, 07.16.2018 07:26 AM

Column: before the #TreasonSummit ends, @realDonaldTrump has already won

When we have all been reduced once again to ashes – when the web site you now peer at is reduced to digital dust – thinkers will think, as thinkers do: how did Donald Trump win?

Because, you know, he did.

Donald Trump won. He beat us all. He has dominated the politics of this era like no other, standing astride it like a Cheeto-coloured colossus.

As I type this, there are 24 news stories on the main page of CNN’s web site. Fourteen of them are about Trump. The New York Times and the Washington Post’s front pages have six news stories each – and in the Times, three are about Trump. The Post, five of the six.

In Britain’s The Times, just two stories – one about their World Cup loss, naturally, but the other is about Trump, coming to have tea with the Queen. In Germany, the verdict in a homicidal neo-Nazi’s trial is ubiquitous – and then there is Donald Trump coverage, above or near every fold. And so on.

How does one define a political “win” in these uncertain, unpleasant times? With a weighty legislative change? Not really – Doug Ford is showing Kathleen Wynne how quickly those can be undone, like the flicking of a light switch.

Is stirring political oratory a win? Not that, either. Barack Obama’s best-ever speeches came when he campaigned for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump in late 2016 – but the latter still won, and the former still lost.

Is opposing prejudice and division a win? If only it were so. The forces of hatred, regrettably, are on the march in 2018 around the globe, achieving real power. While the majority of us look on, despairing.

At this point, in this year in this Century, winning is simply defined as sheer dominance. Winning is not just securing power – it is wielding power in such a way that no one else can be heard anymore.

And that is why Donald Trump is the winner: he does not merely dominate the news cycle. He is the news cycle.

A Democrat, of all people, predicted all of this more than 20 years ago. His name is David Shenk, and he wrote a book called Data Smog. It posits that information, once doled out like caviar, is now potatoes – abundant and tasteless. He writes: “At home, at work, and even at play, communication has engulfed our lives. To be human is to traffic in enormous chunks of data,” he writes, adding:

“At a certain level of input the glut becomes a cloud of data smog that no longer adds to our quality of life but instead begins to cultivate stress, confusion, and even ignorance. Information overload crowds out quiet moments and obstructs much-needed contemplation. It leaves us more vulnerable as consumers and less cohesive as a society.”

If you are peering at this opinion column on your phone, you are proof of Shenk’s claim. Every day, every morning, you are bombarded by hundreds of thousands of words and images. So, you do what humans do when they are overwhelmed by data smog: you turn it all off.

The only ones who can break through the data smog are those who are LOUD. Those who are BRASH. Those who SAY OUTRAGEOUS THINGS.

Ipso facto, Donald J. Trump. He does not merely understand Shenk’s data smog theorem – he embodies it.

So what, one may say. Is dominance truly a measure of political success?

Dick Morris, an advisor to both Republican and Democratic presidents, agrees that it is. He even has a phrase to append to it: “managing the dialogue.” If you manage the dialogue, you are winning.

Political debates, for example. A simple way to measure success in a debate is to count the number of debate minutes devoted to your side’s key messages (eg. for a progressive, health or the environment) and not the opposition’s (eg. for a conservative, tax cuts or “getting tough on crime”). You win when your side’s narrative has taken up the greatest number of minutes in any given debate. That’s it.

And that is why Donald Trump is winning: not because of his messages, per se. Not because all of the world has embraced madness, and is tilting towards fascism and nativism.

He is winning because his voice drowns out all others. He is, at any given time, the most-discussed topic on Earth. Because he is LOUD. Because he is BLUNT. Because he KNOWS HOW TO GET YOUR ATTENTION.

For the Democratic Party’s mid-term war room, this means abandoning traditional approaches – scandal-mongering, inappropriate quotes and votes – and dialing the volume up to eleven. It means hitting Trump twice as hard when he hits them even once.

For progressive rivals, like Angela Merkel or Justin Trudeau, all is not lost. If they abandon the progressive’s natural tendency to always observe boundaries and to always be inoffensive – to be colourless, and therefore without passion or values – they can compete with Donald Trump. Trudeau, in particular, is skilled at attracting attention (although, lately, it is the wrong kind of attention).

In the end, however, one immutable truth remains: Donald Trump is the face of this era.

When the rest of us are long gone and forgotten, he will be the one who is remembered.

19 Comments

  1. Luke says:

    To your point, a Google image search for ‘idiot’ returns several pictures of Donald Trump in the first ten images. I would like to think that this is evidence of his unpopularity and waning influence, but I tend to think you are right and this is merely a consequence of his dominance of the dialogue.

    It strikes me as pathetic (and worrisome) that the one to whose face is appended ‘idiot’ by so many is the most powerful person on Earth.

  2. DontHateAnons says:

    I strongly disagree that progressives have a natural tendency to be inoffensive and observe boundaries. It is always the progressives who are shouting down, sitting in, smashing, burning, rallying and bullying speakers when they don’t get their way or don’t agree. And as far as observing boundaries, progressives clearly don’t understand what a border is or what it is for.

    • The Doctor says:

      Hey, no sweeping generalization there.

      • Fred from BC says:

        You’re right, of course. That sentence should read “it is *almost* always the progressives who are shouting down, sitting in, smashing, burning rallying and bullying speakers)…”

        Because it is. Demonstrably and unequivocally.

        (not sure exactly why, but still…)

        • The Doctor says:

          I know lots of progressive people who are extremely respectful towards free speech rights. Again you’re tarring them all with the same brush and therefore are guilty of sweeping generalization. Yes, there are lots of irritating politically correct types and identity politics fanatics, but that hardly comprises the entire progressive spectrum.

          • Fred from BC says:

            ” Yes, there are lots of irritating politically correct types and identity politics fanatics, but that hardly comprises the entire progressive spectrum.”

            Perhaps the amount of media coverage they get distorts the true picture, then?

    • Peter says:

      More than a little hyperbole there, but I agree the self-righteousness of the port side and their inability to debate and explore why so many voters who have no use for Trump are hesitant to sign on with them is a major problem for them. Instead of serious wooing of the electorate, they’re locked into a “Chicken Little” fear-mongering, and their self-righteousness is being translated into an all-purpose justification of “Resistance” at any cost and tactics of any kind. They seem to have no idea why so many are suspicious of them.

      The latest news in that the Dems are moving sharply to the left. Some of what they are saying will indeed find a welcome reception in flyover country, but it will come with such baggage courtesy of identity politics that I’m doubtful it will prevail.

      But never mind Trump and the States, let’s look at Ontario and Ford’s victory. Is there any thoughtful progressive around who is trying to explain it without insulting everyone who voted for him?

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Peter,

        Warren has previously outlined Ford’s abilities and strengths. But that ain’t the same as becoming a one-man wrecking ball. That’s where Ford is going and THAT will be his undoing, probably a lot sooner than people think.

      • Canada Joe says:

        They can’t. Many progressives inhabit the same black vs white world as President Trump, the main difference being at least the President can admit it.

  3. Warren,

    Trump acts like a guy in the ninth inning. But we are far from being in the 9th.

    Plus, Brennan is the beginning of the turning of the tide.

    • DontHateAnons says:

      Ha ha ha! Brennan?! The guy is a joke. Mr Neocon 101, just dying for a shooting war with the Russkies like Bill Kristol and all his ilk. Brennan had nothing, zero, nada to say when Obama had his hot mic moment promising Vladdy “more flexibility” after the election. And nothing to say about Hil’s and her childish big red reset button. And after all his inside man experience the best job he can find now is on MSNBC along with Mika and Joe? Yes…for sure…THAT’s the guy that whose words will bring down Trump. Suggest you don’t hold your breath while waiting.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:

        DontHateAnons,

        Brennan won’t bring Trump down but he IS the first highly significant breach in the dam. Don’t worry, breathing just fine, after that one.

        • The Doctor says:

          I think Trump’s own director of national intelligence is more significant. He clearly disagreed with and contradicted Trump yesterday. Because unlike Trump, he’s not personality disordered.

  4. Pipes says:

    Well my friend-“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. Abraham Lincoln.

    This too, shall pass and that is a lesson of the ages.

  5. Peter says:

    Merkel maybe, but Trudeau? Trump could demolish him in one tweet and carry half of Canadian opinion with him. He’s not his father and clearly has no understanding of the world around him.

  6. Angel Martin says:

    Leftists still don’t get it.

    They try to ridicule Trump with “Trump Chicken” and “Trump Baby” – and what they end up with is a gigantic Trump, towering above everyone and looming over everything.

    Trump is master of all he dismays.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump attempts to buy Trump Chicken and Trump Baby.

    And uses them in his campaign !

    • Fred from BC says:

      For sure…and the western news media, thinking they are doing their very best to oppose Donald Trump, will actually be playing right into his hands as they always seem to do.

      How embarrassing was that press conference, where the eastern reporters asked questions about Russian/European energy policies and issues regarding Crimea and Syria, while the western reporters all tried to talk about Mueller and the collusion scam? Just pathetic.

  7. Robert White says:

    A wise NDPer once stated that the twitterverse was like riding on a 24 hour train ride with an obnoxious drunk spewing forth ad infinitum with no way to stop from hearing it, or from getting respite from it. Cheeto-head-in-Cheese is just such a character in an environment of knee-jerk reactionary drunken meanderings that emanate daily from the same reactionary ideologues that govern what is said and discussed on the front pages of all the network news outlets & marquee newspapers on the continent, man.
    Bottom line is that Orange Jesus has a twitterverse following that gravitates towards his every utterance no matter how inane due to the fact that his spew is worth money in the bank when it comes to advertising dollars.

    Frankly, I would prefer old Three Stooges re-runs.

    RW

  8. Fred from BC says:

    “A wise NDPer”

    Yeah, you lost me right there, Robert…

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