The worse they sound, the better they do. That is the power of anti-politics. Mr Trump is merely a symptom. His Republican rivals should beware. Trump Towers will fall. Other skyscrapers loom.
Look across Europe and you see the same marriage of far left and right: a shared populism that plays to the anger and frustration of electorates battered by recession and by the economic and physical insecurities of globalisation. This is politics without answers, but it has been winning votes for the National Front in France, Syriza in Greece and the Five Star Movement in Italy.
Yet the opinions of these two Financial Times stalwarts isn’t quite enough, so Mr. Robert Shrimsley adds an utterly surprising note of sexual/political paranoia, in his deliberate conflation of Ashley Madison with Hamilton Madison: both of these sites being the subject of internet hackers attempts at extortion. Ashley provides a space to pursue extra-marital affairs and Hamilton provides an anonymous forum ‘which encourages voters to indulge their darkest political fantasies.’
With its alluring US motto —“Life is short. Vote Trump in Iowa” — the service appeals to essentially sober Republicans who do not wish to end their relationship with a mainstream conservative, but who are frustrated at not being able to tell the world how much they hate Mexicans.
One online analyst said: “Look, these are fundamentally respectable members of their community; they pay their taxes; go to work and take their kids to Little League. But they just want to do something wild for once in their lives.”
The comments that Mr. Schrimsley attributes to ‘John’ are like those ‘life reports’ David Brooks publishes to assure his readers that he cares! One wonders if ‘John’ is a member of the class of Republican degree holders that Mr. Luce mentions in his essay? A ‘dalliance’ with Trump at least until New Hampshire? Their motto suffused with a kind of pathos: ‘ But they just want to do something wild for once in their lives.’ Quite political desperation?
Mr. Shrimsley then turns his attention to Britain and a similar attempt at extortion of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, who wish to remain anonymous :
But the hack is not limited to the US. In Britain a number of Labour party members have been left feeling exposed after a similar hack on the UK site threatened to reveal the identities of those backing hard-left firebrand Jeremy Corbyn for leader of the main opposition party.
One wonders if these would be anonymous supporters of ‘hard-left firebrand Jeremy Corbyn’ are subject to this same political malady described by ‘John’ :
But they just want to do something wild for once in their lives.
Mr. Trump’s television show, in which a billionaire many times over, tells an underling ‘your fired’ with unalloyed contempt, on a weekly basis, is a cartoon version of ‘Leadership’, in the age of the the utter decline of Neo-Liberalism, and it’s successor Austerity. Perfect entrainment for the stunted world of the small screen. He extemporizes on perennial themes of Social Darwinism in American life: the dog eat dog of a disordered Capital, of winners and losers, of Rand’s producers and drones.
One the important components of Mr. Trump’s political strategy remains unexplored by these three commentators: the importance of the 2004 strategy used against John Kerry. The risible Swift Boat strategy is a monument to Dr. Goebbels’ big lie, endlessly repeated on ‘Fox News’, and picked up by the other networks, as it gained political currency. Mr. Trump simply adapts all of those techniques, foreshortening them at will, into punchy one liners, perfect for immediate use by the 24 hour news cycle hungry for content, any content, regardless of the notion of ‘value’. Trump is a manipulator and his television show was his education in the art of that manipulation, or more to the point he used that show to perfect his strategy.