Donald J. Trump: Our Postmodern Nebuchadnezzar
Part 2: A Response to Thomas Doane The Hunger Games, A Conspiracy Theory, And A Real Estate Tycoon
It is my belief that America’s 45th President Donald J. Trump was a complete postmodern President; a manifestation of late modernity’s yearnings for a hero and a villain.
Manifestation being the keyword President Trump embodies the essential postmodern stigma. He is the result of an ecological convergence within late modernity—a billionaire titan hungry for an abundance of power and wealth in order to make a legacy and the presidency was the perfect construct at a point of political strife. As Thomas noted:
I made a point that Trump is a baby boomer and not Gen Xer, which allied by his time in college from 1964 to 1968, before the proliferation of postmodern theory in academia, that he would be more familiar with the cultural manifestations of postmodernism rather than its core tenets. I garner to bet that he has not read the works of Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault in any meaningful sense and thus would only be aware of the principles of postmodernism through second-hand sources.
Not to belabor his point but I suspect that to be postmodern, one does not have to be versed in its tenets. Nothing makes a better Fascist or Marxist than a devotee by mere instinct than a reasoned intelligentsia. However, postmodernism is more than a movement, it is the malaise of the age that evolved and produced Donald Trump as the 45th President.
Hardly reactionary, the election of President Trump in 2016 was in direct response to the fearful rise of socialism and overt progressive policies that continue to deteriorate the United States and western civilization. A direct rejection of Hillary Clinton and the Obama years; America wanted a man who they believed would fight for them. Trump presented himself as such. But in the end he was a man of illusions and delusions set on creating a hostile environment that mimic his TV series, The Apprentice. And it with that fact where I would like to establish a philosophical block to this puzzle.
In his book, Simulacra and Simulation, the postmodern thinker Baudrillard argues that within the United States a switch took place between the image relationship of art forms and reality; the image now has ontological priority over the real. Signs and Symbols have become the reality rather than the actual world itself thus resulting in life itself becoming “film-like” as he puts it:
It is not the least of America’s charms that even outside the movie theaters the whole county is cinematic. The desert you pass through is like the set of a Western, the city a screen of signs and formulas.
A simulacrum is a representation of something or someone. Donald Trump, I am arguing, is a simulacrum due to the sociopolitical economic environment of the United States. He is a superficial force Americans had to contend with as either good or evil; right or wrong. Trump was not one but both. A master of media, Trump knew exactly how to market himself as savior and king as much as antichrist and tyrant. Christian professor and author of the book, Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth In A Distracted Age, Alan Noble describes our media saturated society—what I see as a postmodern product of late modernity the emerged from secularism, technology, and science— Nobles writes that the:
[C]onstant engagement with media also invites us to unreflectively adopt ethical and political positions, creating a hodgepodge worldview. From a film on the treatment of animals in amusement parks we develop a fleeting concern for animal rights. A documentary on modern farming practices makes us see shopping local and organic a moral issue.
To stop here for the time I wish to reiterate that Trump was formulated by late modernity into a postmodern beast that he took advantage of for his own vain glories. A beast that turned him wild like Nebuchadnezzar. Trump was produced by a postmodern society—a distorted media, a distorted audience, and a distorted set of institutions. With that President Trump became the postmodern king of the radical right.
To this I believe Mr. Doane will agree.