The late, great, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once described Richard Nixon as the living embodiment of everything wrong with the American populous, down the line. The comparisons drawn between that infamous leader of the free world, and the one currently seated in the cushy mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue, are too plentiful to describe in any well-thought out, cohesive piece of writing. As such, this writer will not pursue such a fool’s errand. Instead, he’s going to do something infinitely more ridiculous.
Let’s start with some facts. Donald Trump’s appeal, to a majority of Americans that voted for him, had little to do with xenophobia or racism or sexism. His mass appeal came from the misguided belief that he, in any empirical way, identified with the plight of the American working class. It was, I’d wager, one of the most obvious lies in this country’s history (this, from the nation that once had a president exclaim “I am not a crook!” while being investigated for, among other things, issues relating to his taxes). So why did so many people fall for it? How could enough of the populous support such an obvious liar?
Here’s the short version: they didn’t; at least, not knowingly. It’s my belief that, on some level, every single person that voted for him knew that he was probably lying, but he offered a kind of potential that they didn’t see in other candidates (least of all Hillary Clinton): potential for change, for something uniquely different than what we'd had before. The endless promises of what ultimately amounted to the same old thing from candidates on both sides is, in my mind, what sunk the election for everyone.
So where does that ridiculous idea of mine come in? Right here, in fact. Y’see, the thing about Donald Trump is, first and foremost, he is an opportunist. He’s already gone and registered the trademark for re-election slogans for the 2020 campaign long before the time to consider such action is even reasonable. He’s still selling “Make America Great Again” merchandise like it’s going out of style (note: this may in fact be evidence of psychic abilities). He knows an opportunity when he sees one. If we look past the failure of many of his businesses (not to mention the god-awful state he helped to leave Atlantic City in; something I, a New Jersian through and through, take serious issue with), then we see a guy who knows exactly when the right move is, and when it’s time to pack up shop and leave it for someone else to clean up. Perhaps more damning, though, is the fact that he’s doing the same thing to the United States right now, and we all seem to be too stupid to truly take notice.
Yes, even those of us who are perpetually glued to the New York Times and other outlets waiting with bated breath for his latest political blunder have been too oblivious to see what was right in front of us: he’s doing to America what he did to Atlantic City, and it is going to kill us all.
In the 80s, Trump used endless streams of borrowed money to buy his way into Atlantic City casinos and hotels that he had no business being involved with, strictly because he wanted to swallow the competition, or at least somehow benefit if they managed to out-compete Trump Plaza. A year or so after the opening of Trump Taj Mahal, the casino filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Trump lost half of his interest in the casino, causing him to owe millions upon millions of dollars to the very creditors that helped fund the casino in the first place. The story goes that they even put him on a budget, though I wouldn’t consider $5.4 million a terribly inconvenient budget at all. In the years that followed, he would proceed to lose shares as the three of his Atlantic City casino properties individually filed for bankruptcy, closed, were sold off, or otherwise perished to the toxic desertion of borrowed time.
Had his campaign slogan going into Atlantic City been similar to that touted during the 2016 election, then the parallels might just have rung a bit clearer for those that were on the fence about him. Had he gone about selling “Make AC Great Again” shirts and hats during that era, the promise of hope would have been impossible to resist, and would have spared us, now, this doomed state of affairs.
He doesn’t lie when he says he made tons of money in Atlantic City; by all accounts, he most certainly did. The lie is that he played the game well enough to know when it was quitting time and sell off. He didn’t, and he was stuck with that raw deal until the last possible second.
Fast forward to 2017. He’s promised a revitalization of the country through unification, the type of thing Nostradamus pinned on his third Antichrist. He bargained his way through fumbled debate answers, clawing at the fact that he knew his big fat fucking mouth would demonstrate some alpha-male qualities that the misguided children of Uncle Sam would eat up like hot cakes. “Don’t you get it?” they’d ask. “He has a vision.” And he did, just as he did in the 80s. The issue is now, he has more responsibility than simply being a real-estate mogul with fake looking hair; he is now in charge of the welfare of an entire nation of men, women, children, and the range of gender-nonconforming people that had, for a moment before his inauguration, a glimmer of hope for their own futures.
Now, he can’t back out while hiding behind bankruptcy attorneys; he must face the mess he intends to make head on. The fundamental issue, though, and the crux of this entire argument, is that he won’t. He will simply do whatever he wants and thinks is best (or at least represents his own interests) for the duration of his term, at which time he will run for re-election with the knowledge that he will lose, pack up his things, pass the torch, and, as he did in the 80s and 90s, take the money and run. The borrowed money now comes from we, the tax paying citizens, as opposed to the many private investors of the end of last century. But he’s still going to come out of this richer. It isn’t entirely clear of yet whether or not he has actually, 100% divested from his businesses as he claims, but there’s no denying that their value has seen a boost as a result of his election. Make no mistake, dear friend; this is a man who will walk away from his administration so much wealthier than when he entered it, at which time he will be free to reap the benefits of that wealth. He will not bow to the needs of the nation so long as they do not align with the needs of his checking account, and he will drag us all into the Devil’s living room to be mocked like a disabled reporter. We are the freak show; long live the freaks.