Trumpery

PRONUNCIATION: (TRUHM-puh-ree)

MEANING:
noun:
1. Something showy but worthless.
2. Nonsense or rubbish.
3. Deceit; fraud; trickery.

ETYMOLOGY:

From French tromper (to deceive). Earliest documented use: 1481.

 

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog entry. There is a lot going on. The election has been on my mind and I felt the need to express my own opinion. The above definition is just a word, but it inspires arguments and vitriol because of Donald Trump. I posted the definition as a tongue-in-cheek Facebook entry, but it generated some thoughts.

Donald Trump is not real.  He’s a cipher.  A cipher is a code standing in for something else.  He is also a symbol, something that points beyond itself.  He is a symbol of the rage and frustration of the American poor and disenfranchised.  He’s a symbol for everyone who has lost a job, who has lost a home, whose children are unable to find work, whose middle-class future is now compromised and unattainable.  He is a symbol of everyone who wants to stick a finger in the eye of the government, the American government which allowed all this to come to pass.

He is in some ways like a Shakespearean character: there is a kind of comedy and tragedy mixed together in this character we call Donald Trump. He stands before us, proclaiming to live up to the responsibility placed on his shoulders by his bid for the presidency, to represent all the dispossessed and disenfranchised. And he fails. Televised.

But let’s not be mistaken: what he represents is real.  And the Democratic and Republican Parties do not recognize this reality. They are not listening to the voices of the American public, the cry against the injustice in our economy, the inequality that has been baked into the system since Ronald Reagan. The crippling of the unions, the shifting of the tax burden from the rich to the poor, and the failure of “trickle-down” economics has coalesced into a symbol. Unfortunately, that symbol is the caricature we know as Donald Trump.

I urge everyone to take a moment and think about what this election is all about, because it is much larger than the failure of The Donald. It is bigger than all the votes will represent, because Trump and Bernie Sanders have tapped into a force that is like a river headed over the banks towards the destruction of the floodplain of Democracy.

8 thoughts on “Trumpery

  1. the message is great and potent. I wonder why people focus so much on this demagogue instead of focusing
    on what is going to happen, what ought to happen AFTER he leaves the scene, as he should. It seems few
    people anticipate what is to come next. I suppose it’s easier to drop all one’s attention on one person, who
    appears as the savior or the devil, rather than trying to create at least one better element for our future world!
    Thanks for voicing what you felt and thought,
    Warmly,
    A

  2. All well said and important to say, Charlea. Rhanks.
    As someone who spends a lot of time in west Africa, I add to and broaden the perspective a bit. Per Google, anyone earning more than $428,713 is in the 1% of U.S. earners. The wealth accumulation and yes, greed, within the 1% can be staggering (Warren Buffett, Bill & Melinda Gates, etc. etc. as the notable exceptions.) BUT hee’s another important number: anyone earning more than $34,000 annually is in the top 1% in the WORLD. And while there is egregious wealth accumulation and greed in many other countries, the central economic dynamic globally in the past 40 years has been the greatest reduction in poverty in the history of the world: since 1970 the world’s poverty rate has fallen by 80%. (http://www.aei.org/publication/chart-of-the-greatest-and-most-remarkable-achievement-in-human-history-and-one-you-probably-never-heard-about/)
    In other words, for every job lost in the U.S., many more than several have been created in countries with far less of a social safety net. So while increasing inequality in the U.S. is egregious and must be addressed, in fact, most of the effects of globalization have been very positive. Of course, no one likes being pushed out of the 1% club. Not billionaires; and not Americans earning less than $34,000. So the danger of the populist disaffection that the Republican Party has been feeding since 2009, and which has now consumed the party, is the resentment not only of American Fat Cats, but of those in other countries who have better lives from having the opportunity to compete with American workers. In fact, because of NAFTA, net immigration from Mexico has been NEGATIVE since 2008 (http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/02/raw-data-illegal-immigration-mexico).
    In many ways the primary technique of Donald Trump is to wave the bullfighter’s red cape of international competition to divert attention from the sword that he is holding ready to plunge into the heart of American democracy.
    As Germany discovered in the 1930s, a proud people brought low economically can produce terrible results. And we definitely need to find a way to provide opportunities for every American. But not at the expense of Bangladeshis, Chinese, Mexicans, who are finally having a chance for a better life themselves.

  3. Good one, Charles! The problem is not Donald, the man, but what the support he is receiving represents in our fractured society. And hooray for Mike, for pointing out how NAFTA has raised the standard of living for so many folks in other countries. As our world (and resources) shrink, it cannot be just about Americans anymore.

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