Monday 24 October 2016

Trump and the benefit of believing in nothing

Published 07/02/2016 | 02:30

Illustration by Jim Cogan
Illustration by Jim Cogan

At a church service in Iowa, attended by Donald Trump, when the communion plate was passed around with wafers and wine, it is said that Trump reached for his wallet.

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It is hard to hate such a man completely and indeed Vincent Browne last week instinctively declared that he would vote for the Trumpster against Hillary Clinton. "It'd be "more fun," he told Susan O'Keeffe, one of "the miserable people of the Labour Party who go to conferences while other people are out enjoying themselves".

Browne also accepted that Trump is "an appalling man", which, of course, he is. And yet the supposedly reasonable and respectable Republican candidate is Marco Rubio, who, during a TV debate in which it was suggested that he is "the saviour" of the party, felt it necessary to state that "I am not the Saviour," that Jesus Christ, who came back to Earth to forgive our sins, is in truth the Saviour.

With a heavy heart, most of us would probably take the man who whips out his wallet when he sees the communion plate over the man who wishes to clear up any confusion which may exist in the minds of the electorate between himself and Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And when Ted Cruz defeated Trump in Iowa, we finally saw the 'radical' Republican candidate coming into focus and we quickly formed the view that in the final analysis we'd probably plump for Trump over him too.

Cruz is clearly a very dangerous individual, who may actually mean some of the things he is saying.

Which forces us again to appreciate what Trump has been bringing to the game. Trump, who believes hardly a word he is saying, who would happily say a lot of different words if he thought it would work, who, as he himself might put it, is not a words kind of a guy.

He just wants to kick ass and to break balls and that sort of thing, which means nothing really, and which is probably less worrying on the whole than the guy like Ted Cruz, who, for example, is ferociously "pro-life".

Trump may be kinda pro-life now, but he used to be anti-life and if he felt that was there was any percentage in it, he'd be anti-life again and anti-anything else you've got.

And in some strange way, his lack of allegiance to any coherent belief system is so obvious that there is a kind of honesty in it.

Thus we see how Vincent Browne could make some sort of a case for Trump against Hillary Clinton, and how we could follow this line of form through the field of Republican candidates until this "appalling man" starts to look not-so-appalling after all.

This is the place to which the dark trade of politics has brought us, a place from which all sorts of dangerous madness may emerge, in which the best that we may hope for is that Trump gets the victory that is expected on Tuesday in New Hampshire to halt the march of the terrifying Cruz.

Some will say that there is a great need for politicians who believe in something, and then they get Cruz and they say that he just believes in the wrong things.

But then so many of the believers are wrong about so many things, you're probably better off with a Trump - or anyone else who believes in nothing.

Jeremy Corbyn, another beneficiary of the universal loathing of the game of politics, is a man full of sincerely held convictions, though the fact that one of them involves a great devotion to Sinn Fein somewhat takes the good out of it.

And Sinn Fein itself manages the strange trick of being both deeply sincere and massively dishonest, a combination which seems to fit quite comfortably in the fanatic heart.

Still, they say that it's great to see that at least some people will stand up for their beliefs.

No, it's not great.

In fact, a lot of what has been achieved in this world has come from people not standing up for their beliefs but surrendering them, or maybe just forgetting about them for a while - Northern Ireland comes to mind.

Bill Clinton, of course, was the perfect man for the North at that time, because Bill was a man who didn't believe in much on the whole, but who believed every word he was saying as he was saying it.

Though he might have said something different in the past, and might go on to say the opposite in the future, he believed it in the moment. And that's about as much as we can expect - and that was a long time ago.

The Clintons still have the courage of their lack of convictions. Donald Trump himself has been an admirer, inviting them to his wedding to his third wife, golfing with Bill and donating money to Hillary; though in Iowa he mocked her: "You know, she's playing the woman card really big.

"I watched her the other day and all she would talk about was Women! Women! I'm a woman! I'm going to be the youngest woman in the White House! I'm not going to have white hair, I'm going to dye my hair blonde!"

But Hillary would have no hard feelings about that.

She would know more than most that he doesn't mean it.

Sunday Independent

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