There is absolutely no reason for me to be this obsessed with Donald Trump.
I am not an American. I have no voting rights for that country. I have never lived there. I have no business interests there beyond those conducted by my publisher. The outcome of their Presidential election should mean very little to me. I should be far more concerned with what Jacob Zuma is doing to my home country of South Africa (tearing it to pieces), what Theresa May is getting up to in the UK, where I lived for seven years (shitting on it from a dizzying height), and what Justin Trudeau is involved with in my adopted country of Canada (mainly cuddling pandas and being accused of fake feminism, if you believe our local magazines. On a related note, I fucking love Canada).
And yet I am completely obsessed with Donald Trump. I search for stories about him on Twitter a dozen times a day. Vox, FiveThirtyEight and The Guardian are constantly open in my browser. I subscribed to the Washington Post purely so I could read David Fahrenholdt’s amazing reporting on the campaign. I was glued to both debates, and they both inspired the kind of butterflies I’d only ever experienced watching Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Yes, I have family there, and plenty of friends, but that’s not what it comes to. It’s something deeper. Something horrible.
I’m not alone. The world as we know it has become hooked on Trump. Never before has the electoral process of a single country been so well known to so many. Trump dominates headlines from Bangalore to Vladivostok. He is the single most reported-on human being in history.
I’ve tried to understand this. I’ve tried to get my head around just why the world has gone loopy for Donald. I don’t completely buy the argument that it’s because American media and culture is predominant across most of the planet. That’s a part of it, but it’s not the whole picture. I also don’t believe that it’s a natural outgrowth of how we view celebrities – that eventually, a politician (for Donald is a politician, much as he tends to spit twice upon hearing the term) would cross over into Taylor Swift Land. Neither of those explain why everybody wants to watch America bend over and try to lick its own asshole.
Here’s what I think does.
1) We have never – and I mean never – seen anything like this.
Not anywhere on Earth. Sure, we’ve seen despots: ridiculous African leaders in ermine cloaks, bellowing Russian panjandrums above marching soldiers, third-rate corrupt douchewads in South America. But we’ve never seen a robust democracy get so rapidly fucked by someone. We’ve never seen an established method of government fall to pieces in such a dramatic, ridiculous way.
2) We all have connections to America.
One way or another, it affects us all. America, to paraphrase AA Gill’s writings on Los Angeles, is our modern day Athens, our Rome. It’s the centre of the planet’s culture. Even if you’ve never been there, or never known an American, it has somehow touched your life. American music, food, culture, lifestyles…one way or another, we’re all American. In some deep part of our souls, we all want to be natives of LA or New York or a tiny, mythical small town in Texas. If the world was a country, America would be its capital. So Trump hits home. Watching him is like having a long needle driven deep into your body.
3) Horror. The horror of a car crash you can’t look away from.
Trump is a piece of shit – he’s a dirty, slimy, sleazy, corrupt, horrible trashcan fire of a human being. And not only is he making America lick his boots…they want to do it!!! They’re voting for him! There are vast segments of the country who hear what he says and don’t care. They know all about his taxes, his sexism, his racism, all of it; they know he’ll be a disaster, and they still want him. For anyone not involved, it’s impossible not to have your jaw drop in horror. It’s impossible not to think that, falling in the polls though he might be, Trump is America laid bare. He’s everything we were terrified it would be.
I can’t wait until the election is over. I need this fuckhead out of my life. He will almost certainly lose, which is good, but I can never get back the endless hours I’ve devoted to watching him fuck a country I love. More than anything else, that’s what I hate him for.
America: put a line under this. Close this chapter. Send this monster wearing badly-fitting human skin back to his hole. Prove you’re better. Turn the wheel at the last second, and avoid the 18-wheeler you’ve been driving towards with the system pumping death metal. Please. For my mental health, if nothing else.