The good, the bad, and the gullible

December 11, 2020 ☼ trumpshenanigans

Source: MinnPost - Link

Mark Twain understood many things about America, including its people’s gullibility. In “Huckleberry Finn” (1884), the Duke and the Dauphin, itinerant swindlers and pitchmen, persuade small-town folks that they are in the presence of European aristocrats of wealth and prestige — then fleece them blind. The Duke and Dauphins’ rude roadshow, “The Royal Nonesuch” (comically resembling “The Apprentice”) is revealed as a fraud. Townspeople learn that those taken in have urged their friends and neighbors to attend the show and lose money too, so they won’t look as stupid, stoking their collective embarrassment. Before the fall, The Dauphin proudly remarks, “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?” In the end, the town runs the Duke and Dauphin out, tarred and feathered. And so it is now in America.

Meredith Wilson put the same theme to song in the quintessentially American “Music Man” (1957), in which small-town Iowans are similarly fleeced (remembered from Wilson’s youth in Mason City and as a member of John Phillip Sousa’s Band). The locals fall for the fast-talking “Professor” Harold Hill, who purloins their meager savings to create an imaginary “Boys Band.” As he intones: “and this band will be in uniform.”

In 2016, America’s own self-styled Music Man came to town, doing exactly to Iowa and a majority of the states in the Electoral College what Harold Hill had done. His devotees fell for a pitch that promised a glorious, white, immigrant-free future — an empty promise and pitchman’s polemic. At least Harold Hill promised youthful musical achievement and the avoidance of trouble, “with a capital “T.”

Trump’s message, by contrast, was undergirded by a troika of racism, misogyny and xenophobia. For Trump, the pitch worked, at least for a while. But as the Trump presidency unfolded into a sodden mess of incompetence and corrupt self-dealing, his pitch lost its tune and became less and less convincing except to the unmasked rubes who had already signed on and drunk the rancid Kool-Aid. Many are now dying of COVID-19, an enduring testament to his fakery and falsehoods.

An opinion piece, but perhaps accurate.