Trump as Trojan Horse


“In practice,” wrote Edward Bernays, “if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything.”

In his classic bookPropaganda, Bernays not only acknowledges, but defends a “hidden government” which manipulates the populace using the techniques of mass marketing, never letting us forget that, no matter the exhibition, our choices are few.

It’s been almost a hundred years since that work was written, and we still speak in those terms. While we all like to assume our government is transparent and democratic, we do not scold the next person who calls bullshit. That there are operators behind the curtains is a given.

But what raw material should be used to build this conspiratorial framework?

“Hidden Government” doesn’t sound quite as sinister as either “Deep State” or “the Swamp,” which are the preferred terms used by MAGA folk. For them, the real enemy is the permanent bureaucracy that lives and works in Washington DC. This is all those “alphabet agencies” whose letters we have trouble remembering. Trump, assuming his role as the Big Orange Drain Cleaner, is promising to clean the pipes and let those letters flush away, should he get a second term.

These terms are depthless. They barely go down to the water meter. They bring no light to the cavernous rooms far below regions throughout the country. Indeed, swamps are not known for being very deep.

If we’re not discussing the Federal Reserve, the Military Industrial Complex, or the state of Israel – then we’re not having a serious conversation about who the enemy is.

Tellingly, Trump never brings up any of these. And no objective look at his presidency would have impressed anything different, as Trump had governed pretty much like every other Republican president. There was a lot of talk about the plight and hardship of every day Americans, but most of the action was done on behalf of those who pull the strings.

Little has changed with this latest campaign bid. Trump is once again getting cozy with swamp creatures. Last month, Trump held his first meeting with Mitch McConnell since 2020. Politico quotes McConnell, who called the meeting “really positive.” Senator Mike Rounds said he hadn’t seen Republicans so “strongly united” in a “long, long time.”

This was more than a cordial handshake. There are serious implications here. Trump has called Zelensky the “greatest salesman of any politician that’s ever lived.”

Tough language aside, Trump is also a customer. When Congress was trying to pass a new $95 billion aid bill, Trump made no criticism. For that, McConnell thanked the former president, as it allowed Congress to vote without waiting for Trump’s signal.

The bill, as we know, did not include any funding for border security. McConnell: “I would love to solve the border problem, but most of my colleagues decided it wasn’t good enough and the former president said he’d rather it not be done at all, and so that kind of moved the border away.”

Much Orange Cleaner! Such America First!

But aren’t they trying to get Trump out of the way? Aren’t they ensuring a second Biden term by throwing his opponent behind bars?

If my tinfoil hat were any thicker, I would theorize that the Hidden Government is prosecuting Trump with dual intentions: to get him more money, and to improve his poll numbers. After his felony conviction, Trump’s donations soared, quickly surpassing that of Biden’s. As for the polls, NY Magazine gathers them together. Trump might be losing some independents, but he’s holding steady across the board.

While we were hoping for a wall, Assange was hoping for a pardon. Almost all of us were disappointed. The Fed, Israel, and Ukraine were as happy as Fauci and the pharmaceutical companies.

Trump had four years to drain the swamp. The orange cap was never even unscrewed.

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KM Patten

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