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The Trump Enigma

“What are you looking for? There is no Truth. There’s only action, action obeying a million different impulses, ephemeral action, action subjected to every possible and imaginable contingency and contradiction, Life. Life is crime, theft, jealousy, hunger, lies, disgust, stupidity, sickness, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, piles of corpses. what can you do about it, my poor friend?”

Blaise Cendrars, a Swiss-born novelist, and poet

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher

“The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.”

Albert Camus, a French Philosopher

“Free men are aware of the imperfection inherent in human affairs, and they are willing to fight and die for that which is not perfect. They know that basic human problems can have no final solutions, that our freedom, justice, equality, etc. are far from absolute, and that the good life is compounded of half measures, compromises, lesser evils, and groping toward the perfect. The rejection of approximations and the insistence on absolutes are the manifestations of a nihilism that loathes freedom, tolerance, and equity.”

Eric Hoffer, a self-taught philosopher, and longshoreman


The Trump Enigma: Escalator Descent: A Prelude to Controversy

The Trump Enigma

The Trump enigma, or even conundrum began as a politician began on June 16, 2015 2:32 PM EDT. This was the moment he descended the escalator at Trump Tower in Midtown, New York City. Until this moment, Donald Trump would be a footnote in history as a real estate developer and a reality television star and nothing more. But then, he dared to announce his candidacy for the office of President of the United States.

Looking back at that speech some 18-plus years later, the point of the speech that in my estimation was the most telling as a predictor of future behavior was this:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Donald J. Trump

In these 48 words, spoken that day by the future President of the United States, he exposed his racist and xenophobic hardcore beliefs that might have been a warning to the American people were it not for his carefully constructed public image.

As the master of perverification, Trump added the seven-words, “And some, I assume are good people.” allowing for the appearance of a fair judgment of Mexicans. The sad truth is that this is a ploy he used many times as a strategy to avoid being seen as a racist, rather that he was balanced in his ability to judge others fairly. We all should have known better!

The escalator descent marked the genesis of Trump’s political journey, introducing a tone that would characterize his entire campaign. When he labeled Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, the response from many quarters was swift condemnation. However, among a subset of voters who felt alienated by the political establishment, Trump’s unapologetic rhetoric resonated. It reflected a perceived authenticity that they believed was lacking in conventional politicians.

This divisive language set the stage for a presidency that thrived on tapping into the grievances of those who felt ignored or marginalized. The ability to break traditional political norms became a source of attraction, positioning Trump as an outsider willing to challenge the established order.

The Fifth Avenue Assertion: Testing the Limits of Loyalty

Trump’s claim that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and retain support highlighted the extraordinary loyalty exhibited by a segment of his followers. This seemingly absurd statement, rather than diminishing his appeal, underscored the unconventional relationship between Trump and his base. It hinted at a level of loyalty that transcended typical political considerations, grounded in a belief that Trump represented a break from a system they perceived as corrupt and self-serving.

The Fifth Avenue assertion, in a paradoxical manner, contributed to the mythos surrounding Trump, reinforcing an image of a leader unafraid to defy norms and conventions. This resilience in the face of controversy became a defining feature of his political persona.

The Trump Enigma: The Big Lie: Eroding Trust in Democracy

The rejection of the 2020 election results and the propagation of the “Big Lie” presented a critical juncture in Trump’s post-presidential narrative. Despite numerous investigations and court rulings affirming the legitimacy of the election, a substantial portion of Trump’s supporters clung to the belief that the election was stolen. This perception was fueled by a combination of Trump’s relentless messaging and a broader skepticism toward mainstream institutions.

The Big Lie, rather than being a hindrance, became a rallying point for those who saw themselves as victims of an establishment conspiracy. Trump’s call to “fight like hell” resonated with a narrative of defiance against a perceived unjust system, reinforcing the idea that Trump was a champion against corruption.

Dehumanizing Rhetoric: A Page from History

Trump’s use of dehumanizing language, such as calling his enemies vermin, mirrored tactics employed by historical demagogues. This rhetoric not only deepened political divides but also appealed to those who felt a shared sense of resentment against perceived enemies. The vilification of opponents created a tribalistic atmosphere, where allegiance to Trump became a marker of identity.

For some supporters, this language was seen as a blunt rejection of political correctness, a quality they admired in Trump. It further solidified the narrative of Trump as an unconventional leader willing to challenge established norms, even if it meant resorting to controversial language.

The Trump Enigma: Disregard for Legal Restraints: A Defiance of Judicial Orders

Trump’s defiance of gag orders imposed by judges raised questions about his respect for the rule of law. Paradoxically, instead of alienating his supporters, this non-compliance further fueled the perception that Trump was a victim of a biased legal system. The narrative of an outsider challenging a corrupt establishment gained momentum as Trump continued to flout legal restraints.

This behavior contributed to the perception that Trump was a fighter, unwilling to bow to the pressures of a system he claimed was rigged against him. Supporters, viewing him as a bulwark against institutional injustice, found resonance in his refusal to conform to legal norms.

Economic Populism: Aligning Policies with Populist Sentiments

Beyond the rhetoric and controversies, Trump’s economic policies played a significant role in maintaining his appeal. His focus on tax cuts and deregulation resonated with a segment of the population that felt economically disenfranchised. By positioning himself as a champion of the working class, Trump tapped into a sentiment that transcended traditional party lines. This economic populism contributed to the perception that Trump was addressing the everyday concerns of ordinary Americans.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, a cornerstone of Trump’s economic agenda, lowered corporate and individual tax rates, which appealed to conservatives advocating for limited government intervention. Despite criticism that the benefits primarily favored the wealthy, Trump’s economic message resonated with those who believed in a trickle-down effect that would ultimately benefit everyone.

The Trump Enigma: Media Landscape: Navigating the Echo Chambers

The fragmentation of media and the rise of echo chambers in the digital age played a crucial role in perpetuating Trump’s influence. Supporters found comfort and reinforcement within media outlets that aligned with their pre-existing beliefs, creating an environment where alternative narratives, even those debunked by mainstream sources, gained credibility.

Trump adeptly utilized social media platforms to communicate directly with his base, bypassing traditional gatekeepers. This direct communication fostered a sense of connection, making his followers feel part of an exclusive community receiving unfiltered information. The echo chamber effect further solidified the bond between Trump and his supporters, fostering an insulated reality where dissenting views were dismissed as biased or fake.

Identity Politics: Forging a Shared Narrative

Trump’s ability to tap into identity politics, albeit in unconventional ways, contributed to his enduring appeal. Beyond party affiliations, he cultivated a sense of shared identity among his supporters by framing political discourse in terms of ‘us versus them.’ This tribalistic approach forged a collective identity where allegiance to Trump became synonymous with a broader cultural and political identity.

Trump’s messaging often framed issues in a way that resonated with specific demographics, from rural voters feeling neglected to those concerned about immigration and national identity. By aligning with these shared concerns, Trump created a narrative that transcended policy specifics, forming a bond based on shared values and perceived threats to those values.

The Trump Enigma: Anti-Establishment Sentiment: Challenging the Status Quo

One of the defining aspects of Trump’s political brand is his portrayal as an anti-establishment figure. This image appealed to those disenchanted with career politicians and perceived corruption within the political system. Trump’s outsider status, coupled with his unconventional style, positioned him as a disruptor willing to challenge the norms of Washington, D.C.

The drain-the-swamp mantra resonated with voters who sought a departure from politics as usual. Trump’s willingness to take on entrenched interests, irrespective of the resulting controversies, endeared him to a segment of the population seeking a radical departure from what they perceived as a stagnant and self-serving political landscape.

Cult of Personality: Charisma and Charismatic Leadership

Trump’s charisma and ability to command attention contributed significantly to his enduring influence. His rallies, marked by energetic performances and direct engagement with the audience, created a sense of shared experience among attendees. The cult of personality that surrounded Trump transformed political rallies into events that transcended traditional campaigning, fostering a sense of community among his supporters.

Charismatic leaders often evoke emotional responses, and Trump’s ability to connect with his audience on an emotional level solidified his place in the hearts of his followers. This emotional connection, coupled with a strong sense of loyalty, created a bond that persisted beyond the confines of policy debates or legal controversies.

In understanding the multifaceted appeal of Donald Trump, it becomes evident that his political influence is a complex interplay of economic policies, media dynamics, identity politics, anti-establishment sentiment, nihilism, and charismatic leadership. This amalgamation of factors forms a web of attraction that defies conventional political analysis, shaping the trajectory of American politics in unprecedented ways.

Speculating on the Attraction: A Web of Deceit or a Beacon of Change?

The multifaceted attraction to Trump appears to be a blend of factors. For some, he embodies a disruptive force challenging a system they believe is corrupt and unresponsive. His unfiltered communication style is seen as a refreshing departure from scripted politics, resonating with those who feel disillusioned by traditional politicians.

Additionally, Trump’s policy positions, such as tax cuts and deregulation, align with conservative principles, providing a policy-driven justification for continued support. This combination of perceived authenticity, anti-establishment sentiment, and policy alignment forms a complex web of appeal that defies easy explanation but continues to shape the political landscape in the United States. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for comprehending the enduring influence of Donald Trump on American politics.

The escalator descent marked the genesis of Trump’s political journey, introducing a tone that would characterize his entire campaign. When he labeled Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, the response from many quarters was swift condemnation. However, among a subset of voters who felt alienated by the political establishment, Trump’s unapologetic rhetoric resonated. It reflected a perceived authenticity that they believed was lacking in conventional politicians.

This divisive language set the stage for a presidency that thrived on tapping into the grievances of those who felt ignored or marginalized. The ability to break traditional political norms became a source of attraction, positioning Trump as an outsider willing to challenge the established order.

The Fifth Avenue Assertion: Testing the Limits of Loyalty

Trump’s claim that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and retain support highlighted the extraordinary loyalty exhibited by a segment of his followers. This seemingly absurd statement, rather than diminishing his appeal, underscored the unconventional relationship between Trump and his base. It hinted at a level of loyalty that transcended typical political considerations. Undoubtedly grounded in a belief that Trump represented a break from a system they perceived as corrupt and self-serving.

The Fifth Avenue assertion, in a paradoxical manner, contributed to the mythos surrounding Trump, reinforcing an image of a leader unafraid to defy norms and conventions. This resilience in the face of controversy became a defining feature of his political persona.

The Trump Enigma: The Big Lie: Eroding Trust in Democracy

The rejection of the 2020 election results and the propagation of the “Big Lie” presented a critical juncture in Trump’s post-presidential narrative. Numerous investigations and court rulings affirmed the legitimacy of the election. Several Trump’s advisors confirmed the legitimacy of the election as well. Still, and without evidence, a substantial portion of Trump’s supporters clung to the belief that the election was stolen. This perception was fueled by a combination of Trump’s relentless messaging and a broader skepticism toward mainstream institutions.

The Big Lie, rather than being a hindrance, became a rallying point for those who saw themselves as victims of an establishment conspiracy. Trump’s call to “fight like hell” resonated with a narrative of defiance. He acted as if he was against a perceived unjust system. Thus, reinforcing the idea that Trump was a champion against corruption.

Dehumanizing Rhetoric: A Page from History and The Trump Enigma:

Trump’s use of dehumanizing language, such as calling his enemies vermin, mirrored tactics employed by historical demagogues. This rhetoric deepened political divides. Moreover, it also appealed to those who felt a shared sense of resentment against enemies real or imagined. The vilification of opponents created a tribalistic atmosphere, where allegiance to Trump became a marker of identity.

For some supporters, this language was seen as a blunt rejection of political correctness, a quality they admired in Trump. It further solidified the narrative of Trump as an unconventional leader willing to challenge established norms. This is especially true even when it means resorting to controversial language.

The Trump Enigma: Disregard for Legal Restraints: A Defiance of Judicial Orders

Trump’s defiance of gag orders imposed by judges raised questions about his respect for the rule of law. Paradoxically, instead of alienating his supporters, this non-compliance further fueled the perception that Trump was a victim of a biased legal system. The narrative of an outsider challenging a corrupt establishment gained momentum as Trump continued to flout legal restraints.

This behavior contributed to the perception that Trump was a fighter. That he is unwilling to bow to the pressures of a system he claimed was rigged against him. Supporters, viewing him as a bulwark against institutional injustice, found resonance in his refusal to conform to legal norms.

Economic Populism: Aligning Policies with Populist Sentiments

Beyond the rhetoric and controversies, Trump’s economic policies played a significant role in maintaining his appeal. His focus on tax cuts and deregulation resonated with a segment of the population that felt economically disenfranchised. By positioning himself as a champion of the working class, Trump tapped into a sentiment that transcended traditional party lines. This economic populism contributed to the perception that Trump was addressing the everyday concerns of ordinary Americans.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, is a cornerstone of Trump’s economic agenda. This legislation lowered corporate and individual tax rates, which appealed to conservatives advocating for limited government intervention. Despite criticism that the benefits primarily favored the wealthy. Nonetheless, Trump’s economic message resonated with those who believed in a trickle-down effect that would ultimately benefit everyone. The very idea of trickle-down economic theory made part of the English language by Ronald Reagan has been used by Republican politicians ever since 1980. It gained traction even in the face of proof that it only benefits the mega-wealthy. Undoubtedly, the evidence that trickle-down failed as the economic evidence shows a decline of the middle class, stagnant wages in an inflationary economy, and the wealth of the 1% oligarch class has risen many times over in real buying power. Yet the trickle-down approach with its connection to the American Dream, hangs on.

The Trump Enigma: Media Landscape: Navigating the Echo Chambers

The fragmentation of media and the rise of echo chambers in the digital age played a crucial role in perpetuating Trump’s influence. Supporters found comfort and reinforcement within media outlets that aligned with their pre-existing beliefs. The echo chamber created an environment where alternative narratives, even those debunked by mainstream sources, gained credibility.

Trump adeptly utilized social media platforms to communicate directly with his base, bypassing traditional gatekeepers. This direct communication fostered a sense of connection, making his followers feel part of an exclusive community receiving unfiltered information. The echo chamber effect further solidified the bond between Trump and his supporters. Its narrative fosters an insulated reality where dissenting views are dismissed as biased or fake.

Identity Politics: Forging a Shared Narrative The Trump Enigma

Trump’s ability to tap into identity politics, albeit in unconventional ways, contributed to his enduring appeal. Beyond party affiliations, he cultivated a sense of shared identity among his supporters. By framing political discourse in terms of ‘us versus them’ Trump’s success rests on bombast and conspiracy theory. This tribalistic approach forged a collective identity where allegiance to Trump became synonymous with a broader cultural and political identity. This strategy comes straight from the Nazi playbook.“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Trump’s messaging often framed issues in a way that resonated with specific demographics. From rural voters feeling neglected to those concerned about immigration and national identity, Trump’s bombast reverberates among Americans left behind by the very politics they now support. By aligning with these shared concerns, Trump created a narrative that transcended policy specifics. By forming a bond based on shared values and threats to those values his base became locked into the falsehoods.

The Trump Enigma: Anti-Establishment Sentiment: Challenging the Status Quo

One of the defining aspects of Trump’s political brand is his portrayal as an anti-establishment figure. This image appealed to those disenchanted with career politicians and perceived corruption within the political system. Trump’s outsider status, coupled with his unconventional style, positioned him as a disruptor. He demonstrated he was willing to challenge the norms of Washington, D.C.

The drain-the-swamp mantra resonated with voters who sought a departure from politics as usual. Trump’s willingness to take on entrenched interests, irrespective of the resulting controversies, endeared him to a segment of the population. By seeking a radical departure from what was perceived as a self-serving political landscape this demographic became threat to democracy.

Cult of Personality: Charisma and Charismatic Leadership

Trump’s charisma and ability to command attention contributed significantly to his enduring influence. His rallies, marked by energetic performances and direct engagement with the audience, created a sense of shared experience among attendees. The cult of personality that surrounded Trump transformed political rallies into events that transcended traditional campaigning. Like Hitler’s Nurenburg Rallies, he fostered a sense of community among his supporters. See how proudly they wear their MAGA hats and find no comfort with the truth.

Charismatic leaders often evoke emotional responses. Trump’s ability to connect with his audience on an emotional level solidified his place in the hearts of his followers. This emotional connection, coupled with a strong sense of loyalty, formed a persistent bond. This bond is beyond the confines of policy debates or legal controversies.

Understanding the multifaceted appeal of Donald Trump. His political influence is a complex set of policies and promises. Economic policies, media dynamics, identity politics, anti-establishment sentiment, nihilism, and charismatic leadership flow seamlessly together. This merger of factors forms a web of attraction that defies conventional political analysis. Trump’s design is shaping the trajectory of American politics in unprecedented ways.

Speculating on the Attraction: A Web of Deceit or a Beacon of Change?

The multifaceted attraction to Trump appears to be a blend of factors. For some, he embodies a disruptive force challenging a system they believe is corrupt and unresponsive. His unfiltered communication style is seen as a refreshing departure from scripted politics. His posturing resonates with those who feel disillusioned by traditional politicians.

Additionally, Trump’s policy positions, such as tax cuts and deregulation, align with conservative principles. Thus providing a policy-driven justification for continued support. This combination of perceived authenticity, anti-establishment sentiment, and policy alignment forms a complex web of appeal. One that defies easy explanation but continues to shape the political landscape in the United States. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for comprehending the enduring influence of Donald Trump on American politics.

By Politics-as-Usual

Roger is a retired Professor of language and literacy. Over the past 15 years since his retirement, Roger has kept busy with reading, writing, and creating landscape photographs. In this time of National crisis, as Fascist ideas and policies are being introduced to the American people and ignored by the Mainstream Press, he decided to stand up and be counted as a Progressive American with some ideas that should be shared with as many people who care to read and/or participate in discusssions of these issues. He doesn't ask anyone to agree with his point of view, but if entering the conversation he demands civility. No conspiracy theories, no wild accusations, no threats, no disrespect will be tolerated. Roger monitors all comments and email communication. That is the only rule for entering the conversation. One may persuade, argue for a different point of view, or toss out something that has not been discussed so long as the tone remains part of a civil discussion. Only then can we find common ground and meaningful democratic change.

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