I can be the advocate of the very devil. In order to better understand the beliefs of someone I disagree with I put myself in their place and allow their opinion to lap over my infernal gunwales. I can find myself arguing in favour of some pretty grim views but sometimes it is the only way to uncover my true feelings in regards to them. The idea that we know our own minds is rarely tested, often we think what we are told, or what we have been told to think and our own individual truth lies well beneath. Occasionally, in order to see clearly, it is first necessary to stir things up. Which is why lately I have found myself defending the contradiction that is President Trump in the hope that I might identify what is at the centre of this most controversial confection. Either vilified or deified, demagogue or demigod, caramel or nuts, he is a product of the moment, divisive in a way that does not allow for wavering.
No matter what Trump says or does his devotees will always have his back, he really could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes, he might even gain some if it was a black guy or tattooed Mexican. More cake is an easy sell and promises of concentrated cultural and financial prosperity will always motivate the great right shark whilst leaving the left scrambling to close the beaches and trying to find a bigger boat. The right acts and the left overreacts, this is the beauty of being in power, great height, and liberals make such easy targets, constantly doing the deplorables work for them, all of the smug satire in the world will achieve nothing if it’s only purpose is to amuse those who already agree with it. It’s little more than a puppet show for your gran.
Trump is mesmerising in ways that no American liberal politician could ever hope to be, sex sells, money sells, nationalism sells, whilst the left flounder with an Obama shaped hole in their hearts. It should be said though that in America ‘left’ is mostly figurative, you’re not to the left of the centre you’re to the left of the right. American Democrats are often more conservative than English Tories and neither are above exhorting and exploiting less well-off minorities, although the Democrats are very nice about it. Unfortunately the largest, most aggrieved minority wasn’t listening as the white working-class voted against their best interests and won it for Trump after he shamelessly resold them the lie of the American dream. In America there is no real left/right divide, there is just right and further right, so far right that the Republicans would be considered an extremist party in the UK, they would make UKIP look like the Greens. Which partly explains why the liberal media in Britain and Europe have embraced the Democrats so unconditionally. In times of ideological warfare, with the contagion of media suspicion and uncertainty spreading far beyond America, it is sensible for the left to side with the right so long as they have right on their side.
Not that this has done much to repair their credibility, the left-wing press everywhere have been on the back foot since being blindsided by the EU referendum, May’s coronation and the American election. The news is now what Trump tweets it is no matter how daft or incoherent and his bald-faced lies drive the media to distraction making them deploy every weapon in their smart-arsenals in their desperation to appear relevant and by so doing elevating him to the position of mad global emperor. Trump is a media obsession, part man, part meme, they dedicate so much energy to his increasingly unlikely downfall that they don’t realise what a gift they are for the brand, constantly throwing stones at his fortress of platitude from inside their glass houses. For Trump there is no such thing as bad press, it inflates him, holds him aloft, literally turns his graven image into a crowd-sourced billboard blimp but when Trump declares open season on the liberal media in America bad press takes on a whole new meaning.
The charges that Trump makes against them are not entirely without substance, the liberal media have been known to dissemble and distort, they can be ridiculously selective, they do have an agenda and probably shouldn’t act outraged when dubbed the enemy of the people when they themselves treat a sizeable segment of the American people like the enemy. Of course you could argue pretty much the same thing about the right wing media, especially where Obama or Hillary are concerned. The liberal media insist they have integrity and intelligence on their side but if you don’t read their publications you wouldn’t know it and the people they need to reach don’t read their publications. A lie is the truth and the truth is a lie until proven otherwise and Trump is the King of Lies, if half of a given populace believes you then you are honest Don and history, or at least your version of it, will record as much.
Trump doesn’t give a toss about Americans who didn’t vote for him and they really need to stop thinking that he does, he cares only about impressing his base and just because liberals don’t report his successes doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. It is a dangerous mistake to underestimate one’s opponent especially when that opponent is as single-minded as Trump, he may be a maniacal, sexist, racist, buffoon but he is also the president of the United States of America. He pretty much did that on his own, whatever you think of him and his past indiscretions he has managed to attain what is arguably the highest office in the world all the while being hated by at least half of the American public, most of his own party and seventy five percent of the press, by that measure the man is a fucking genius, well, either that or narcissistic psychopath.
I have bought and read the Guardian for years, long before it be became little more than an online begging letter, back when it carried the fight with impartiality but now I use it mostly as a point of reference, a way to reinforce my prejudice against extremity. I sometimes read the Daily Mail for the same reason but from the opposite direction and I find that where they converge there can lie a truth, of sorts. It is a sorry state of affairs when two reports on the same subject can be so divergent. News stories have become ridiculously polarised and self-important, overwhelmingly negative or sneering. Condescension is not and never has been an effective weapon, especially when ranged against those who do no more than dare to think differently. It is not something I ever would have expected from the left, is it any wonder we are losing our faith in the press? Where is the inclusion? The insight? The initiative? Why does everything feels like a punchline to the bad joke of the right? I understand that their inexplicable successes are a serious threat but no one ever won a war by running away and veering further to the left is running away, it is impossible to engage with an enemy when the ground you occupy is so distant, whether it’s journalism or politics. You end up like Corbyn, just playing to your troops, giving lacklustre speeches to those who already follow your caravan. When journalism fails, freedom of speech becomes incarcerated, honesty becomes open to interpretation, facts become unreliable, news becomes fake.
I hate the idea of being centrist and would never describe myself as such because it validates the left and right, always appears indecisive and puny, and puts me in the middle of this stupid endless shit fight. As far as I am concerned all partisan politics, on both sides of the Atlantic, are simply designed to maintain an engineered schism that satisfies only those that pilot the drones. If you are one nation you are one people, otherwise you are just punching yourself in the face. We need a new political paradigm, one without any politics, one that just gets the job done, and the daunting scale of the task only makes me ambitious not naive. Politics is utterly self-serving, self-perpetuating and self-limiting, if it wasn’t there would be dozens of parties to choose from instead of two. America is little more than a dynastic autocracy, if there is any silver lining to Trump it is that he isn’t just another Clinton or Bush, on the downside though he did buy the Presidency.
Clinton and Trump exemplify everything that is wrong with two party politics, one expected to inherit power the other went out and bought it, they are representative of nothing but grasping entitlement, the fact that we are still invested in this thoroughly discredited system is mind boggling. The true enemy of the people is a status quo that demands we be separated into haves and have-nots, yet current liberal thinking, rather than challenging it, sustains it and is indirectly responsible for the rise of Trump and his off ilk. The left is just as guilty as the right, both are incapable of mounting a cogent conciliatory argument for fear of looking weak to the home crowd, their purpose is simply to oppose, to occupy, to dismantle. Opposition keeps the wound open, pours salt on it, refutes the very idea of stitches. You don’t have to become an apologist to win, you have to fight alongside your adversaries not against them, if it’s ever going to heal, you need to close and dress the wound.