There are a lot of people trying to make sense of the unlikely rise of Donald Trump to legitimate standing as the Republican presidential hopeful. It seems the man can say anything he likes, sensible or not, and people flock to his rallies as if he was was throwing out nuggets of gold off a captured Spanish galleon.
It turns out that even Trump supporters know that gold is anything but pure, or real. It was fascinating recently to hear Trump supporters interviewed on Patriot Radio, a conservative political station on Sirius XM. One reasonably intelligent-sounding fellow was asked about the appeal of Trump, and this is what he said. “Well, he’s honest. He may not have his facts down all the time, and some of the things he says are a little crazy. But he’s honest.”
America Right or Wrong
That attitude directly aligns with the conservative meme of “I love America, right or wrong.”
And that conveniently happens to fall close to the definition of the word patriot; “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
That’s certainly the language Trump is spouting. He’s called for a ban on Muslims entering the country on grounds that some Muslims are known terrorists. He’s also called for building a wall along the Mexican border, on grounds that some Mexican people cross the border illegally.
Trump is much like Captain Jack Sparrow from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. Jack Sparrow: Me? I’m dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It’s the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they’re going to do something incredibly… stupid.”
That’s Trump’s campaign theme in a bottle. Trump has repeatedly told the Republican Party and its voters they are too stupid for their own good. Let’s substitute a few characters in this dialogue from Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) to illustrate our point:
GOP: What’s your purpose in Port Royal, Mr. Trump?
GOP Voters: Yeah, and no lies.
Donald Trump: Well, then, I confess, it is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out.
GOP Voters: I said no lies.
GOP: I think he’s telling the truth.
GOP Voters: If he were telling the truth, he wouldn’t have told us.
Donald Trump: Unless, of course, he knew you wouldn’t believe the truth even if he told it to you.
And that, my friends, is exactly how Donald Trump took over the Republican Party.
Damn the damsels
And like any good Pirate King, he seems to view all women as whores, or something like whores, or at least his property. Again this short bit of conversation from POTC illustrates how Donald Trump views women as a commodity. Worthy of an exchange, and that’s about it. The fair Elizabeth is attempting to negotiate with the notorious Captain Barbossa…
Elizabeth: Wait! You have to take me to shore. According to the Code of the Order of the Brethren…
Barbossa: First, your return to shore was not part of our negotiations nor our agreement so I must do nothing. And secondly, you must be a pirate for the pirate’s code to apply and you’re not. And thirdly, the code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules. Welcome aboard the Black Pearl, Miss Turner .
Taking no captives aboard the Trump ship
Trump has refused to apologize for any of his arrogant plots. Just this week he attacked the Pope, for God’s Sake, over a question asked of the pontiff out of context. Yet Trump turned it into an opportunity to make himself look like more of a Christian than the leader of the entire Catholic faith. Trump is a pirate.
What Donald Trump excels at doing is taking the strengths of the opposition and turning them into a disadvantage. That is his entire political strategy. And it works. The reason it works is because people see that tactic as a supposed sign of strength, when in fact it’s just a bold lie flown like a Jolly Roger.
Yet that’s why Trump seems to be outsmarting all his opponents. All he’s really doing is stealing their best lines for himself. The same tactic was used on John Kerry by the Swift Boat truthers, who stole the narrative of Kerry’s war heroics and turned them on him. It worked. Truthers have tried repeatedly to attack Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but they have proven too smart and agile in their maneuverings to fall prey to the Swift Boat methods. That drives that brand of pirates all the more insane.
The same tactic was used on John Kerry by the Swift Boat truthers, who stole the narrative of Kerry’s war heroics and turned them on him. It worked.
Pirates by trade
Men like Karl Rove have made entire political careers out of this brand of political piracy. They know that if you can throw enough fear into your quarry on the high seas, you can often steal their best hopes without a fight.
That is exactly how Donald Trump took over the pirate fleet known as the Republican Party. The fleet, in general, is none too happy about their new captain. He’s conveniently ditched the Pirate Code on a number of occasions, and in some cases exposed it altogether.
You’re not supposed to break the Republican, er, Pirate Code. But Trump does so with regularity. He just laid waste to the diehard Republican claim that George W. Bush “kept the country safe” during his administration. Clearly that was never true, for it ignores the entire debacle of 9/11, and that was a direct result Bush & Cheney negligence and, as it turns out, a certain form of complicity with the idea that being attacked wasn’t an all bad thing if it gave them an excuse to attack their doctrinal targets in the Middle East. Who needs truther fictions when the truth is so much more damning of its captains?
Trump want a cracker?
But Trump, like some blabbering parrot or other Caribbean cliche, even ripped the Bush administration over their lies about the reasons for attacking Iraq. This was full-on mutiny as far as the Republican world is concerned. So according to all definitions, Trump more of a Pirate than a Patriot.
In the classic sense a Pirate is a person who attacks and robs ships at sea.” But a pirate in the modern sense is one willing to “use or reproduce (another’s work) for profit without permission, usually in contravention of patent or copyright.” And that fits Trump to a T. He’s stolen the narrative of the Republican Party for himself, plundered the intellectual property and the neo-conservative movement and sailed off with nary a wave to the losers left back on shore.
That would be Marco Rubio, the dandy Cuban Captain. Then there’s Ted Cruz, the modern version of Cortez, the Killer, who wants to be President because he believe it is his Destiny.
He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.
Like all good pirates
Donald Trump tried to warn his fellow pirates that he was coming some day. Yet like all good pirates, he knows how to veil his political ship to look like a friend at sea before throwing hooks over the bulwarks and climbing aboard, guns a-blazing and swords unleashed..
Before declaring himself a Republican because he felt he would appeal to GOP voters more, Trump said this about his political and economic views: “In many cases, I probably identify more as Democrat,” Trump told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in a 2004 interview. “It just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans. Now, it shouldn’t be that way. But if you go back, I mean it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats. …But certainly we had some very good economies under Democrats, as well as Republicans. But we’ve had some pretty bad disaster under the Republicans.”
Last hopes and broken codes
Yet Republican voters by the millions are now calling Trump their last hope, and at the same time, the last true patriot running for President.
Of course he actually “speaks the truth” only as much as it serves him, which is very little. Instead he says what he wants, and that’s an empowering replacement for truth if you are a practiced Reality Show veteran who knows well that people cannot generally tell the difference.
The Pirate’s Code of the Republican Party used to be one os stealth. Simply refuse to acknowledge the lies, misogyny, racism and economic falsehoods that form the ship’s deck, and all is golden.
Now Donald Trump stands proudly at the helm, claiming loud and virulently that he is the Pirate King. Sure, he’s nothing more than a sailor drunk on rum and a emboldened by a series of thieving bankruptcies that made him a rich man again and again. But he knows how to brandish his curved cutlass like a boss. And when it flashes in the sun, people call him brilliant. He believes in their flattery.
It has long been said that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.” The same is true of piracy. At the same time Trump has been rising in the polls, a band of land pirates out in Oregon took over a nature refuge in protest of the fact that people would not give them free grazing rights on public land. So they attempted to take back their perceived chunk of America with guns and threats. They were pirates, in other words.
So it is true that it has become impossible to tell the difference between people calling themselves patriots and people acting like pirates. Trump is the Pirate King these days, a man of great appeal to those confused by their very own codes of conduct. There is no conscience when you’re trying to steal what you could already own if you just cared enough to govern without a pirate’s greed.
A pirate king indeed.