It occurred to me that in all the media coverage that Donald Trump has garnered throughout his campaign to become the Republican presidential nominee (and now in his campaign for the presidency), I have rarely, if ever, seen him smile. It’s more like a grimace, like the acid reflux from his last bucket of KFC (extra crispy) has come back to haunt his esophagus.
But now, with just a couple of months to go before the November 8 vote, Trump is now not just a name, but a political philosophy and movement. It’s called Trumpism. So, he enters the hallowed Ism Hall of Fame along with Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx and Joseph McCarthy, among others, not all of whom are megalomaniacs, I should add. The political nomenclature goes even further than just the “ism”: If you’re a Trump supporter, that makes you a Trumpist. If there’s more than one of you in the same place at the same time, it’s a gathering of Trumpists.
To qualify to become an “ism”, you have to have some kind of philosophy (and it helps if your name ends with a consonant) and a shitload of people who are on board with everything you say, no questions asked. This is how The Atlantic journalist Dominic Tierney sums up Trumpism in on online piece from July 19, 2016. After trying to digest Britain’s recent Brexit vote and the rise of nationalist political parties in Europe, he wrote. ” The Brexit vote and the emergence of the Finns Party are both examples of the rise of Trumpism, a brew of nationalist, populist, anti-establishment, anti-“expert,” anti-globalist, protectionist, “us versus them,” and most of all, anti-immigrant sentiment. Nativist and anti-immigrant parties have arisen across Europe, including the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Jobbik party in Hungary, the Danish People’s Party, the Sweden Democrats, and the Progress Party in Norway.”
You’d think Finland, Norway and Sweden were all pretty well-adjusted countries, but there are rumblings amongst the disenchanted Nordics still reeling from the recession of 2008. In Germany last week, Angela Merkl’s Christian Democratic Party came in third in her own home state behind a three-year old party called Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), a party whose leader speaks in Trumpisms. ” Islam does not belong in Germany,” said AfD party leader, 40-year-old Frauke Petry, who has also suggested that German border guards might need to turn guns on anyone crossing a frontier illegally. Throw in a ban on the construction of mosques and you have some policy highlights. All the nationalist parties mentioned are hardly flash-in-the-pan movements. All of them have fairly voted-in representatives in regional and federal government positions. Germany, with almost a million refugees admitted to the country in the last six months, faces a 2017 general election. The odds are pretty good immigration will be a key issue.
Europe has its Syrian refugees. The U.S. has its Mexicans. Walls, metaphorical or real, are a big part of Trumpism. Turkey has already completed one-third of a 911 km rocket-proof concrete wall along the border it shares with Syria. In other countries, barbed-wire fences are going up (in some cases back up.) Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Austria, Sweden and France have all taken measures to restrict the movement of illegal immigrants and refugees.
The U.S.-Mexico wall that is a central part of Trumpism, one that has been a work-in-progress for years now, is a motley collection of styles covering about 580 miles of the almost 2,000 mile U.S./Mexican border. The thing that the Trumpist ideology shares with other nationalistic movements is that it is often short on details. Mexico will pay for it, says Trump. You can pretty well sum Trumpism up in a couple of short sentences ,along with a multitude of dumb-ass statements from its leaders. Like the time Trump said, “I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.”Or, “It’s freezing in New York. We need global warming.”
Trumpism, though a relatively new term, is nothing new we are told. This is hardly reassuring given the sheer magnitude of what a Trump presidency would mean globally. The absolute cartoonish quality of his personality still makes it difficult to understand how he’s gotten this far. And that recent polls have him within reach of Hillary Clinton. We can only hope that Clinton is like the Road Runner and Trump a Wile E. Coyote.