Die-Hard Trump Supporters want to *be* Trump

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Back in the 1960s when the James Bond craze hit the US and even President Jack Kennedy revealed that he liked Ian Fleming’s thrillers, I remember reading an interesting essay on the reason for the character’s popularity.

After all, James Bond is not in fact very likeable. The books are horribly misogynist. Bond is a grim bureaucrat who has no life apart from his grisly work. Even his occasional forays into glamour or trips abroad are actually work. He is a licensed serial killer. In the films, he has had 52 lovers, 2/3s of whom tried to kill him.

Why in the world, the essayist wondered, would people want to spend time reading about this character or watching him on screen.

The perspicacious conclusion was that people (probably meaning men for the most part; it was the ’60s) did not want to be friends with James Bond. They wanted to be James Bond.

And after all that is often the role of a celebrity, to create a persona for others to imitate (i.e. to engage in cosplay).

Donald Trump is no James Bond, lacking the latter’s courage or patriotism; and although Bond was horrible to women he wasn’t as bad or as vulgar as Trump.

But I nevertheless think that the men who back Trump no matter what are doing so because the celebrity real estate speculator and name-licenser provides them with an opportunity for ego inflation. By backing Trump , they are participating vicariously in the wealthy businessman’s persona. They can imagine themselves in the stretch limousine, they can imagine themselves putting China’s Xi Jinping in his place, they imagine never again paying taxes, they can imagine themselves having cocktails with models in the penthouse, perhaps the most despicable of them wish they could assault women with impunity.

Although among general voters nearly as many want Trump to withdraw as want him to stay in the race. But among the Republican rank and file, 77% say they want him to stay in the race.

They can’t possibly want to go for a beer with Trump. They can’t possibly find him likeable. They are engaged in cosplay. They want to *be* Trump. The men, especially, aren’t bothered by the video in which Trump speaks vulgarly of women and talks about kissing and fondling them without their permission. In a very dangerous way, Trump is modeling for them what white male privilege means to him.

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25 Responses

  1. This is probably one of many articles to come, that will attempt to psychoanalyse Trump’s supporters. Clearly there is something fundamentally wrong with them.

  2. When Hillary Clinton heard about the appalling death of Gaddafi by being bayoneted in the rectum, she laughed and clapped her hands in glee saying, “we came we saw and he died” I wonder professor, what character from story books you would liken Clinton to. I hold no brief for Trump, but he is after all a candidate with no political baggage to his name and the specter of ‘war criminal’ can’t be levied against him. We don’t know what Trump would do as president. Probably not much. But we do know that within the first year of her office, Clinton will be up to her neck in wars and strife in other people’s countries.

    • I hold no brief for Trump, but he is after all a candidate with no political baggage to his name and the specter of ‘war criminal’ can’t be levied against him.

      But the reactions of so many warmongers and misogynists are the epitome of hypocrisy. Surely most women would be offended, some perhaps traumatized, if they were on the receiving end of lust expressed by the “locker room” talk out of Trump and many other men in the shadows. But how does that compare with the consequences for women (and their families) who are on the receiving end of military aggression promoted by politicians of both major parties now so critical of Trump? The Balkans, Iraq economic sanctions, Iraq war, Afghanistan, Gaza, Libya, Syria, etc.?

  3. John Ballard

    Cosplay.
    That’s his appeal. Very insightful.
    His appeal is to fantasy …to those who want to *be* him.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    // Donald Trump is no James Bond, lacking the latter’s courage or patriotism; and although Bond was horrible to women he wasn’t as bad or as vulgar as Trump.

    But I nevertheless think that the men who back Trump no matter what are doing so because the celebrity real estate speculator and name-licenser provides them with an opportunity for ego inflation. By backing Trump , they are participating vicariously in the wealthy businessman’s persona. They can imagine themselves in the stretch limousine, they can imagine themselves putting China’s Xi Jinping in his place, they imagine never again paying taxes, they can imagine themselves having cocktails with models in the penthouse, perhaps the most despicable of them wish they could assault women with impunity. //

  4. Don’t get distracted by James Bond, Fleming, Trump or Clinton’s juvenile antiques, the issue is whether the USA is going to attack Russia, so we all die distracted.

  5. Garbage debate Garbage politics
    Garbage electorate
    Let them elect Trump
    so this country realizes what it means to have a fascist dictator the equal of many CONTINUALLY supported by this country since WWII.

  6. Trump supporters seem like middle class/upper class wannabes who have zero chance of rising to the income level of conservative elites. These poor sots fail to see that the positions espoused by the scheming cowards among the conservative political elite solely benefit only themselves. But in their hearts these wannabes believe they will someday achieve a financial nirvana, accumulating extra tens of thousands of dollars to spend on better chain restaurants, a newer SUV, a more ostentatious house, and a boat. The wannabes fail to see that the conservative elites are NOT their friends and do NOT have their best or future interests at heart. The GOP brand has cultivated these wannabes as acolytes for decades and are now paying the price for their miserable failure to see the obvious.

  7. You must have been channeling me, Juan. I’ve had that exact same thought for some time.

    We wonder how so many people can be attracted to such an obvious schoolyard bully, but when I look back at the real schoolyard bullies I knew as a kid, most of them were pretty popular guys. Why? Because his “friends” felt enabled to act like bullies too.

    I have an ex-brother-in-law who reminds me very much of Trump, from the mannerisms to the misogynism to the cheating on his taxes (unfortunately for him, he didn’t have Trump’s lawyers, but that’s another story), and of course he’s a big Trump supporter. Trump is exactly who he would have wanted to be had he had a little bit better head start in life.

    My niece — his daughter — and I have discussed this many times since Trump emerged, and that’s the good news. Millions of American woman have some kind of mini-Trump in their past — father, ex-husband, boyfriend — and they will NEVER vote for him. In fact, I would guess their turnout to vote against him will be close to 100%, if not higher.

  8. The greatest threat to the good and sane people of our country are Trump supporters and emulators who would act upon his destructive un-American behavior and rhetoric.

  9. Trump is, in his juvenile mind, Caligula. He is the emperor who can take what he wants because he is (belly laugh) a star

    • But that’s where he gets it wrong. Real stars don’t grope women. If you’re a real star, women grope you. I’d be surprised if Mick Jagger ever stooped anywhere close to the level of Trump (much less the supremely disgusting Roger Ailes). He may have sung about it, but he didn’t do it. He didn’t have to.

  10. Go through the photos in this “day in the life of the president” link to businessinsider.com and imagine Trump in each shot.

    I think Trump would be bored stiff with the amount of high-level reading, detailed discussion, and teamwork involved. He likes to be the sole cock of the walk, someone who issues orders and lets other people do the hard work.

    Can you imagine him reading through stacks of legislative briefings or having a give-and-take discussion where he actually listens to other people?

    If he did find himself elected, I think he’d either quit within the month or be so uninvolved in day-to-day work that his staff would be forced to run the nation without him.

    The daily work of the president is often tedious and unglamorous. Conducting a hard-nosed negotiation with a single-minded focus on not paying more than
    $500/square foot for a property is nothing like the kind of multi-level, cross-partisan discussions that must happen to get a bill to pass.

  11. OK. But you still haven’t explained why his followers at this point still extend well beyond the red-neck and wannabe set. HRC has her own significant demerits. And, has been noted, empowering someone who will prove ineffectual in office may be better than giving the job to someone who can implement their vision. Burrrr.

    • Yeah. I remember a lot of people who thought W. was too dumb, lazy, and detached to do any real damage. They were wrong.

  12. ” better to grab a pussy than to be one” said the sign today. In a nutshell: I have said for years , thank god Arnold Schwarzenegger was not born here or all the guys and a minority of girls would have voted him President because they want to be him. Now It is Trump( and Arnold is taking his place at the Apprentice- not an accident.) and they really want to be him. white entitled rich and not held accountable. After 8 years of a black man running the white house, it offends them that a woman would get the office next. So when a woman tries to win this, they do everything they can to tar her with her husbands sins and degrade her publicly with the women that claim he hurt them. How dare she assert her competence or her equality. it is not an accident that we are witnessing a modern day salem witch trial.

  13. No sir, this is just name calling. The high moral orbit you have taken seems to be in another galaxy /dimension or you could see that we have a groping foreign policy, healthcare and monetary system in place. We desperately need a groper in chief without the heavy moral cream and sophistry to leave no venue but change for next admin and it will be cheap, entertaining and safe to boot, much safer then status quo. We want nothing to do with her majesty,
    “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” –Bruce Lee

  14. No,no,no. The Trump “supporters” are actually not at all. What they are is shown on the sign: they hate HRC with a passion, and they believe that Trump will deliver them from her and from what they believe standard politicians have done to them and their country.
    To them it is quite irrelevant what Trump says and what he does; it is all about what he promises( e.g.”lock her up”!)

  15. What will this rabble do when HRC wins and becomes President? are they not all gun owners? I suspect it will be a violent, scary time, even more difficult than with Obama-‘hating tea-partiers.

    • I don’t doubt that there are more Dylan Roofs and the Colorado clinic bomber-types out there — probably a lot more, and some of them may act. But the scenario of him winning — making his entire mass of supporters feel enabled — is much, much scarier. If Trump loses — and hopefully loses big — the vast majority will just go home and grumble and hopefully shut up for a while.

  16. All Republicans will rue the day they allowed allegedly wealthy bully,ego-maniac Donald Trump to take over the GOP in what amounts to a bloodless but feces-smeared true un-American coup d’état.

    Trump and his followers are becoming increasingly bold and more out-of-control on a daily basis. Look for the “certain-things-are-left-unsaid” Trump militia to surface more and more aka “red hat cops.”

    Trump knows he will lose and will be disruptive and vindictive in defeat by proxy to keep the attention on himself.

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