The Donald Trump Cause

"Donald Trump September 3 2015" by Michael Vadon
Why are so many Americans flocking to the Donald Trump political cause? He surely embodies the anti-foreign prejudices and the unfocused hostility to our political process that many Americans feel. To me, his appeal is lot like that of George Wallace with its ethnic prejudices and bellicose posture toward existing powers. I wrote about Wallace’s cynical appeals in Reaping the Whirlwind in 1985 and again in The House I Live In in 2005. People like Trump’s angry temper and his cocky assertions of his superiority over everyone else in the race for president. But the other thing that has accelerated Trump’s rise is he is a celebrity, not a politician. He is a celebrity more than a businessman. What makes him a celebrity? He has been on television regularly, and at times continuously, for most of his adult life. In American society, we give some people status because they are politically influential, and some because they are rich. But the people with the highest status are those who have celebrity, who are constantly in the public eye, who are talked about on television. If you have celebrity, you don’t have to be rich or powerful (though we assumed that all celebrities are rich and many are), and you certainly don’t have to advance a consistent philosophy or demonstrate evidence of good moral behavior. Celebrity absolves you of the need to prove yourself otherwise. You are important and admired because you are famous. And now it appears that your celebrity may make you president.

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