‘FrankenTrump’: An indepth look at his creation, escape and rampage
The Ivy League monster upon us
Merdies Hayes | 3/18/2016, midnight
Every age has its heroes. In terms of vote-getting, it’s the individual who manages to rise above the socio-political landscape to create a new and independent powerbase. Roughly 200 years ago Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley wrote about a modern-day Prometheus—Frankenstein that is—who was created out of the abyss of disillusionment and a fear of change. The GOP presidential race may lend itself to Shelley’s Gothic tale of a monster that arrives unexpectedly and, in short order, throws conventional wisdom out of the window and carves a unique niche into the body politic.
Some believe Donald Trump is a recreation of that monster. If so, then “FrankenTrump” would be the perfect representative of the yearning for social romanticism, or a rejection of the march of progress and return to yesteryear when new thought and philosophy was rejected in favor of arch-conservative sentimentality. Trump is a superhero--an “uberman”—of which Americans have traditionally embraced since the early days of literary fantasy. Except, many persons believe Trump—an Ivy League superhero--is much more of a menace to progressive ideology than someone who upholds the ideals of honesty, character and fair play witnessed in likable superheroes you’d find in a comic book.
Genisis of the ‘brash basher’
Shelley’s monster railed against the treatment of the poor and uneducated (e.g. today’s adult White population without a college degree), and Trump tends to mimic this component of the monster’s psyche while also advocating a rejection of the restorative powers of nature in the face of unnatural events (i.e. the presidency of Barack Obama). The similarities between Trump and the monster can be both illuminating ... and frightening. Trump is outspoken, brash and headstrong. So was Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Trump is single-minded, unapologetic and tough-as-nails. So was the monster. Trump’s larger-than-life persona runs against traditional humility within retail politics. Take the Iowa Caucuses, for instance. When other presidential candidates rolled up their sleeves, donned plaid shirts and tried to blend into the rows of corn to prove how “middle America” they purported to be, Trump arrived in town in a helicopter wearing his signature Brioni suits and Zellui Tuscany loafers.
Trump’s arrival in politics comes at a time when many believe the nation faces sinister forces worldwide from Vladimir Putin, Kim Jung-un, ISIS, bio-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, climate change … even unchecked immigration and changing family dynamics. His appeal to patriotism and a return to a simpler life are the hallmarks of the venerable Romantic-era tale. The Trump campaign has become a rallying point for the disintegrated White working class, particularly its [perceived] popular anger toward immigrants. Trump has been able to capitalize on this division between cosmopolitan “elites” and an increasingly agitated nationalist base.
Tea Party 2.0
Trump’s rise stems from the fact that he is a brilliant political entrepreneur. He took the remnants of the Tea Party (nativism, “birtherism”) and forged a unique political marketplace based on his style much more than on addressing policy concerns. The latent populism has always been there, but Trump’s personal brand has allowed it to grow almost as if it was one of his business entities. Trump learned a great deal from fellow businessman Ross Perot. Instead of creating his own independent political party, Trump simply stole an existing one. Some observers say the Republican Party was ripe for a “hostile takeover” because its vulnerability was derived from a shift to an old but useful powerbase—the South (east of Texas, south of the Mason Dixon line). Trump’s victory in South Carolina early in the primary season provided proof that the modern GOP is much more Southern than it is urban. Fifty-seven percent of Trump’s delegates came from his sweep of six Southern states. Southerners are an increasingly vital component of the GOP base, making up for anticipated losses out West, in the Mountain states, the Northeast and in the Midwest.