Trumped Up | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Trumped Up 

Donald Trump's candidacy is the political equivalent of professional wrestling

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The Donald Trump presidential candidacy just keeps getting more fascinating. What started as a possible unscripted slip-of-the-tongue in his announcement that offended Mexican immigrants and just about any thoughtful, feeling human has blossomed into what many believe is a full-blown crisis for the Republican Party with The Donald in second place (or even leading) in some polls. It's not anywhere close to a problem, and here's why.

I watched Trump's entire 45-minute coming-out party in mid-June, which was a litany of self-aggrandizing claims, macho international saber-rattling and drum-beating for class and race war. As a student of Italian history, I even found Trump's smug head nods and expressions reminiscent of Benito Mussolini's oratory pouts and postures.

In the days that followed, even normally Trump-enthralled Fox News hosts gave him sympathetic opportunities to tone down his vitriol for Mexicans, which he refused to do; instead, he upped the ante. Networks canceled coverage of his "booty" pageants, retailers dropped Trump product lines and Trump himself lamented that his brand may be suffering as a result of him courageously speaking "the truth."

All those years I'd spent in marketing and sales kicked in, and I realized something: Trump isn't really running for president. He knows he couldn't possibly win in a general election. America is not really that dumb and hate-filled—not yet, anyway—and he's certainly smart enough to know that. Rather, he's doing a cameo appearance in Republican political theater.

The Trump candidacy will get the support of the worst elements of the xenophobic Right and most ardent disciples of materialism and greed (the haves and wanna-haves) that he'll, at some point, hand-off to the real nominee. At the proper time, he'll instruct his posse to support Team GOP. His constituency is a narrow one, and his supporters will flow to the next-orneriest candidate when he drops out. Conversely, he'll gain little new support if others cave first. The real nominee will be someone Trump and the Billionaire Boys' Club can trust to do their bidding—reducing taxes on corporations and the rich, and privatizing any aspects of government and society that might turn them a profit.

Trump's outlandish candidacy also gives swing voters the impression that other Republican candidates are sane by comparison, even if they hold many of the same beliefs—albeit not so crudely expressed. Voters in the middle will more likely support someone like Bush III (when compared to Trumpster) and will believe they're supporting a "moderate" rather than a radical, which essentially all modern GOP politicos have become.

I suspect some others aren't genuine candidates, either. Instead, they're playing roles in a bogus play-off intended to drive shoring stakes around an enlarged Republican circus tent that most likely will have another Bush as its ringmaster. The others (with some exceptions, if they have vice-presidential aspirations) are unofficially tasked with locking up support from various constituencies. So far they've potentially got: Marco Rubio for Latinos; Ben Carson for African-Americans; Bobby Jindal for legal, hardworking immigrants; Rick Santorum for Catholics; Mike Huckabee for evangelicals and other conservative Christians; Ted Cruz and Scott Walker for Tea Partiers; Chris Christie, John Kasich and George Pataki for "moderates;" Rand Paul for libertarians; Rick Perry for good ol' boy rednecks; Lindsey Graham for gentlemen Southerners and conservative gays of both the closeted and Log Cabin varieties; and Carly Fiorina to prove that, hey, women can be Republicans, too.

They're doing their duty for the party, and their loyalty might someday land them a spot on Fox News. In Trump's case, he also gets to remind America that the belligerent ass he's always played on TV is still relevant, while burnishing his image as a no-pulled-punches tough guy. He also gets free exposure for the Trump brand. His announcement featured shameless plugs for his casinos and golf courses and, despite any temporary negative fallout, his brand and name recognition grow. It's the time-honored publicity seeker's adage inspired by P.T. Barnum: I don't care what you say about me, just spell my name right.

If you're still tempted to believe Trump's bid is genuine, remember, he regularly pulls shameless publicity stunts. Google Trump's greatest WWE moments, and watch the video: All doubts will vanish.

What you're witnessing is the political equivalent of professional wrestling. There's little doubt it's a mind-game, and the lower one's awareness levels are, the more effective the ploy. Trump is playing his part in the grander production to turn as many Americans as possible into submissive pawns in service to the corporate machine and buying its products.

In case it isn't obvious, I'm supporting a Democrat candidate. I've been fully down with up-and-coming Bernie Sanders from the start. Apparently, most Americans are, too, even if they don't know it. When polled, about 72 percent agree with Sanders' Scandinavian-like policies rather than favoring a return to the Gilded Age and getting raped by the rich, which is what all modern Republicans—and even Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton to some degree—seem to be offering.

It's time to redirect my attention toward something that might actually advance the human condition: I'm studying the pope's encyclical that tries to convince humanity not to doom itself with climate destruction, materialism and greed. I agree 100 percent, and I'm far from being a Catholic. Now, if only a few presidential candidates—besides Bernie Sanders—would give those issues the attention they so critically warrant and cut out all the melodramatic play-acting.

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