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The VICE Guide to the 2016 Election

‘I'm Really Rich’: Donald Trump, the American Dream, and the Art of Having No Shame

Fraud, huckster, Nacho Cheese Dorito-dusted goiter wrapped in a full Windsor knot – Donald Trump is many indefensible things. But the motherfucker can make an entrance.
Photo via YouTube

Donald Trump is descending from the sky on an escalator. In front of him: his wife Melania – infomercial posture, infomercial teeth, skin smooth like fresh tinfoil, wearing the distinctly impenetrable look of someone who is both bored and wearing more expensive shoes than you. Along the railing next to them: delirious women with mangled teeth shouting and looking for a camera, here for Donald Trump, here for delirium itself, men with bad haircuts, wearing jean shorts, shirts that don't fit, socks with failing elastic crumpled around their ankles.


Beneath them: cameras, phones, people sitting on the floor writing in notebooks, thick blue wires, cafeteria workers lugging giant bags of romaine lettuce on their shoulders. Melting trays of gelato. Three-dollar bottles of water. Every blonde woman who has ever lived. Guys holding shitty coffee staring and waiting for text dots. Middle-aged women with good dye jobs. Older women in polyester blazers with even better dye jobs. Tall men wearing pink ties who say things like "play ball" and "fast track" and whose handshakes last the length of a filibuster, men whose ancestors probably owned a railroad or a black person. Every human in the VIP section looks either like a derivative of Trump, the type of woman he would marry, or the silent, well-behaved spawn of a Range Rover dealership and Neiman Marcus.

"Rockin' in the Free World" is playing at high volume over the speakers, Trump is holding his hand to the crowd, then giving it a thumbs up. The escalator lowers him past a banner that reads "TRUMP MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN." Make America totally awesome. Make America rad as fuck. Make America's dick so big they'll need multiple computer monitors to see all of it when he emails it to the Chinese to ask for our money back. He walks on stage and, for a moment, bobs his head to Neil Young like it is a virus slowly infecting his brain.

You know who likes Donald Trump? Noisey.

Fraud, huckster, begrudgingly repentant racist, Nacho Cheese Dorito–dusted goiter wrapped in a full Windsor knot. Donald Trump is many indefensible things. But the motherfucker can make an entrance. Tuesday at roughly 11:30 AM at the Trump Tower – a soulless, relentlessly garish monolith befitting its name – Trump announced that he's running for president of the United States. He said these things, too:


  • "America, we don't have victories anymore."
  • "I beat China all the time."
  • "When do we beat Japan at anything? When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo?"
  • "[Mexicans are] bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're sending rapists. Some of them are good people, I assume."
  • "We have wounded soldiers who I love, I love, they're great."
  • "I have the best golf courses in the world."
  • "I have lobbyists that can produce anything for me. They're great."
  • "Even our nuclear arsenal doesn't work."
  • "We have a disaster, the big lie, Obamacare – you have to pay a deductible so high, you have to get hit by a tractor trailer, literally a tractor, to use it."
  • "Remember the $5 billion website? Five billion we spent on a website, and to this day it doesn't work. I have so many websites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a website. It costs me three dollars."
  • "We need somebody who can take the brand of the United States and make it great again."
  • "I'm not saying China is stupid, I love China."
  • "I'm proud of my net worth, I've done an amazing job."
  • "I'm really rich. I'll show you in a second. I'm not saying that in a bragging way."

In the corner of the room, in the shadows, side by side, his wife and children, immovable, arms folded, not a wrinkled or creased section of skin on a single one of them.

His speech was not a speech but a piñata smash of America, of Obama, of immigration and gun laws, pounding away until laughs or cheers came loose from the rafters. Anecdotes about the property he owns, masturbatory vendettas, convoluted revenge fantasies about automobile manufacturers, a coagulated ball of spit building in the right corner of his mouth. He said, "We need a leader who wrote The Art of the Deal"__ and part of you expected him to recite the Amazon URL for that book, every character, backslashes and all.


He held up a laminated single sheet of paper disclosing his financial particulars, and said, "A large accounting firm, one of the best in the world, has been working for months on this. I saw somewhere they said I had assets of $9 billion. I said 'That's the wrong number.'" Trump is a man who lives for DOCUMENTS, definitive triumphs, *gasps* and mic drops and fat jokes about Bette Midler.

He is the idea of big, white, corporate largesse as a force field, a cock shot, a double-breasted suit and suspenders, a dare-me. He comes out for coronations, for announcements, celebrations of his own existence, breaking news, YA FIRED, ejaculating 10,000 megaliters of Donald Trump on every square inch of the American populace's timid face at all times, emerging only to acknowledge how powerful he is, how endangered you are, and how little your fate actually matters.

There are no stakes because he has never contributed to the conversation. He is making fart noises in the back of a symposium on veganism or recycling. It is a wonder that he has not proposed a reality show in which $100 bills are glued to the streets of impoverished neighborhood, and on the back, if you win, are condo listings and a phone number. He has never heard of shame, no idea what you're talking about, I want to see shame's birth certificate, I'm just saying we've never seen it physically, how can we know that it's real?

Politicians build narratives. In Trump's, America will not make a comeback – there is no symbiosis between government and the public. This is a rescue mission and he is the guardian angel, the messiah, Santa Claus with a cigar in his mouth, dumping barrels of cash and crude oil out of a helicopter. He is president as steroid, as Popeye spinach.

"Sadly, the American dream is dead," he said Tuesday. "But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before."

In the end, we are always down here, and he is always up there, and if he needs to, he'll ride the escalator to save us.

Follow John Saward on Twitter.