In the week since Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States an enormous number of words, polling data analysis, graphing, blaming, hand-wringing, opinioning, pronouncing of know-so-ing and goddam deflating has gone on.
Like most people I know, I maxed out after a few days. I had so many browser tabs open my computer was struggling. I read so many thinky pieces that said: this, then that, then we should have known, look who voted for him, look who didn’t, blame that group, blame this group, it only came down to a few 100,000 votes. More people voted for Hilary so why have we got Trump. WTF is an electoral collage anyway. I had to take a break. For a day or so. Who couldn’t process it all, work out what was really to be believed, what was exaggeration, catastophising or just damn straight stuff to be concerned about? People marched, flagellated, protested, expressed their respect for the democratic process. At least there weren’t quite so many, ‘oh I didn’t realize,’ as after Brexit. Dumb shock was everywhere. Except I’d read Mike Moore a month or so ago and my gut hadn’t been comfortable ever since, no matter what surety I read in that dream-like like pre-election world.
And while all that was being written a black sludge was emerging from whatever fawning Republican recesses that it comes from, putting up its slimy hands to run the US government for the next four years. Truly hideous, awful, conceited, morally and ethically compromised people were being proposed. People who actively hated or represented the antithesis of particular organisations and arms of government, who had sworn to dismantled them, were to be put in charge. Talk about shaking things up, purging the elites? Look who was first to put their snouts in the trough. A lot of the world went, shiiiiit, this shit just got realer.
Orwell would have been fascinated. The advances of the past eight years under Obama are destined for a memory hole and god knows what will happen to evidence of climate change, banking irregularities, guilt vs innocence, legal vs alien, women’s authority over their own bodies or birth certificates. If they could run a campaign for eight years claiming Obama wasn’t born in the US how’s some poor bastard Latino or other ethnic minority to prove claims they’re ‘illegal’?
Those stories predicting what he might do to those haters who had ‘diss’-ed him now brought out a collective cold sweat. It was often noted during the debates how easily baited Trump was, how would that characteristic play out in foreign policy. What will come of the in the wars, current and predictably to come, the contracts available for the profiteers, the promises to keep on fighting, or at least spending on the military? After all what’s a fascist without a really big military. And then there’s the vast size and power of the US surveillance state, in the hands of these lizards; it is truly terrifying. Although given how often US infrastructure falls over in the face of a crisis, I always wonder just how all-powerful it truly is.
Just a few days after that fatal Tuesday it looked like the Republican management team were moving in to take their pre-arranged places at the table. He’s their guy now. He’d put in a few quirks of his own, be appeased a bit, but the chains of communication between the GOP, the Congress and Senate and the White House would all be worked out by the professionals. The super-team of conservatism was being stacked up. Trump stood there beside them, pictured nodding and pointing
Still even all that was overshadowed by the sight of Trump actually standing next to Obama in the White House. That was just weird. Time for a lie down.
Within 48hr the narrative changed again. ‘He didn’t really mean all those things he said during the campaign,’ became the mantra. There wouldn’t really be a wall. Alliances wouldn’t really be broken. It was all for show. Now he’ll settle down and be Presidential. He was even nice about Hilary Clinton. He’d be mad to actually impeach her. He’s show can’t tell the truth even if he tries, everything is a lie. He won’t really do what he said he would. Let’s keep telling ourselves that.
But it still kept coming, didn’t it? It only took another day or so for other stuff to start emerging that caused me to stop a beat. His desire to have his children close to him, his reticence to move into the White House and leave his precious Trump Tower. Was this a guy any more ready to become President of the United States than several of billion of this planet’s people were? My first concern had been that a man with the sort of ego he’d displayed during the campaign was going to soar to heights of super ego unimaginable in the Oval Office. Was that the case? Did he really want the job? Would he have, in our Aussie vernacular, ‘the ticker’ for it?
Then today, we got the first ‘You’re Fired!’ of Trumps pre-Presidency. Okay, technically, an “I’m out of here!” but that doesn’t have the same narrative resonance. And my thoughts coalesced around what was it like for the Donald to have so many people wanting a bit of him. How was he liking having the party elite telling him what to do, trying to vet his choices, showing him how it should be run? All these people cozying up to him now when they derided him less than a few weeks ago?
Here’s a man who has long pursued power and prestige and the company of the truly first-class world elites but who has actually cemented very little. He’s crass and vaudevillian. A man who has frequently failed, who has been cast aside and mocked by the very powerful, sniggered at. Does it feel good to have them now flattering him, treating him with respect and awe? How long will that last? If wanting to have his family around him is anything to go by, he’s not a man who trusts them, even if constitutionally he won’t be able to keep them as close as he’d like.
We know how the Donald feels about those who he perceives have defamed and slighted him. Wherever possible he’s gone for them with bravado and lawyers. His oft invoked election campaign hatred of those elites and the media may be very real, as real a grievance for him as for the people who voted for him. Outsiders may see him as part of that elite but he probably doesn’t perceive it that way, knows he’s not truely accepted by them. Why wouldn’t he go for them too? He’s that kinda guy.
Do these Republican elites now trying to sidle up to him, trying to tell him what to do have any idea who he really is? What he’s capable of? It was reported that Trump insisted on flying home to his Tower to sleep during the campaign, he likes to put his family and people he trusts around him, in charge of his businesses, even if they’re women, perhaps even mores if he considered them appropriately acquiescent. This insularity is revealing and concerning. He’s shown over and over that he is a man who feels a deep need for control even if that control is not ‘real’, who has a willful refusal to accept advice, to stick to the plan, to be told or to learn. These aren’t the characteristics of a guy a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of taking the office of President. These are the characteristics of a truly psychotic dictator.
Today I realized we haven’t even started to see the sort of paranoia he will be capable of. Sure, people have been saying this for ages. His narcissistic, sociopathic personality is pretty well documented. But if becoming President puts it on steroids, it could be a psychosis of leviathan proportions. Yeah, the full potential of this thing is just starting to hit me. We can’t even imagine the lengths he will try to go to to keep the people around him ‘trustworthy’ once that paranoia sets in, once the glow of having won wears off and his grip on authority starts to slip. How will the corrupting influence of such power, the clawing of two-faced sycophants, the responsibility and pressure to make decisions affect this largely weak, set in his ways, insecure and paranoid man? The unleashing of the hounds of hell, comes to mind.
But as dark as this thought is, when Trump said in his first television interview that he sure as hell was going to deport Mexicans, pulled a number out or the air and said three million, I thought: ‘Well he can’t do it just by saying it. He’s got to have an entire infrastructure in place to make that work. Thousands of people have got to help him to do this stuff. The implementation of evil takes a lot more than 140 characters.
Yes, he has power, yes he has the capacity to be scary, but thousands, maybe hundreds of civil servants have to actively help him use that power. Will they?
It’s been suggested he wants to keep up the huge rallies, the adulation of the masses that feeds his ego. The power to draw a crowd may ultimately be the most real power he will wield. What will they do for him?