Regardless of whether you think he’s the only legitimate use of Godwin’s law, Donald Trump’s success has turned politics into the real-life circus that newspaper cartoonists have been prophetically satirizing for decades. I won’t bother explaining why Donald Trump is terrible. I figure if you’re a supporter of Trump and you’ve miraculously stumbled across this blog, your literacy levels would have prevented you from progressing past the word “legitimate”, and you have already given up reading. Thus it’s a safe bet we’re all in political agreement so far.

Where we might differ is that I don’t believe that Donald Trump is the failure of democracy, but the culmination of it. Plato in his Republic decries democracy as pandering to the masses, where the success of a leader is determined not by their ability to lead or their wisdom, but by their ability to appeal to the bulk of the people. Considering the Greeks invented the damn thing, it seems that even in its infancy democracy has borne the seed of the pupating Trump.

Donald Trump is unique among politicians in that he isn’t one. Trump is heralded as a man who brazenly speaks his mind among sleazy, lying politicians. Except Trump makes just as many false promises as those sleazy politicians and flip-flops on controversial topics depending on who he is speaking to. He is more overtly racist and misogynistic than his peers, but surely that can’t be his method of success.

Donald Trump is not a politician, but a salesman, and in a political system that inherently relies on image over substance, we see how his popularity is not an anomaly but is almost predestined by our adherence to it. And Trump is an amazing salesman. A linguist analyzed Trump’s response to a simple question, and found that he uses repetition, punchy, simplistic language, and a speaking style that subconsciously elicits agreement. Again, there is little of substance in what he says, but the way he says it manipulatively charms those who aren’t paying attention.

We live in an age where advertising has the finest tools of psychology behind it. I mean, ads directed to kids have so much psychological juju that they can sell cereal that is just a few grams away from being bowls of actual sugar under the guise of being a nutritionally healthy choice. Trump knows all these tricks; how else could it be explained that several bankruptcies, a grocery list of failed business plans, and pending lawsuits don’t dissuade people from associating the name Trump with success? John Oliver dedicated an entire segment to showcasing this phenomenon, and he concluded that the brand is so well marketed that disassociating Donald from the name Trump is the optimal solution since convincing people to rebel against their advertorial mind-control is a depressingly futile endeavour.

One might argue that the stupidification of the American public is more to blame than the problems inherent to the democratic system, and this is a fair point. A nation full of well-educated, critical thinking individuals would more than likely vote for someone better qualified than Trump. Though, a nation full of baboons would vote for someone better qualified than Trump, so maybe it’s a moot point. In any case, America exists in political and economic systems that profit from the pliability of its populace, and so dedicates its efforts to enforcing that attribute. As Plato predicts, any system existing under a democracy will eventually develop into one where someone like Trump will flourish.

In a bid to overthrow the democratic system, Republicans are actually contemplating blocking Trump’s nomination if he wins. Thwarting the will of the populace may become the last resort of a political party desperately clinging to shreds of sanity. And they are not alone. Isaac Asimov is floating around the internet as a bonafide meme, declaring that “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” This notion that intelligence or sanity supersedes another’s right to vote is thoroughly undemocratic, and suggests some kind of neo-aristocracy to rule over the vulgar masses.

Winston Churchill once said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” In the West, we started with democracy, and after a few affairs with some monarchies, theocracies, and the odd dictatorial despot, we decided to stick with it. Now we seem to be reaping what we’ve sewn. Trump would never be able to attain power in any other form of government outside of a democracy.

So now we are faced with a question: do we continue with Churchill’s worst form of government and just desperately hope that when the inevitable Trumps appear on the ballot that our nations have not reach Idiocratic levels of docility, or do we dream up a better way?

 

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