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Not Your President

“Not my president.” The phrase need not be thought defiant or felt as performance of defiance. It’s merely observational. Descriptive.

Instead of subordinating himself to the position – or even pretending to – Trump subordinates it to himself. He overwrites the role with himself and in this sense he is not anyone’s president.

This is the authoritarian style.

He is the leader, the one, “the only one” who can rule, who can “fix it.” He will not serve but rules, he imagines. And much of what he has imagined has come to pass, of course. He intends to rule by his definition – one that shifts with whim and mood and that is driven by the bottomless need to assert his primacy and power – thus redefining and “fixing” the role of president.

As much as he loves to claim an imaginary landslide majority win – the biggest, the best – he intends not to be your president, but to be the CEO of the USA or, as his adoring alt-right fanboys put it, God Emperor.

“Democracy” has nothing to do with it. He said he’d accept the election results if he won, and he has kept his promise: He accepts the Electoral College results but rejects the popular vote count.

He states it (likely tweets it, whatever redefinition of what’s “true” and “real” it may be) and at some point, so far, the state becomes him a little bit more, a little bit more, and with a sudden leap, a lot more, a lot more. The process is far from complete, but given how far and how fast he has come, and given his alt-right troll army’s successful freaking-of-the-norm(ies) via meme magic, it is imperative to move forward with the horizon of totalitarian Trump as the real possibility against which the anti-Trump thinks and defines itself.

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One may object that no president has ever in a true sense been a servant of the people, that the US electoral system is and always has been rigged to deliver a chief executive who may pay ample lip service to the ideals of a democratic republic – to government of the people, by the people, for the people – but who is ultimately in service of the latest arrangements of powers that be, of industry and finance, of wealth and influence, and of party and partisans over the broader public good.

On the political right, one making such an objection might laud Trump for his relative honesty, and because of it support him.

On the far left, one might appreciate that honesty, too: at last we see the true, lying face of white supremacy, of kleptocratic crony capitalism, etc.

On the alt-right and in the dark, dull lands of neoreaction: kek.

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George W. Bush clumsily flirted, rhetorically at least, with the idea of true sovereignty: “I’m the decider,” he said. The decider, not the executive acting in consultation with layers of advisers and elected officials who, in concert, are imagined to give voice, no matter how imperfectly, to something like the popular will, on one hand, and to the abstract ideals that form the machinery which allows the expression of that popular will on the other (equality, justice, liberty, etcetera). And yet George lacked the authoritarian style, the force of personality around which the cult forms.

An unnamed adviser to W, during the administration’s short-lived optimistic Iraq war highs, stated it boldly in 2004: “…when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

One difference between then and now: Trump says and does this without the shield of anonymity, without pretending his intention is anything other, without playing the role of the minimally “judicious” president whose advisers spill the real meme-beans only on background.

Bush-Cheney and their crew would frequently back off and qualify the most hubristic of claims, especially when sacrosanct nominal American values – equality, most notably – appeared threatened by rhetorical excess. Trump and his voters see this as bowing to political correctness, kowtowing to an illegitimate rule by losers (some combination of women, minorities, LGBTQ people and non-Christians, with apparent aberrations like Milo, say, serving to prove that loyalty trumps all).

Trump and his core team (and alt-right irregulars) may throw up tactical screens (or tweets) claiming otherwise, but they are just that: cover for actions – and words directed at the base – that allow quick tactical gains in the direction of the strategic fulfillment of a Bannon-Thiel-Trump decimation of the institutions and practices that make something like “equality” meaningful in everyday life for most Americans. Shock and awe comes home.

The relatively judicious Obama interregnum promised something different, even as it often seemed to deliver more of the same, just with more decorum and taste (drones in the skies instead of boots on the ground). But to the disaffected Tea Partiers who rose as if in mirror-image opposition to the Occupy protestors as the Bush II years rolled over into the Obama years, it didn’t matter, or rather, it did matter, because Obama’s rhetoric and promises – and, indeed, name and skin color and cosmopolitanism – signaled something else to them: that he was not, in fact, their president.

He was, rather, the servant of forces that would destroy their America. The anti-Obama right trafficked all along in the language of usurpation, illegitimacy and fraud, with Trump leading the Birther charge on Twitter and in media-amplified utterings (albeit on frequencies and through channels not audible to mainline Democrats, as Hillary’s pathetic stumbling and ultimate fall have made clear).

And now: Trump, who appears set to attempt to make good on the awkward claims put forth by W and his anonymous adviser. Trump, with his Republican Congress and coming, clear path to shaping the courts, with his proven mastery of the post-truth meme-driven mediascape, acts less and less like a president and more like the decider, like “a leader,” slouching toward something like a 21st century Americanized Führerprinzip, one called into existence, it often seems, at least as much by American leftwing hysteria as by dark rightwing desire (Milo is the perfect emblem of this volatile convergence.)

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If one is a populist or soi-disant capitalist who imagines Trump’s decisions will align with one’s interests, one is no doubt thrilled. If one is a confused and angry “real American” who felt (more or less correctly) that Hillary was deeply corrupt and a servant of shadowy forces or even just “politics as usual,” one is somewhere between thrilled and cautiously, if perhaps neurotically, optimistic-ish. If one is a neoreactionary who pines for a nation run like a corporation or a kingdom, led by a sovereign or executive whose word is, by effective definition, law, one is likely beside oneself with the kind of glee a six-year-old feels on the night before Christmas. If one is an accelerationist – left or right – one is experiencing jolts of technical (and likely autistic to some degree or another) ecstasy in anticipation of an orgy of creative destruction that will clear the way for a deeply desired fight for the ever more deeply desired ideologically pure future. If one is an anti-PC troll, kek.

Trump is their leader. But he’s not their president. He’s nobody’s president in the previously known sense.

And though the right-populist may say that Trump is a president who finally speaks for and who will act on behalf of the “people,” of the general will of “real Americans,” the rest of those thrilled by the rise of Trump are hardly interested in seeing an elected official play a role: they’re excited because this man in particular has gamed the system, smashed it up with the darkly thrilling promise of much more smashing to come, has shown the office that Obama is vacating and to which Hillary aspired to be empty. In effect, by “fixing it,” he promises to eliminate it and replace it with something else, with himself, and to do away with the niceties and formalities and pretense of “American democracy” and rule.

The apparent shift of the physical sites of rule from the White House to a Trump Tower-Mar-a-Lago axis is the geographical and architectural embodiment of this; the likely gilding and branding of the White House in the 4-8+ years to come would be garish consummation.

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If you’re not one of Hillary’s deplorables or the mainstream media’s economically-suffering-but-still-good (and white, mostly) people or some other brand of Trump supporter, the fact that Trump doesn’t want to be your president makes it easy: He’s not your president.

And whether he or not be proves nonetheless to be the Boss of You may come down to whether the courts, police, and, ultimately, the military fall in line with a post-democratic US or not. We’ll probably learn a great deal about this after the next major terror attack on US soil (get your false flag theories ready, Truthers!).

It will also, of course, depend in large part on how the national anti-Trump electoral majority reacts, not just (or at all) within the framework of elections and laws and the rest of the “democratic process,” but in the streets and online (and not on Facebook or Twitter, but in fighting more effectively those dirty infowars that Trump and his boosters, whether Russian hackers or US conspiracy theorists or gutter-grade trolls or in-it-for-the-money purveyors of “fake news,” have excelled at).

The next phase will likely be fought out on the streets, as protestors clash with a state apparatus that is now, almost, soon, largely in the hands of a man who has been clear – as clear as Duterte – that he does not see himself as being legitimately constrained by decorum, precedent, law, or political process because, even if you are a brand loyalist, he is emphatically not your president.

He is your sworn enemy, and you have lost (until you prove otherwise).