Explaining Trump’s Rhetoric

Obama literally founded ISIS, Hillary is the most corrupt candidate of all time, Mexico will pay for a border wall…

What’s the deal?  Well, if you ask me, it’s not too hard to determine:

First:  He is a Terrible Businessman

Trump makes a fantastic Exhibit A in the case for the near-perfect insulation from failure afforded in American society by wealth.  After all, simply investing his initial gift from his father, a million dollars, in unmanaged index funds would have sufficed to make him even more wealthy today than he actually is.

To be a billionaire in America, one need only be given a million dollars which he can invest and forget about for a decade or so.  He can live with extreme privilege and leisure off of a fraction of the snowballing returns.

But that’s not what Trump did.  By all accounts he has spent a lifetime of heavy involvement in his wheelings and dealings.  Insofar as his goal was to be rich, he has failed miserably, generating for himself with all that work a net loss in comparison to the effortless alternative.  Insofar as the products of his work are judged on their merits, for their contribution to mankind, well, I doubt I need to provide any evidence that there’s just nothing noteworthy there at all.

Trump, in short, is a failure.  Nonetheless, thanks to the nearly unavoidable consequence of extreme wealth in our economic system, he is extremely wealthy.

So…How Does a Terrible Businessman Survive?

Well…about that insulation from failure afforded in American society by wealth…

Through his own bullshit rhetoric, backed by his (initially gifted) wealth, he has obtained gargantuan investments in his projects to the point at which others cannot permit his failure.  He generates dependency on his success in others through massive loans and investments on their behalf and then relies on those others to ensure the projects succeed.  When the substance of his contributions fail (which is more often than not), his investors are forced to dig him out lest they bankrupt themselves.

And so they do, time and again.  Investors in his buildings had to provide additional resources to push the projects through after his ill-conceived grandiosity all but doomed them.  Financial lenders have had to take losses on his loans and defer payments when he found his projects unsustainable.  At a smaller, more personal level, investors in his “Trump University” nonsense had to spend outrageous sums for attending, and this provided an extreme psychological incentive against their admission of being duped.  This being a weaker incentive than potential bankruptcy, those less able to withstand their loss (or more willing to admit their victimhood) at the hands of Trump would eventually file suit.

For individuals who had less investment from others at stake, this would have destroyed their lives; their lenders would’ve just sued them senseless to recover some acceptable fraction of the losses and called it a day.  But not Trump, who swindled so hugely that his investors could not afford such a massive loss and thereby had no choice; they dug him out, propped him up, and became begrudging accessories to his next con.  For their own sakes, they would join Trump in feigning his success, and that’s all Trump needed to maintain the momentum and image he would use to dupe the next fool.

An Explanation for Trump’s Constant Assault of Nonsense:  He is a Career Con-Man

Trump has lived his whole life running a marketing scam.  It’s an operation that has taught him that you simply never, ever even hint at anything less than the superlative.  Everything he has is the greatest, everything he does is absolutely amazing, and he’s always offering the best deal ever.  He has given some indication that he knows this is his strategy, as he’s been reported saying in closed meetings with Republicans that everyone needs to speak with ultimate positivity because opponents will grasp onto any possible admission of negativity or inferiority.

“It would great if you could say we had an unbelievable meeting. ‘Trump loves us. We love Trump.’ It’s going to be so good. Okay?” Trump said, according to a detailed account from a person who attended the meeting. “Honestly, if we could say it is great, we have a unified party, I’ll tell you what, you are going to see a difference immediately. That’s what I’m going to say.”

“If when we leave we could just go out and say, ‘We love Trump, he’s going to be great.’ I love you, we’re doing great. As a team, we can’t be beaten,” Trump said. “Say great things, because anything you say that’s even a little — well you know, they magnify it. Just say it’s great. You gotta say great things. Any little negativity that you have, they are going to blow it up twentyfold. You’ve got to be positive.”

In Trump’s court records (hat tip to the illustrious philosoraptor), his strategy is made pretty clear; he knowingly exaggerates every positive indicator of his success with recourse to the vague waters of opinion in which he can claim some sort of plausible deniability.  Did he invest $400,000, or $1,000,000?  Well, if you include his estimation of the value of his services…

And of course, in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” Trump makes it perfectly clear that he understands his own strategy:

“I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts. People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.” (pg. 58)

He is a standard-issue con  man with a lot of resources at his disposal.  This is how he’s always behaved.  He knows that aggressively asserting ANYTHING that people want to believe is going to enhance support for that position in those people who want to believe it.  If people want to believe they’ve stumbled across their chance to get rich in Trump University, well you ensure their commitment to attending TU by relentlessly assaulting them with person after person touting it as the absolute salvation they’ve been looking for.

Trump’s success depends not on the success of his projects, but the continued appearance of their success.  His bamboozled victims, investors strained beyond the capacity to permit or even admit failure, provide for him the growing backdrop of illusory success on which he relies to complete his next con.

Politics:  Trump’s Big Job

America is running the risk of finding itself at the bottom of this lifelong pyramid scheme.  Trump is running the same con now that he always has; the RNC has put in too many resources to change course, so Trump is relying on them to push him through while he continues his endless, unchanging swindle.

So when you wonder why he’s saying what he’s saying, think about the fact that he has already written a book featuring his admission of playing to the fantasies of those to whom he is attempting to sell whatever it is he’s selling at that time.

And if you wonder what kind of President he’ll be, think about the historic means by which he has compensated for his own failures.  You, as an American citizen, are the next victim in his sights, and it is you to whom the responsibility for digging him out of his next disaster will be shifted.


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