“…cheap nativist populism…”

Originally shared by Helen Ikua

Is Trump a commoner who rallied the peasants for the greater good, or is he as much a son of privilege and a cynical agent of the status quo as the Washington royalty that he professes to detest?

Washington’s elite as well as vast swathes of a nation were recently united in their grief, even as they took a moment to say goodbye to one of America’s most recognizable sons. But notable by his absence at such a sombre event where America bid farewell to an eminent senator, was the man whose boorishness and ornery dispostion has turned him into persona non grata at the funerals of America’s great and good.

And the fact that Trump’s presence does not seem to be particularly required or welcome at the funerals of former First Ladies and senators, has only convinced Trump’s MAGA audience that Washington’s crowd have got it in for the underdog in the White House, which is why the nation’s political elite have latterly taken to hijacking the funerals of Washington’s erstwhile denizens, so that they can coalesce around their deep seated loathing of Donald Trump.

However, pictures of a jovial Trump hobnobbing with the Clintons on his wedding day to Melania, show that far from being spurned for being a barefoot country boy who fell off the turnip truck, and far from being a quixotic outlier who doesn’t care for the machinations of power, and far from being a man who doesn’t secretly crave the approval of Washington’s parading courtiers, Trump has not always been on unfriendly terms with the infulence merchants that he purports to despise for the titillation of his MAGA base.

And while contrarians are known for their ideals for which they’d be willing to suffer and be shunned for, Trump is hardly a contrarian who espouses a disgreeable if lucid philosophy on many things. In fact, the cognitive dissonance that comes through in Trump’s daily tweet attacks, shows him to be a man who’s driven less by ideology, policy, or principle, and more by evolving grievances that can escalate quite suddenly into ferocious displays of petulance.

In a man of studied thoughtfulness and considerable intellect, Trump’s blunt refusal to adhere to Washington’s code of conduct, might even pass muster as a revolutionary’s gallant efforts to shake things up for the benefit of ordinary Americans. But there’s a fine difference between irreverence for established systems that have failed to deliver, and the kind of rhetoric that can easily be misconstrued as just plain bad manners. Going out of one’s way not to say anything laudatory about an American senator whom many Americans revered, or claiming that men who get captured in combat are not made of the stern stuff of legend, does not exactly detract from the fact that one pretended to have a bad case of the bone spurs in order to avoid military service.

For all his bombast and cheap nativist populism that sells well to a certain cadre of white person who’s convinced that he’s been left out of a pie eating contest, Trump was never going to be the new broom that swept Washington clean. Far from draining the swamp of all its slimy inhabitants, or reining Wall Street in like the runaway bronco that it is, and all the yatta yatta promises which he made on the campaign trail, the New York real estate guy who rose to power simply by posing as an America first nationalist, has only enabled the kind of chaos and administrative dysfunction in which influence peddlers, special interests, and lobbyists tend to thrive.

And by choosing to conduct the business of state at Mar-a-Lago, instead of appointing ambassadors and key government officials who are vital to the smooth running of bureaucracy, Trump is not only showing that he has little interest in representing America properly to the world, but he has not even begun to do away with red tape. Indeed, Trump’s unorthdox style of leadership far from being a breath of fresh air, has only encouraged a disorderly feeding frenzy in which factionalism has become the default setting for his administration.

Leave a Reply