Hyper-reality Trumpism

Alan Noble
2 min readSep 29, 2017

One of the most insidious and odious lies by some of President Trump’s supporters is that conservatives who oppose him are doing so because he isn’t PC, because his temperament or personality is offensive. And so, we just need to get over ourselves and get behind him so he can save our country — so the argument goes.

Only that’s not the motive behind conservative criticism of the president. It’s about character and competency. It’s about the fact that he makes up terrible policies and ridiculous claims on the spot, and when he discovers they are indefensible he simply moves on to a new indefensible policy.

This election was not about superficial style differences.

But for some voters, President Trump’s gross incompetency is irrelevant, because it was not about electing someone competent. It was about opposing Clinton and sticking it to the establishment. It reminds me of my child throwing a tantrum and banging his head against the ground to try to get his way: it only hurts him and nothing fundamentally changes. It is a spirit of selfish nihilism which would rather watch the world burn for the lols than make a hard decision.

Contempt for the educated, for morals, for order, for justice, and for truth justify self-consciously ironic (yet sincere) racism and hate. It is a revolt against nothing with nothing but style, rhetoric, memes. And in that sense it is a postmodern artifact, without substance — irony built upon irony until there is no differentiating between sincerity and irony. Pepe the frog is both a lame troll and a serious emblem of nationalism. And the the way the president, his family, and his staff have flirted with these memes reflects how deep this goes. There is no substance or origin of politics for Trump. Just artifice upon artifice. The faux-illusion of reality TV applied to politics.

That’s not quite true. The one substance to his politics is power, but for the president, power is controlled through rhetoric/style. Power does not derive from some basic source like goodness or truth or justice. And power is not the application of some truth. Power is politics, and it chiefly manifests in our style which is an assertion of power: rhetoric unrestrained by truth, with no origin, and viewed as inherently an act of power. Thus, it’s just memes fighting memes with no referent and no goal except power. And in Trump’s case, it’s the power to exclude and to maximize his ego and his profits.

Adapted from a Facebook post from 2016. Unfortunately, it’s still accurate.

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Alan Noble

Associate Professor of English, Oklahoma Baptist University, author of Disruptive Witness, You Are Not Your Own, and On Getting Out of Bed (soon).