30 November 2015

Donald Trump is a bullshitter, not an ideologue



Across the internet, I've heard liberals react with indignant outrage at Donald Trump's latest barrage of brutish, asinine behavior. He appeared to mock a disabled reporter, and predictably refused to apologize. He said he would ban Syrian refugees and create a giant 'safe zone' in Syria; how he would pay for it is anyone's guess. But he really rattled a lot of feathers by suggesting that Muslims should be registered in some kind of national database. When asked by a reporter how that is any different than Jews being forced to register in Nazi Germany, he replied, "You tell me".

But Donald Trump is not a fascist. It's a mistake to think that, like most normal humans, Donald Trump believes the things that he is saying; the truth is, Donald Trump is a bullshitter. And I mean this in the sense described by philosopher Henry Frankfurt in his short essay entitled, "On Bullshit". A quote:
It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
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That, folks, is Donald Trump in a nutshell. To some extent, this Frankfurtian bullshit is endemic to politics; virtually all politicians engage in disingenuous pandering. But most of them, like most humans, have at least some measure of concern for what they believe to be true and right. They care about how what they say reflects on them and whether it's consistent with their past positions.

Not Trump. The Donald is not a Republican in any meaningful sense, but rather the sole candidate in the party of No Fucks Given. He does not care if what he says is true or false, or whether it's consistent with his past statements. He does not care if he offends someone, nor does he care who out there thinks he's an asshat. He's not trying to be all things to all people; he's just a raging narcissist who is, like any good bullshitter, indifferent to the truth. He says whatever he thinks will gain him the notoriety and influence he desires.

That's why he can't answer straight questions on policy; he doesn't think about that shit. Are you kidding? I dare anyone to ask him how he'd purchase, and pay for, the massive resettlement of Syrian refugees. Ask him how he'd protect it. He has no fucking clue. And his fans don't care. When my conservative friends reposted his blurb on Syrian refugees, they were as concerned with logistics as much as Trump was: zero. They just want a way of saying "Stay the hell out of my country!" without sounding like raging xenophobes incapable of basic human empathy (they still failed). But of course, Trump didn't make that statement with any concern about logistics, any more than he was concerned about what most bipedal creatures would recognize as predictable fallout from insulting a disabled reporter or insinuating that a female reporter asked a tough question because she was on her period. He just does not give a fuck, because he's not an ideologue — he's a bullshitter.

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