‘I am your horse!’: 50 shades of Trump on the stump
Molly Crabapple has been following the US presidential nominations. Here, the writer and illustrator lifts the lid on a lurid campaign of Russian hackers and tangerine demagogues, body armour and BDSM
We cant pretend to be surprised at the rise of the Tangerine Mussolini. Over the last few years, the world has had a torrid love affair with fascism. In 2015, when more than a million humans fled poverty and war for Europe, Europeans fled to the far right. Elsewhere, Modi, Erdoan and Putin puffed out their chests and appealed to primordial yearnings for Daddy. The provincial US media might paint Donald Trump as a new type of candidate, birthed by reality TV and social media, but one look at the global zeitgeist would fix their illusions. Tangerine Mussolini builds nothing himself. Not campaigns and not skyscrapers. He merely lends his face.
#DonaldTrump is Americas selfie, tweeted the writer Tariq Tour on 10 March, the night Trump declared Islam hates us to CNNs Anderson Cooper. Trumps formula is old and simple: economic help for members of the in-group; violence (metaphorical or actual) for those outside. A mix of socialism and nationalism, if you will.
More than anything, Trump voters feel aggrieved. Some of the grievances are legitimate. Globalisation, backed by both democratic and republican elites, has decimated vast swaths of the US midwest replacing family supporting factory jobs with precarious, humiliating work at Walmart. However, these legitimate fears coexist with talk-radio hallucinations. One Trump voter I met in Cleveland a courteous, wholesome truck driver told me that Democrats were mass importing undocumented Mexican immigrants to illegally vote. Another, a blonde woman selling Trump shirts, told me her husband feared for her safety at the Republican national convention, and demanded she carry a pistol and wear body armour.
The fear isnt helped by our global summer of violence. Mass shootings and suicide bombings flare up in Baghdad and Belgium, in Orlando and Istanbul, in Baton Rouge and Munich and Kabul. Some are Islamic State. Others are the work of broken, poisoned men. Each amplifies the next, spreading like a virus through the tendrils of world media. Each has one message: be afraid.
When people are afraid, they cling to authority, and Trump is only too happy to provide. We will be great again, Tangerine Mussolini promises, once the scary brown outsiders are deported, and the minorities uppity women and liberal fifth columnists are beaten down. Trump takes Washingtons coded racism and writes it in neon. To his followers, this looks like strength.
Tangerine Mussolini promises many things. He will bring back the factories. He will build a wall. He will force China to submit and take Isiss oil after bombing the oil fields they occupy. All Trump-loving Americans will get free tickets to Ice Cream Mountain. He doesnt give specifics on how hell accomplish these plans, but who cares? For Trumps supporters, the impossibility of his claims doesnt reveal a shameful ignorance of economics, geography or physics. It shows he has Dominated Reality.