The Trump Paradox
The Washington chattering class is perplexed and bedeviled by a political alien by the name of Donald Trump, who just doesn’t have the good manners to die, no matter how hard they try to kill him. No, like The Terminator, he keeps on coming, advancing through the fusillade of snide and snarky bullets, oblivious to the ad hominem walls of fire in his path, and immune to their favorite weapon: rhetorical condescension and ridicule. Just ask George Will.
“For such is the nature of man, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other men’s at a distance.” -- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
Yet, for some inexplicable reason, the more Trump is bashed the more people love him.
Why? He’s brash, not polished. He’s vulgar, not erudite. He’s a recent convert to the faith, not a lifetime conservative Republican. He’s politically incorrect, neither nuanced nor fluent in Orwellian doublethink. He’s even harsh at times to his adversaries, not disingenuously charming (like he who shall not be named).
Yet all those qualities seem to make him all the more endearing to many folks.
How can this be? Because the chattering class, professional politicians, lobbyists, bureaucrats, consultants, and other various species of government parasites are only looking for a standard bearer to win the balance of power and perks for their team/tribe. If their guy or gal wins, then all the power and wealth of the insatiable, ever-growing Leviathan known as Government shifts in their direction and inures to their benefit. So, naturally, their presidential aspirant must be cut from the right political cloth, hold the right pedigree and doctrinal views, possess the proper temperament, and be fully prepared to support, defend, and continue to grow the sacred institution of centralized government.
The People just want a competent dragon slayer to kill the damn thing.
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776)
These days voices of extreme frustration can routinely be heard, fed up with an overreaching, out of control government. There are calls for an Article V constitutional Convention of the States (COS) with a mind to turn the Etch-a-Sketch of the USA upside down, shake it violently, and begin to redraw the limitations of government back in line with our Founders’ vision. Ever more desperate voices clamor for nothing short of armed revolution, secession, and/or another civil war. However, going back to the drawing board when we already have a wise blueprint, or slogging through bloody conflict to see who the last man standing is and then let him make the rules, might not be the only choices.
Short of Revolution there is also the option of Reformation.
In 1517, a lowly monk in Germany by the name of Martin Luther penned a list of ninety-five objections and grievances he held against his employer, the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and nailed it to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. It’s commonly referred to as “The 95 Theses,” and is credited as being the catalyst of the Protestant Reformation. It’s no exaggeration to say this monk, and others of like mind, forever changed western civilization.
Nevertheless, the Catholic Church excommunicated those it deemed heretics. It earnestly tried to quash the efforts of reformers. However, the Lutherans and the Calvinists, and what became many other Protestant denominations, rose up from this movement without a massive bloody war at the time, nor the rewriting of their foundational documents. Ergo, it can be done.
Of special note, while Luther used his 95 points of argument to criticize various abuses in the Catholic Church, he was especially perturbed by the practice known as the sale of “Indulgences.” An Indulgence was basically your pay-to-play, payola scam. For example, if you had a relative who had died, the church said their soul was sent to some metaphysical place called Purgatory for some indeterminate period of time before being permitted to go on to heaven. But, for the right price paid to the church, the Pope could pull some strings with God, and voila, your loved one’s immortal soul would get to go to the head of the line, and you’d also get a nice certificate suitable for framing. Needless to say, Martin Luther found this practice to be most repugnant.
Wow, imagine that – people paying those in authority to receive favors in return. It is certainly a transactional concept not limited to the confines of ecumenical environs. One might say, in the context of Washington, D.C., it’s a thriving growth industry and has been for a very long time. It’s no wonder all the counties surrounding Washington, home to so many of our public servants, are the richest in the land.
This then raises the obvious question: How can an impolitic New York billionaire, who openly touts his ubiquitous past of greasing the palms of politicians of all stripes in order to amass a king’s fortune in business, possibly become a populist hero of the average citizen out there, and in particular many conservative Republicans?
The answer is simple. He knows the beast. He’s familiar with its moves, its tactics, its weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and therefore he’s one of the most qualified to kill it -- or at least to bridle and saddle it, then ride it and bring it to heel.
Indeed, for generations many well-intentioned patriots have attempted to assault the dragon’s lair on the Potomac. Unfortunately, their Mr. Smith-caliber zeal and integrity alone weren’t the proper weapons of St. George needed to fight the sharp teeth and talons of entrenched bureaucracy, nor the fiery breath of a complicit media and entertainment industrial complex. Who knows, perhaps Trump’s charred and gnawed bones will join the pile of carnage at the cave’s entrance like so many who have tried before him. That remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, if someone were ultimately to prevail against the Leviathan of Government, whether that is Trump or anyone else, the true people’s champion would have to be someone of independent financial means. That is, he or she would need to be able to fight without ever becoming beholden to the faceless financiers and donors who only give in order to receive (and control). He must therefore be incorruptible, otherwise, we’re right back to where we are now.
He or she would also need to be proven in terms of demonstrable organizational success on the world stage, not a member of the failed professional political class, or a pontificating academic, or God forbid, a malignant narcissist community organizer with zero experience in the real world. Although, being a narcissist isn’t necessarily a showstopper if this leader can truly get the job done. Saving the country won’t be judged on style points, just results. Certainly modesty isn’t one of Mr. Trump’s virtues. But as they say, it ain’t bragging if you can do it.
The phenomenon of Trump’s unconventional appeal is probably best understood when he says, “I want to make America great again.” The people want to believe him, but they do so with the unspoken understanding that his comment is an unfinished sentence. There is an implied subordinate clause of, “…because it’s not great right now.” Oh, but the heart of every true American patriot sincerely wants it to be great again.
So woe to the chattering class who mistakenly believes Trump’s supporters are just a fringe “protest vote.” They are indeed protesting, but they do so as the New Protestants, coming forth from both major parties along with independents, sorely aggrieved at a dysfunctional government guilty of far more than 95 transgressions. They arise together in fury because our once great government has clearly become destructive of operating by the consent of the governed, and it is therefore the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.
The people are in search of a proven leader, a fighter, and a winner who can make that abolition and alteration of government happen. Therefore, whoever that leader is, he or she could very well, not just win a national election, but with the heartfelt consent of the governed usher in an American Reformation.
Robert Gelinas is CEO of AppXoft, LLC, an international software company; publisher and EIC of ArcheBooks Publishing; drummer for Suburban Whiskey, a classic rock, country and blues band in Austin, TX; and a novelist (his seventh novel “The Magician’s Guide” was released in August of 2015.)