Long before I read these fantastic pieces by George Monbiot in The Guardian and Andy Kroll in The Atlantic, I had tweeted that Donald Trump was simultaneously an embodiment and the most eloquent critique of the American self-image.
Trump is both the real face and critique of the US mainstream. Hillary is the face of US’ selective amnesia.
— Lateef Kayode Faniyi (@kxyode) October 10, 2016
In plain, Emmanuellan English, Trump is America’s real face, the face it tries to hide under layers of makeup.
America is still largely racist and misogynist. Its rich pays little to no tax compared to its poor. Charles and David Koch may as well be Chris Uba or other shadowy godfathers of Nigerian politics, the unseen hands that manipulate affairs. America is dysfunctional in alarming ways yet holds herself—and is held—up as an example to the world. And confronted with the man in the mirror, (establishment) America rails against itself.
Being the focal point and departure lounge of world neoliberalism, I am of course always interested in any event or string of events that serve to undermine this dastardly centre. I would much have preferred that this were Sanders, but in the absence of Sanders, I’ll take Trump, whose anti-establishment rhetoric is fascinating, particularly for bystanders this way who are not blinded to the real state of things in the world. That conservatives and liberals alike are rallying to Clinton’s cause should tell you something. This elite—the corporate elite—recognises the “revolutionary” potential of a Trump presidency, because they have made up the world into a zero-sum game. Of course, my fear is that we’ve been here before, where rhetoric and actions are mismatched. Read Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” from back in 2008, for instance. (Please disregard Obama’s attempt to equate white fear with black anguish and focus on the economic critique of the speech.)
Romney’s 47% comment killed him, and in a sane world, Clinton’s hemispheric world-without-borders would cause a great deal of consternation, because what it means is that she sees the world simply as a market, and politically, as divided into spheres of influence the US most impose itself upon, which again feeds back to the idea of the world as simply a market. Yes, Trump is this and that and doesn’t pay that and this. But as the man has said, he’d be an immensely stupid businessman not to exploit weaknesses in policy. You want to stop him? Plug the gaps. Make it difficult for him to practice voodoo accounting or economics. Trump’s message seems to be glocalization, and I’m very much interested in this, as against globalization. Citizens of perpetually underdeveloped countries should be interested too.
I agree with much of Monbiot’s and Kroll’s analyses up to the point that it identifies Trump as the quintessential America. I obviously disagree with their disavowal of Trump. If I were American and valued the notion of appearing to be some sort of a bumbling leader of some free world, maybe a Clinton presidency would make sense. But I am a Nigerian, and the policies pursued by those whom Clinton has fronted for is one of the major reasons why Nigeria (and Africa, by implication) is where it is. It is the reason why even in the US there is significant discontent. Profits are rising; wages have flatlined or dropped, because liberalization of labour. I am certainly appalled—it feels me with trepidation—that a Nigerian government functionary can wake up tomorrow and say: Look, they do it in America.
When people like Fashola say good education is expensive, and use that idea to justify hiking school fees in public institutions to obscene levels, they are looking at America for inspiration, where students leave college with debts that can—and does—cripple them for the rest of their lives. Imagine that. When Bernie Sanders says college should be tuition-free, I am of course interested, because only then do our so-called leaders and intellectuals here begin to see the possibility of building a truly socially responsible society. They have done it in America, and thus illogic becomes logic. But never before they do it in America.
Obviously, Trump is a different kettle of fish from Sanders but I’d really love to see a more economically nationalistic America. This perpetually outward-facing globalization (an economic liberalization in practice) we all trumpet has not done anyone except corporations much good, and will do us no good in the long term. The Guardian, a self-acclaimed leftist paper first inveighed against Sanders, the first credible leftist candidate in the US in a long time. It has spent the last couple of months singularly inveighing against Trump. This morning, it has gleefully described Mrs Clinton as having an internationalist outlook, as if we do not understand the euphemism, as if it is not a leftist paper. It has also disabled comments on most of its political stories, because the stories are obviously studies in outright bias, and anyone who reads The Guardian knows that slightly burnt bottom part is the sweetest jollof rice.
And beyond the economics of it, that the worst of its species can ascend to its presidency is certainly a tantalising prospect. When I think of what pain US meddlesomeness has inflicted upon the world; when a Lumumba gets murdered in favour of a psychopathic Barra Boum Boum Tuboum Gbazo Tse Tse Khoro diDzo (that’s WS’s caricature of Mobutu in A Play of Giants); when the democratically elected government of sovereign nations are undermined because anti idiotic internationalism; this moment holds such great comedy potential. The US, I think, deserves its own giant.