Mathew Mackie

Trump: Catching empathy for the bully in the red hat

Our criticism of Donald Trump has always been justified. However, as of late, I kind of pity him. Just like I did Holden Caulfield.

 

 

 

I’ve found empathy for the bully. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve visited the public stockade that keeps the Tangerine in check, and in turn, I’ve hurled my share of tomatoes. In fact, for the last eight months, I’ve done nothing but write about him, which is a statement that can be echoed by many. We’re all attracted by the gravitational pull of Planet Trump, as we orbit and attempt to cleverly nuke it in 140 words or less. Somehow there’s always something new: nepotism, Islamophobia, egotism, juvenility…even his mysterious typo is a creature that walks by itself.

The point is that the shitstorm hurled at his presidency is always just, not only because he’s an evil president, but because he’s an evil person.

Yet, I feel sorry for him.

And the thing that switched my thinking, is this:

Now I realise the irony of latching onto a grammatically-impaired tweet for truth, especially seeing as Trump is a monster constructed entirely of tweets (his main barb we all ignore), but Ricky raises a fair point. Trump will never be Obama, no matter how much he wants to be.

His long-spoken merch peddling aphorism of making American great again has some truth in it, in that if America is great, Donald will be great. And that’s great. His journey to greatness mirrors that of his country. You could say that he is his country. It’s easy to even surmise that America is Trump’s ego, and you could say that rising to the top chair of the country is the ultimate entitlement trip. But that’s the cheap way out. I believe there’s something more basic and deeper than that at play here: the need to be loved; to be regaled as a genius, and to be universally adored like the mic-dropping, self-flagellating reformer that preceded him. But, much like the insecure new partner, he makes an effort to destroy the legacy of the ex whenever he re-enters the conversation.

They’re with me now. What’s wrong with me?

His actions to earn our love push us away. We’re both incompatible. It’s like we’re asking him to think of us more in the relationship, so he burns “DONALD LOVES YOU” into the front lawn and there he stands, arms aloft, boombox blaring Nirvana’s Rape Me, while maintaining eye contact, thrusting in a golden codpiece as your elderly relatives make mumbled excuses to leave.

Not like that Donald.

But, he tried.

So consider his mountain of failures not necessarily such, but rather the attempts for acceptance birthed from an extremely flawed mind. Flaws that he seemingly cannot overcome. So, he’s not “evil”, he’s just not very good? Think of it this way: Trump used the recent London Bridge attacks to rebirth his euthanised unicorn, the travel ban (correctly deduced as the worst kind of politics). I actually believe that Trump dusted off his tontine because people hate terrorists, therefore with the removal of said terrorists, people would love whoever got rid of them forever. He tried this earlier, when he dropped a mountainous piece of hyperbole, The Biggest Bomb Since World War Two, on a mountain in Afghanistan, but we hated him for that, so it’s back to Plan A. The flaw, of course, is that not all Muslims are terrorists. However, he either doesn’t see it that way (unlikely), or those who scream his name loudest in orgasm choose not to (more likely).

Therefore his equation is simple:

Muslims minus America equals love.


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Sadly, the reality seems to be far from that. Even his sanctuary is structurally unsound. Trump’s Xanadu, a land of golf and exclusivity, Mar-a-Lago, must feel like The Island. Constantly under surveillance, under the watchful eyes of people with unknown purposes, her cultivated fairways dotted with hazards who brandish the threat of more ribaldry the whole world joins in on. I wonder who is his sounding board when the cameras turn off? We don’t know, but the whole life of Melania Trump has been beautifully articulated by Kate Imbach, as was the humorous Zapruder-level examination of her rejection of his approaches. He’s clearly a man at war with himself, and his greatest thrills are quickly becoming a poisoned lake. A man who previously sunbathed in the limelight is now burnt by it, his greatest tactics forged in the crucible of the big deal, now ineffectual; he’s the archetypal bully who ran over everyone in high school, but the years past graduation have reversed roles and have him longing for the good times while you inwardly laugh at him now washing cars for a living, your mirth halted by the realisation that the reason he had your head in the toilet is because he really just wanted to be friends but didn’t know how.

While it’s been lonely at the top for most of his life, I’m willing to venture that this is different, because he can’t control it. The office controls him. Being at the top of this peak probably represents a particularly desolate existence, a prison of his own making no less. He’s institutionalised to the rules and etiquette of Trump. He’s been living by the self-made code that saw him bark as the top dog in the real estate yard, but has now been thrust into the “real world”, a world he views as fake, a place of superfluous means. Checks and balances and due process and empathy won’t see you succeed in Donald’s world, whereas his truculent creed won’t see him survive in ours. He’s dangerously close to literary mope Holden Caulfield in many respects. They both see the bourgeois world of everyone else as phoney (or fake in Donald’s terms), they’re both quick to violence, both “fantastic” liars and they both long to exist in a time and place that doesn’t really exist, in pursuit an unrealistic goal. Caulfield wants to save children from wandering off a cliff, whereas Donald wants to save America; neither of them wants to grow up.

And much like the treatment endured by Caulfield, the same goes for Trump. He’s desperately searching for meaningful contact with us, but we forever dismiss him as the weird kid in the red hat.

 

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