Planet Of The Humans, Part 1: The Devil Wears Orange

Donald Trump inspired clichés by the big-box store-load long before he dipped his toe into politics. Even back when he was a pop-culture hero of sorts among the crowd that worshipped blinged-out idols, even before MC Hammer brought it to the mainstream:

Y’know – back when he was a Democrat.

You don’t need me to list Trump’s faults as a person, politician and President – indeed, we have a multi-billion dollar industry devoted entirely not only to cataloging them, but making up new ones out of thin air.

We’ll come back to them.

The Usual Bla Bla Bla

But along with all of the faults imagined from whole cloth (the “Fine People” slander hops to mind – which, again, we’ll come back to later), and his many offenses against the supposed decorum of the Presidency (real or imagined – and I’ll skip past Bill Clinton’s desporting himself in the Oval Office to jump back to Woodrow Wilson using it as a de facto Ku Klux Klan field office to try to introduce a little context into the notion of decorum), he had some real ones; I can’t help but think if he’d just turned his Twitter feed over to a moderately clever mid-level staffer, he could have kept the “outflank the media” aspects of his social presence without the, let’s be honest, crazy and intemperate and, God help me for saying it, unpresidential parts of his public presence. Enough to have won the election? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Of course, to be intellectually honest, you – and by “you”, I mean “the Never Trump clacque” – need to admit he did some things very, very well. For starters, he did the one thing I, a Trump skeptic, had hoped for, and exceeded my hopes by half; he empaneled a genuine originalist majroitiy on the SCOTUS. And in foreign policy terms, he may have been the most successful President we’ve had since George HW Bush, and Reagan’st first term before him.

Never Never Land

The previous paragraph might be read as a swipe at the “Never Trump” crowd – which includes some people I respect very much, and some I never really did, and some for whom I’ve gradually lost regard over time.

“Never Trump” largely, if not completely, devolved into a bunch of scolds of no more political use than the Libertarian Party, chanting “I Told You So” with all the convincing authority of that “Karen” who yaps at you about putting your groceries on the conveyor before the cashier has sanitized it.

I say this as someone who has been an active Trump skeptic since 1986 – back when most Democrats and Never-Trumpers were making Trump a TV star through most of the 2000s, as I’m fond of pointing out – and who was actively interested in “Never Trump” activities up to and including reviving the Federalist party around this time five years ago.

The Real Deplorable Thing

But the biggest problem with Trump isn’t Trump. The media and pop culture would have said many of the same things about Mitt Romney or John McCain or Marco Rubio, or most likely Martin Luther King if he were alive today and voting Republican.

Trump won in the first place because he saw the left’s strategy – harness the populist power of identity politics – and, for five years, did it better than the Progressives. He turned blue collar whites, and people in Red state in general, into an identity group and fairly coherent voting bloc – finally ending the 100 year old notion that Democrats were “the party of the working man” once and for all.

So populism was the car that drove him to the White House. Where he governed in some ways as a conservative (in foreign policy terms, on the SCOTUS, in slashing regulation), and in some ways as the most profligate “progressive” in history (he spent like the Democrat he used to be).

But there was something worse.


Remember Ron Paul? In 2008 and 2012, a lot of Republicans, especially younger ones, staged and insurgency in the GOP behind the Texas Libertarian-Republican. Much as I supported much of what Paul stood for (domestically, at least – his foreign and defense policies were just as historically ignorant as the Libertarian Party’s), looking at his mobs of idealistic acolytes, I asked more than once “You do realize that even if he’s elected, he’ll be able to do nothing he promises, since there’s not a majority of Paulite House and Senate candidates running to help push the agenda, right? And that the only way to enact that idealistic vision of government would be for Paul to stage a libertarian coup, and impose an absolute Libertarian dictatorship, and force Liberty on the people against their will.

There was no telling that to the Paul Kids – not back then, anyway. Such is the allure of the personality cult, among those who haven’t really paid attention to how much drag and lag and need for consensus is (as of 2020) built into the system.

And Trump certainly developed his own personality cult in the GOP.

On the one hand – the Never Trumpers remind us – Trumpism is not conservatism. And they’re right. It’s populism, and populism, giving people what they want now, is only rhetorically distinguishable between the Left and the Right. “Trumpism” tramples the principles of conservatism behind which the GOP…


…I was going to say “behind which the GOP stands”. Of course, the GOP, at least in DC, hasn’t for a long time.

We’ll come back to that.

Anyway – “Trumpism” turned, at least at the point of the retail-political sphere, into a personality cult, no less impervious to logic than the Hillary or Obama cults, no less focused on the person rather than the policy than the Ron Paul fan club.

To far too many Trump supporters in all of our social circles, policy wasn’t the goal; Trump was.

And given the GOP’s behavior over the past decade, why wouldn’t someone who didn’t care about how the political sausage was made, but how awful it tasted, see it any differently?

We’ll come back to that two episodes down the road.

It’d be easy, and facile, but no more than a little inaccurate, to say last week’s riot at the Capitol was about keeping the person in office (assuming you discount the notion that “Anti”-Fa provocateurs did the job – and for purposes of this argument, I do), rather than the policies and the repudiation of the oppression of Big Left. To way too many people, Trump doesn’t lead the effort against the toxic, narcissistic marginalization that Democrats relentless focus on identity politics brings; he is that effort.

It’s a toxic perception – indeed, a toxic reality. Democracy dies in cultism.

That cult didn’t occur in a vacuum, of course.

More on that coming up next.

13 thoughts on “Planet Of The Humans, Part 1: The Devil Wears Orange

  1. Trumpism is not going away. We live in a divergent country and Trumpism is the representation of one side, albeit lead by extremists.

    Repost — because I can.
    The Trumpism isn’t what it was advertised as. It isn’t what it’s been analyzed as. It isn’t anything to do with economics, it isn’t anything to do with foreign policy, It isn’t anything to do with bringing the troops home. It isn’t to do with anything attached to it.

    The essence of Trumpism, the deepest meaning of Trumpism is that its a rejection of reality. And it’s a projection of victory for Trump and for his followers. No matter whether that victory is real or not.

    So what we’re seeing is Trump claiming victory where he has lost. We see his followers claiming victory though he has lost. We see more importantly — Republican senators, the VP and the SOS also following this same pattern. They aren’t contradicting Trump. They know he lost the election. But because they too are vying for this same mantle. They also hope someday to lead this same political movement. They too need to keep telling their followers that they’ve won even though they’ve not. That is actually the essence of the movement. That is the piece that will carry on.

    If you believe that Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are more corrupt (and dangeorous) than Donald Trump, then you’re very far from the middle.

    In fact, you’re in the middle of the swamp — the swamp of misinformation and deliberate falsehood that has destabilized American democracy.

  2. “albeit lead by extremists.”
    So the party that believes that women can have penises and impregnate men is not lead by extremists?

  3. To far too many Trump supporters in all of our social circles, policy wasn’t the goal; Trump was.

    I have to strongly disagree. Trump was the goal of a tiny minority – but his actions were what spurred the majority. What he stood for and did. For the first time in what, 50 years? people felt that America First really was! You are grossly underestimating how much he did, how much he stood for, his tenacity and more importantly his willingness to fight back. He got more votes than anyone not because he was Trump, but because people rejected direction towards progressivism.

    I did NOT vote for Trump in 2016 because I thought he would govern like a squishy demoncRat he used to be. I am sure you can find my old posts on this blog saying the same back then, and also saying better to elect sHrillary so we can get a conservative candidate and government next time around. I was wrong, dead wrong, about Trump, to my surprise, amazement and pleasure.

    So no, I reject your notion that Trumpism is a cult of personality. Your premise is flawed and wrong. If Cruz would have been elected instead (highly unlikely against sHrillary), we would be talking about Cruzism. Because that fits the demoncRat trap of demonizing opposition and assigning negative trends where a higher purpose is clearly at work.

  4. I live in western Wisconsin.
    This area went for Trump about 2;1 over Biden. You would think that if there was a “Trump cult of personality” I would have met a member or two.
    But I haven’t. I have not met a single person who, for example, thought of Trump as a “light worker.”
    Emery is making the same mistake the Democrats and the #nevertrumpers have done.” Call the guy who got 74 million votes from Americans of all types, including record numbers of Hispanics and Blacks, a “cult figure.”

  5. JPA

    I said “To far too many”

    You said “I have to strongly disagree. Trump was the goal of a tiny minority ”

    It can be a minority and still be plenty powerful.

    I don’t think we disagree especially.

  6. I figured you would invoke that and that difference lies in the definition. Alas, it is not the Trump-cult minority that is the problem, but an even smaller minority of Never-Trump swamp creatures who hold the reigns of power and are feeding at the trough.

  7. Can someone point me to a concise list of the central tenants of “Trumpism” so I can see whether I am one?

  8. A letter to Trump —

    My days on earth are numbered; But before I fade away, there is something important I need to say. It may not be important to anyone else; but it’s important to me.

    Win, lose or fraud… President Trump. I just want to say thank you for the last four years.

    Thank you for making it cool to be an American again.

    Thank you for showing us that we don’t need to be under China’s thumb anymore economically, or any other way.

    Thank you for one of the strongest economies we’ve ever experienced in my lifetime. Thank you for all you have done for the minority communities, and the outstanding decrease in the unemployment rate you had.

    Thank you for making it feel good to love our country and to be a proud patriot again. Thank you for supporting our Nation’s flag and the men and women who fought for the freedom that stands behind that flag.

    Thank you for supporting our nation’s law enforcement organizations, and understanding how difficult their job really is.

    Thank you for quelling the flood of illegal immigration, and bringing to justice the thousands of criminals that flood brought us.

    Thank you for giving corporations a reason to come back to America to make our own products and put Americans back to work.

    Thank you for bringing our troops home from endless deployments that presented us with little more than body bags; and for your commitment to strengthen our military.

    Thank you for operation warp speed and keeping your promise to bringing the Covid 19 vaccine to us in less than a year.

    Thank you for your never-ending attempts at bringing peace to the Middle East and your support for Israel.

    Thank you for your Tax relief, and thank you for our energy independence. Most of all though…

    THANK YOU for taking a damn rotten job that you never had to take!!

    Thank you for caring enough for this country to want to try and make a difference.

    Thank you for showing America how little Career Politicians actually work for their constituents; and for showing us how much those politicians despise you for showing America how easy it is to build a great nation, rather than rape her to line their own pockets and stock portfolios.

    Thank you for allowing us to experience a President that wasn’t a lifelong politician, but a lifelong American.

    My Note: Thank you, President Trump, for affirming the fraud, greed, power and ineptness that we already knew existed in our government. This is the end of our United States of America as we knew it to be.

    My sincere condolences to the generation of students who were brainwashed by socialist/communist educators when they realize they were hoodwinked into believing this philosophy when they find themselves standing in food lines in the future.

  9. It’s a dog whistle, Joe Doakes. Kind of like how Emery heard Trump telling people to storm the capitol, but no one else did.

  10. Mitch, you nailed it. I could probably quibble if I looked for places but I’m more of a lumper than a splitter. I found Trump’s fabrications and tough guy/bully persona off putting to say the least. I didn’t vote for him in 2016, nor for Clinton. I’ll remind EM that Hilary (Clinton Foundation) and Biden (Burisma) have in fact committed acts that are financially corrupt. I doubt Donald is doing as well. Probably stands to lose money with the corporate retaliation and infinite law suits over the horizon. I watched parts of “The Speech” that preceded the Capitol riot. Apart from the usual Trumper catnip and the delusions about winning the election in a landslide, I saw nothing that legally constituted inciting a riot. Morally, I believe he did. All he said was, let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I said delusional, then I must remind myself that his complaints about being wiretapped in 2016 sounded delusional–until the truth about Crossfire Hurricane emerged.

  11. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 01.12.21 : The Other McCain

  12. You know who told people to storm the Capital?

    Nancy Pelosi did. So did Chuck Schumer (fucking snake if I ever saw one). Shifty Schiff said to storm the Capital and that disgusting blob of goo Gerald Nadler seconded it. The federal courts said don’t look at them, best option is to storm the Capital; SCOTUS concurred.

    James Comey said “storm the Capital”.
    Peter Strzok texted “Storm the Capital”.

    Eric Swallowell said ” 猛攻首都 ”

    CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NPR, newspapers in every city controlled by reprobates said “Storm the Capital ”

    Jeff Bezos said “Storm the Capital again!” The CEO’s of Apple, Google and Facebook said “Hell yeah! Storm away!”

    The CEO of Twitter said “Don’t Bogart that joint.”

    Now they’re all saying “Well, that didn’t work. Time to step it up a notch”

    This is not going to turn out well for the America hating reprobates.

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