By Oscar H. Blayton
For almost a decade, Americans have been scratching their heads over the meteoric rise of Donald J. Trump’s political career. When then-Congressman Keith Ellison appeared on the July 26, 2015, edition of ABC’s “This Week” and warned that Donald Trump could become the Republican presidential nominee for the 2016 presidential election, the program’s host, George Stephanopoulos, laughed along with the show’s other panelists and stated, “I know you don’t believe that.”
Now, eight years after Keith Ellison’s warning, America has witnessed multiple instances of Donald Trump’s deplorable behavior and suffered through an ugly period while Trump occupied the White House. Trump was impeached twice and now stands indicted multiple times for crimes related to his misconduct before, during and after his term of office. Apart from those antebellum presidents who were enslavers, Donald Trump has been the most noxious individual to hold this nation’s highest office. Any clear-thinking American would be hard-pressed to name a single admirable characteristic this man possesses. Yet, millions of Americans are keen to see him returned as head of state.
Trump’s popularity with a large segment of American voters should not be a mystery to anyone who has paid attention to American history and has a clear understanding of the dominant foundational myths of American culture.
The history of this country is one of oppression and abuse. Beginning with Christopher Columbus, European imperialism has driven the enslavement and genocide inflicted upon the indigenous people of this land. A report written in 1495 – (only three years after Columbus first landed in the Western Hemisphere) – describes how Columbus and his followers captured more than 500 Arawak men, women and children to be sold in the slave markets in Spain. This report also describes how approximately 200 of those captives died during the voyage eastward over the Atlantic Ocean and their bodies were dumped into the ocean.
The diaspora of Europe that spread across North America in the years following Columbus’ voyages brought with them death and misery to the people they found here as well as to the people they dragged here in chains. In the ensuing centuries, imperial invaders and colonizers gained great wealth by exploiting the land and labor of others.
This is not a history of which anyone could be proud, yet nationhood demands heroic myths that extol the virtues of the ancestors. Those founders, particularly the founding fathers, were practically deified, as evidenced by the famous painting in the dome of the U.S. Capitol titled, “The Apotheosis of Washington.” This painting depicts the first president accompanied by female figures representing Liberty and Victory, and surrounded by several other representative figures, being elevated into heaven. The literal meaning of “apotheosis” is to make one a god. This painting bears no evidence of the existence of the enslaved who were forced to toil without compensation at Mount Vernon and other plantations under Washington’s control. Nor does it depict the people of the First Nations who were forced to withdraw from their ancestral lands to give way to the colonial invaders.
Our national myth is that America was settled by good white people who brought this land to its full potential through hard work and virtuous behavior. Any narrative that contradicts this myth is erased or banned, hence the fanatical surge of book banning and efforts to hide historical events that speak truth to the American myth. But this begs the question: Why is it necessary to distort our history and obscure facts?
The answer lies in the fact that America is, and always has been, a corporate enterprise. The first invaders and the founders were seeking to gain or maintain wealth. And corporate enterprises, whose sole existence is wealth driven, operate under a management style known as the “mushroom principle” where employees – like mushrooms – are kept in the dark and periodically given a load of manure.
Donald Trump also applies this principle as his political strategy. He merely substitutes the “American enterprise” for “corporate enterprise” and “voters” for “employees.” Trump was hatched in a corporate environment and understands well the mushroom principle. With an uninquisitive mind and a significant bent towards sloth, Trump is a perfect fit for a large segment of America’s voting population. Sloth is not merely laziness; it is a condition of sluggish mentation and self-centered indifference. Trump has no interest in improving his mind, and neither do his followers. Herein lies their connection. Trump, as a stupid person, is the ideal candidate for a stupid voter. People who do not want to know the truth of history, or the nature of their own characters, are delighted by Trump’s matching qualities.
An uneducated, unthinking and uninquisitive electorate will vote for a candidate with matching characteristics. Trump is clearly an idiot; even his die-hard supporters must recognize this. But they see themselves in him. And they see their support of him as a form of self-preservation. As long as Trump appears to be stupid, stupid people will vote for him.