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During his testimony before the American Congress, concerning Donald Trump’s shady dealings before he became US president, Michael Cohen, his attorney and one of his closest associates for numerous years, said, among other things, that even Trump himself did not believe that he would become the president, and that he had actually entered the election race to strengthen his brand and create new business opportunities for himself.
This part of Cohen’s testimony was directly motivated by the secret negotiations allegedly conducted in Moscow by Trump’s people during the US presidential race, about a business project involving the construction of Trump Tower in Russia’s capital. If there were in fact any such negotiations during the campaign, this would have been illegal, and, by all accounts, American courts will be looking into the matter shortly. But let’s leave that to them, as we like to joke around here – “Let’s let the institutions do their job”, while we accept as a fact that this meeting actually did take place and let’s simultaneously imagine that Trump had lost the 2016 elections.
Today, America would have had its first female president ever, while Trump would have gone back to his business projects, one of which would be the construction of Trump Tower in Moscow; only now Trump could increase the value of the entire project since his popularity had soared during the campaign, leading the value of the entire project to skyrocket and causing a drastic spike in its price, resulting in Trump multiplying his profit. In addition, new investors interested in financing similar projects in other cities would have appeared. And that was precisely the goal.
Let’s be realistic, it’s not entirely impossible to imagine the above scenario; in fact, it nearly came true. Maybe the problem was precisely the fact that Trump had played his role of presidential candidate too well. It seems as if he himself had underestimated his accumulated knowledge and experience of a successful entertainer. Lest we forget, he had built his successful-businessman brand and image largely thanks to the “Apprentice”, a reality program in which he was one of the judges who assessed the business skills of candidates in this show program which was once among the most popular shows on American TV.
You can criticize Donald Trump for a lot of things, but you’ve got to hand it to him. He recognized that politics are part of the entertainment industry and that he could make his previous media popularity on which he had based his personal brand even more recognizable in politics. Which is what he ultimately proved.
Trump is not the exception; instead, he is the logical consequence of the increasing delegitimization of the political system, precisely in those countries colloquially termed as “developed democracy”. Influenced by the information technology revolution which brought about the establishing of a completely new global economic system, the sphere of politics remained practically unchanged and stuck in the past, and is no longer able to identify, let alone resolve current issues in the domain of public policy. The political institutions are increasingly and more obviously in the function of capital, and comes second to it. All that remains is the backdrop for a growing number of puppet shows. No wonder then that there are so many actors in politics, especially comedians skilled at playing diverse roles.
In order to captivate audiences and keep their attention from straying elsewhere, the topics which increasingly dominate the political scene are those which carry a strong emotional punch. There’s no dialogue with the audience, just obedient siding. Once you’ve agreed to this, truth is no longer based on facts – truth is what we decide to believe in. It should come as no surprise that nationalism, chauvinism, and racism are on the rise, and that intolerance regarding those who are “different” is more and more openly voiced. All cloaked under a shroud of care for one’s own people, faith, nation, because what better way to suppress individual subjectivity than the one mentioned above.
Maybe, as Michael Cohen claims, Trump really did reckon that he would be able to collect a high price as the political looser and come out as the business winner. He obviously didn’t reckon with the fact that this plot would turn the vaudeville from the beginning of this story into a thriller with elements of a horror flick.
All of us watching this movie from the sidelines shouldn’t feel like we’re the audience, where it’s ok to sit in your seat eating popcorn and waiting to see what happens next in this US flick. Because, no matter where we are, the circus is already in our town. And like it or not, we’re not going to be mere spectators in this circus. We need to start identifying animal trainers on time, even when they’re dressed as funny clowns, we need to make sure we’re not confusing gentle cats with mad dogs, and we shouldn’t take the tricks of the charming magician at face value, which is why we won’t even notice him taking the wallet out of our pocket with his other hand, while we’re applauding. We must be aware of the fact that the only role meant for us in this circus is that of monkeys, happy monkeys, if possible, and that this is a role we enjoy, until we’re no longer sure who has the upper hand.