I consider myself an average student of political history generally and a poor pupil of US politics in particular. But watching Frank and Claire on Netflix whets the interest, so all the brouhaha in Detroit recently over Donald Trump and his tilt at the conservative ticket has got me wondering. Why is this guy so polarising? Isn’t he just another cookie-cutter rich white guy running for US President? A quick check on Forbes shows all nine Presidents who have held office since the year of my birth were rich white guys, so what’s the big deal about Trump? Other than that comb-over, I mean.
It’s more than just idle curiosity, because here in Oz we currently have a conservative Prime Minister who’s worth $200 million, and our last progressive PM (Kevin Rudd) was also worth ballpark $200+ million through his canny wife’s business ventures. When Rudd lost to the execrable Tony Abbott (worth a paltry $50 million) in 2013, a mining magnate called Clive Palmer, then valued about $5 billion, rode the conservative backlash into politics with his own political party, the Palmer United Party, and won the highest swing in any electorate in Australian political history. Admittedly, he’s f*cked up ever since, but for a time many Australians were so enamoured by this straight-talking fool that they considered him a future PM. We call Australia the ‘lucky country’ — lucky for us we all woke up — but how about you, America? Are you feeling lucky?
An interesting/disturbing fact is that this dark horse is worth more than all of the past nine rich white US presidents combined. Much more. In fact, five minutes and a calculator proves that Donald Trump has more money than the sum worth of all US presidents in history. So let me ask you this, America. Why do you think a multi-billionaire would make a good President? Don’t they read Orwell in your schools anymore? Or don’t you believe it anymore, that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Isn’t it enough that the man already has disproportionate influence through wealth; you want him the Oval Office as well?
It was said in favour of Clive Palmer, our mining billionaire, that he was just what this country needs — a breath of fresh air, not just another snake-oil selling lawyer — a man who tells it like it is. He was also a natural orator: passionate, full of conviction, unafraid to show emotion, exuding personal warmth, with a conversational style people loved and a knack for simple messages communicated using simple language. Hardly a surprise people were sucked in. But the political intelligentsia hated the guy: they saw through the fraud to where his true motivations lay. Like Donald Trump, our rich white guy craved the only thing money could not buy him, and that was absolute executive power.
Just how many Americans are considering voting for the guy because they saw him on ‘The Apprentice’ — let me guess by saying it would be in some way proportionate to the number that voted for Ronny Raygun in ’81 because they liked him as Drake McHugh in King’s Row (1942)? Is that a strong basis for electing a supreme leader? Come on America, Mel Gibson is on tv, why not make him President? Oh that’s right, he’s anti-semitic, and only worth $425 million. Maybe it’s because Trump’s a media-whore who’s prepared to cash-in on his photogenic wife and daughter, both who seem at moments notice ready and willing to ‘pump for Trump’? Or maybe its because right now Trump’s appealing to the lowest common denominator. Right now he can say anything, promise anything, and get away with everything because what’s the worst that can happen? Oh poor Donald, forced to go back to a life of this:
At the end of the day, I’d like to be able to say that I don’t care who America elects as the next President, but I do. What you guys do affects the world. Like it or not, it’s a little like watching your older brother marry a slut. Or announce that he’s joining the KKK. I love the fact that you got it right the last two times. You’ve almost made up for The Dubya. That said, were I in your shoes I’d want Trump opposite Hilary or Bernie in the final sprint for the top job. The sight of Mrs Clinton tap-dancing on Trump’s head would cause me no end of happiness, but more than anything I’d like to see a rich guy roundly beaten by a simple man who seems to understand that real power, the power to do good for others, has nothing to do with self-aggrandisement.
Plus, I’m a sucker for the whole underdog thing.