For all that is wrong with the Trump candidacy (xenophobic neo-fascist tendencies) the silver lining is that it is forcing us to face the ugly truth about democracy: mob rule is a frightful thing to behold. Trump is one of “us” and his popularity is a reflection of what the “mob” wants. Everyone loves democracy when it is their ideas that are popular but when the mob turns stupid it doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. Trump may be the first true “people’s candidate” for president that has an actual chance of winning. His financial independence all but guarantees he is not beholden to any individual, special interest, or political party elite. To the extent any candidate receives some measure of public or private funding, their words and deeds are held to account by the one doling out the money. Trump is accountable to no one but himself and the voters.
Since the advent of political parties we have been led to believe elections are about a democratic process, that we are making a choice and a difference – but – that is a lie, or rather, an illusion. A very apt line from the Matrix movies provides some context, “Choice is an illusion created between those with power and those without.” Those who already have power: the party bosses, the monolithic media outlets, the oligarchical dynasties (Roosevelt’s, Kennedy’s, Bush’s, Clinton’s) – they all understand and work the system to their advantage. That is, they present the illusion of choice so as to keep the masses pacified into believing they are in control of their destinies. But like choosing a white paint chip from an ocean of slightly variable gradations of white, the final choice is still just that: white. But Trump, Trump is lime green. He is a starkly different choice. He, unlike any of us, has the money to buy a seat at the table where they are doling out cards in the high stakes game of poker that is a run for the presidency. Perhaps Trump has touched a populist nerve because deep down we all know there is no choice. His candidacy is not so much support for Trump the man but rather support for NOTA (none of the above).
Trump may be spouting idiotic things, but Trump is no idiot. He is a masterful salesman and knows how to work a room. He, like any good conman or salesman, understands his audience/mark. Give them what they want and they’ll return the favor. Trump reflects America, but dimly. (1 Corinthians 13:12) Is his persona the true man, or merely a reflection of his environment? If elected we shall know fully. Most candidates appeal to the voter’s intellect, Trump appeals to their emotions (and not the good ones, i.e. fear, anxiety). This visceral appeal is a dim reflection of the American psyche. It is also a dangerous one. Emotion acts mindlessly without consideration of the consequences. History repeatedly tells a dark tale about leaders that preyed on the emotions of their subjects.
But Trump is not a solution to the moneyed concentration of power, he is merely a symptom, an immune response if you will – that cough you just can’t get rid of. Although the leftist progressives bleat incessantly on the need for government to hold the evil capitalists at bay lest they gain control of society, they miss the central irony here that their greatest fear (control of society by moneyed interests) has already come to pass not in spite of, but because of, government. Government is not a divine institution that has been corrupted by man. It is a human institution that exudes the very human nature from whence it is derived.
Think of it like this: government is simply another business. The key difference, though, is that what it sells is the ability to legally exert aggression against those that do not do its bidding. Its competitive advantage is that it is a self-declared monopoly within its arbitrarily defined geographical region. So what person, group, or other business would NOT want to tap into exerting some influence over how such a business operates? Is it really such a mystery as to why so many work so hard for so long to access that power and divert it to their advantage?
Some say the answer is to remove money from politics, but given that politics is just another economic transaction, that option is about as doable as converting to a barter economy. No, the solution is not less government, but more. That is, it is time to break up the monopoly and decentralize power to the point where our choices are not constrained but manifold. Power is kept in check when the individual is not compelled as a matter of law to acquiesce to the demands of others but may choose with whom they shall associate by voting with their wallet or, if necessary, with their feet.