What’s really scary about the Trump phenom
Donald Trump calling Ted Cruz an “anchor baby” was pretty hilarious, but the charge hasn’t stuck because unlike Obama, Cruz’s skin is much lighter.
Like most of other inflammatory comments from Trump, Americans seem to fall into three camps regarding the mogul’s quotable quotes and candidacy. They either love it, hate it, or laugh it off. What most don’t realize is that win or lose, Trump’s candidacy marks the end of American politics as a democratic experiment, and the beginning of it as a business.
The Supreme Court decision that gave corporations real citizenship–“Citizens United”–marked the beginning of the end of the democracy. Individuals literally lost power to entities known as the Corporation. For two-hundred-plus years, an experiment that started as companies colonized a new continent (for the Europeans) seemed to have gotten better and better. It began by giving companies “personhood”–literally treating them as a person, so it can have its own assets, debts, even criminal offenses. But what seemed for a long time like a clever legal tactic has been taken almost to its logical conclusion. Conservative justices decided that corporations have freedom of speech like the rest of us, so they can spend as much as they want, and without public disclosure, to advocate their positions, to campaign for or against candidates (through various legal contortions). The only thing corporations lack now is a vote in the booth, but who needs that when you can buy elections?
But while some liberal groups have been sounding the alarm on Citizens United, the battle has moved well beyond that line. It is hard to imagine now a time when news anchors don’t promote TV shows or movies, or when news networks happily lose hundreds of millions of dollars or more every year. But it was so for decades, more than a century, even. Only in the mid-2000s, did Fox News start promoting its shows and other entertainment lines in the heretofore sanctity of the newsroom. Quickly, other networks fell in line because moguls were no longer satisfied with the cachets of journalism, but demand profits from every line of business, including the newsroom.
Like good ol’ capitalists, they didn’t stop there. Businesspeople like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina realized that they could make more money and gain more influence, even if for a limited time only, by running for office. Win or lose, they would have a glorious few months to mine their 15 seconds of fame.
No one, though, has as much experience in self-promotion than Donald Trump. So here he is, badmouthing anyone who dares to pose a risk to his new business. In the world of reality TV, it is the best and only way to survive. As the long-time “star” of such a show, Trump knows exactly how to play the game.
Many people worry what a Trump nomination would mean for the country and its standing in the world. Worry not. Even if he loses, more businesspeople will run, and eventually one and more will win. If there’s one sector bigger than public education that money power loves to get its hands on, it’s the American body politics. Regulation, taxation, riches of an unprecedented scale are waiting to be be plundered.