Jester Bears the Crown

Donald Trump isn't dumb. He's just not your idea of what a smart person is. Wanting to win in 2016 he implied very heavily that he could make working Americans more like him, that is luxuriously wealthy. But he abandoned that tacit mission statement the moment he was inaugurated. President Trump's first year has seen a style of corruption usually reserved for Third World Africa. The most generous way of describing the 45th's behaviour is that it's not actually malicious, it's just clan based thinking. The $1.5 trillion Trump tax cut is a victory for the widely discredited theory of trickle-down economics. It's also a win for Trump personally. He should save $15 million annually. Son-in-Law Jared Kushner will save $12 million a year. Should the President die his children could save as much as $1 billion due to the adjustments inheritance code. If Trump believed in science he could donate his body to it. Those doing the autopsy would find that his once beating heart sounded like a cash register.

Donny still isn't a politician, he's a performer. Even his signature is performative. He uses the biggest pen available and then turns the paper around to show the camera what he's done. Whenever in public he is 'on'.  He's always in costume. He’s transferred US politics into pantomime, transgressing the norms of the executive branch. The Democrats still can’t get their head around him. Which is a problem because you can’t defeat what you don’t understand. Beyond praying that Trump somehow gets impeached they’d given up. That was until the Golden Globe awards. If you can’t beat them, join them.

Oprah Winfrey was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille trophy for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment. She took the opportunity to entertain the emotions of the crowd, giving a rousing speech. So well performed that within ten minutes of it going to air the Internet reviewed that she must be running for President in 2020. Her political resume is scant but meaningful. From 2006 to 2008, Oprah's endorsement of Obama, by one estimate, delivered over a million votes in the super close 2008 Democratic primary race. She's not run for office before, nothing at all. Same as Trump though. Maybe Oprah could win. The left say that want serious progressive change. But maybe all they want is someone more agreeable back in the news cycle.

Oprah's antidote preaches the need to reform the individual in order to better fit in with rotten conditions of contemporary Western life. The power of positive affirmations will allow you to survives against the larger forces acting upon you. Collective action is dead, the individual is all there is. She's the exact opposite of what politics is meant to be about. In her world there is nothing bigger to give yourself up to for the greater good, so all you can do is concentrate on you 'living your truth'. Oprah is clever and warm and charming and soulful. But she's also been a baleful influence on millions, demonstrably so. She heavily promoted self-help bunkum like Rhonda Byrne's The Secret as well as profited off fraudulent quackery like Doctor Oz. 

Oprah is more like Trump than anyone else alive. Trump himself understood this intuitively in 1999 when he told Larry King that she would be his ideal running mate. Each have made fortunes, by doing whatever it takes, to create personality cults around themselves for business purposes. Trump puts his name on buildings, Oprah puts hers on a TV network and her face on the cover of every single issue of O Magazine. His brand promises wealth and winning, her brand promises self improvement and spirituality. There is an idea of a Trump or and Oprah, some kind of abstraction. Neither of them are politicians but celebrity culture has now reached a point were it permeates every aspect of contemporary Western culture. Democracies function best when they elect fair representation of the population at large. Celebrities are by definition anti-representive. Trump and Oprah aren't reflections of communities. They are self-created icons of aspiration, holograms - dazzling but intangible - projected into the luminiferous aether. 

Recent history has seen the US electorate radically overcorrect from what they just had and get kind of the opposite of what they just had. The gloom of Nixon was replaced by the sunniness of Carter, when Jimmy's Samaritan thing wore thin they went with Reagan, after him and old man Bush got long in the tooth they went for saxophonist Bill, who was replaced with cowboy George W, and the opposite of him was smart cool Obama, and the reaction to him was Donald. If that pattern holds true then the next President should be a boring technocrat. If that pattern hold then Oprah is out. But maybe all bets are off. Perhaps Trump's presidency is a rapture that will begin a new era, in which thrones belong to jesters.