Forty-one percent of likely Republican primary voters say they favor Donald Trump. It appears that the penis-wagging businessman pledging to “Make America Great Again” has tapped into the ubiquitous groundswell of America’s working class discontent.
Of course people are pissed. The top beneficiaries of the “recovery” from the Great Recession have been large corporations and their shareholders. People’s wages are stagnant and they feel betrayed when the oft-promised “trickle down” benefits of supporting big business have failed to materialize. The top-earning 15 Americans have made $170 billion these past two years, more than the bottom 40 percent of our country combined. Politics aside, anyone with common sense can admit that this is an obscenity.
Enter the Trumpnado whose tremendous wealth and America-sized ego have apparently excused him from practicing human decency. And by the way, money has always been associated with Godliness in this country; I don’t care what anybody says. The meek will never inherit the earth because Americans are obsessed with rich people. Look at the roving cast of assholes which our viewership keeps afloat—the Hiltons, the Kardashians, My Super Sweet 16, The OC, Laguna Beach, Entertainment Tonight, The Real Housewives—all of that brain putty which makes us believe obscene wealth is glamorous and sublimely desirable. Trump has the tact of a petulant child, nay, the tact of a lumpy potato, but that doesn’t matter. People see Trump’s name on buildings. He’s on TV. He represents what poor Americans are told they can achieve if they just work hard enough. So he went out and bought the biggest braindead megaphone on the planet—his outrageous presidential campaign machine—and we can’t get enough of it.
He’s tapping into a longstanding American tradition to blame “the other.” Muslims and Mexicans are simply the current targets of our noxious stereotyping and rancor. How have we not outgrown these racist knee-jerk reactions while angry white men continue to stockpile guns in their basements, foaming at the mouths over Fox News’s latest indictment against minorities or women?
The thing is that we need to grow up. There was never meant to be a GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. There’s only one planet and we haven’t been very good at sharing it. Historically, geographic areas in a position of privilege—the U.S., England, the Mongol Empire, the Roman Empire, etc.—have moved into other areas exploiting local people and resources. Most recently, it’s taken the form of economic exploitation, where materials and manufacturing corporations owned by people from one country move into less developed countries, plundering minerals, oil, verdant farmland, and cheap human capital in the name of “progress.” Wealth simply snowballs to favor the upper crust and capital is liquid, finding new homes when one becomes too expensive or politically hostile.
I appreciate Trump’s gargantuan ego for putting into focus one of the most serious issues we face: the intractable conflict of interest between the Public Good and the Corporate Good.
The Public Good is simple. It seeks a strong education for all; ample job opportunities for all; affordable healthcare for all; healthy food for all; clean, crime-free streets and parks for all; well-maintained electrical grids, water treatment plants, and sanitation centers for all; and plenty of social interaction with family and friends for all.
The Corporate Good is simple in its objective, but complicated in its means. The Corporate Good’s main goal is profit and it will do anything to ensure its own survival, lining its shareholders’ pockets at the expense of all else. It will create unaccredited diploma mills for which mainly poor citizens take out massive government loans for ultimately worthless degrees (e.g., Axact). It will make a man raise the price of a life-saving drug 1600 percent (e.g., Martin Shkreli). It will make cancer treatments, pharmaceuticals, and surgeries much more expensive than they need to be because of bloated insurance bureaucracies. It will elevate sugary, processed foods above healthier options through marketing and low pricing (e.g., Coca Cola, McDonalds). It will create misleading advertisements and TV shows preying on people’s fears, weaknesses, and rage. It will try and merge with companies in countries like Ireland which cater to the Corporate Good (e.g., Pfizer). It will spread harmful chemicals through pristine environments (e.g., Monsanto, BP). It will buy fancy football arenas to keep people placably entertained and aware of its products (e.g., Budweiser). It will create machines for mass-killing and sell them without regard for the Public Good (Lockheed Martin). It will pay attractive, well-spoken people to convince Congressmen to protect its interests. Most strikingly, the Corporate Good holds the reins of government since money—not policy proposals, character, shrewdness, or morality—is what puts our Congressmen and presidents into power. What else can account for the mysterious rise of a loathsome creature like Donald Trump?