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The VICE Guide to the 2016 Election

How and Why Donald Trump Manages to Keep Winning

On Donald Trump, right-wing movements around the globe, and "earnastiness."

by Justin Ling
11 December 2015, 9:02pm

Even this beagle knows he's a winner. Photo via Facebook.

Donald J. Trump is winning. Because he's a winner. He's only ever known how to win.

He started a business: it won.

He wrote a book: it won.

He started a reality show: it won.

He's running for president: he's winning.

Mexicans: losers.

Rosie O'Donnell: fat.

Refugees: stupid.

Muslims: terrorists.

A huge number of Americans are staring at their hands in disbelief. Canadian cousins in Winnipeg are sending Snapchats of themselves to American relatives asking WTF is going on down there. The American League of Racist Uncles have just finished a successful Thanksgiving campaign and are gearing up to tell uncomfortable millennial nieces that Trump will Make America Great Again™ from the opposite side of a dry Christmas goose.

This isn't just about a nomination race to determine who will lose to Hillary Clinton. This is a fight for the very political soul of the West.

Trump will either be slayed or will slay us. We've got to be winners.

Donald June Trump is not an aberration. He's not an outlier. Not a disease, a disruption, or even a surprise. He is the product and extension of 14 years of suspicion, xenophobia, political incompetence, jingoism, stupidity, ugliness, celebrity worship, retail politics, class divide, and The Apprentice.

Donald Joanne Trump is like the flu your body develops when it's riddled with so many golf-ball-sized tumors that it looks like the grass at a driving range.

So don't avert your eyes. Don't swerve. Stare directly into the political abomination of Donald Jonathan Trump and appreciate the mortality of our democracy. (We recommend that for the pregnant, weak of heart, or incontinent stare instead at Ted Cruz.)

The ethos that created Donald Jefferson Trump also buoyed bullish former Toronto mayor Rob Ford. It boosted the National Front in France. It incubated the UK Independence Party. It propped up the Aryan thumb that is Geert Wilders. It is the raison d'etre for the Greek paramilitary boys' club of Golden Dawn.

They all belong to a political fraternity that believes common sense can solve any problem.

Extremism isn't the end goal, it's merely the output. Voters and supporters of these maniacs aren't themselves extremists—they're frustrated idiots.

My garbage is overflowing? Damn refugees.

Crime is up in my neighborhood? Minorities at it again.

We lost a war? Political correctness makes us weak.

This political brand of earnastiness—a word I just made up because making up words is fun—is the core belief that there is nothing with this place that can't be fixed with some good ol' fashioned get-er-done-ness, conveyed through monosyllabic bumper stickers.

Make America great again.

Drill baby drill.

Respect for taxpayers.

The silent majority.

None is too many.

Subways, subways, subways.

This isn't new. The moronic chest-thumping and high-pitched insistence that Muslim/Mexican/Serbian/Italian/Jewish/Irish immigrants are the threat to our country has been around for about as long as there's been columnists like me to sit back and very smugly explain why it's wrong.

But what's new is the feeling that the crazed frustrated, the earnastiness, is winning.

Sure, Dick Nixon was a piece of cake. And Ronald Reagan was a racist. The George Bushes couldn't stop invading the Middle East.

But there's something scarier about this new wave of racism, xenophobia, stupidity. Maybe it's because this hard-on for hatred is rehashing fights that we thought we've already won.

Whereas most social struggles—women's liberation, the gay movement, the fight for black civil liberties—went in one direction, with stops along the way, it now feels like we're sliding back. It's as though we've just climbed up a mountain, only to feel a tugging on our leg as Donald Trump races down the hill on a snowmobile, and he's tied a rope from it to our foot.

Hate crimes are on the rise. Politicians—even here in friendly ol' Canada—are openly musing about banning Muslim garb in all sorts of places. Refugees are not war-weary engineers with three kids and two degrees, no, they're trojan horses, hired by the Islamic State to sneak into the West.

And you know what? There's no real way to fix it.

To quote a man defending our felled prime mInister, Stephen Harper—who wasn't, himself, prone to earnastiness, but dabbled in it when the mood struck—"I don't care if [our leader] has sex with a sheep as long as you work for the people."

The lesson from that is: one, still don't have sex with sheep please, because, gross; and, two, populism can Trump, and even help sell, the most disgusting of hate crimes.

Sheep-fucker guy belongs to the least-scary camp of the far-right. He wants good government, low taxes, workable public services, and everything else is gravy. He's like this seemingly-wonderful retired hairdresser who told Toronto Life: "I love the Fords because they say what they do and they do what they say."

They're going to shrug and blame The Lamestream Media™ when asked about Trump's plan to ban Muslims.

They're the earnest part. The nasty part is the problem.

Fueled by rampant inequality and profound distrust in both the media and the government, a new class of political malcontents is rising up to demand that the government fix their shit lives. For the first time in a century, the lower middle class feels that it is slipping backwards, and it intends to grab tightly onto the social fabric as it falls. And they're not going to tattoo a swastika on their back in the process. Instead, they're going to put on a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat and lecture you on "the Koran."

Those losers just want to win. They're convinced that the current winners—the Congresspeople, the Members of Parliament, the absurdly well-paid Chiefs of Newspaper Bureaus and Political Correspondents for Online-Only Media Outlets—want the country to lose, so they can keep winning.

That win/lose duality of the far-right needs to suffocate any third data point.

Mexicans are coming to America and working? Losers. Bad. Even if they're contributing to a competitive economic climate that is likely to create jobs? Losers. They're losers.

China may become the world's largest economy? We're getting killed. We've got to crush them. Even if it's a logical extension of a command economy with an artificially deflated currency? They're killing us. We've got to crush them. We've got to win.

The Islamic State is gaining ground? I will destroy them. Right now, we're weak. We've got to be strong. I will be strong. Even though a ground war would likely spark more regional conflict? We're weak. We need to be winners.

Trump supporters, just like Rob Ford voters or people who still insist on watching Two and a Half Men, revel in simplicity. They hold onto the firm philosophical belief that Occam's Razor is not just a problem-solving principle but a way of doing business.

The easy solution is to counteract the populism with populism. To throw a Bernie Sanders at every Donald Trump and hope everything works out. To hug Justin Trudeau so hard that his eyes bulge out of his perfect head.

But that's wrong. Whatever qualities Sanders or Trudeau may have as candidates, they're still just singular antibodies in a sick system.

Another alternative is to placate the broad political middle with the least offensive hand-shaking fleshbag the party establishment can find in order to suck in so much filthy money they can to drown out the anguished cries of agreement to Trump's most guttural war chants. Looking at you, Jeb! and Hil! Up here, we call it the John Tory Response.

But that's even worse. It's a response that necessitates leaning into a corrupt system awash with tainted money in order to silence a broad chorus of disaffected rubes.

So, where does that leave us?

It leaves us with the task of fixing politics altogether. In Canada: finding a way to bring in a more diverse cross-section of politics that gives channels to the disgruntled that doesn't involve watching Ezra Levant rant about his refugees-as-terrorists vitriol. In America: getting money out of politics and taking a sledgehammer to the two-party system. In Europe: re-imaging racial integration and reforming immigration procedures to ratchet-down tensions while still managing a Eurozone and helping the wave of migrants heading from the Middle East to the southern and eastern borders.

But those options are difficult and fraught with problems.

It might just be easier to win.

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