Okay, that’s a spoof. But nothing should surprise us about this billionaire realtor-turned-TV-celebrity-turned politician. The 69-year-old is racing ahead in opinion polls leaving other Republican party contenders trailing. He’s foul-mouthed and tacky, sports a ridiculously flamboyant hairstyle, and has an ego to match one of his many eponymous skyscrapers. And Donald Trump is proving to be a hit with the American public.
“I prefer war heroes who don’t get caught by the enemy,” was how he put it, referring to McCain’s captivity as a POW in North Vietnam during the 1970s. Most of the other presidential contenders, including Democrat Hillary Clinton, promptly ganged up to denounce Trump over his contempt for McCain. They said that, this time, the maverick Donald had gone too far by disrespecting the decorated Vietnam War veteran.
Trump, in typical rambunctious fashion, dismissed the complaints and said he would not be making an apology. He even called McCain a “dummy”.
It was McCain who started the spat by first complaining that Trump was “firing up the crazies” among rightwing Americans with his inflammatory views on Latino illegals. Firing up the crazies? That’s saying something given that McCain himself is accused of crazed extremism owing to his association with Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria and the Neo-Nazi regime in Kiev, as well as his swivelled-eyed warmongering calls against Russia, China and Iran.
The three-times-married Trump, who is of Scottish and German descent, started his real estate career around the same time that McCain was learning how to use chopsticks in his Vietnamese prison camp. Trump somehow managed to skip the military draft back then due to a foot injury, although when asked recently which foot, he said he couldn’t remember.
Political commentators doubt that Trump will stay the course for the US presidential contest – with the finish line some 16 months away.
The pundits have likened him to a funny act whose role is to warm up the crowd for the more serious performers.
But Trump insists he’s in to win. A powerful weapon in his war chest is money – lots of it and apparently it’s all his own. Unlike other would-be candidates, Trump is not dependent on funders, political action committees or corporate sponsors. That means he can stay in the race for as long as it takes – assuming he wins the Republican Party nomination. It also means that The Donald does not have to couch his words to suit the political interests of donors. He appears to be free to say whatever he wants or whatever comes into his head.
He has denounced fellow Republican Jeb Bush as being a puppet bought by the multi-billionaire Koch brothers. He scoffed at Hillary Clinton’s desire to be the “people’s champion” by quipping about here philandering husband, Bill: “If Hillary can’t satisfy her husband, how is she going to satisfy the nation?”
To say that Trump does not have a coherent set of domestic or foreign policies is an understatement. The best we can say is that his worldview is that of a mega-rich individual who seems to think that running a country is the same as running a business empire. Maybe for America, he’s actually correct in that view.
But what is enjoyable about this reactionary figure is that his ambitions to become resident in Trump House, er the White House, are serving to totally expose just how farcical and degenerate American politics have become.
Divorced from real communities struggling with poverty, unemployment, crime and unprecedented social deterioration, all American candidates for the presidency are akin to manikins propped up in a corporate sales window. Republican or Democrat, they are all the same, serving the same master of Wall Streets banks and corporate capital. Bernie Sanders, the avowedly socialist Democrat Senator from Vermont, may throw a surprise to win the party’s nomination against Hillary Clinton. But it is doubtful that Sanders will find the financial backing to overcome the corporate-controlled screening process that selects American presidential winners on behalf of the electorate.
America has long become a fake democracy – a cruel parody of one-person-one-vote – in which corporate dictate is the rule. It is arguable that the US is more accurately a form of financial fascism masquerading under the cover of a cosmetic party-political beauty pageant. And Donald Trump, who owns the media rights to Miss America and Miss Universe, knows a thing or two about such pageants.
A multi-billionaire property and media mogul becoming the Commander—in-Chief of America, whose political base largely stems from audience-fans of his hit TV show, The Apprentice, is perhaps the ultimate “reality show”.
But this dose of reality is in a paradoxical way a positive revelation. Unlike the incumbent President Barack Obama who conned the American electorate with nostrums of “yes we can” and “hope and change” – but who in reality is a puppet to Wall Street and the military-industrial complex; and unlike the other current contenders for the presidency, Donald Trump is what you see.
The spectacle of this super-rich, arrogant racist who doesn’t even bother to articulate a political program is testimony to the truly ugly and pathetic condition of American democracy.
That Trump is winning over so many American voters – at least in polls so far – is another sign of how disillusioned ordinary people have become in the prospect of real progress in America. Voting for candidates has become reduced to a surreal spectator event, where the spectator has no real effect on the actual outcome. Maybe that’s why so many people find Trump worthy of support. His reckless mouth at least provides a laugh and the feeling of rebellion against the Washington “fake-ocracy”.
And that is probably why all the other “serious” contenders – whether Republican or Democrat – are now rounding on Trump to pillory him for going too far in his irreverent rhetoric towards other politicians.
For Trump, through his brash megalomania, is inadvertently making a mockery of that much overblown institution – American democracy.
To use his popular TV catchphrase, what US voters should be saying to the whole dysfunctional system is: “You’re fired!”