Friday, April 15, 2016

Trump and Consequences

“Trump and Consequences”
by Michael Lujan Bevacqua
The Guam Daily Post
March 30, 2016

There’s a Chamorro saying, comes in different forms, but follows this basic logic, “an esta masångan, mappot pumañot tåtte.” Once something has been said, it’s difficult to swallow back.

This applies to what parents say to their children. What friends say to each other. What people post on their Facebook or Instagram. It is a simple reminder, that while it is easy to spit whatever nonsense comes into your mind at any given moment, the ease with which it is verbalized, is in direct contrast to how impossible it may be to rid the world of it. Nowhere is this more true than for politicians. There is an amazing process in which lifetimes of public service, legacies of accomplishment are reduced to gaffes, or mistakes or slips of the tongue. You must always be vigilante about what you say, because once it leaves your mouth, it belongs to the world, and it can be used to elevate you higher or drag you lower.

It has been remarkable to watch the rise and rise and rise of billionaire Donald Trump in this year’s election for President of the United States. He has defied conventional wisdom and even perceived common decency time and time again, to continue winning in Republican primaries, much to the horror of the majority of his own political party. What has been most remarkable for me, is the massive unchecked ego that he navigates the world with, which makes it possible for him to say ridiculous things, reverse his positions almost instantly, and take up a variety of mind-blowing policy arguments without appearing to know anything about them or consider what types of challenges or consequences would be involved.

For most of the election cycle, we have been able to observe the chaos of the Republican primaries from afar. As comedian Stephen Colbert has noted, this political season, which at one point had more than 15 candidates, isn’t just the Hunger Games, it is the Hungry-For-Power-Games! From Guam, we could watch as the Republican party eviscerated itself, trying with so little success to tame the angry white fearful political base that they have spent generations creating. Trump emerged like a towering “yuge” beast, smashing aside all respectful, likeable or “electable” candidates and becoming a deity for this menacing base to worship and to see as their savior. For the millions who nurse daily at the teat of Fox News, and are fearful of Sharia law, anchor babies and secret Obama cabinet Muslims coming to take their guns and declare war on Christmas, how could someone as bland and normal as Jeb Bush inspire them? Only someone like Trump, who promises grandiose impossible things as often as he blinks, could sate them. Only he who can salve their irrational and laughable feelings of marginalization and oppression, with equally irrational and laughable aggression could be the one to guide them. When those who belong to what you could argue is the most privileged demographic of people in the history of the human race, want to act like they are a besieged and embattled minority, only someone who is filled with an equal level of fantasy and insanity could be the hero they are searching for.

Trump reared his voice and his large orange head locally, briefly earlier this month for the Republican caucus on Guam. His comments were vague and baffling. Trump who leads a coalition of people who appear to become more xenophobic and racist with each state that votes, reaching out to one of the most diverse places in the American empire was hysterical. He used the same rhetoric used on the campaign trail, referring to the territories as places not taken seriously, and he will make sure we are treated seriously. It would be interesting to hear what a focus-group of Trump supporters might say about places like Guam, and what they know about them and how they should be treated?

This is both part of the appeal, but also the danger of Trump. It is enticing, because he appears beyond political calculations. He is definitely not your usual politician. He may have an ego the same size as your usual politician, but his approach to politics is generally something that would disqualify him from ever achieving a sizeable presence in terms of political power. Straight-talking or straight shooting sounds nice, but tends to be a terrible approach to governance and also leads to people who know little of the world or their own country being propelled into power.

This is one of the many dangers with Trump, is that because he doesn’t seem to have any internal order to ideology, but just wants to be in the news and wants to be liked, he speaks and acts without any sense of what might happen afterwards, who might be affected and who might get hurt. We can see this in terms of the treatment of protestors at his rallies. We can see it in the way he has thoughtlessly or strategically demonized various groups, further inflaming the racial animus that makes up his core supporters. We can also see this in the way Trump talks about the rest of the world, and the how his foreign policy seems to be built on whatever random fragment of information he knows about a certain place. He sees authoritarian leaders as being models that he admires and sees almost every other country as needing to be put in its place. As his rhetoric is built around America losing, being taken advantage of and needing to be made great again, he is constantly speaking in coded terms about a lost greatness. Something that was there before and we can’t find anymore. His foreign policy is built on the idea that people around the world, have gotten their grimy mitts on America’s greatness, and they need to be forced into giving it back.

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