Donald Trump is effectively changing the entire political landscape as you read this. Trumpism is picking up steam in the United States, just as fascism became the foundations of the movements led by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. We must be vigilant of the characteristics of Trumpism to prevent the decline of American democracy. Below, I compare Trumpism to tyranny, explain Trumpism in depth, analyze how emotional and logical reasoning affect political decisions, and provide two of my own definitions of Trumpism to help the reader understand the bigger picture of what we are dealing with.
Tyranny is cruel, unreasonable, or arbitrary use of power or control. Arbitrary simply means that the user of power is based on personal whim and not on a concrete system or a logical basis. The tyrant is one who lacks legitimacy, which can be interpreted in several ways. The tyrant adheres to the rooster syndrome, which “arises from the tendency of people guided more by hope or fear than intelligence to overestimate the power of their leaders and attribute to them outcomes, either good or bad…” (2). And, not surprisingly, a tyrant is normally authoritative.
But how do we stop a democracy from turning into a dictatorship, or some kind of authoritarian government? Well, “tyranny is an important phenomenon that operates by principles by which it can be recognized in its early emerging stages, and, if the people are vigilant, prepared, and committed to liberty, countered before it becomes entrenched” (2). What you just read is the most important piece of information in this article. We can stop all of this, but we need to stay vigilant, and act, because we are truly stronger together. We have to.
As for Trumpism, it shares similar characteristics to tyranny, especially with regards to the emotionally-driven aspects of tyranny.
Trumpism is still raw, and we are only beginning to define it, so let’s try to. According to a The Hill article, Trumpism is comprised of four core principles: Celebrity, Nativism, The Outsider, and Populism.
Celebrity persona is now important to gain status in today’s society. Trump’s tough, decisive and highly masculine persona paints him as the ultimate authority figure, which separated him from the pack. His nativist approach is appealing because it’s tempting to scapegoat minorities for poor economic conditions. His persona also paints him as the ultimate outsider, as the one who will “drain the swamp” and bring a person with no strings attached to White House. His populist appeal also swings by the “drain the swamp” mantra (1).
Through this definition, it is a little clearer as to how Trump skyrocketed to the top. Below, I give my own definitions: one is based on a bait and switch scam that Trump has mastered and taken to the highest level possible, and a second is based on the idea of a toxic relationship.
Here is my first definition: Trumpism is the extended archetype of the con artist in which the salesman tries to sell his products under any circumstances through deceptive techniques and manipulation to achieve a goal, normally control or power over the customer. In other words, what I’ve described to you is a classic bait and switch scam. On the grandest stage, Trump sells himself, supported by his celebrity persona, outsider and populist appeal. His supporters are blinded by his true intentions, like a customer swindled by an overconfident, charming salesman. By these standards, Trump, who single-handedly swindled the political system, may be considered the greatest salesman of them all.
Here is my second definition: Trumpism is a toxic relationship between the people and the Trumper, where one is blinded by his heavy flaws because of one’s infatuation with them, where infatuation is driven by emotions. In this case, logical reasoning is secondary and nearly nonexistent to emotional reasoning, which may explain Trump supporters’ unwavering support despite his glaring contradictions. I’m sure we can all relate on many levels with this one; infatuation sucks when it’s not reciprocated.
In other words, Trumpism is the monster of American neofascism splattered with toxic waste that must be put to death. Just as the fire breathing, scaly red (sometimes orange) dragon is slayed by the sword of the warrior, Trumpism will be slayed by the vigilance of the citizen.
1. Tabachnick, Ph.D. David Edward. "The Four Characteristics of Trumpism." The Hill. Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., 04 Feb. 2016. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.
2. Roland, Jon. "Principles of Tyranny." Constitution Society Home Page. Constitution Society, n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2017.
Penn State College