Donald Trump, Demagoguery, and The National Shrine of the Little Flower

The National Shrine of the Little Flower, © Headly Westerfield

Back when I was still writing for NewsHounds under the nom de plume of Aunty Em Ericann, I famously compared Glenn Beck to Father Charles Coughlin, one of ‘Merka’s biggest demagogues.

That was then. These days the biggest Merkin Demagogue is Donald J. Trumpolini.

In November of 2009 I wrote about growing up in Detroit:

Because of its majestic feel, I always loved when we drove up Woodward. At 12 Mile Road, on the northeast corner, stands a church that attracted my attention even as a Jewish
child. It’s just so beautiful despite, or because of, the iconography.
The National Shrine of the Little Flower really is a gorgeous building and seeing it as a child started me off on an appreciation of architecture that continues to this day.

On the opposite corner sprawls Roseland Park Cemetery.
I mention this graveyard for one reason: whenever we passed this
corner some of my older relatives would spit a “patooey” as we crossed
12 Mile. Because some of the older Jews in my family still held Old
World values and superstitions, I had always assumed it was some curse
to protect against the dead.

It was only years later, when I began to understand both architecture
and politics, did I come to learn that this monument to Jesus Christ at
the Shrine of the Little Flower was also a monument and a shrine to,
and built by, Father Charles Coughlin,
one of the most rabid anti-Semites to ever have his own radio show. At
his height he is said to have had 40 million listeners. 

Beck responded, disingenuously, that because their politics were so totally different, there’s no way he could be compared to Father Charles Coughlin. But, there’s actually nothing in the definition about one’s politics:

dem-uh-gog, -gawg
noun

  1. a person, especially an orator or political leader, who gains power
    and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the
    people.
    2. (in ancient times) a leader of the people.

verb (used with object), demagogued, demagoguing.

  1. to treat or manipulate (a political issue) in the manner of a demagogue; obscure or distort with emotionalism, prejudice, etc.

verb (used without object), demagogued, demagoguing.

  1. to speak or act like a demagogue.
My submission for a Trumpolini bumper sticker

If the coif fits, Donald J. Trump wears it. He has now become Merka’s biggest demagogue, and in such a short time, too.

It started with his offensive comments about Mexicans at his announcement speech, if a rambling, braggadocios, and at times, incoherent word salad worthy of Sarah Palin can be called a speech. He’s too rich and busy for Political Correctness, which can be reduced to a bumper sticker: TRUMP 2016: RUDE AS I WANNA BE.

Of course Trump was expected to attack his GOP opponents. To be perfectly honest, the Left Wing has been serving popcorn at his verbal jibes against Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Carla Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry. It’s all in good clean fun, provided you’re not one of them or their supporters. However, when Donald Trump attacked John McCain, even the Reich Wing of the party blanched, until they realized it didn’t hurt him at all. That’s when they realized Donald’s Demagoguery was actually working. Supporting Trump, hoping to get his sloppy seconds when he finally flames out, are Ted Crux and Mike Huckabee.

Who could have predicted he’d sue Univision just as the campaign was starting? Who ever expected Trump to attack Heidi Klum? Or, Secretariat? More to the point, who expected him to bite the Fox “News” Channel hand that feeds his enormous ego? If that weren’t enough, his misogynist comments about Megyn Kelly were almost enough to make Andrew Dice Clay blush.

Yet, so far, Donald Trump has defied gravity. Nothing he says, no matter how stupid or offensive, seem to be bringing him back to earth. His poll numbers continue to climb as he “gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.” That’s the textbook definition of demagogue, folks.

Sadder still is that nothing has really changed in the decades since Father Charles Coughlin and his divisive hate speech thrilled a large portion of the nation. Everything old is new again.


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Headly Westerfield
Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.