When Theodore Geisel wrote the children’s classic (and first book I ever read myself) Green Eggs and Ham, he did so on a bet with publisher Bennet Cerf that he couldn’t write a book with 50 or fewer distinct words. Dr Seuss, as he was known to children, succeeded, and an enduring classic was born.
My Twitter time line is full of people excoriating the current holder of the office of President of the United States for being a chump, an idiot, incoherent, with his nonsensical ramblings an embarrassment to the world. The tweet below is a typical example:
I completely get what people mean. He really doesn’t make any sense, of course he doesn’t. And I know many people will disagree with me, but I’ve been watching from afar, and what I see is the big orange baby running rings around the press and setting himself up for four more years of grift. All he cares about is protecting himself, people write, as if exposing this truth will somehow change things.
“If it would take the destruction of the country for him to protect his position, he is willing to do that. He has shown that he is willing to kill every single thing in this country, including its people, if it protects him.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/01/george-floyd-donald-trump-black-lives-matter
Here’s the thing. All of that is true. He will burn the country to the ground to protect himself. I don’t think Trump has ever read a book, even his own, but he’s surrounded by people who are disciples of Ayn Rand, and the country burning to the ground while they hunker down protected by their vast wealth and privilege is straight out of their playbook. They didn’t seek office for public service. The sought office to serve themselves, socialism for the rich. They’re grifters and gamblers, con artists, disaster capitalists. Forty million people out of work, and they’ll still make money.
Trump makes no sense to you because he speaks in dog whistles. And while America burns you can bet your life that all the frightened white people who voted for him are hunkered down in front of Fox News, still convinced that Obama was a Muslim and the Democrats want to introduce Sharia Law in Minnesota and elsewhere. That’s how this works. These agents of chaos, these disaster capitalists, want chaos and disaster because that’s how they win.
When you next listen to Trump rambling. Pay attention to the way he carefully chooses his words from within a narrow vocabulary. Bad, very bad, beautiful, good, very good, like, don’t like… He keeps it simple, he keeps it repetitive, not because he’s stupid but because he’s dog whistling the MAGAs, the red caps, who only hear what they want to hear, what feeds their fears and confirms their biases. I do not like it, Sam-I-Am, I do not like green eggs and ham.
And whenever things are bad, very bad, Trump goes on the offensive, says something egregious and outrageous, and the media dutifully fill their news cycles with his latest outrage while the streets are on fire and 20,000 new Covid-19 cases are announced every day. He’ll stand rambling for two hours and the press will stand and record every word; they know he’s filibustering, but they’re caught up in this abusive relationship and seem to be institutionally unable to stop. Liberal media still play the game of “balance”, which is how the climate deniers and anti-vaxxers, and flat Earthers and white supremacists keep winning.
Like Boris Johnson, like all these casino capitalists, he’s a gambler, and he’s currently gambling that actual race riots will do more to mobilise his supporters than anything else.