Trump’s “unpresidented” absurdity: have we become immune to his outrageousness?

Image credit: Evan Guest

Ever since Donald Trump announced his intention to run for president of the United States, his campaign and subsequent presidency have been defined by his controversy and apparent lack of any filters before making absurd, outrageous statements. From labelling Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers to his comment that Fox News presenter Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever”, Trump’s uninformed, boorish behaviour has shocked the world over and over again. However, as these outrageously offensive statements become ever more common as Trump’s presidency continues, we must ask ourselves whether we have (intentionally or unintentionally) begun to downplay the severity of his comments and become essentially immune to the Donald’s “unpresidented” absurdity. 

Has the world begun to respond by rolling their collective eyes at Trump’s angry caps locks-filled tweets published in the early hours of the morning? Surely, Trump doesn’t help himself in this respect. The issue is that Trump’s far-right, Steve Bannon-inspired comments always appear to be served with a hefty side serving of covfefe. It is profoundly worrying that many of us have resorted to viewing Trump as nothing other than a comically malevolent clown; holding the view that Trump is nothing more than Alec Baldwin’s Saturday Night Live impression of him is a dangerous mistake. Viewing Trump as this clumsy comic book villain allows us to forget all the lives which his small-minded, nationalistic policies are actively harming. 

Donald Trump’s tweets in which he screams “fake news!!!” at some of the world’s most respected media institutions shouldn’t be met with ambivalence; they should be met with a thought through, strategically worded critical response. Of course, the rise of fake news has made it increasingly difficult to convince many of Trump’s supporters that their idol is in fact the one spreading “alternative facts”, but by becoming immune to any of Trump’s ridiculous claims by way of laughing them off, we are building a metaphorical wall between us and Trump’s followers as opposed to fostering the political dialogue this post-truth era so desperately needs. Immunity to the symptoms of a deadly disease already in the body will not result in the eradication of the disease; only by identifying the symptoms and fighting the disease can it ever be defeated. The same approach must be taken with dangerous, outrageous political figures. We have seen comical political figures in the past; the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was in many ways a similar figure to Trump. Whilst he was prime minister, Berlusconi was hounded with multiple sex scandals and allegations of tax fraud, leading him to declare himself “the most persecuted man in history”. Unfortunately, with the international community responding to Berlusconi’s claims such as that his German counterpart Angela Merkel was an “unfuckable lard arse”, or that Barack Obama was “handsome, tall and tanned” with little more than laughter, Berlusconi ended up being Italy’s longest serving post-war prime minister, with nine years in office. In the end, it was only by continued pressure by the political opposition and endured judicial efforts that Berlusconi was finally defeated. It is of paramount importance that a more critical approach be taken with Trump’s outrageousness, and we must not allow his laughable character to interfere with our opinions of him. Our immunity to his absurdity must end to allow him to be defeated.

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