If Donald Trump gets the Republican nomination, what does it mean for America? In history we see through the objective lens of time that nativistic, nationalistic movements never work out well, yet here we are again.
Our democracy’s defender—the media, which ideally serves as a fourth branch of government with its own political checks and balances—has been corporatized and can no longer resist the overdose of advertising dollars that salivates with Trump saturation. A soulless black hole of socio-economic anger is pulling America toward a wannabe dictator so increasingly narcissistic that it shouldn’t be long before we revise his psychological condition to sociopathy.
Clues toward sociopathy include having a lack of empathy or a sense of moral responsibility, having few inhibitions regarding bold or callous behavior, and the absence of a social conscience. All of these describe Trump, whose xenophobia is trending toward Biblical, ends-justify-the-means ruthlessness.
It is a postured bravado, though, as Trump’s impulsive rush toward the Republican presidential nomination may be a case of thin skin in which he decided he would get the last laugh regarding his widely mocked involvement with the anti-Obama Birther movement. It is important to remember that Trump has no experience as a public servant. He has no democratic vision, he is simply reproducing a Kardashian-Effect on our political culture with his unhealthy vanity: we cannot stop staring at him.
For the GOP’s political brand, though, Donald Trump is a force of political self-destruction because the presidency has real responsibilities with sobering consequences, and a Trump Administration would likely follow the example of Warren G. Harding’s 1920s administration: an unprepared surprise presidency governing uninterestedly in the affairs of the poor and marginalized who actually depend on functional government for equal opportunity in life. Is there any reason to believe Trump would not govern with a culture of business cronyism and fraud when part of his campaign rationale is that he has effectively gamed the government already throughout his business career?
To divide and conquer the GOP’s philosophically empty ideology of greed worship and hyper-masculine self-consciousness, Trump has scapegoated his way to the top of Republican polling with rich kid bullying. Trump is the preppy kid with a scared loser-complex we all knew in high school would never mature out of it. He is an adult man so self-obsessed that he jokes about having sex with his own progeny. That’s not healthy.
As the ultimate egoist in American politics, though, it is not surprising that Trump’s strong-man schtick is entirely phony: his business success is something he did not build. He inherited his last name, his business, and his money from his father, and he is unceasingly proud that his independent business ventures took off after receiving just a measly million dollar loan. Trump has no rags-to-riches story, and he is a textbook example of a spoiled trust fund baby.
Unfortunately, his media onslaught is a captivating shadow on conservatism’s platonic echo chamber walls. Trump’s neofascist mutiny has come at the climax of our Pavlovian Nobama Era’s last year, just as the GOP has sworn to stonewall President Obama’s Constitutional duty to nominate a new judge to the Supreme Court.
Reality is a separate universe for the conservative half of our political duality, and Donald Trump inspires a radical right that is culturally afraid of the Democratic Party’s rush for equality, but economically betrayed by the Republican Party’s neoliberal corporatism. Nostalgic for the racially white, religiously Christian, patriarchal America of mid-last-century’s mass media, Trump’s followers could be labeled as fundamentalist exceptionalists. And, as fundamentalists, they have adopted Trump as their authoritarian and are beginning to flirt with justification for violence. Trump has responded by spinning the prospect of violence as legitimate democratic process.
But identifying all this does little to suggest how Donald Trump’s blitzkrieg political career will play out. Will the violence at his rallies boil over and result in actual murder? Will he be edged out of the nomination by a Republican Party looking to salvage its soiled legacy? Will he drop out of the presidential race with a rare drop of humility? Will he take advantage of his marginalized supporters’ gun and establishment paranoia and lead a paramilitary coup into legitimate fascism?
It is impossible to guess, however fascist movements tend to advance like avalanches so it would be unwise to give Trump the benefit of the doubt that he will not rile up a forced seizure of our democratic government. He is a narcissist with sociopathic tendencies, and he has sympathy for any rioters he may inspire. I hope this nativistic, nationalistic movement does not follow the pattern of others before it.