Assuming he goes down in flames before he causes us to; assuming that what’s left of our democracy ends him before he ends what’s left of our democracy, Trump will have been the best thing that ever happened to America, indeed, among the best for our global survival imperative – figuring out how to spot and thwart the asshole impulse in human nature.
You can’t thwart what you can’t spot. Even with all our experience with the asshole impulse, we’re still lousy at spotting it.
Trump is the absolute best, the greatest, the most tremendous negative role model we could ask for. He is the e-z reader of sleazy leaders, the large print edition, the 1st grader’s Where’s Waldo or word finder puzzle for spotting assholes.
Sure we’ve had other asshole leaders before. But even the worst, the ones who killed the most people and lasted the longest could be mistaken for their ideology. Stalin could be mistaken for a Communist. Hitler for a Nationalist. Assholes wear camouflage. They dress up their tyranny in poser principles.
Trump is different. He’s generic. He has no ideology to distract us. He’s essence of asshole, authoritarian distillate. He’s pure, uncut, unalloyed, unadulterated by any tinge of cover-story ideology. Eau de asshole.
People the world over cry out for room to live their lives the way they want. Even the strictest fundamentalists want their freedom to demand a closed society. Everyone wants to have their way, and to the extent possible, we should let em. Live and let live. Freedom of speech, freedom of association, but of course, not unlimited freedom.
In a free society you don’t get to commandeer other people’s lives. You don’t get to tell people how to live but you still need to spot and thwart the assholes or it doesn’t remain a free society.
If humanity is to survive, we therefore, need to know how to spot an asshole, an authoritarian who will end free society. It’s no good getting distracted by this or that asshole’s style or platform. We need to be able to spot assholes from any corner no matter how they’re camouflaged. We need to be able to recognize essence of asshole.
We all lie. Anyone who claims they don’t is lying. So what is a liar?
We all engage in hypocrisy. Anyone who claims they don’t is engaging in hypocrisy. So what is a hypocrite?
We’re all care about ourselves, anyone who claims they don’t is showing off. So what makes someone selfish or greedy?
We’re all jerks to someone. Anyone who claims they aren’t is jerking you around. So what makes someone a total jerk, an asshole?
Trump puts total jerkdom on garish, exaggerated display. If we’re ever going to learn how to spot an asshole, we need it as cartoonish as he displays it. If we’re all going to do our civic duty to keep assholes out of power, we’re all going to need to know the essence of asshole.
It’s got to be simple, not subtle or else most folks won’t get it. Even as simple and cartoonish as Trump is, the naïve, inattentive and easily flattered don’t spot it.
Still, you can’t do better than Trump outside of fiction. We needed a real-world cartoon asshole. Only with a guy as dangerous and pervasive as Trump do we ever have a chance of learning our most important lesson, how to spot assholes. He’s a vaccine for the body politic, exaggerated, impotent by incompetence, just right to stir the body politics’ defenses.
So what is the essence of asshole stated as simply as possible so everyone can learn to spot it?
It comes down to this: Assholes and asshole movements (cults) have a simple formula that proves that they deserve all the power no matter what they do. It’s a trump card that justifies a wild card and a wild card that justifies a trump card.
Trump card: Victory proves that we’re absolutely right and righteous. Might makes right and righteous. We get the last word on everything.
Wild card: Being absolutely right and righteous we are owed victory by any means necessary, no matter how dirty. Right and righteous deserves might. We can do absolutely anything.
Catch them violating law, norms, decency? It must be excused, even celebrated because they’re absolutely right and righteous. No deed too dastardly for the absolutely virtuous.
And how do they know that that they’re absolutely right and righteous? Because, by means of their wildcard they keep winning.
Call it Wildtrumping, employing the airtight logic whereby a wild card earns a trump card and trump card justifies a wild card.
Think of how easy wildtrumping makes things for absolute assholes. They get what anyone might crave, absolute success completely detached from merit. Total freedom to do anything and still win, a self-rationalizing get-out-of-fail free card.
And even if it fails (It always does. Reality is unimpressed by wildtrumping), they still get to claim victory. They were martyrs to absolute virtue suppressed by whatever scapegoat they claim.
It remains taboo to compare Trump to Hitler and yes, questions of degree do matter. Still, that taboo stunts our growth on learning to spot assholes before they get too far.
An asshole is not definable by how far they get. If that’s the standard, we’ll only spot them when it’s too late as we did with Trump, as people always have with all of the other once-budding assholes and asshole movements.
What they all have in common is the Wildtrumping. Might makes righteous and righteous licenses might.
Wildtrumping is all Trump has got and all he’s ever had. His name will be in lights for decades to come if we survive that long – in flashing red lights. Trumping will come to mean that wild-card trump-card pairing. Anything I say, no matter how wild, is the last word, trumping all other words.
Everything evil, every crime against humanity is perpetrated under that Wildtrumping banner, whether by the religious, the left, the right, the spiritual, philosophical, political. Every asshole at home and abroad, in your local life or on the global stage has fallen for that fake escape from the work that life has been about since its origin 3.8 billion years ago, the work of adapting to reality which is unimpressed by wildtrumping logic.