In 1999, Mark Shuttleworth, a South African entrepreneur, sold his online security business for $3,5 billion and became a very, very, very wealthy human. Famously wealthy.
Aside from setting up a foundation, one of the interesting things that Shuttleworth did with his money was buy a voyage to outer space — for an easy $20 million. It took one year of training and preparation to join the Russian Soyuz TM-34 mission and fly to the International Space Station. He went on to enjoy eight nights and days there, and fulfilled his childhood dream.
So, what does any of this have to do with Donald Trump?
Donald Trump’s political campaign reminds me of Mark Shuttleworth’s voyage to space. The man is a political-tourist on a self-funded journey, living out a fantasy.
Meanwhile, Back In Reality
The most surprising things about Donald’s Trump’s political campaign has been the number of people who take him seriously.
From gun control to women’s rights and immigration policy, the Reality TV star is every bit as arrogant and narrow as the character he played on his TV show. In one way, at least he’s authentic. But, just like being at someone’s house where The Apprentice is playing in the background, you can ignore the landslide of manure coming out of his mouth, as long as you know that it’s all make-believe.
This is where things get shaky.
The more publicity he generates, the more some people believe that he stands for something other than comedic cannon fodder (I realize the irony of this statement, considering the content of this piece). Sometime over the last few months, he has generated enough support to lead the Republican Primary Poll.
It was during the small hours of the night that a scary thought hit me: What if, by the power of horse hair wigs and witchcraft, Donald Trump wins the primary — and then garners enough support to become president? It’s not unthinkable. Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming Governor of California would have sounded more farfetched if it hadn’t already happened.
As these thoughts permeated my cranium, I grew cold and my hands started to sweat, my nose started to bleed, and I saw visions of the Apocalypse…
Mark Shuttleworth may have done the year-long training course and gone to space, and probably became bros with some of the other astronauts at the Space Station, but he hasn’t tried to become Russia’s chief astronomical technologist. It was a one-off thing, just to scratch an itch.
Trump can pout at the camera, say outrageously racist things about immigration, foolish things about gun control, shameful things about women’s rights, stupid things about his own wealth, and strategically appeal to the lowest common denominator, but that doesn’t make him qualified to lead America.
As the visions of chaos slowed and I found myself calming down, something else became clear: this is not a war that can be won by intellect. The kind of people who want to turn back the clock on women’s rights and who think that the right to bear arms supersedes the right to have a sensible conversation about the right to bear semi-automatic arms, these are people looking for an hero plucked from TV land. Which is Trump in a nutshell.
Bill Clinton broke down his strategy recently with Stephen Colbert, calling him a “master brander.”
I think he’s 100% right, but that doesn’t make what Trump is saying true or worth the ink his speeches are written in.
There is something interesting going on with his hair, though – Trump’s shtick. Part of being a master brander is allowing the essence of yourself to be consumed by the iconography you’re selling, and to embody to hokeyness of a marketing ploy. In Trump’s case, he is the ultimate used-car salesman who made it big.
And so, I hope that by placing the yellow mop of Trump on some prominent faces, that the people of America will see this symbol of Fool’s Gold for what it is: a trick.
As yourself — when weighed up against different personalities, can you really take this seriously?