Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Donald Trump as Wish Fulfillment

Donald Trump and Doug Flutie at a 1984 press conference, because why not?

Primary season is always an interesting season, because you get a good idea at how the coalitions that make up the two dominant parties in American politics will behave.

And that brings us to the GOP clown car field, which consists largely of people backed by billionaires, business failures and, of course, The Donald.

It's no coincidence that Donald Trump dominates the GOP field at this early point. He is loud, obnoxious, brash and adept at sucking the oxygen out of a room on a moment's notice. Oxygen, at this point in a primary, is essentially press coverage.

But what's most interesting to me is what he represents. His favorables essentially exist among one subset of Republican voters; white males above the age of 65.

This makes sense, since Trump is 69, white and male. (This also seems to be roughly the sweet spot for the average demographic of a Fox News viewer).

It occurred to me recently what Trump is. He is the unchecked ID of the Republican Party. He speaks without regard for consequence. He cares nothing about the responsibilities of his actions. He boasts of obscene wealth that doesn't exist. Nothing is his responsibility. He trades in wives once they reach a certain age. He rails against the "other" as if they are the source of all problems, covering the external locus of control position that is the default position for the entire platform of the Republican Party.

Essentially, he embodies the perception that life can be lived to excess without consequences or regard for anyone other than one's self, and is expert at creating the perception of excess. He is, along with aviator sunglasses and Hall and Oates revivals, the 1980s last stand. And if we're being honest, living that by proxy is much more fun than slapping a Reagan '84 bumper sticker to cover over the rust spots on your Lexus LS 430 or Mercury Grand Marquis and dreaming of the good old days (that never actually existed).

But he's also the wish fulfillment personality of every angry old white male temporarily displaced millionaire that makes up the Republican Party's base. And that's why he's so popular. You don't have to have any regard for women, or minorities or foreigners, you can walk around saying whatever you want and you roll through life with 'fuck you' money. Who wouldn't want to be that person by proxy if they could?

Well, for starters, people with basic human empathy and an understanding that the world consists of more than elderly white people and their willing arm candy. Also, it should be noted that this is an election for the highest office in the United States, not Prime Minister of Italy, so maybe the person being chosen should have a bit more intellectual and diplomatic gravitas than Trump.

Who am I kidding, as soon as he's due to reveal his financials, he'll rage against the transparency machine and ride off into the sunset with middle fingers blazing until the next election cycle. Then we're left with boring old Jeb! trying to pretend he's smarter than his brother, and won't that be a treat?