"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 16, 2018

Trump as "Triple T"

Treacherous Traitor Trump
by Jim Horn

Long before Donald Trump publicly aspired to be President of the United States, back in the day when he was just another sketchy real estate mogul from Queens selling apartments at Trump Tower to Russian gangsters and the moneyed American nouveau-gauche, he had, even then, a fascination with professional wrestling.  Trump Casino and Resorts in Atlantic City hosted WrestleMania IV and V in the late 1980s, and since thenTrump has maintained a fascination with Vince McMahon’s multi-billion dollar reality-sport-theatrical soap opera business known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

Fast forward to WrestleMania XXIII in 2007, and Trump is no long just a spectator-sponsor but, rather, a body-slamming investor/participant in the Battle of the Billionaires, which pitted Trump against McMahon.  McMahon’s proxy wrestler in that contest lost the match, which was followed by, McMahon, himself, being thrown to the floor by Trump and forced to suffer the indignity of having his head shaved in the ring by the victorious future President.

Trump owes a lot to professional wrestling.  WWE’s CEO, McMahon, in fact, was the originator of the “You’re fired” line that later became Trump-the-reality TV star’s stolen trademark slogan.  

But Trump took from the WWE much more than a slogan.  From his time before the arena wrestling throngs, he learned what it took to excite and incite a crowd.  By the time Trump decided to run for President, he had learned what it took to fill an arena, to hold an audience, and to develop a following around a larger-than-life caricature. 

Trump identified, too, a natural connection between the fan base of the WWE and the poor and oppressed Tea Party loyalists, who found release for their pent-up aggression in the savage rhetoric of Koch-funded politicians and in the savage physical exploits of steroid-pumped violence demos in the WWE ring. 

The Tea Party base in 2013 was essentially the same base that had made McMahon a billionaire by filling the same arenas that Trump would come to fill on the campaign trail. The scripting techniques by Washington conservative elites to create a political fan base among poor people, with whom they had nothing in common, drew from the same psychological manipulation strategies that professional wrestling had already perfected over the last hundred years.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump loyally followed the story line of his corporate scriptwriters while learning to improvise his daily moves and becoming adept at re-arranging the script to manipulate the emotional tone and cathartic possibilities of the audience.  Foils were given wrestler-sounding nicknames like Crooked Hillary Clinton and Low Energy Jeb Bush or Crazy Bernie Sanders.  Consider, for instance, The Bionic Redneck “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, or the Mouth of the South Jimmy Hart.  Trump’s foils were caricatured, berated, and turned into characters that even the oppressed could oppress.  It was the perfect political stage for a narcissistic bully with an unquenchable thirst for adoration, even if that adoration was the theatrical product of an audience swept up into the farcical production that replaced the reality outside the arena.

The dramatized violence, blatant racism, and hate-mongering of a Trump rally would be less of a problem if the American Presidency were a fictional creation produced for the benefit of venting and even purging, perhaps, the negative emotions of an arena audience come to be entertained.  Trump, however, has become in the White House his stage persona that sought and received the adulation of a theatre audience.

The audience, in turn, loyally remains in character, too, and their daily grievances are given steady Twitter injections of targeted hatefulness by the “Domineering Donald” they came to adore during his arena performances.  Instead of reality TV, Trump has invented a form of reality-reality, and unfortunately, all signs indicate that the Trump audience, too, has lapsed found a cozy seat for Trump’s own permanent show of reality-reality, in which Trump channels a permanent state of vengeful arousal among his fans, which he uses to serve his own unquenchable thirst for the power and prestige that can never legitimately be his.

That this mutually exploitative spell has spilled over into public life can be seen every day, as the dimensions Trump’s reality-reality expand its hateful and poisonous bravura throughout the commons.  Whether it’s the marching by Neo-Nazis in college towns or the beating of elderly citizens with foreign-sounding names or the hyper-vigilant racism of white women calling the cops on children for selling lemonade or candy, or the daily abuse by Trumpian police goons, the signs are clear that the theatricized violence of the Trump rally has spread across the Republic.

Trump, himself, emboldened by his ranks who celebrate his cruelty and craziness, raises the ante by moving further and further from factual reality and deeper and deeper into Trump’s reality-reality.  The Washington Post notes that at Trump’s last rally in Montana 76 percent of Trump utterances were false, misleading, or lacking evidence.

Today, Donald Trump is the only President of the United States to be a member of the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. And each political rally that Trump holds in an arena is a reminder of why.   Every Trump rally is a replayed celebration of a political WrestleMania, whose main event was decided in 2016 when the evil Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama had both of their heads shaved.  Each rally, then, becomes a tag team of Trump and the Audience facing up against the projected reemergence of those foes, allies of those foes, or any ideas they supported.  Trump basks in the warmth of political fandom on steroids, and he repays that allegiance each time with a mash-up of the same great moves that brought him and his base to the championship. 

Trump’s stage performance is the political equivalent to professional arena wrestling.  Writing about his own performance art of wrestling, professional wrestler and reporter, KrackerJak, describes arena wrestling as part complex choreography and part improvisation, with wrestlers “feeding off each other and  the crowd to create a unique work of art.”

Now if you find this wrestling analogy to Trump’s arena politics worrisome, then read how KrackerJak sums up his analysis:

As a wrestler, I'm able unleash elements of myself that would have me arrested should I cut loose in a similar way on public transport.

For the audience, wrestling plays out all manner of cathartic fantasies that would see you sitting in a cell next to me were you to indulge them.

This is where the analogy breaks down, for while professional wrestling fans may be purged during the staged events by hissing, booing, and throwing popcorn at their enemies, Trump fans are not assuaged by just screaming “Build the Wall” or “Fake News” or “Lock Her Up.” They are compelled by the poisonous talents of their hero to take their violence into the streets, shopping malls, job sites, and even churches, where catharsis is rendered through innumerable examples of mistreatment, mayhem, and violence.

Now as the Mueller investigation closes in and Trump’s enemies become the lawful institutions that have thus far assured the survival of a constitutional republic, the next aggressive moves by Trump and his fans will require a determined and ongoing political deftness with unyielding courage to avoid the chaos upon which Trump’s survival depends.

Right before our eyes, “Domineering Donald” has morphed into “Triple T” (Treacherous Traitor Trump).

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