perfetta analisi dell Man on the mirror tuttavia i non parlerei di ‘civiltà’ ma di deviazione devastante che è diventata strutturale al sistema e All individuo!
    Buon WE! Abbracci 😚😚😚

  2. Pingback: Donald Trump: The Man in the Mirror | ~Burning Woman~ | AGR Daily News Service

  3. Lily Von Valley

    A great article, ties political corruption with wealth ‘fetishism’ well. – how terrifying an idea, Donald: ‘….is the system’, and should he take hold of it, ‘The Donald’. You were merely ahead of time !
    Ps. ‘will read your thoughts…:-)

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Lily. It’s been stated that Trump wants the White House to use as his own cash cow. The politicking to get there is all a front… or is that an affront?

  4. Phil Huston

    First, I’m sure “Trump” in all of its various conjugations will enter the language just like “Google” and many others. With meanings as varied as reactionary peacock to groper to hate. How strange to see that behavior so vulcanizing. But then, in world full of hair dye and ED drugs, rampant misogyny, media glorification of the worst any cultural background can put forward, what can we really expect? Not just Trump, both sides of the electoral coin have displayed bigotry, elitism and total disregard for empathy towards those they wish to govern with any more than lip service. All I can hear in any of it is “I just wanna be elected!” Hate mongering, back room deals and personal jets. Different from the petrochemical industry how? In the darkness of all that is this election they’re neither one more than pandering whores under the streetlamp of greed for power. I, for one, am embarrassed that any political system, any world, can dial back their aspirations so far as tp place the opponents in this contest in the spotlight of greatness. And regardless of the outcome, I’ll be glad when it’s over because the overflow of diatribe and blame is flooding the world’s living room worse than a toilet a two year old tried to flush a roll of paper towels in.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Well (and I’m laughing here) in keeping with bathroom analogies, this is a great one. Yes, soon over, thankfully. I saw a church sign that said, “Jesus is coming, hopefully before the election.” I don’t care who Jesus is coming with, let’s get this gross farce over with. You’re right about the trumpisms though, they’ll survive to be used over and over like “malaprop” and “Watergate.”

  5. polymath0

    This is so well-written and true. I would never have thought of myself as naive, but more of a realist. However, the incredible amount of support toward this guy took me by surprise. He is no surprise. The fact that he has followers is no surprise either. The thought that he has about 40% of the vote right now has floored me completely. What has saddened me so much about this country is our complete love of “winners” and those who don’t apologize. The love for those who say what they want and tell the rest to screw themselves for questioning our motives. It is very sad to me.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Yes, it is sad. Will Americans recognize this problem? Will they do anything to change the foreign policy “We come, we see, they die” of the Pentagon/Wall Street/Washington oligarchy? If I were a US-based “American” (all peoples who live in the Americas are American after all as I am though I don’t live in the US) I would demand closure of all US military bases. I would demand that “my” nation be given a name by popular referendum and I would demand that the capital of the “new” nation be more centrally relocated. I would also demand that “my” government sever its military connections to any state known to commit war crimes, of which Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel come to mind. I would demand full trials for war crimes of those who directly or indirectly operated Washington, the Pentagon and “War” Street on behalf of extortionist global corporations and a full, open and impartial investigation into those who masterminded that criminal attack on the twin towers, knowing it had nothing to do with Al Qaeda but was a complete inside job. Is that too much to ask?

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Yes!!! And I’ve promised myself to get off this political bandwagon and return to, well, not sanity exactly – don’t know what that means for me – but no more of this vile stuff. The world as it chooses to express just has to do it without me. I’ve had my fling and I feel dirty, raped, by it all. The magic coach is a pumpkin and my beautiful horses are nothing but ugly rats. I’m walking home, I don’t even care about the glass slippers. It’s all a sham.

      1. Sha'Tara Post author

        Thanks, and yes. As to rats, well, in a different world they would be beautiful. Here, some sixty miles for a giant port city rats are a nightmare, proliferating everywhere. We have several species but the worse are small very long-tailed, very large eared black ones they say came off the ships from China. Who knows, but they are a disaster and we’re basically at war with them. So, again, messed up environment creates messed up creatures. It seems at times that the very world is at war with itself. I call it the predator curse.

      2. Maria Wind Talker

        Oh no that sounds bad. Where are you? I had rats in my shed earlier this year but couldn’t kill them. They moved on when the weather warned up though. The predator curse is very apt.

      3. Maria Wind Talker

        Ohh I would have thought they all died off in winter over there. I have a friend in Canada and she reports temperatures upto -50-60 in winter, I couldn’t survive that lol

      4. Sha'Tara Post author

        Actually we’re on the Pacific coast, east of the San Juan de Fuca straits with warm air currents flowing up from the equator, or from the Central Pacific ocean, so we’re balmy here. I was out suntanning naked in the back yard today, after mowing the lawns. No, the 60 below zero temperatures we had living in northern Alberta in the fifties are gone. I visited there this summer and the people say their winters are not so cold anymore, with little snow. Climate change is for real, whether anthropogenic or natural. Can “man” adapt though? Disruption of potable water sources and dying seas are the real issues now.

      5. Maria Wind Talker

        Sounds bliss. The UK is too cold for me. I’ve been asking that same question, I pray that it’s not too late and the next generation will carry on what we have started and bring about a real change.

  6. Woebegone but Hopeful

    The problem seems to rest within the circumstance that a large number of the followers of one candidate believe that the other candidate is the essence of evil and that folk who are in a position to dampen down this delight in whipping up the flames.
    Add to this a large proportion of the electorate who care for neither and have lost complete faith in the system then the outlook does look problematic.
    This in the final analysis is everyone’s challenge and responsibility.
    Which of course is easier said that done.

    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Yes indeed, easier said than done. Maybe those who “stay close to home” and mind their own “small” business are the smart ones. I don’t need to repeat what I’ve written to Maria WindTalker, it’s how I feel today. I’ve had to unsub from some blogs totally immersed in all the negative stuff – wars, politics, crime, brutality and I feel as if I’ll never get this dirt off me. Back to my “cosmic” thoughts for me. Thanks Roger.

      1. Woebegone but Hopeful

        Hi Sha’Tara.
        Indeed Humanity is a whole box of paradoxes; one minute I’m throwing my hands up in exasperation, then next moved by the wonderful acts of kindness by individuals or small groups. I confess to doing my time ranting and raving, ‘judgingmentaling’, prejudicing and all the nasty stuff; it wears one out and corrodes the spirit. I have witnessed folk with political views same as mine be so fixated with hate for the other side that they act just like the extremists they claim to despise.
        Yep, going Cosmic sounds fine to me
        From my own Christian standpoint when I die and ‘get to the pearly gates’, and maybe pass muster I will ask if I can have 10,000 years to soar amongst the planets and other bodies of the solar System (10,000’s not too much to ask is it, and that should be just enough time to check them all out!….Wow, that would be so cool!!)
        Take care

      2. Sha'Tara Post author

        Yes, time out is good. Even god needed a break after creating these worlds. I think he’ll understand.

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