Trump's Inconsistent Tweets: Why He Doesn't Serve You

Today in a vague tweet, Donald Trump expressed a new position on the role of CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program) in the proposed short-term (stop-gap) funding bill. This confused both the Republican and Democratic parties mere hours before the House was set to vote on the latter.

Trump's tweet that "CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension" contradicted the official position of the White House (in support of the bill) and forced the House Speaker Paul Ryan to exert damage control, stating "I am sure where he stands. He fully supports passing this legislation." Members of his own party were set into a frenzy trying to "decipher" the tweet. 

I've been thinking about the social and political significance of the President tweeting a policy position that disorients the public, his own party and the opposition. 

It firstly demonstrates that Donald Trump does not conceive of himself as serving anyone. He does not serve the American public, he and does not serve his own party. His goal is not to be consistent and clear in view of advancing policy which would shape a "better America." Instead, he wields power and serves himself as the locus of the concentration of power. He is a megalomaniac in the fullest sense of the word. In his megalomania, he considers himself a "stable genius" who has "all the words." The person in charge, thinks Trump, cannot be flawed or express weakness.

Trump's qualifying criteria for a genius, if you remember, were becoming a "VERY successful businessman" (rich), "top T.V. Star" (famous) and "President" (a politician). These positions have little to nothing to do with knowledge OR creativity (this does not preclude the possibility, by the way, that one could be a knowledgeable, creative and rich/famous/the President). These positions are, however, objective markers of power and possible influence. By adding the adjective "stable" to his own ingenuity, he distances himself from many of history's most creative geniuses. In fact, he ignores the link between mental instability and the inventors of the new

Despite these expressions of a love of power, I assume most of Trump supporters do think he serves the American public. For them, he is the real deal. Transparent. "One of the guys." In other words:


And since we all have trouble reaching decisions, so it's normal that Trump would too, right? So being publicly inconsistent (including about policy) is proof that he's being honest with us, is it not?

No, it's not. Because the concept of honestly also requires the concept of truth. You can't be honest if all truth (in this world, anyway) is relative and subject to change at any moment. Furthermore, to be honest in expressing one's opinion requires that one can maintain an opinion for more than a single instant. This minimal consistency is the condition of trusting anyone.

Trump supporters should thus be asking themselves what it means to trust someone with no pretension of consistency or truth. Then again, I'm not convinced anyone thinks that Trump is a consistent truth-teller.

But in the so-called post-truth age, Trump's appeal seems to be summarized in the idea that there is no political machine behind him, that he speaks his mind, and that he does not follow societal constraints on political correctness. And he does all of this with the interests of American citizens in mind. The veneration of anti-professionalism and Trump's professed allegiance to the "working class" all contribute to the illusion that he fighting for the little guy.

But if the typical political and societal constraints do not compose the apparatus controlling the possible moves of the marionette, then what does?

My answer is a hard affirmation of capitalist hierarchy and the seamless integration of modern technology (especially through social media) with the exercise of power.

Let's go back to the Trump Standard of Genius™ (which, in my mind, are inseparable from the Trump Standard of Power): the intersection of wealth, celebrity status and political authority.

Committing to being rich is inherently committing to a system which maintains a disparity between the rich and the poor. To bind wealth with celebrity status and political authority, and to then boast about it, is to perform the ultimate commitment to separating yourself from others, not to stand with them.

Trump does not serve you as President of the United States. But you serve him as you consume his brand and as you vote for him. You affirm his power in multiple ways within a system of inequality -- a system in which the position can be upheld that Hatians have AIDS, Mexicans are drug dealers, and Haiti, El Salvador, and African states as "shithole countries."

Trump's racism and sexism, which have been widely written about, are proof enough that Trump does not serve all Americans. The GOP tax bill and his aforementioned obsession with wealth should further prove that he does not serve poor Americans. If we keep casting the individuals that Trump has downgraded based on social criteria out of our consideration, we will arrive at a small group of elites. This might very well lead us to conclude that America is being run as an oligarchy.

How does this relate back to Trump tweeting a change in his stance on a policy? Well by tweeting it, Trump offers the impression that he is just like you; that you know him; that there is no distinction between his public and private lives. It convinces you that you participate in politics to the same extent as and in real time with American Senators.

But you don't. Your not part of Donald Trump's oligarchical circle. Most of us can implicitly tell that by simply looking in the mirror and then noting the faces of his closest company.

No matter how many times a week Trump tweets that he "stand[s] with workers," if he does, it's not as an equal or as someone who understands the nature of their identities (let's not forget, Trump grew up with "live‑in help, a chauffeur and a maid").

If we believe his professed solidarity with workers, then we are ignoring the critical analysis of the Frankfurt School. For example, Adorno and Horkheimer analyzed the oppressive side of technology and how it serves to enforce power. Technology, they demonstrated, is often the means of executing a quest for dominance (over nature, over others). Technology can be used to control others and to render the population docile.

By refreshing your twitter feed and reading Trump's tweets between your friend's cat and your mom's recipe, he slips into your social picture as someone you know. You don't need to read 20 news reports or take distance from your computer screen to assess your relationship with him. He. is. right. there. Immediately. Personally.

Adorno indicates in Aphorism 124, "Puzzle Picture," of Minima Moralia that it is no longer factory owners that control the "composition of capital," but rather "technical managers." "Technical managers" control the role of machinery and technology in the creation of wealth. They are not experts or the hands-on workers; rather they are individuals with the "privilege of being appointed."

However, we operate under the illusion of equality and the appearance of equal chance for such an appointment, according to Adonro. We mistakenly think that membership in the club of the elites who control the technology and capital of society is equally achievable for everyone; we all are just waiting for our moment.

In reality, if you have no affinity (think: people from "shithole countries"), and you have no familiarity with the technologies and work environments of elites, then you don't really have chance at joining them. If you overcome the barriers and achieve the "American Dream," you are an exception and an example.

Your knowledge, aspirations, character and charisma are not what get you a membership card to Mar-a-Lago. The only defining feature of political elites is control. And as Donald Trump has shown, under the current economic and social conditions, control can be achieved by wealth and notoriety.

My final thought is that following Donald Trump on Twitter does not bring us closer to him, but distances us further from him. Twitter is his way of constantly entering and pervading my internal life to the point that I feel he is in solidarity with me when he tweets something I agree with, and -- much like an old bigoted family member -- I can ignore him when he posts something I don't like. In this way, he keeps me subdued and submitted under his authority.