Sat | Jan 16, 2021

Alfred Dawes | The President Trump Show

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2021 | 12:13 AM

Well, it has been four seasons and the ending so far is way better than that of Game of Thrones. The President Trump Show has demolished all other features globally with ratings climbing into the stratosphere. Nobody in Hollywood could have dreamt up such an incredible plot. From calling Ted Cruz’s wife ugly and Rosie O’Donnell a big fat pig, boasting of grabbing women by the privates, accusations of rape and sex with prostitutes (all in the primaries, by the way), to wondering out loud if getting bleach inside the body would kill the coronavirus, the show has been full of shock and awe to being downright zany. In fact, late-night talk show hosts got so lazy that they never bothered to write jokes. They’d just play what Trump said or tweeted. For the last four years, nothing on TV has grabbed our attention the way the newest Donald Trump Show has.

The Trump Show was the first blockbuster crossover social media/mainstream media show. Excited fans would prowl Twitter waiting on the latest rant that often left them rather ‘covfefe’. The show was streamed ad nauseam on liberal-leaning channels such as CNN and MSNBC to the point where you could not turn on the TV without a story or panel discussion about the president. The show attracted both the far left and far right whose emotions were perpetually riled up by the most divisive American political figure in recent history. Conservative media outlets jockeyed for interviews with his inner circle and the ratings fest seemed unending. There was never a dull moment and if imitation is the best form of flattery, then the global aping of the Trump character was a homage. Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico enjoyed some degree of success with personas mirrored on Trump, such as COVID-19 denial and radical, populist views. But many who latched their political careers to Trumpism were decimated at the polls.

Traditional storylines invariably constitute a conflicted hero who faces trials and when all seems lost, has an epiphany and completes the story loop by addressing their flaws and using this new power to overcome the odds in a nail-biting victory. Not so with Trump. The man is probably more conflicted at the end of the story than the beginning. Even worse is that there is no happy ending to the tumultuous, slapping-away-his-hands-when-he-tries-to-hold-her-hands-in-public love story. Some say Melania can’t wait until he leaves the Oval Office to leave his household. If this were a disaster film it would have flopped despite the thousands of cars, buildings and statues damaged by protesters over the last four years. Why? Because there was no adorable pet in the story to escape the last-minute building collapse or fire, as in every disaster film. But the Trump presidency was not a disaster film. It was an epic that transcended all genres, from apocalyptic (a pandemic that turned entire cities into ghost towns), to comedic (staring at the solar eclipse, trying to buy Greenland), drama (firings, firings and more firings), suspense (killing Iranian general Qasem Soleimani), action (Black Lives Matter protests), to legal thriller (impeachment), and now ending in fantasy (the election was rigged).

BITTERLY DIVIDED

The fans of The Trump Show have been bitterly divided. There seems to be no centrists, left or right leaners anymore. Positions taken are extreme and ignore the large swathes of grey areas that serve the interests of both conservatives and liberals. To liberals, if you support Trump you are a racist, sexist, xenophobe with zero morals. Worse, if you are black you are a sell-out and Uncle Tom. Trump supporters, on the other hand, have factored in all of the immoralities of their man and either support some, if not all, in principle or chose to ignore them because they are not driven by visceral emotional reactions, but by the policies for which Trump stood. Christians and Conservatives would support Trump because he significantly dialled back the transgender agenda and the liberal aims on churches and the traditional family. Those opposed to the welfare state would support his tax reforms and pro-business policies. Trump did nothing that any leader of an empire under threat wouldn’t do, correct trade imbalances, stem illegal immigration and build up the military capabilities of the state. Whether real or imagined, his aim at making America great again by tackling those issues earned him many admirers from all walks of life, races, sexes and educational levels.

And then there are the black Trump supporters. In addition to falling into the aforementioned categories and ignoring the personal deficits of Trump, some would actually argue with some success that he did more for them than Barack Obama. There is also a solid argument with which Jamaicans can personally identify. Black Americans are a non-geographic garrison constituency. As we note here where the garrisons are usually the poorest communities, black Americans similarly are not courted by politicians because they vote en bloc for Democrats. What’s the point in trying to uplift a community or people if they either support you blindly or will soundly reject you in spite of your overtures? The day black Americans and Jamaican garrisons become credible targets for campaigners, only then will they see an improvement in their quality of life. Some are prepared to accept the title of an Uncle Tom in order to spread that message.

The binary addiction to The Trump Show has seen life imitate art with heated exchanges whenever the topic is raised. Liberals usually argue based on emotions, often with incredulity that the other party could support such a horrible person. But they seldom attempt to understand why 70 million, not all illiterate rednecks, would support someone whose flaws are magnified constantly in the media. The conservatives, on the other hand, may be ultra-selective, bordering on hypocritical on why they follow Trump based on his policies. Whichever side of the cheering crowd you stood, you will miss the excitement and uncertainty that filled our living rooms and phone screens these past four years. And as Maximus Decimus Meridius would say, “Are you not entertained?”

- Alfred Dawes is a general, laparoscopic, and weight-loss surgeon; Fellow of the American College of Surgeons; former senior medical officer of the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital; former president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association. @dr_aldawes. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and adawes@ilapmedical.com.