Wissot: Trumpism is Trump’s legacy
Donald Trump brought the elegance and dignity of professional wrestling to American politics. The Donald hated the “fake“ media but had no problem loving a ludicrously fake sport.
While working for NBC in 2007 he cross promoted his show, “The Apprentice,” with Wrestlemania XXlll, by agreeing to wrestle Vince McMahon, the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, in a match billed as the “Battle of the Billionaires.” Trump won and strapped McMahon to a chair and shaved his head to celebrate the victory.
He must have recognized after he got into politics the similarities between wrestling fans and the kind of people who showed up at his rallies. “The traditional wrestling crowd is somebody’s grandmother and your plumber,” he said.
His deplorable conduct on the debate stage and campaign trail was right out of the playbook used to promote Wrestlemania. Trump incorporated insults and male braggadocio, both staples of the WWE, into volatile political theater.
The poor putzes on the debate stage with him during the race for the Republican nomination in 2015-2016 were badly bushwhacked. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush foolishly thought the debates were cerebral competitions testing their brains and wits. Silly boys. Trump knew better. He turned them into trash-talking contests worthy of players in the NBA. It was like a practice session for a spelling bee where each of the spellers brought a dictionary with them except for one who chose assault weapons.
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One of the debates devolved into a comparison of hand sizes with Rubio teasing Trump that his small hands were a sign of another undersized part of his anatomy. It was an ironic jibe considering Trump had remarked to McMahon during the “Battle of the Billionaires“ that “Your grapefruits are no match for my Trump Towers.“
It is easy to dismiss Trump’s crude antics as juvenile, immature, adolescent. But they were so much more. They ushered in a new age of political anarchy where the irrational supplanted the rational, and actual facts were replaced with alternative facts, or in other words, lies. Before Trump was elected, being called a liar was considered an insult. But that all changed when he won. Now it is an honor to be called a liar by your lying enemies.
In a time like ours where your news is fake because it’s coming from Fox and mine isn’t because it’s coming from MSNBC, polarization is cemented. The Washington Post reported that Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims during his four years in office. A die-hard Trump supporter would react by saying, “So what, look who reported it: the Washington Post, a fake news newspaper.”
When tribal truths serve as the basis for competing versions of reality, we are at the abyss philosopher Hannah Arendt warned us about when she wrote, “If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer.“
Right now Trump is like Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining,” constantly popping up to remind us, “Here’s Donald.“ But once he finally leaves, and trust me he will, the gods can only take so much of him, his lasting legacy, Trumpism, will live on.
Republicans are already doing their best Trump impersonations because they’ve learned from the master that bashing the liberals his base despises gets you votes. Ask the core constituents to the completely reshaped Trumpican Party who they hate more, Putin or Biden? I believe their answer would be Hunter Biden’s father. Even now, at the height of Putin’s crimes against humanity, Trump wannabes are spending more time criticizing our president than condemning Russia’s.
Trumpism was on full display in the recent Senate judiciary hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown-Jackson. Dorothy’s companions from the “Wizard of Oz,” Sens. Cruz, Hawley and Cotton, were there to accuse the very composed and articulate Brown-Jackson of handing down lenient sentences to child pornographers, favoring the teaching of critical race theory in elementary school and harboring a fondness for defending terrorists.
Cotton, who has a fixed scowl on his face that makes the Grouch on “Sesame Street” seem hysterically happy, speculated that had she been around at the time, Brown-Jackson would have defended Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg Tribunal.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, who represents Tennessee, the state famous for the 1925 Scopes “monkey“ trial in which banning the teaching of evolution in the public schools was upheld, carried on that fine tradition by asking the Supreme Court nominee whether she could define what a woman was. When she demurred by saying she wasn’t a biologist, Blackburn said the fact that she couldn’t provide a “straight answer“ was a damning consequence of progressive education.
Allow me to digress here and enlighten the good senator. There are four gender categories:
1: Man. 2: Woman. 3: Trans. 4: I haven’t decided yet.
It’s fluid, Marsha, it’s fluid.
Trump is his party’s phony blue collar billionaire bully. He is Republicans’ vicarious voice expressing contempt for liberals in politics, entertainment, the media and academia. Trump will not be around forever. All bad things, like all good things, must come to an end. That said, the same intense anger toward social elite snobbism that spawned Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and ultimately, Trump, will keep Trumpism alive.
Nazism survived Hitler. Stalinism survived Stalin. Trumpism will survive Trump.
But please don’t compare Trump to either Hitler or Stalin. They were mass murderers responsible for millions of deaths. Trump is the spoiled son of a slumlord who went slumming for votes in Fox News land and conned the rubes into buying enough snake oil to become president.
Comparing Trump to Hitler and Stalin is an insult to evil.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at email@example.com.