Depressing Superficiality

The second Republican primary debate in connection with the November 2016 election was held Wednesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, an event during which the dangerous billionaire buffoon Donald Trump was the main attraction once again. As anticipated, this was a spectacle of depressing superficiality. Let’s hope that this vacuity mobilizes Democratic voters on Election Day.

Although his star will fade into a swamp of ignorance come autumn — as it should — Trump has nevertheless made history in American electoral politics as one of the crudest characters. For him to continue to lead in the polls and end up snatching the Republican nomination would be an abomination. Although, what is the fundamental difference between the actor-president Ronald Reagan and this big-mouthed businessman and reality TV star? You should have seen how determined CNN was to style Wednesday’s debate, broadcast from an amphitheater near Los Angeles, like a late-night talk show. Trump largely embodies the ideal of a media-driven world that is only interested in points of view that can be summed up in a 10-second sound bite.

In fact, what is more disturbing than the man himself is his popularity among Republican voters. Has the level of electoral discourse ever fallen so low in the United States? Sure, Trump’s popularity is a testament to the general disillusion of Americans — on the right and left — with politicians, and in particular to the visceral enmity of many Republican voters toward centralized authority and the presidential institution. These reactions are not new, nor are they totally unjustified. They are not typical of Americans either.

But in reaction to Trump, these sentiments are particularly disturbing. He talks nonsense, but he does it with a populist aplomb that some obviously confuse with competence. He re-assures the electorate with his political illiteracy. He presents himself as anti-Washington and anti-establishment, all the while embodying, like all the other candidates (but in a more exaggerated way, which apparently makes him more credible) the habitual marriage of money and politics — which by the way does not mean that we, the Canadian and Quebec voters, are so much wiser than Americans.

That said, in California, Trump received a clearly less enthusiastic welcome than in Cleveland on Aug. 6 during the first Republican primary debate. His star may indeed be beginning to fade. Still, the simple fact that the Republican Party has welcomed this entertainer says a lot about what the party is and what it is becoming: a party where even the most vaguely moderate voices have more and more trouble making themselves heard.

Nov. 8, 2016 is still far away. Anything can happen, but the fact remains that the Republican electoral strategy is far from being the most effective — and it’s the most insidious. Let us hope that in this context, Trump will be a useful bogeyman for the Democratic Party in inciting Democratic voters to make an extra effort to go to the polls, even if it’s to vote for Hillary Clinton.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply