In Search of Trump’s Ideology

Photo by Guido van Nispen | CC BY 2.0

Is Donald Trump a rightwing ideologue – perhaps a libertarian like Ted Cruz or a “nationalist” (as per the current euphemism) like his former “brain” (the best he ever had) and BFF Steve Bannon?   It might seem that he is one or the other or (somehow) both, given what he has been up to in recent years.

But this is a trick question.  Trump is not a rightwing ideologue because he is not an ideologue at all.  The very idea gives him too much credit.

Indeed, Trump has no settled political convictions.  How could he?  If his tweets are any indication, he cannot even hold a thought for more than a day or two.  He just goes with whatever is on his mind.

But because his is a one-track mind, it can seem that there is some consistency underlying “the blooming buzzing confusion,” as the philosopher and psychologist William James (1842-1910) described the human baby’s first encounter with the external world.

The track his mind is on is all about him, his glory and his money.  The two could not be more intimately connected; Trump’s glory is his wealth – conspicuously displayed.

Trump is no ideologue, but he does have it in him to pretend to be one when it serves his purpose.

His purpose is always and only to close a sale.  Trump paid dearly for a capable, and now repentant, ghost writer, Tony Schwartz, to write The Art of the Deal, but, in truth, Trump is just a huckster working a crowd.  If that means promoting…

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