The Vulgar Aesthetics of Donald Trump

donaldtrumpMuch ink has been spilled this election season over the once-inconceivable rise of Donald J. Trump, who is now poised to be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. Voices on both the left and right have attacked the billionaire’s tenuous grasp on policy, his protean record on issues like abortion, and the endless stream of lies and contradictions that drip from his mouth with incredible rapidity.

These critiques did little to dent his popularity, however, because Trump is a personalist leader who thrives on the ability to sell an image – rather than a set of policies – to the American public. (If you doubt the importance of appearance in personalist politics, do a quick Google search for “Vladimir Putin shirtless.”)

To be sure, the aesthetics of Trump are not pretty. One could speak, for example, of the Donald’s daily uniform: a dark, ill-fitting suit with a tie that extends much too far past his belt buckle. Occasionally, Trump will double-down on this fashion faux-pas by donning that iconic red trucker hat we’ve come to know and love.

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