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Donald Trump reminds me of ethnographer Jose E. Limon’s portrait of the Devil in South Texas. He — Satan is always a man –appears when sectors of the population feel threatened by the brutal machinations of the capitalist modernity gone wild. In his book, Dancing with the Devil: Society and Poetics in Mexican American South Texas, Limon collected stories from his Mexican/Tejan@ informants of the Devil appearing at cantinas throughout South Texas during weekend dances. This particular Tejano avatar of the Prince of Lies was inevitably described as handsome, nicely attired, a good dancer, well endowed, a favorite of the ladies, and a man’s man, a real Chingon.
Enter Donald Trump into the media-managed US presidential campaign stage replete with candidates: lifelong opportunists who are elite, white, right, and uptight. Cruz and Rubio are the anemic browning of that template and not much more than that. The Devil or Donald Trump vamps on white working and middle-income fear and insecurity and revels in displaying the shit-stained undergarments of the political and media elite who have been the principle cheerleaders of destroying the economics arrangements that after World War Two produced one of the largest middle-classes in the history of the world.
The Devil and Donald Trump delight in the putatively “lower” regions of human anatomy: fecal materials, menstrual blood, penises, vaginas, etc. In fact, the economic policies of the elites in this country are creating the naked conditions that bare these bottom matters. Reality TV is the pixelated comedic opera of these deadly arrangements: the winners, the losers, the wannabes, and the aides-de-camp populate this engrossing universe of tropes and half-truths.
Another name for the Devil is Lucifer — the one who carries the light. Trump’s evil genius is that he sheds light on the actual existing system of choosing presidents and how media elites consolidate their power. His vulgarity is key to scandalizing the media elites’ upper middle-class sensibilities which never seem to extend to the criminality of the corporate lobbyist-fed political oligarchy that runs this country. Their horror rings false in the ears of the many — the non-credentialed rabble. Trump’s assertion that he would be happy to kill some journalists massages the homicidal anger that is just under the skins of many who attend his rallies and sympathize with his revanchist, populist message.
Now, let’s talk about schlongs. There is nothing wrong with schlongs or getting schlonged. Well, it does depend on whose schlong it is and the sophistication of the schlonging, I would argue, but that is another story for another day. What Trump did in his probably off-the-cuff remark was to blow a very powerful dog whistle: the matronly moralist, Hilary Clinton, was scholnged by a Black man. Consider the racist, sexist, and misogynistic registers that are mobilized by such a throw away line.
The Devil has no boundaries since his desires are as capacious as the drunken erotics that make cantinas and populist rallies cathartic spaces for those who feel dispossessed and reeling from a dignity-robbing economic system. The horror that the media and political elites emote at Trump’s pyrotechnics only consolidate his base. The Devil is working overtime these days. Trump is riding his fiery wake as far as he can.
Hillary Clinton will probably win in 2016, but Trumpism may become a fixture in US political discourse and that will have damaging consequences. God, I miss Charlie Daniels. Well, we still have Jack Daniels to soothe our political nerves and to fend off the Devil that has no need for details, just the fire of hatred and the brimstone of popular despair. That’s a stiff drink to swallow. Stiff indeed.