The cheap tawdriness of Trumpism belies a lack of class and sophistication found not only in Trump, but in the puerile exhibitions of his followers.
By David Todd McCarty | Sunday, September 6, 2020
Trump is the wannabe that never could. From an early age, he endeavored to ingratiate himself into the inner sanctum of America’s elite only to be rebuffed at every turn. He conspired to grift his way into a world of wealth and privilege, using other people’s money, sleazy business practices, dubious ethical positions, the tawdry trappings of pretend wealth, and the glitter of cheap fame. After being properly weighed and measured, he was found to be lacking—in the end, he was nothing more than the neglected child of a slumlord from Queens, who could never win his father’s approval, failed at more than he succeeded, and lost more than he made.
Trump has often expressed his distain for those he considers losers, because he knows, deep down, that he has always been one of them. He ended up sitting on a toilet made of gold, but was never able to gain access to the world he so desperately wanted to be a part of. He had the clothes and the car, but never the cache. No matter what he bought or made, the cool kids would refuse him entry, ridicule and exclude him, and make him feel small.
Donald Trump always lacked any true joie de vivre because he had no authentic interests outside of self-fulfillment.and so never developed any appreciation of art, culture, food or architecture. He burned his steaks, prefers cheap takeout, cheats at golf, has a penchant for gold lame and putting his name on things, and built his own golf clubs when no one else would let him join theirs.
The truth is, Trump lacks class, the one thing money could never buy him. He is forever tacky, and his legions of fans, those who treat him like the strongman he wishes he was, are equally tacky. These are people willing to adorn ostentatious boats with equally ostentatious displays of fandom for a television celebrity that used to do guest appearances on pay-per-view wrestling broadcasts. He’s a clown and they revel in his grotesquery. They wear his cheap hats and rodeo-clown tee shirts festooned with cartoonish depictions of him as a caped superhero. They buy flags and pins and other tchotchkes emblazoned with his name and likeness. Regardless of wealth, the Trumper is one who can’t buy class, but can buy a token of what they imagine is wealth.
Trump is beloved by unsophisticated, uncouth hoards that celebrate his flaunted wealth even as he wouldn’t be caught dead at one of their functions. He’s not going hunting, fishing, camping, or drinking beer. He doesn’t want to be with the common man. He wants to be on top of the world, not in the middle of it. It’s why he golfs. It’s the sport of the leisure class. If he wasn’t terrified of the water, he’d have yachts.
The need to be part of something is one of the things that Trump and his followers share. Trumpers are segregated, not only by race, but by class. They aren’t allowed into the clubs of the elite, so they made their own. They call it NASCAR.
In any other world, Trump would have nothing to do with his legion of fans. They are losers in his eyes. Suckers. But there are other factors at play. One, they are loyal, a virtue Trump values above all else. And two, they frighten the political establishment, which is actually the greater power at play.
There is a cultural divide in America that isn’t the result of our partisan divide, but the source of it. We are segregated by who we are, which has resulted in choosing the tribe we feel will accept us.
Our separation is the result of the disconnect between wealth and class, intellectualism and populism, curiosity and fear, privilege and poverty. It’s not about money, even though it does involve wealth, but it is ultimately about class.
We will heal this country when there is a more equitable distribution of wealth that allows for better education and greater opportunities. When Americans are able to rise above the generation before them, get access to better education, achieve more prosperity and relative wealth, and discover a world beyond merely sustaining life and surviving fear, then we will begin to see each other more plainly.
The powerful elite have no need for competition or the distribution of wealth. They need the poor as much as they fear and despise them. The American Dream might actually be a pie after all, and 1% of the population is getting 99% of the pie, leaving the rest of us to fight over the crumbs.
It’s not simply that Trumpers lack sophistication and class, it’s that they lack imagination and empathy. They bought into the lie that freedom is a zero sum game—that for someone to win, someone has to lose. The irony of their ideology is that they don’t understand who is eating all the pie, because it’s not who they think it is. It’s not immigrants or the poor or the gays or women. It’s the rich, and they’re not even eating it, they’re hoarding it.
There is no evidence that the shy Trump voter exists in America, but there should be. They should be ashamed but they simply don’t know any better.