FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Donald Trump: Simulacrum in Chief

The election of Donald Trump represents, among other things, the triumph of the Simulacrum over the Real. This state of affairs has been a long time coming in American politics and society and should, in effect, surprise no one.

Beginning with the Kennedy/Nixon debates of 1960 telegenic appearance began to chip away at serious, substantive argumentation. And then came the glamour and myth-making of “Camelot” which demonstrably changed the style of and expectations for the American Presidency forever. On the face of it, it might be said that Kennedy was America’s first “Celebrity in Chief”.

Things then became immeasurably worse with the election of Ronald Reagan who was a master myth-maker able to manipulate his electoral audience with a wide range of life-long acting skills. At this point in history, power was already inextricably linking itself with ever more conspicuously staged appearances.

Even during the Clinton presidency, this particular Commander and Chief had a disturbing penchant to associate and legitimize himself with the denizens and imagery of Hollywood and Pop Culture. And then of course came a period of scandal commensurate to any of the soap operas of the time.

In comparison, the Bush presidency that followed was, in due course, completely convinced that the Real no longer mattered and that truth was ultimately a relative construction based on power. Here, tragically, the Real eventually became a full fledged victim of unbounded hubris.

Despite his good intentions and efforts, Obama, too, was very much invested in aspects of the celebrity culture in which he came of age and cultivated an aura which was often times too close for comfort to Pop Idol Status. Perversely, some features of his presidency may well have been the necessary prelude to what was to come. (This goes someway to explain why his policies were not able to be carried forward by a far less glamorous successor: Hillary Clinton)

Enter Donald Trump and we now have the celebrity incarnate. The apotheosis of all that is glittery and gauche. The mirror which is able to reflect only itself.

As I’ve just briefly outlined, the historical trajectory that led to the triumph of a regressive combatant infantilism was a long one. Much of America aspires to wealth and glory and has always done so. These desires have only been exacerbated by a tyrannical pop culture which saturates and consumes us daily. But in Donald Trump the contempt for the real has reached a culmination point. No longer is truth even an important criterion of power but the symbolic substantiation of unfulfilled mythic yearnings has now taken absolute precedence and fully replaced it.

Power has always had an aspect of the sacred. And if the truth be told, America’s real religion is the gospel of success; the nearly insane glorification of winners and the almost sadistically cruel subjugation of losers. No one personifies this public religion better than Donald Trump. He is the true Potifex Maximus of the people that voted for him; charismatically representing the angry longings of millions for wealth, beauty, power, and perhaps, even revenge on those who were deemed perennially unable or unwilling to give it to them.

Dan Corjescu has a PhD in Philosophy form Sofia University Bulgaria. He teaches at Neu Ulm Hochschule in Bavaria Germany.

More articles by:

Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

August 03, 2020
Linda Pentz Gunter
The Resistible Rise of Nuclear Gangsters…and Their Downfall
John G. Russell
The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Cal Winslow
Their Heroes and Ours: California’s Health Care Crisis
David Barber
Renouncing White Privilege: A Left Critique of Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility”
Linda G. Ford
Free Joy Powell! America’s Political Prisoner for Fighting Police Brutality
Prabir Purkayastha
Trump’s Withdrawal From WHO: a Cover-Up for His Abject Failure on COVID-19
Dean Baker
The Plunge in Consumption of Services Leads to a Record 32.9 Percent Drop in GDP
Ramzy Baroud
Human Rights Defenders: Palestinian Eyewitness Testimony of the Execution of Abdul Fattah al-Sharif by Israeli Soldier, Elor Azaria
Karen J. Greenberg
Accountability is Gone in America
Cesar Chelala
A Wrong Message for the Pandemic
Jonah Raskin
Chesa Boudin: Reformer in the San Francisco DA’s Office
George Wuerthner
Forest Plan Failure in the Montana Rockies
Ralph Nader
Speaker Nancy Pelosi Writes to Me!
Laura Flanders
Take on the Tech Mob Now or Perish
CounterPunch News Service
Conservationists Intervene to Oppose New Dam Project Near the Grand Canyon
Weekend Edition
July 31, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Bette Lee
Tear Gas and Thugs at the BLM Protests in Portland
Rob Urie
Russiagate, Nazis, and the CIA
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Demon Seed
T.J. Coles
The Space Wars Have Begun
Andrew Levine
Insurgents and Iconoclasts Needed (But for Now Lay Low)
Paul Street
“Time to Say the F-Word”: Why Now?
Matthew Scully
The Triple Antagonist of the Police, Policing, and Policy
Richard D. Wolff
The Consequences of Inequality Can Be Fatal
Richard C. Gross
Feds Give In, Maybe
Erik Molvar
Inside Trump’s Attack on America’s Environmental Charter
W. T. Whitney
“We Charge Genocide:” Forerunner at UN of Black Lives Matter
Brett Wilkins
The Bologna Massacre, the ‘Strategy of Tension’ and Operation Gladio
Nick Pemberton
Does The Left Stand With Uighurs?
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump’s Misguided Attacks on WHO
Barbara G. Ellis
A Portland ‘Sit-Down’ Can Rock Trump’s Boat
Nancy J. Altman
On Medicare and Medicaid’s 55th Birthday, Let’s Expand Benefits—Not Cut Them
John O'Kane
Systemic Racism And Progressive Reconstruction
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange’s Political Indictment: Old Wine in Older Bottles
Ramzy Baroud
List of Targets Leaked: Israel Fears the Worst in ICC Investigation of War Crimes
Marshall Auerback
Every Step the EU Takes Toward Financial Unity Sows New Seeds of Its Potential Collapse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
Fascist Ohio’s Bribed $60 Million Nuke Reactor Meltdown
Walden Bello
Could the Duterte Regime be COVID-19’s Next Victim?
Jonathan H. Martin
Bernie Groups Break Free of Dems: New Party Rising?
Ron Jacobs
Hunting with the Father
Michael Welton
What Does It Mean To Tolerate Others?
Eve Ottenberg
Climate Change is Genocide
Serge Halimi
The Twenty Years War
Kathy Kelly
Yemen: a Torrent of Suffering in a Time of Siege
Myles Hoenig
American Exceptionalism
Robert P. Alvarez
I Was Tear Gassed in Portland … and Not Only by the Feds
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail