Why the hell am I writing about Donald Trump? And why the hell would you want to read another article about him?
Since the launch of Trump’s presidential campaign last June, many of us have had more than our fill of Trump-based stories. His antics and his odious rhetoric are well-documented, and the Huffington Post spares no effort in calling out his highly reprehensible behavior.
That being said, I have my reasons for writing about Trump. As his campaign steamrolled through debacles that would have spelled the end for any other candidate in this race, I had this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I waited anxiously for a Trump implosion in 2015 that—rationality be damned—never came.
Like Marcellus standing on the battlements of Elsinore with Hamlet and Horatio, I could tell that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
The Trump campaign is unlike anything most of us have seen thus far in our lifetimes.
Not since Barry Goldwater’s campaign in 1964 has a presidential candidate outwardly vied for the support of bigots and racists. Rather than debate substantive issues and engage in constructive dialogue with those who disagree with him, Trump insults his detractors and fuels his campaign on a single premise—he’s a winner.
His supporters love it.
Just a few weeks ago, Trump declared that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and [he] wouldn’t lose any voters.”
I shudder to think he just may be right.
But if so, what does that say about our society as a whole? What does it mean when a formidable part of our electorate is eager to support a demagogue who denigrates immigrants, Muslims, women, people of color, the LGBT community, et al, and then tells bold-faced lies to defend himself?
What sort of malaise is festering in the American psyche? If we look in the mirror, will we recognize ourselves, and can we face the noxious specter looking back at us?
This is what I aim to investigate. This is why I’m writing about Donald Trump.
Long before launching one of the most vitriolic presidential campaigns in recent memory, Donald Trump studied business at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and went on to earn billions in the real estate industry with $1 million in startup capital supplied by his father.
After becoming a real estate kingpin in New York City, Trump wrote books on entrepreneurship and became a reality TV star. You might have heard of his show The Apprentice or his 1987 bestselling book The Art of the Deal.
In the late ‘90s, Trump was infinitely more liberal than the persona he currently flaunts around GOP voters. During an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press in 1999, he claimed that it “would not disturb” him if gays served in the military, and said that he “hate[d] abortions,” but described himself as “very pro-choice.”
Trump explained his liberal attitudes in light of the fact that he’d lived in New York City his whole life.
Trump’s former liberalism is well-known, but the current GOP front runner will do anything except admit it.
We don’t know what caused the major tectonic shift in Trump’s political views. To be fair, I’m not even certain that such a shift genuinely took place.
It’s within the realm of possibility that Trump is simply playing his supporters for fools just to get elected. The line between fact and fiction—or whether there’s any fact at all—are nearly indiscernible when it comes to a profligate liar like Trump.
In 2011, Trump alleged that President Obama may not have been born in this country and may have been practicing Islam in secret. “He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim,” Trump said on Fox News.
After his speculations on Obama’s ethnicity and religion, Trump contemplated the idea of a presidential bid on the Republican side in 2012. In the end, he declined to run, claiming “business is my greatest passion, and I am not yet ready to leave the private sector.”
For some time afterwards, Trump was quiet. He had consolidated his position as one of the country’s leading business tycoons and continued to accrue vast sums of money through his real estate speculation, books and popular TV series.
But in mid-2015, something changed.
We’ll never know what finally prompted Trump to spring into action for the 2016 presidential race. Perhaps he genuinely believed he’d make a more effective president than anyone else who had thus far entered the race.
Perhaps he was just bored.
June 16, 2015—one day before my birthday. One day before Dylann Roof shot and killed nine parishioners at a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Ivanka Trump walked up to a speaker’s podium in front of a crowd at Trump Tower shortly after 11 a.m. There was a placard in front of the podium that shouted “TRUMP,” and beneath it, in smaller letters, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
“Today, I have the honor of introducing a man who needs no introduction,” she said. “His legend has been built, and his accomplishments are too many to name. That man is my father.”
Ivanka Trump would say a few more words before her father took the stage to give a speech that would launch his 2016 presidential campaign.
And what a speech it was.
Featured Photo Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Flickr user DonkeyHotey.
Horus Alas is senior philosophy major and can be reached at email@example.com.