NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 95

92 politics

Trump as Capitalist Folk Hero , or the Rise of the White Entrepreneur as Political Bully

What will we be after Election Day ? Discarded employees or disabused voters ? Donald Trump may have the answer .
Except for a passing nod to his tv franchise “ The Apprentice ,” pundits and editors have paid little or no attention to the extent to which ceo Donald Trump ’ s tactics of intimidation first achieved public legitimacy by virtue of changes in us corporate management culture dating from the 1980s and how Trump has parlayed them into a potent political campaign . At this late date ( August 2016 ), as Trump smashes all remaining boundaries of acceptable political discourse and commentators ’ obsessively focus on his dysfunctional personality , it is important to remember that while Trump may be a violent narcissist , not all narcissists can become Trump , the capitalist folk hero and Republican presidential nominee . And if Trump represents the unvarnished expression of the Republicans ’ decades-long “ Southern strategy ” of stoking White voters ’ fears in the face of economic uncertainty and shifting demographics , the White Nationalist content of his campaign has been amplified by a mesmerizing , free-wheeling entrepreneurial ethos that respects no social or ethical limits as its relentlessly seeks political advantage and opportunities against all-comers . Trump ’ s powerful melding of this content and his style has formed the basis of much of his broad appeal that took the Republican establishment and u . s . commentariat by surprise .
Whatever the outcome of the presidential race , Trump ’ s campaign has unleashed frightening public dynamics , and the overtly violent political culture that he has mainstreamed risks shaping u . s . elections for years to come .
In all respects Trump ’ s successful strategy to become the nominee of the Republican Party was a textbook hostile takeover bid of a corporation — memorably dramatized by Michael Douglas as corporate raider Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone ’ s 1987 film Wall Street — that appealed to the shareholders ( the party base ) to revolt against a smug and inept management ( the Republican establishment ) by promising a price that could not be beat : unalloyed expression of their voter outrage at the status quo in a bid “ to make [ White ] America great again .” Trump is the proud graduate of the Wharton School of Business that in the late twentieth century spawned some of the most destructive businessmen and Wall Street operators ( Lewis Ranieri ’ s notorious Salomon Brothers
By Roddey Reid
gang ) who created mortgage-backed securities ( bonds ), those weapons of mass destruction of “ shadow finance .” Yet he is also an independent businessman — real estate mogul — who affects none of the smooth talk of corporate communications but all the rough street speech of under-socialized Wall Street bond traders and the outsized personality of free-wheeling entrepreneurs for whom every day is a new day and what you lose today you can win back tomorrow . Each day represents an opportunity , each day a new move in which anything is negotiable . Action and movement are everything ; like Gekko he radiates the pure macho energy of risk and success : if you stand still , you die .
To boot , Trump enjoys the clout of a ceo without any accountability to a board of directors or greedy mutual fund shareholders . Unlike George W . Bush , touted by Republicans as the first “ ceo president ,” he is his own man and beholden to no one ( clan , party , or donors ). He possesses the magical freedom and irresponsibility of celebrities while embodying the savvy worldliness of the makers and shakers of capitalist America .