One of the most incredible things about Donald Trump’s unlikely ascension to the US Presidency is that his support base seems completely oblivious to the fact that this man is a walking contradiction.
And not just in the sense that all politicians are, by nature and by necessity, a dishonest lot. Trump transcends the “dishonest politician” stereotype – bigly.
We can get as far into the details as you want, but just think about it from a 30,000 foot perspective. This is a person who quite literally builds golden monuments to himself and who, up until about 20 months ago, spent his every waking hour rubbing how affluent he is and how glamorous a lifestyle he lives in everyone else’s face.
And do you know what the funny thing is? He really didn’t stop doing that as a candidate. Trump managed to convince large numbers of America’s middle and lower class voters that only he was looking out for their interests while simultaneously bragging about how much richer than them he was.
But it doesn’t matter. There’s always an excuse. “You can trust me because I’m so rich that I’m not beholden to special interests (Trump disclaimer: even though I just hired an entire fleet of Goldman bankers and other various billionaires to inhabit my inner circle).”
Along the same lines, Trump’s message about globalization and his penchant for maligning America’s urban centers as crime-infested war zones runs entirely counter to the global character of the “Trump” brand and his preference for lower Manhattan when it comes to where he prefers to house his children and (immigrant) wife.
To be sure, I don’t expect anyone who supports this elderly, toupée’d pumpkin to listen, but on the off chance I can win over a few people who may be starting to question whether this whole “let’s let a reality TV show host play President” thing was a good idea, I’m going to keep pounding the table. With that in mind, consider a few excerpts from a great piece out Monday from WaPo (who someone will say is “fake news”)…
President Trump is a big-city guy. He made his fortune in cities and keeps his family in a Manhattan tower. But when Trump talks about cities, he presents a fearsome caricature that bears little resemblance to the real urban landscape.
“Our inner cities are a disaster,” he declared in a campaign debate. “You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs.” Before his inauguration, in a spat with Atlanta’s representative in Congress, he tweeted: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested).” He makes Chicago sound like an anarchic failed state. “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” he warned. His executive order on public safetyclaimed that sanctuary cities, which harbor undocumented immigrants, “have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”
With this talk, Trump is playing to his base, which overwhelmingly is not in cities. Party affiliation increasingly reflects the gulf between big, diverse metros and whiter, less densely populated locales. For decades, like-minded people have been clustering geographically — a phenomenon author Bill Bishop dubbed “the Big Sort ” — pushing cities to the left and the rest of the country to the right. Indeed, the bigger, denser and more diverse the city, the better Hillary Clinton did in November. But Trump prevailed everywhere else — in small cities, suburbs, exurbs and beyond. The whiter and more spread out the population, the better he did.
He connected with these voters by tracing their economic decline and their fading cultural cachet to the same cause: traitorous “coastal elites” who sold their jobs to the Chinese while allowing America’s cities to become dystopian Babels, rife with dark-skinned danger — Mexican rapists, Muslim terrorists, “inner cities” plagued by black violence. He intimated that the chaos would spread to their exurbs and hamlets if he wasn’t elected to stop it.
Trump’s fearmongering turned out to be savvy electoral college politics (even if it left him down nearly 3 million in the popular vote). But it wasn’t just a sinister trick to get him over 270. He persists in his efforts to slur cities as radioactive war zones because the fact that America’s diverse big cities are thriving relative to the whiter, less populous parts of the country suggests that the liberal experiment works — that people of diverse origins and faiths prosper together in free and open societies. To advance his administration’s agenda, with its protectionism and cultural nationalism, Trump needs to spread the notion that the polyglot metropolis is a dangerous failure.
[A fun Heisenberg aside: I’ve gotten an inordinate amount of incredulous mail over the past three days, so let me just clear something up for the readers who seem hell-bent on claiming that they’re entitled to my take on markets but shouldn’t have to have my political views “forced on them.” Kiss. My. Ass. No one is forcing anything on you. I’m not doing this for page views and as such I’m not going to pander to folks just so they’ll click. See HR is the real deal. It’s not all about page views and traffic. It’s about intellectual honesty (and humor, and satire). So I’m going to tell you the truth about what’s going on in American and European politics and that inconvenient “truthiness” is going to be interspersed with my take on markets. You can’t have one without the other. Sorry. If you want to read fairy tales that make you feel better about electing a cartoon character, there are plenty of sites that will be glad to have your clicks. If, however, you prefer to read unfiltered commentary not designed to maximize views but rather to maximize truth, then you’ve come to the right goddamn place. Now can I get an ‘amen’, please?]