Today I saw the silliest story about Trump in Slate. I've automatically filed it under "copied and pasted from The Onion" due to the sheer absurdity of the allegations: Trump as a Russian agent, anyone?
Trump and Putin up a tree...
In a breathless screed against right wing nationalist movements in Europe, columnist Franklin Foer rails against Russia's Vladimir Putin's donations and assistance to far right nutbuckets, claiming that he's effectively plotting with them or just using their anti-globalist zealotry to break up the EU and NATO. That Putin harbours such ambitions is not an unreasonable proposition; that the people he has allegedly passed money to are willing to assist him in his plans for world domination at whatever cost in a bid to win power for themselves gives pause for thought. Were it actually true, those people would surely have been invited to their local police station for a nice cup of tea and a chat about their allegiances.
Is this story Establishment propaganda?
Donald Trump is very popular among Americans at the moment. Although he hasn't been confirmed as the Republican presidential candidate, he's pretty much got it in the bag. This is due to a host of conflicting reasons but it's mostly to do with people being fed up of the status quo and the way things are done. Some want him to win because they're projecting their hopes and fears onto him while others hope the Republican party will implode and reset if Trump gets hammered by Hillary in the election, as I do. To be perfectly honest, I think conservatism itself needs resetting. Anyhow, it seems that just as Trump is surfing the crest of the wave, the Establishment has set the sharks on him, hoping to effect a wipeout. Bear in mind that it's been legal to spread government propaganda throughout the US media since July 2013.
Conspiracy theorist, meet conspiracy theories
Donald Trump has been the subject of conspiracy theories by movement conservatives and other haters for some time now. My last favourite one was "false flag candidate to ensure Hillary wins." The theory goes like this: Trump runs for election for the Republican party, acts like an epic prat to throw the election, thereby guaranteeing Hillary gets the President's chair. There are too many variables at play: Hillary has had her own problems, most recently Benghazi and her email server scandal. Had they pulled her down, Bernie Sanders might have crept past into the front-runner's place. Another good one is, "Trump is running for president not to actually get the job, but for the publicity for his business activities." Well it's possible, but might not be true. One thing is certain; it's pretty damn funny to see a conspiracy theory enthusiast fall foul of ridiculous public speculation himself.
More smearing, more jeering
With trust in the government and governing institutions at an all-time low, if the stories floating around about Trump at the moment are in fact a propaganda effort sanctioned from on high, it's doubtful that anyone who's planning to vote for Trump in the election is going to be put off him by these allegations:
- he's all over white supremacists, y'all (Mother Jones)
- he's an anti-Semitic schmuck (The Verge)
- he's all about making Trump great, not America (Red State)
- he's a kiddie fiddler (Huffington Post)
- he's an anti-vaxxer taking Republicans with him (Daily Beast)
- his policies are bad for working people (Washington Post)
- he's undermining the Republican party's credibility (Talking Points Memo)
- he's turning Republicans towards the Democrats (Associated Press)
- Wall Street fears for the economy under Trump (Financial Times)
- hot young men get naked for him (New York Post)
- he's all over Brexit, thinks it's great (NPR)
If I could be bothered I could dig up more, but do you remember the unseemly histrionics over President Obama? The funniest one was that he's Barry Sotero, a Marxist Kenyan secret agent working for the British, who want their colony back. He killed his gay lover, married Michelle, and faked American citizenship via a dodgy birth certificate so he could win the presidency. Righty-ho. And the gullible CIA, etc., just let that slide on through, did they? Okay, whatever. Anyway, I'm not seeing much of a difference between this craziness and the crap about Obama.
Eejit McEejitface: US election edition
So the US election is almost upon us and I'm half expecting an electoral landslide along the lines of Boaty McBoatface, but with Trump as the potential pick. The American Attenborough, in this case, is the apparently mature, capable Hillary Clinton*, though I doubt that Trump would even get to be the little submarine, as it were. I can totally see Trump winning the popular vote but Hillary getting in because that's how the powers that be want it. Will the election be close? I don't know, to be honest. I suppose it will. People are hungry for change. Any change. Anything that will decisively shift the status quo; it turns out they don't believe they are only worth what the market says they are worth, after all.
The "stop" campaigners may not succeed
Automatically siding with the underdog prevents me from automatically accepting any old tale about Trump. That certain allegations sound like the kind of thing he might do, until it's proven as fact one way or another I'll treat each one with the scepticism they deserve. That rape story reads like the Rolling Stone frat rape case; I'm taking it with a tanker of salt till it comes up in court. In any case, if the media piles in too hard on Trump they might find that their efforts backfire; people might cynically believe that this is an effort to persuade them to vote as they're told, like good little doggies. That media outlets on both sides of the political aisle are thumping Trump is unlikely to change hearts and minds; people need to see their hero lose if they're going to forget him and move on.
Should we sympathise with Trump?
If we sympathise with Trump for any reason, it should be because we refuse to have our choices dictated to us by elites who don't care about us, not because we're unwilling to face up to his foibles. I want Trump to lose because he is a narcissistic prat unfit to hold high office, not because a concerted media smear campaign against him was successful.
Could Trump be beaten?
Some members of his own party may well be behind some of these allegations, attempting to discredit him not just because they think he's a bad candidate but because he's unlikely to maintain the status quo and they don't like that. It has occurred to none of them that the status quo is actually the problem, but if they were serious about beating Trump, dealing with the problems that people are complaining about would be the place to start, even if it means rejecting trickle-down economics. Ain't gonna happen; enjoy the conspiracy theories and wild allegations. There will be more.
*I've got a lot of problems with her, not least the fact that she's a neocon war hawk, a bankster babe, is in favour of ISDS-riddled trade deals, loves surveillance, hates encryption, and is in bed with Monsanto.