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What Trump’s Trumping Up

June 20, 2016

A premise we can count on: the obscenely rich are in it for themselves, before everything. That’s how they’re obscenely rich.

(Remember the rich man who wanted to go right on living well, after he died, so he asked Jesus how to guarantee that he would get a good property in heaven? A view of the sea, for instance. Jesus said, of course, give all your money to the poor (i.e. redistribute income in a healthy, life-affirming way). The rich man lost interest. It seemed counter-intuitive, counter-productive. Anyway, as Sheldon Adelson (a Drumpf-funder) has advised, don’t take the advice of anyone who isn’t a billionaire, because if he was smart enough to give good advice, he’d be a billionaire.

So the political activity of the obscenely rich is determined by their own financial self-interest.

Drumpf, for instance, is in it to build audience, so that he can control a large market share in any market in which he chooses to play. He’s building his brand, himself. A term in the White House would guarantee top billing forever after. But that’s a long shot.

But if he can build audience by playing presidential nominee, or even anti-nominee of the Republican Party (the only major network available to him), he’ll take that role, and use it to build a large and loyal viewership. He knows that his viewers need not be die-hard Republicans. That’s not what entertains them. Here, for instance, is a glimpse of his most loyal followers, enjoying the show. Admittedly these folks are the drunken extreme among the rabble in the pit; but what appeals to them, appeals to many who don’t binge. If the owners and managers of the R party withdraw their offer, they will have broken a contract, and he will consider forming his own party that can keep the audience that he has built in the primaries (at least 13 mil). Maybe he’ll build a Drumpf media empire.

But what if other obscenely rich men see something in him that might work for them too? Hedgefunders for Drumpf. Might they not produce his show, and profit mightily, whether it flops or has a four-year run?! It’s a tempting proposition. For them the question is whether this actor-director can put it together for a profitable out-of-town.

So this political drama that so many of us are watching is not about the Republican party, except as a means that is justified by its end. It certainly isn’t about greatness or morality or human wellbeing. It’s about maximizing profit.

It isn’t a comedy, because it isn’t funny, any more than is “The Dark Knight,” even though its most interesting character is a clown. It doesn’t rise to tragedy, any more than did The Third Reich, because its protagonist is our antagonist, whom we find despicable. It’s a bar room melodrama, in which we all pay the rent.

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