By Tasman Richardson
Jingoism is patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy. Jingoism also refers to a country’s advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests.
It was a busy year for Trump. Can you imagine being berated by Dick Cheney, I mean he’s practically a war criminal and he’s got the moral high ground? Not to mention Anonymous, the infamous hacktivist group that recently attacked ISIS, announced Operation Trump, or #optrump aimed at decimating the candidates online footprint if he tries to push his unique brand of national security aka banning Muslims.
Marketing is in many ways, a strategic game of match maker. A brand needs to be consistent in its image, it must capture the imagination of its audience, and it must deliver on a promise. Unfortunately, this means we can expect a consistent slew of hateful rhetoric, imagined dystopias, and in the worst case scenario, the ruthless delivery on each toxic promise.
I can’t help but think of Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects saying “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” I’ve been thinking of this regarding Trump’s outrageous shock dialogues and my own indifference to him. His persistent air play has made most of us numb and quick to change channels, and that’s part of the problem.
It’s the kind of apathy that shorts the attention and muddies our cultural memory. We can find ourselves embracing trends in a 20 year fashion cycle, doomed to repeat the past or in the current climate of America, there are uglier histories to revisit. I’m of course referring to the steady rise of the more xenophobic right in the west. I say the west because across the pond there’s a similar love of scapegoating and fearmongering.
Nothing I’m saying is new, I’m sure many pundits with better credentials have said this but I just want to pull it all together in one place. I want to layout the brand that is Trump, and in the process try to touch on his “customers”.
If you’re still reading this then let me just bait you a bit more with this fun (and easily verifiable) fact: Trump reluctantly admitted that he has a copy of My New Order that was given to him as a gift. It’s a humdinger of a sequel to another book called Mein Kampf. Yes that Mein Kampf. Trump tried to blow this off saying that owning a collection of Hitler’s speeches isn’t strange since the friend that gifted the book to him is a Jew. Whew, what a relief! P.S. his friend is NOT Jewish. How do we know this? Here’s an easily verifiable quote: “I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.” Marty Davis.
But that’s not a fair comparison, Germany was way worse off than America, that’s why people were desperate enough to listen to an angry windbag targeting a single poorly understood group for blame. Sadly, comparing photos from Baltimore (sorry Baltimore) or many major American cities will reveal striking comparisons with Germany’s cities just prior to the rise of national socialism.
The thing about political terms is, they’re hatched by the parties themselves. It’s a bit of idealistic brand promise making. National Socialism sounds like a pretty nice thing on paper. It doesn’t say much about who’s steering the ship, much the same as the term Republican or Conservative doesn’t come close to describing Trump’s agenda. During the ultraconservative era of Thatcher and Regan, Trump’s fascist bigotry would have spelled his doom. Amazingly, having insulted everyone with the exception of white, middle America, Trump’s popularity is at an all-time high. In fact, the more abrasive and toxic his behavior, the more his support grows. For a nation whose fabric is already steeped in timeless obsession with patriotism, it’s a short step away from embracing despotism. But wait, Republican’s don’t want government involvement, they’re in favour of business, not regulation. So how can Trump achieve his agenda in the face of less government involvement? Sadly, the world’s economic arrangement has changed since the old Regan glory days of Make America Great (yes, even the hat isn’t his idea). If you aren’t familiar with neoliberalism, it’s the system that enables companies to operate free from government interference. This frees up multi-national companies to pursue the most profitable and efficient means of growth, which no national government can hope to compete with. It’s a complex subject of its own so I won’t delve in here, but it’s fair to say it’s one of the reasons that someone like Trump could achieve his goals through privatization and global reach since he would straddle both roles as politician and businessman.
Unlike traditional right wing conservative thinking, Trump is an American flavour of Populism. It’s a doctrine that plays to the hopes and fears of common people, often resulting in a backlash to change. This is different from the old model because it’s not strictly left or right wing. Drawing from the impulses of the masses, the lowest common denominator becomes the politic. The momentum achieved by mob mentality is undeniable. Recall the woman that attended a recent Trump rally? She stood in silent protest, wearing a shirt that read “Salam, I come in peace” and a yellow star that resembled a star of David (the symbol Jews were forced to were as identifiers during the Holocaust). She was ridiculed, shoved and eventually escorted out. Divisive politics in Europe follow the same pattern, in which blame is placed on refugees, migrants, or Roma, and fear is converted into hate by building on sweeping generalizations that ultimately dehumanize the target groups. Once dehumanized, it’s easy to suggest that we forego human rights, and human dignities.
So, although Trump may look like a clown, sound like a clown, and act like a clown, make no mistake, he’s a well branded populist seeking power by directing a mob that need to blame someone for losing work, homes, or income. The question is, are you the target market?
Hitler’s moustache looked ridiculous too. Don’t let the hair fool you.