Following his landslide win this week in Indiana, orange cheddar Donald Trump has succeeded in making America grate again. There is now little time or matter that separates this big cheese from nomination — and the party, the nation and the world that he may lead must learn to live with his stink.
The GOP has already put a peg on its nose. An institution torn apart by a year of reality TV rhetoric is now trying to smell the good in an evil that has amassed all the delegates it needs. This isn’t easy when your candidate is the type to publicly produce the view that China is “raping” the US. Still, Republican stalwart Newt Gingrich offered recent opinion that the man is “serious” on foreign policy.
Many US voters have been sniffing Trump favourably for some time, and this week one poll places his ordure first against that of likely competitor, Hillary Clinton. But Trump’s appeal is not news and surveys taken in this time of great disenchantment have long seen the folksy billionaire more easily defeated in a match-up with folksy Senator Bernie Sanders.
The rest of the rational world, however, remains in a state of shock that the hegemon could be so close to hitting bottom. It’s now time for us to not only show greater respect for the political nous of The Simpsons, whose writers predicted a Trump victory back in 2000, but to see the bright side. Look, we have no choice. If we simply despair that a man can win the confidence of millions with statements like “I know words. I have the best words”, we risk spending the next eight years under a doona.
Let’s avoid medication and count the positives.
First, as others have offered, Trump’s appeal inheres less in his policy, which is yet to be uttered or probably even considered, than in his challenge to orthodoxy. Americans are dissatisfied with their post-crash lot and if we squint a bit, we could choose to see this as a hopeful disaster.
In a climate often described by commentators as a “political earthquake”, voters see the cracks in their fathers’ foundation and they are running toward new forms of political organisation. Trump’s extremism provides no more real stability than the easy nativism of those idiots who call themselves “eurosceptics”.
Blaming brown folk for the inevitable malfunction of global markets makes about as much sense as Donald’s claim that he has the “best words”. Of course, it’s rotten that Trump has created the conditions where overt acts of racism are now culturally acceptable in the US, a nation that has so long managed to conceal its revulsion for many of its citizens. But we must concede that the era that produced Trump is the same that gave us Sanders. Trump’s popularity is less about Trump than it is about a radical dissatisfaction with current organisation. Like Walt Benjamin said, every rise of fascism bears witness to a failed revolution, and we can only hope that the pre-ordained failure of a Trump presidency will reignite that “political revolution” for which Sanders has hoped.
Perhaps it is only when America sees itself in all its cartoonish ugliness that it can begin to reform itself. Perhaps it is only when a nation becomes indistinguishable from The Simpsons that it can hope to shatter a script that has been playing out for decades. While it is almost certainly true that Obama was sincere about his “hope” and “change” these past eight years, and that there was a genuine utopian element to his healthcare policy, it is also true that this nation, both as a place to live and as a unipolar power, has not changed and is not hopeful. Good liberal feeling will not deliver us from the inequality America guarantees to its own citizens and all the citizens of the world. Maybe only a particularly scary episode of The Simpsons will.
Perhaps you can’t bear to think about a Trump-led US as a stepping stone to significant change. In this case, at least think about it as a time where Melania will be FLOTUS.