Banner photos: Cornelia Kraft
The Trump show
[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, March 2017.]
There is really only one news story over the last months: the start of Donald Trump's regime.
Before the end of last year I said on Matthew Tree’s TV discussion program that one of the main reasons Trump was elected was that he knows that (now more than ever) politics is an entertainment industry.
Style has become substance. Impression has replaced reality.
I also said that Trump would have been defeated by Bernie Sanders, the other alternative candidate in the Democratic party who offered a genuine agenda of change rather than Hillary Clinton’s message of a continuing the same for another four years.
Trump found the votes he needed in the parts of the country where he needed them because he stood for a major shake-up to a system that clearly needs it and because he repeatedly promised work again to the unemployed.
When I talk to people here in Catalonia, plenty of people use the word “confident” about Donald Trump. What seems to me as his grotesque arrogance then, is seen by others as a can-do attitude and has given a false hope. And it is also this that helped propel him into the White House.
Large numbers of the public are prepared to ignore his clear personality faults because Trump projects the persona of someone who is an action hero, a cowboy, a maverick but a ‘do-er’ as well as a big talker. And a significant chunk of the popular media has continued to be sucked into reporting his ‘colourful antics’ and ‘controversial statements’ rather than the policy decisions he has already taken in his first weeks in charge.
Even as I write this article, I have to struggle to concentrate on the detail of the executive orders he has just signed rather than talking about his inflammatory Twitter posts. It is easier to look at what he has tweeted than what he has, with a stroke of his pen, made into law.
On a daily basis the airwaves and worldwide web are awash with his decisions but the hour-by-hour short news cycle can never dwell for too long on a single issue and Trump thrives on this fact as much as he enjoys letting it drag him into the gutter.
Recently, several journalists who covered the protests at his inauguration were charged. With exactly what offence no one's quite sure at this moment but this intimidation tactic is likely to have its desired effect.
As well as this, the Spanish language version of the Presidential website was shut down: a clear signal to the US’ hispanic citizens that they are disposable too in the wider sweep of life.
These are actions, not words and they are Donald Trump’s actions. Despite this, his distractions about voter fraud and the size of the crowd at his first speech as commander-in-chief have been publicised a great deal more than his decision-making, as if his social media presence was more significant than the impact of his policies on ordinary people.
It is more than apparent now that those who thought Trump would soften his attitudes and become sobre and responsible once sitting at the Oval Office desk were wrong.
He is just getting warmed up.
What we will witness in the next four years (or possibly even eight years) is guaranteed to be an extreme exercise of naked power as a simple extension of his ego. It will be unlike any other term of office in that corrupt superpower ‘democracy.’
The crucial question is how much congress is going to stand up to Trump’s will. My prediction is that the majority Republican party will typically bend to his wishes.
I was woken up at five o’clock in the morning by a dream about Trump and immediately decided to write this article. In my dream Trump was on a television talk show and left the set complaining and throwing his earpiece on the ground.
The truth is that he no longer needs to even appear on TV. We are all doing his PR for him and I would argue that his tweets should be completely ignored by all media, in effort to starve him of easy air time.
But after all though, Donald Trump is the logical result of a society obsessed with money where worship of wealth is as deeply engrained as feeling for the stars and stripes flag.