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Politics, it has been said (by me, I think), is the art of the hardly possible. One demands, or promises, things that cannot be delivered in this world, and that no one could want if they thought through the consequences. The successful politician does not lie, except when cornered. Rather, he fantasizes, “dreams,” and seeks a constituency that will dream with him. To my mind, Barack Obama was near to the perfect politician, and while lacking his class and cunning, Canada’s child prime minister, “Justine” (see the 4,000-page novel by the Marquis de Sade), has attempted to offer the same billboard attractions. It is what all modern capitalism has aspired to: nothing, in a very spiffy package; a triumph of pure advertising.

The perfect politician, as the perfect salesman, sells this “vision” — dwarfing any specific programme with its stated assumptions and checkable facts. Details, details; to the uninitiated, these are always boring, and the voting masses will never be initiated. The people, especially in this Age of Netflix, want entertainment, and what they call “leadership.” A leader is a person who does your thinking for you. In politics, he has a rôle like that of film director, in a movie where he will be the principal star. We must go through the movie emotionally on his side; grieve his little setbacks, feel that we participate when he wins. Black hats, white hats: his opponents are clearly marked and can be seen at every moment to be deplorable.

Of course this works both ways. “Liberals” think “conservatives” are deplorable; but vice versa, too. The divide is there to be manipulated. Each side knows the other side is wicked; and both sides have overwhelming evidence. The perfect politician will command the soccer-crowd loyalty of his own side, and appeal to a sufficient number of fence-straddling nincompoops (“independent voters”) to carry all before him.

Mister Trump drives me crazy with his vulgar garishness. His “MAGA” vision is perhaps the most expansive of all, having that tiny twitch of plausibility to make it more compelling than mere “Hope and Change.” Yes, surely Merica was great once. The slogan combines the edenic with the utopian, distracting from realities on both sides.

But his biggest draw is novelty. It is not just the brashness of his rhetoric — delivered in electric sentences that do not quite parse — but the content. There is no feint towards diplomacy or dignity. He says things that would be astounding for any politician to say. And this because, much of what he says is true.

Not the whole truth, of course, but true enough, as far as it goes. He has been, at NATO and now in Britain for instance, saying things so simple and obvious that he leaves his opponents in utter disarray. The USA has been carrying the can for the defence alliance, true; it has been gooed by arbitrary tariffs, true; it is invaded by illegal immigrants, true; it is stifled by unnecessary regulations, true; its bureaucracies are massive and dysfunctional, true; its people are overtaxed and cynically exploited by retail politicians who get rich in office. Et cetera. Some European politicians have been making the same observations and in the same tone, but most aren’t yet in power. Trump is, unbelievably, in power, by open election, in a country that is not, shall we say, small.

As everyone agrees, a disruptive force. He disturbs the holy cows — the vested interests, that had been peacefully flatulating in their fields. People hate him, but other people love him for this, even in Europe — the smell was becoming unbearable. “Hope and Change” masked a programme for, “more of the same.” It was just perfume. Mister Trump’s vision is the meat packer’s.

Take a world turned upside down, and turn it upside down once more. The deck is muck and reeds, but ah the excitement as it turns above the waterline again. People are mesmerized by this. It is even better than the last movie.

In the next instalment, watch it split up and sink.