Friday, 1 April 2016

When style trumps substance

So what do we make of Donald?

It may be that the storm over his quickly retracted advocacy of punishment for women who had abortions (if it were ever made illegal) has done for him. But the question remains - why has he got so far? As one commentator said recently, even six months ago it would have seemed impossible.

Obviously he gives vent to and has tapped into a deep anti-establishment feeling. The UKIP factor writ large. Also very UKIP is the anti-immigrant stance - fear of and hatred of foreigners - in his case Muslims and Mexicans. Not that all immigration control is wrong nor is the desire for it racist or xenophobic. Trump's rhetoric on the subject however is in a class apart. He articulates the American equivalent of the visceral pub rant.

The saddest feature in all this is what it says about America - even though not half of Republicans have voted for him according to the stats.

That he could get this far though is a demonstration of something gone wrong with the American dream. A dream severed from its spiritual and moral moorings becomes a nightmare.

Americans have justly always cherished - though almost idolised - freedom. Trump promotes it as the licence to trample on anyone who gets in your way to the top.

The capitalist dream has flowered in America. Trump represents it in its corrupt form as the worship of mammon.

He personifies both self-aggrandisement posturing as freedom with all the bullying and condoning of violence that implies; and the vaunting and flaunting of money that comes with the idolising of wealth.

Add to that the apogee of the cult of personality that he represents and you have a toxic mix. Style, heavily lacquered, over substance.

There may be signs the wind is changing. The rant at the political establishment and political correctness can only go so far - for most people. Let us hope so. Though nothing is certain.

But he is a wake up call to us in Britain.

Who would be our equivalent of Donald? And what do we need to do to restore trust in and respect for our political institutions? And our politicians?

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