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4Jan/161

Donald Trumps

Donald Trump by Greg Skidmore

Donald Trumps is what capitalism would look like, were it made flesh. Not the American ideal of it: Superman, Rambo or Henry Rollins or something. But a beady- and black-eyed carnivorous hamster in a suit so expensive it can only look cheap. A shameless, honking fart driving down the road in an open-topped car, smiling as it makes everyone vomit. A grotesque wad of dollar bills setting itself on fire so it can light its own Cuban cigar, rolled on the thighs of a young woman it hates. That's what Donald Trumps is.

Trumps is a disruptive force in American politics, just as capitalism is a disruptive force in economic markets. In the first case he is a reaction; a kick against something. An easy answer for soft minds. Trumps tells us that not only can we have whatever we want, we deserve it. And the only reasons we can't have those things are Muslims, the media, people in New York, homosexuals, Mexicans, women, the disabled, abortionists and people who want to ensure slightly fewer children are shot in the head while they're doing their PE lessons.

Capitalism also tells us that we can have everything - and that we deserve it. Like a virus we introduced it to Russia and China because we knew it would destroy them. And it sort-of did for a while. But what we never banked us was that it might destroy us - like mustard gas drifting back over no-man's land. It's being doing that for years, growing within us. And now we're seeing the lumps and boils on our body. And those lumps and boils are Donald Trumps.

Electing Donald Trumps as President of the Unites States would be like curing a cold by dropping a fireplace on your head. But it wouldn't even be as sensible as that. There's no causal relationship between identifying the problems America faces - nuns shooting up schools, black people mercilessly assaulting the bullets of white cops, corrupt politicians snorting fracking gas - and making a mad businessman president. That would be like having a dispute with your neighbour about a hedge and concluding the appropriate course of action would be to suicide bomb the local donkey sanctuary.

I talked to an American guy in an expensive holiday resort last year. We won a music quiz, swigged whisky and yee-ha!-ed to our victory. We talked about our work and holidays and families. Then he started talking about politics and I realised he was completely fucking nuts. And while there are plenty of people from the States who are just like me, he is not especially extraordinary among Americans in my experience. He was an intelligent, gregarious and amusing man. And he thought Donald Trumps was great.

Trumps wants to stop all Muslims entering the country. He wants to build a wall that's 2,000 fucking miles long - and make a foreign country pay for that. That's not politics - it's Age Of Empires. He makes fun of disabled people and when women ask him questions he doesn't like he suggests they're on the rag - or calls them ugly - although his greatest insult appears to be that his rivals are 'low-energy'. What sort of person derides another on the basis of how much, or how little, they fidget? There can be no other explanation - he's nuts. Or is he?

Well, yes he is. But nowhere near as nuts as he makes out. Trump reminds me of Clarkson, Katie Hopkins, Louise Mensch. These are all people who say controversial things in exchange for money, with varying degrees of wit, sincerity and spite. They have essentially captured the power of trolling. And that's what Donald Trumps has done. He has realised that nuts plays well in this day and age. In a field of Republican nominees who are so bonkers their very existence strains credulity, that's going some.

Our economic system, combined with rapidity of media and social media means that things that might have been unsayable, unthinkable 10, 20 or 50 years ago may now barely raise an eyebrow. We're not talking about the slow progress of minority rights over many decades. We're talking about a world in which people casually watch execution videos over their McFlurries, where kids' TV presenters can be seen on the web having a cock slapped around their faces. The incredible becomes normal so quickly it's numbing.

The BBC, the NHS, Great Britain, the EU. Whether you like these things or not it seemed unthinkable a very short time ago that they might disappear. Just as it might once have seemed impossible that Jeremy Corbyn might be leader of Labour; the SNP and UKIP would surge in popularity. Or that Donald Trumps might actually be the POTUS by 2017.

In a world where we get what we want when we want it - and blame someone else if we can't have it - Donald Trumps is merely the logical end-point. And in a country that seems to have forsaken science, common sense and empathy; flirted with racism, religious fruitcakery and outright insanity Donald Trumps is about to prove de Tocqueville correct: America deserves him.

• Original image by Greg Skidmore, Flickr used via Creative Commons

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