As the primary season for the Grand Old Party now enters its serious stage, headlines on both sides of the Atlantic seem to be all about the latest shenanigans of Mr. Donald Trump. The coverage of the doings of the Donald mostly seems to follow one particular line. He has uttered something outrageous in an interview or on Twitter, people now speculate about if he has finally gone too far, and surprise is expressed regarding the fact that he has managed to stick around so far and still has any supporters left.
That last part applies to me to some extent as well. Earlier this spring I considered writing an article about how I thought it was time for people to stop paying attention to Trump and instead let him fade into oblivion, since there was no chance of him becoming relevant ever again. As it stands things turned out differently, but at the start of 2015 Mr. Trump wasn’t exactly at the top of his game.
Over the last few years Trump has been involved in various ridiculous outbursts in media, some of which might be useful to recall here as part of the larger point I’m trying to make. There was, for example, once upon a time something I like to call “ape-gate”. In 2014 a quarrel broke out between Mr. Trump and Mr. Bill Maher as regards Mr. Trump’s ancestry. Lest people forget, Trump used to be what in the US is known as a “birther”, that is, one who claimed or implied that President Obama was not born in Hawaii but elsewhere, most likely Kenya. This led to Trump at one point stating that he would donate five million dollars to charity if Obama’s passport and collage records were released. Bill Maher assumed there to be a racial angel to why Trump acted like this, and in response offered to donate the same amount to a charity of Trump’s choosing if Trump could prove that his father was not an orangutan.
Now most reasonable people would suspect that this is where the story would end, a comedian makes a joke and life goes on. However, what actually happened was that things instead escalated beyond reason. Trump had his lawyer contact Maher with a copy of his birth certificate proving he was not the son of an orangutan, and the lawyer also referred to a bank account where Maher was to deposit the five million dollars he now owed Trump. Needless to say, Maher didn’t have that kind of money and the whole thing ended up in court. Click here for a clip that summarizes the whole episode, with video of both Trump and Maher commenting on the matter. To pretend to take Maher’s joke seriously and then sue him for the money is what one might refer to as a dick move.
In addition to ape-gate, or for the sake of proper chronology lets say before ape-gate, there was the matter of Trump’s twitter outbursts after Mitt Romney lost the presidential election of 2012. Trump recieved a lot of attention after tweeting among other things that “We should march on Washington…”, incitement to an uprising that never happened. He tweeted about president Obama that “He lost the popular vote…”, which he didn’t, and at some point he managed to combine those two statements into “More votes equals a loss…revolution!”. For more on this I refer you to this article from the Daily Mail. The fact that Donald Trump was being spoken of primarily in these kinds of situations is why I didn’t consider him to be worthy of much consideration at the start of the year.
Now, obviously, Trump is being spoken of differently. It is being said in various quarters that Trump is riding on the same wave of “right-wing populism” that can be seen in for example Europe, a statement that is perhaps technically true. But I’ve also read comparisons being made of Trump’s successes in polls in the United States with the recent advances of Front National in various regional elections in France, a comparison that I find questionable. Front National, and specifically its leader Le Pen, whatever else you say of them and there is a lot to be said, are obviously dedicated to a certain cause. They have been known to hold the opinions for which they are known for a long time, and work towards certain goals and so on. Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to me to hold any particular principles, but instead comes of as just jumping on the “anti-PC” bandwagon.
I am quite frankly surprised that certain individuals , the nationalist or whatever else they call themselves, aren’t more resentful of Trump suddenly pretending like he is one of them. I am here not saying that I thought that the “far right” would resent Trump for not being a career politician like some people in FN, but merely for appearing to be an opportunist. Consider for example someone like Pat Buchanan, he is technically not a career politician and he is known for supporting parties referred to as the far right. He is now gloating over how Trump is gaining in the polls, and claims it to be a confirmation of what Buchanan has been saying for years as well as a point for his team in general. Here is an article he wrote on the subject. Buchanan himself was once a speech writer for Nixon, he once ran for president, he has written several books on these matters and so on, where was Trump when all of this was happening?
The truth of the matter is that to find a politician to compare Trump with one should look at neither Le Pen in France nor Buchanan in the United States but instead turn one’s attention to Sweden. A month or so ago I realized that Donald Trump is the American version of the Swedish businessman Bert Karlsson, about who you can read here. Mr. Karlsson, for those who don’t know, is in Sweden famous for three things. He has been active in the Swedish music industry, owning a major record label, he was a front figure for the anti-immigration party New Democracy in the nineties, and he is the owner of several refugee shelters in Sweden, now making money on immigration instead of trying to stop it.
New Democracy’s rhetoric regarding immigration was more liberal than that of Front National or Trump to be sure, but in Sweden it attracted a lot of individuals with views similar to those of the individuals who may now be enthusiastic about the Donald. Nowdays I imagine that many of those who once voted for Karlsson in the nineties turn their heads and spit when they hear his name. I am not saying that I know for a certainty that Trump’s supporters will end up as disappointed with his long-term commitments as were Karlsson’s, but I won’t be surprised if they are.