The Donald

There’s a political comic strip from the 80s called Bloom County. My parents used to have a collection of these strips which I used to read in elementary school, not understanding them at all. In one subplot, Donald Trump fell off a boat and went into a coma, and the doctors transplanted his brain into the body of a demented, humanoid cat that had once run for president. I liked this part of the comic because I knew who Trump was: you could see his name on his towers as you drove into Manhattan, which I occasionally did. He was prolific. I never watched The Apprentice, but I knew about his hair and his ability to be an asshole. The entrepreneurs in my family read his biography and embraced a “you gotta respect the guy” attitude. He was a celebrity force to be reckoned with.

Given what Trump is up to at the moment, that comic seems like a scrambled prophesy, and I honestly don’t think I’d be surprised if his brain eventually ended up in a cat. It’s hard, at this point, to say anything original or poignant about his campaign to become president of a major world power. There is no joke to be made that’s more extreme than the alarming, farcical idea of him become the POTUS, so we can all just sit back in shock and wonder how seriously we should be taking him, or, rather, how seriously we should be taking the contingency that supports him. In the same way that Republicans were threatening to flee to Canada after Obama was elected for a second term (ha), my Democrat friends are now tweeting about claiming refugee status in Canada if Trump gets elected, and though none of that has or will realistically happen, it’s reflective of a calm panic over what people feel to be a high-stakes situation. I guess many Canadians felt that same nervousness when it came time to try to kick out Harper. Some of my relatives who live the American Midwest and whose communities have no practical use for leftist policy (or so they feel), genuinely believe that life under the Great Dictator Obama is horrible – the same hell liberals fear living under Trump. It’s all somewhat relative.

So there are the questions of “what should we be worried about?” and then “what should we do about it?” Both of these queries we can only answer tentatively. One can look at Trump and see narcissistic, fascist tendencies in everything he does and make comparisons to Nazism and mock him and dismiss him and so on. It’s almost certain he won’t win the Republican nomination, so we needn’t really be worried about that (knock on the wood), but we can take seriously the fact that he has a following cheering on his racist, sexist, viciously false rhetoric and discrediting all media that calls him out on it. What we should respond to – rather than the antics of Trump – is the fact that our political conditions have allowed for Trump to be Trump.

Jeb Bush, also vying for the Republican nomination, was recently asked whether, given the opportunity, he would go back in time and kill newborn Hitler. “Hell yeah!” he replied, enthusiastically imagining time travel and the murder of a mustached infant. One would think that the right-wing Bible-devotee would not publically endorse King Herod-esque problem solving methods. Biblically, killing a lot of babies was not an effective way of stopping the will of God; in the same sense, preemptively getting rid of Hitler would not have rid the world of his brand of evil, and pressuring Donald Trump into giving up would not change the minds of his masses of supporters. Practically speaking, you cannot kill dangerous ideas with guns. Philosophically speaking, perhaps, we should strive to not even make the attempt, as those ideas live insides the heads of people.

As there is no simple route to getting rid of ideas we don’t like – or their figureheads – we must beg patience of ourselves and constantly reevaluate. In asking ourselves “how do we fix the Trump situation?” we also ask “how do we, as a society, progress in the direction that is best for us?” That is the question. We’re armed with some traditional methods – education, democracy, free expression – with which to go about problem-solving. As our frustration/desire to spit on Trump grows, we must remember that he isn’t really the problem. The best we can do is breathe, not get angry, not be afraid, and speak intelligently to each other (and listen in turn). There is no point in cynical resignation. And you, Canadians: when the media cruelly bombards you with images of Trump’s sinister face and disturbing toupee, take comfort in remembering that your Head of State’s hair is really, really good. That’s got to count for something.