Trump Candidacy Is Just The Logical Outcome Of Half A Century Of Hippie Punching
June 17, 2015

Charlie Pierce is right about Donald Trump:

He is the inevitable result of 40 years of political conjuring, mainly by Republicans, but abetted by far too many Democrats as well. He is the inevitable product of anyone who ever argued that our political institutions should be run "like a business." (Like whose businesses? Like Trump's? Like Carly Fiorina's Hewlett Packard?) He is the inevitable product of anyone who ever argued why the government can't balance its books "the way any American family would." He is the inevitable result of the deregulated economy that was deregulated out of a well-cultivated wonder and awe directed at the various masters of the universe. Sooner or later, all of this misbegotten magical thinking was going to burp up a clown like Donald Trump.

To which I'd add: It's also the inevitable result of the decades-long backlash against the 1960s, which has been cultural as well as political, and which reached critical mass in the Reagan 1980s, and not just in cartoonish fictional characters such as Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties or, later, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. The 1980s were the decade when we decided that we hated both the impractical and the needy, and overcorrected for the 1960s and 1970s by declaring that we loved businessmen -- the nastier the better. (A #1 bestselling advice book in 1989 was titled, I kid you not, Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun.)

The cultural aspect of this was that we started to see what we liked about rock stars in SOB CEOs. Before, we'd been in awe of the work musicians did under the influence of drugs; now, we cheered on coke-sniffing corporate chieftains. We'd believed it made sense that musicians got all the babes; now, we drooled at whatever arm candy accompanied Trump.

It was in the 1980s when Ed Koch, an early adopter of the liberal-bashing-Democrat template, turned the stalled renovations of a skating rink in Central Park over to Trump; Trump's entire narrative of self-promotion -- that he as a business can effortless get stuff done that government can't -- was essentially fixed in that moment. That fit the political moment, obviously -- but it also fit the cultural moment. We'd decided that the heroes of the 1960s and 1970s were unkept and shaggy and smelly; everybody was suddenly crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man. Many sharp-dressed ubermenschen later, we're broke and the sharp dressers own everything. And a certain percentage of Americans would trust another one to run the country, even if he is a buffoon.

(cross-posted from No More Mister Nice Blog)

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