Two days ago Al Jazeera America published a piece of mine about Donald Trump’s rise and what it means for American politics:
Trump knows that his disinterest in policy makes him more relatable, not less. “I play to people’s fantasies,” Trump wrote in his 1987 best-seller, “The Art of the Deal.” “People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole.” And his unrehearsed style reflects his recognition that “truthful hyperbole” never hurts and pseudo-events have replaced policy as a deciding factor in people’s voting preferences.
Trump’s ability to galvanize popular support has earned him favorable comparisons to Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is pursuing the Democratic presidential nomination. However, no equivalence exists between Sanders, a longtime U.S. senator and progressive activist, and Trump, a brash political amateur with a poor grasp of policy. Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist and scholar who wrote an afterword to Boorstin’s book, suspects Trump initially designed his presidential campaign as a publicity stunt to promote his real estate brand.
“It’s possible he meant the campaign that way,” Rushkoff told me in a recent email interview, “but it succeeded beyond his wildest imagination and now became a self-fulfilling prophecy.”