What We Did and Didn’t Learn from Donald Trump
What we learned.
A number of things and some of them (hold your breath and stay with me) relate to historical moments in the lives of other politicians.
The Donald taught us that the American electorate had, with good reason, lost faith in our particular shade of democracy. Fifty years of lies by both Democrats and Republicans had us worn out, angry and ready to tear the house down. That’s why Trump got elected. He promised to tear the house down. “We’re ready, Donald. Tear the fucking house down.”
Trump did just that, at rally after rally, before adoring crowds. He blamed Democrats, the swamp in Washington, street gangs, the homeless, welfare, jobs gone to China, immigration and Ben and Jerry ice cream. He didn’t promise change, we’d had enough of that…he promised to Make America Great Again. That message means whatever each listener wants it to mean and the crowds loved it. At rally after rally, thousands of people adored him, singling out their particular prejudice and the media magnified the story. Why wouldn’t they? It was cheap and repeatable. They even made a game of counting the lies, but the band played on…and still does.
Now hang on. Grand and historical moments prove the point.
Germany in 1933 was a basket case, their beloved Deutschmark all but worthless and conditions of the 1918 armistice so punitive that Germans had lost all hope of recovery. Nothing worked. Germans were worn out, angry and ready to tear the house down.
A nobody, second-rate, failed paperhanger called Adolph Hitler screamed at Germans at rally after rally that they’d been cheated in the 1918 armistice and blamed massive government fraud, increasing homelessness, uncontrolled inflation and the moneylenders—a code-word for international Jews. He promised to tear the house down and Make Germany Great Again. Thirsty for anything that worked, Germans loved him. What followed was a lesson in the politics of mobs.
Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe, who Hitler designated as his successor and deputy in all his offices was quoted as saying, “Naturally, the common people don't want war ... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
What we’ve Not Learned from Donald Trump.
President Jo Biden is a case in point of what is not learned form Trump—and Hitler, for that matter.
Biden is the shining example of a Washington insider—fifty years a Democratic Senator, since the age of twenty-nine. A man in the bubble of Washington politics as no president before him, and it shows. To say that Joe leaves something to be desired as a public speaker is to treat him gently and I like Joe. I think he is, above all else, an honorable man, but a terrible choice to replace Trump as president. He dares not venture outside Washington, and that failure will likely lose him his thread-like control of the House and Senate in the coming mid-term elections. God only knows where the country will go from there.
The template is there. What honest man is brave enough to follow it?
Well, Bernie Sanders had the rhetoric but Bernie was too angry and hadn’t the wink and grin that covered Trump’s intentions. Liz Warren had it as well, but Wall Street was never going to allow her to become the candidate and the Media pretty much marches to Wall Street’s music. But that’s all yesterday’s news and excuses—what, if anything, can be done to Make America Function Again as an engine of prosperity, fairness, equity and hope, for its past (and now squandered) reputation?
Well, I’m damned if I know, but it’s not to be found in politics. If you’re looking for salvation, you won’t find it at the Salvation Army. We had an actor for a time and, forty years on, there are still those who think it was his best-played role. But Ronnie was tarnished by his years in California politics and his term the most indicted in history, so he doesn’t count.
For your approval, I give you my choices, comedian Stephen Colbert and actor George Clooney.
Why not indeed, Colbert has shown himself to have a keen mind and the balance to remember he’s still the youngest of eleven children. If that doesn’t instill in you a sense of your place in this world, I don’t know what might. Wikipedia lists for him under genres: political/news, satire improvisational, comedy/black, comedy/character, comedy/sketch and comedy/surreal humor. Under subjects, Wiki names American politics, American culture/political, punditry/pop, culture/current, events/mass, media/news, media/civil, rights/religion/social, awkwardness/human, sexuality/human and behavior. Simply combine improvisational satire and American political culture at a mass rally every month and you have a two-term president bathed in adulation.
George Clooney is the Kentuckian nephew of singer Rosemary Clooney and an actor/director with enough sense to choose Bill Murray for a serious part in Monument Men and not marry until he met Amal Alamuddin, a British-Lebanese lawyer specializing in international law and human rights. Now that’s arguably more smarts than any president I can remember other than Harry Truman or Dwight Eisenhower. If he needs a second opinion on either a matter of international diplomacy or America’s national honor, Amal Clooney is available. She’s the steadiest mind in any room.
Thus I present for your consideration two brilliant candidates with way more than enough smarts to run our country, as well as the honesty and fair-mindedness to take their case directly to the American public and let Congress twist in the winds of past negligence. A rally once a month, fellas, crisscrossing the country. Always remember, against a dug-in opponent, good pitching always defeats strong hitting.
If it was a horse-race, simply because of his ease with an audience and ability to raise an eyebrow, I’d choose Colbert by a nose. As a running-mate for either candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by four lengths.
But we fail to learn from Donald Trump at our peril.