Donald Trump tells you that he is, in some sense, a hero, that he is great and that if we will give him the reins by the strength of his heroism he will make America great again. Every word out of his mouth is a testimony to his “greatness.” His platform is to brag and his promise is that if you will believe in him everything will be okay.
Some time look up some of the the things ancient Roman emperors said about themselves and their testimony to their achievements. . It will appear positively Trumpian. Trump is part of a tradition of political figures who say the most important and real thing in the world is their glory and splendor. His solution to problems and issues is not ideas but image. . He doesn’t need to know what it is he would do. . He only needs to know that he is doing it and that is a good enough answer.
For Trump’s “heroism” to matter we must be under attack and in danger. . Things must be terrible. . The times must be dangerous. . He has to sell three things.
1. We are under attack by dangerous forces that threaten the fabric of our lives, a force more dangerous each and every day, a force unchallenged that will destroy us.
2. The reason this force has become so powerful is in part self inflicted. . We suffer from a dangerous lack of heroism and strength from our leaders.
3. Donald Trump will supply the heroism we do badly need. . He will give us power where power has been lacking and that power will make us safe and restore the greatness we have let slip away from us.
It is the myth of the president as hero and powerful warrior. . It is the campaign of Donald Trump. . It is the narrative, the mythic story he wants you to buy.
Like so many myths facts don’t really matter. . He doesn’t have to know what he is doing or what he thinks. . The answer is who he is. . He has had enough lies, contradictions, and just simply stupidities pointed out about him to sink an army of politicians and by and large none of them have stuck. His attraction is not in what a good person he is but in how big and bad and tough he is. . Some criticisms are sloughed off as those out to get him. . Some add to his mystique. . He doesn’t care about conventional wisdom. . Different rules apply to him. . He is above normal political calculus.
His picture of the presidency is the president as leader of a long needed crusade to save a threatened people. If you buy it odds are that you buy Trump. . If you dont odds are you dismiss him as a garish con man, a man of doubtful character and experience, a man who if elected threatens this country with the same destruction he brags he will save it from.
The president has the ability as much as anybody to define our idea of what is important. . Whether you believe his words match his actions or not the narrative he tells matter.
The narrative that I think Barack Obama tried to tell was one of integrity. . Strength was important, but the greatest strength was in how we treated each other. His appeal was not just to be a great people but a good people. He thought we did not have to sacrifice goodness to be great. The problem is that we are a society with much built in injustice and addressing that injustice can be a very conflictual process. . The path from where we are at to what we hope to become is neither easy or sometimes even clear. The message of Barack Obama, if he has one, is in his faith integrity is possible and we can make this not just a greater country but a better one.
Donald Trump wants to make being human not so hard. . He wants to separate us and tell us that hatred and anger and violence are not what we need to fight but only common sense in dangerous times . He tells us that we are afflicted with evil dragons and offers to be the dragon slayer we need.
He offers us peace if we will only first sell him our souls.
The choice is ours.