The Trumpening

He’s a coarse, rude circus act who plays a successful corporate executive on television. He publicly accuses women who oppose him of being homely and hysterical on account of their menstruation. He threatens to sue minor nuisances in his life at the drop of a hat. He has been described as a character out of I, Claudius. He annoys and alarms lifelong Republican voters. He’s on track, barring behind-the-scenes monkey business whose exposure would obliterate the GOP’s reputation for probity, to be the next Republican nominee for the presidency.

My feelings about Donald Trump’s popularity are mixed and endlessly shifting. I don’t believe that he’s a lunatic. He dabbled in birther conspiracy nuttery in 2012, but that was just for show. The closest he’s come to lunacy is with his proposal to abolish birthright citizenship, but that won’t happen without a major constitutional crisis, and he probably isn’t as serious about this as he is about building a border wall and deporting violent alien felons. The bit about having Mexico pay for the construction costs is just assholery; if the wall is our priority as a nation, its construction costs are ours to bear. It is in no way the responsibility of the Mexican government, which quite sensibly takes advantage of the inequitable, dysfunctional immigration regime in the US to offload its surplus workforce and kick the can down the road on domestic reforms. This is not honorable policy, but the sensible is not necessarily honorable. On the other hand, Trump is a vindictive son of a bitch who has done his best to degrade public manners by his own example. The possibility that he’ll grossly abuse the office of the presidency for personal advantage is very real. The best that can be said about this possibility is that he’s liable to abuse his office with none of the subtlety that his predecessors have used, making it easier for others to catch him in flagrante delicto and force accountability on him. And there’s the constitutional crisis that he’s threatening over birthright citizenship. He wants to legislatively abrogate the Fourteenth Amendment because it makes the summary deportation of illegal immigrants’ US citizen children inconvenient. He’s toying around with corruption of blood there, an even more fundamental affront to the US Constitution than attacking birthright citizenship, and he’s doing it by way of contempt for a constitutional amendment that was ratified to assert the civil rights of freed slaves subsequent to their federal emancipation.

This would be horrific if the alternatives weren’t so appalling in their own right. For my entire adult life the United States has been in desperate need of a viable political leader with the honesty to call bullshit on the meretricious, horrendously corrosive consensus article of faith that an unacculturated, non-English-speaking, unenfranchised, substantially deracinated ethnic underclass can abide within its borders for decades on end with no ill social or civic effects on the country whatsoever. The maintenance of a subaltern caste of politically neutralized foreign laborers is incompatible with self-government and the rule of law. Proclaiming that this is not so and that illegal immigrants have not been used to establish an illegal caste system is batshit crazy.

Of course, few people within reaching distance of any sort of power or privilege have the balls to cry foul on this arrangement: too many important people stand to have their rice bowls broken in the event of reform, and they might retaliate against those near them who insist on living in truth, or even get butthurt and petulant about the threat to their prerogatives, harshing the mellow of many. Those at the very top stand to lose compliant surplus workforces numbering in the thousands. The haute bourgeoisie would lose its beloved gardeners, nannies, maids, and day laborers. Both of these classes would have to start interacting with a new native servant class whose members aren’t so easily othered and prefer to be treated as equals and fellow Americans in any event. Every SuperZIP in the land is swarming with high-hats who studiously pretend that their attitude isn’t totally my goodness, Mrs. O’Hara, I do declare, it is difficult to find a good house negro these days! The less politically correct rich-ass motherfuckers don’t even pretend.

This is roughly the difference between Palo Alto and Corona Del Mar. Bougie South County OC politics are about as egregiously bullshit as they come, but don’t you go driving your Prius down Middlefield pretending to be a beautiful soul who respects Mexicans and their culture, or I’ll bitchslap you, one Palo Altan to another, because I’m a native. Think of it as a rebuke in the name of Christ and California. The elites in practically every cosmopolitan city in the country have taken to mimicking the worst sort of weaselly ethnic and socioeconomic prejudice one might expect in Bethesda or the Hamptons. The exceptions are those who have the honesty, or maybe the sheer arrogance, to openly assert their own inherent superiority, e.g., in Orange County. (If it didn’t have an exceptionally fragmented municipal patchwork, OC might contain the two or three largest majority-Republican cities in the country.) Regardless of whether they’re disingenuous or brutally honest about their own superiority, they need the inferior around to keep things running so that they need not bother teaching their children (or themselves) how to do basic yardwork. Or laundry and babysitting, apparently.

Whattaya know, the inferior speak Spanish. The elites like it this way. It’s likely a subconscious motivation for bilingual education, and it’s absolutely a motivation for horseshit like Dora the Explorer Spanish-language immersion for toddlers. The elites want their children to learn Mandarin in order to kick ass in overseas business dealings (I tried, but holy shit the tones, and the characters), and they want them to learn Spanish in order to give instructions and small talk to the day laborers. The problem with using, say, me as a day laborer to prune their grape trellises is that I’d communicate with them in fluent college-level English. This would allow me to talk back when they make fun of me for wasting my college degree as a groundskeeper. Cracka ain’t gonna be all sí señor with a supercilious asshat. Bougie harbors more than a few righteous constituents, but the unrighteous ones love them some sí señor, and they’re loud about this preference.

These privileged dipshits are burning away more goodwill than they can imagine by encouraging the poors to stop whining and learn Spanish in order to compete in the modern workplace. This is a completely morally and intellectually bankrupt stance. English is the lingua franca of the United States and a native language of a supermajority. One of the obvious but legally improvable purposes of requiring Spanish proficiency as a job qualification is to discriminate on the combined base of ethnicity and national origin. This is sleazy as hell. Spanish proficiency requirements for menial jobs are designed to keep gringos off the worksite. In many cases, this is a precaution to avoid exposing illegal, immoral, or dangerous practices to potential whistleblowers. It is very consistently used to nip agitation for wage increases and improved work conditions in the bud (although it’s increasingly futile with respect to wages).

Telling Americans to learn a second language in order to secure menial employment sets a terrible precedent. There’s the imperiousness of it, the condescension, and the hypocrisy of well-educated, well-connected professionals telling working stiffs to make a concession that they themselves needn’t make in order to land jobs in their own fields. There’s the idiocy of not understanding that some people simply aren’t as proficient at learning second languages, or don’t have the time or energy, or lack a solid enough education in English grammar to buttress what they might learn through immersion or memorization with a strong grammatical foundation. All in all, it’s demeaning to tell someone to learn a new language in order to get entry-level work in his own land.

But there’s also a bad practical precedent. Mexican and Central American servants are fashionable today. What if they go out of style for some reason (fewer Latino immigrants, dropping birthrates in Latin America, improving Latino socioeconomic prospects, increased acculturation) and are replaced by, say, Somali servants? Must the native working class now learn Somali in order to make a living? Must it learn Amharic in order to talk to a newly fashionable Ethiopian servant class? Bahasa Indonesia or Tagalog or Pashtun or Hindi in order to communicate with the surplus South and Southeast Asians who already make up most of the slave population in the Gulf Arab countries? These are intellectual exercises today, but in a decade or two they might not be. Fortunately, it’s less likely that a critical mass of servants from overseas speaking the same language will coalesce into a semipermanent servant caste the way Mexicans and Central Americans have recently, simply on account of numbers, but it’s possible that this might happen regionally. Remember that American policymakers have repeatedly made deliberate decisions not to try to acculturate the Latin American peasant diaspora. They have wanted these people to remain foreign and vulnerable and without rights. There is no longer the precedent to rebuke them for trying to do likewise to, say, Ethiopians around Washington or Denver, or Somalis around the Twin Cities. That bridge was crossed with the campesinos years ago.

This is why it’s important to apply a version of the Broken Windows Theory to the employment of foreigners who do not have US work authorization. Corporations and the affluent hire illegal immigrants because doing so is fashionable in their set and because they can. It doesn’t get them into legal trouble and it doesn’t bring shame or disrepute on them among their peers. They’re privileged scofflaws who need to be shamed and visited by the fear of God. They’re all too eager to wreck the social and civic fabric of their own country in order to play Downton Abbey with foreign peasant roustabouts. The problem here is that the exploitation of Latino immigrants and the marginalization of the native US working class is the done thing. This won’t change on its own; neither the gentry nor the robber barons will have a come-to-Jesus moment. It has to be changed by outsiders asserting the rule of law.

Donald Trump is the only candidate who seems amenable to forcing such a reform. The rest of the Republican field and Hillary Clinton have no credibility at all on immigration. These are existing labor laws that the authorities are unwilling to enforce. Trump is the only Republican presidential candidate who speaks to the dispossessed native working class with anything other than self-help motivational bullshit about twenty-first century skills for the twenty-first century economy and the like. He and Bernie Sanders are the only ones who even act like they might govern on behalf of the stated interests of American citizens who have been thrown to the dogs by rapacious elites who would never personally stoop to the level of doing grunt work for a living. The Beltway chattering classes are now joining Matt Walsh, of all smarmy managerial-class wonders, in har-harring about how Trump’s speaking style is sloppy and digressive. Whoop de fucking doo. Walsh is carrying water for whip-wielding creeps again (and, stunningly if you think about it, staying in Patrick Madrid’s good graces because abortion), and the fifteen other declared Republican candidates are either mealymouthed elite fuckheads, raving religious lunatics, or both, while Hillary Clinton is one of the most exquisite specimens of unabashed corruption and will to power this country has ever produced.

Trump is what a country gets if its leaders refuse to deal honestly with chronic, destructive policy fuckups. This is exactly as it should be. Someone had better start taking the grievances of the dispossessed silent majority seriously or this joint will go up in flames. I’m not kidding. I live among these people and am one of them, after a fashion. Trump doesn’t, and isn’t, but billionaire television vulgarian though he is, he seems to understand us. Forget Hitler; we’re on track for a Robespierre. We can stand back and let the Donald start defusing this bomb, or we can join Matt Walsh in snarking about how the bomb technician has an odd manner of speech. We’ll feel smugger that way, I guess.

Look, Trump isn’t exactly steady-as-she-goes, and he’s no gentleman, but somebody has to speak up for those who have been muted, or this fucker’s gonna blow.

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