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The Birth of Trump
Dateline, Vancouver, March 2016
I sent off an essay about Donald Trump to the Washington Post, back in January, but they didn't post it. I thought this was a pretty good essay, capturing the essence of why people are voting for him, in a way very different from other essays.
Pretty much everyone says Trump is the result of a pathetically incompetent Washington government, and so does this but with an interesting twist. This essay is not for or against Trump, it's just a theory of where he came from. I'm reposting it below for your reading pleasure.
The Birth of Donald Trump
The cartoonish momentum of the Donald Trump movement seems to have caught everyone flat-footed. How could the voting public be so enamoured by such hot air, we all ask each other. Yet, every new episode of political suicide merely reinforces Trump's foundation. For every newspaper story broadcasting the latest Trump eye-roller, there is another analyzing why he only seems to get stronger with each calculated gaffe.
A lot of these stories and coffee shop talk lean on the idea that Trump is tapping into the American public's frustration with Washington. This frustration is as deep as Trump's pockets, yet the opposing politicians seem utterly clueless as to what is going on.
While all the other candidates talk about the issues, Trump sticks to the single issue that has the American public truly alarmed: Washington is a train wreck. There is a long list of important issues in the world these days that need addressed on a very deep level, yet the entire mass of politicians in Washington have proven incapable of addressing even the simple problems before them.
This isn't about bickering between Democrats and Republicans. Both sides are pathologically driven by their extremist factions without regard for practicality. Neither side is even proposing policies that will work, but would rather burn their political horsepower to simply tell us about the great things they'll do when the other side finally caves in.
Thirty five years ago, Regan coined the phrase, "it's the economy stupid." And now Trump has figured out, "it's Washington stupid." And the American public fully agree. Few of the other candidates can claim to be not-Washington, and none are brave enough to prove it - other than Trump.
Donald Trump is a smart guy. He knows this is the only issue that matters. He doesn't need an agenda or policies, and doesn't even need to make sense. All he needs to do is to keep the public informed that he's as different from Washington as the man on the moon. The more absurd his rhetoric, the more he reinforces that he is not Washington. Trump can make up stories, tell lies, spout vulgarities, insult the population, alienate world leaders - and each time he opens his mouth he is telling the fed up public "I am not Washington."
Donald Trump was born November 14, 1995. That was the day congress shut down the federal government over a budget conflict with the President. This was a clash of ideology rather than substance, locking Washington in an extremist death grip ever since and bringing government to a standstill every year for two decades.
This divine birth was the spawn of extremists from opposite poles of the Earth. Each year their demands become more and more extreme, backed up with excuses that become more and more extreme.
"The other party is the road block", they both tell us.
"If they would just get on board this crisis would go away", they tell themselves.
"We just aren't getting our message across", they cry.
"We've been given a mandate", was the House proclamation with a majority of 2.
Everyone on Earth sees through this obfuscation - everyone except those causing it.
Trump was born again on Oct 10, 2000 - the day China was granted permanent trade relations. Suddenly millions of jobs began flooding overseas, washing across the landscape in a biblical flood that took our paychecks, pensions and houses with it. "Opening the China markets is good for the economy", the headline reads while I stand in line at the employment office. This is easy for Congress to say - they're not about to send their own jobs overseas.
Trump was born yet again on January 21, 2010. That was the day the Supreme Court opened the vault to unlimited corporate spending on elections. Like a rocket on the launch pad, campaign spending suddenly explodes to absurd levels. Everyone knew this was a bad idea, but nobody realized it would become this bad this fast. Democracy is a wreck, with outside interests invading states with millions in campaign cash in an attempt to drive out the local guy. They're a clever group, these billionaires; why spend a fortune on a senator from Ohio when they can simply drive across the bridge and buy two for the price of one in West Virginia? Nobody gets in and policies don't get out without a billionaire stamp of approval.
There's a nice creek out here near Portland where a big jam of logs has blocked the flow. Each spring another log throws its self onto the jam, growing the stack a little bigger as they all gasp for air under their own weight. I like to sit out in my lawn chair with my feet in the creek, waiting for the day when those logs see the mess they've gotten themselves into, and untangle themselves to let the creek flow free again.
They've been trying for twenty years now, but just can't figure it out. It's simple really, the ones on top need to move first. Maybe they're all just waiting around for some kind of savior, or maybe this new savior is just another log to be heaped onto the jam.