Want a sign for yourself? The official Trump reelection store eschews such vulgar offerings, though it does have plenty of “MAGA Mama” hats in stock. To snag a “No More BS” sign, you’ll have to check out the U.S. Patriot Flags website instead. Or better yet, the Patriot’s Cave site for a matching whiskey tumbler. Patriot Depot sells the same message on a shot glass.
Patriot, patriot, patriot. You’d think at some point people would realize they’re being gassed up — their egos soothed — with reassurances that theirs is the real America, and that voting for the incumbent will keep it that way.
No more BS? This has been the BS presidency.
Obviously, President Trump lies. And he lies in such a way that multiple commentators have questioned whether it counts as lying at all, because lying involves at least some regard for what the truth is and some interest in persuading those listening to you that you’re telling it. They cite Princeton University philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt’s essay “On Bullshit”: “He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”
Yet the BS presidency has been about far more than rhetoric. Much of its “policy” is a sham, too. The crowning achievement of this administration is a tax cut supposedly to help out the little guy, when in fact it enriches the rich. The xenophobic promise of a “big, beautiful wall” paid for by our southern neighbors, 1,000 miles long and 40 feet tall, has resulted in some fencing and beefed-up barriers — paid for by us.
Most of what has actually been accomplished is more symbol than substance: an embassy moved to Jerusalem to please Christian evangelicals; troops dispatched to “protect” cities to soothe racist suburbanites. The Space Force? Maybe a 12-year-old wants that, but the U.S. military didn’t ask for it.
“The Dow Jones Industrial just closed above 29,000! You are so lucky to have me as your President,” reads an @realDonaldTrump tweet from last month capped off with a winky face. This was the latest of many missives: “New Stock Market Record today, AGAIN. Congratulations USA!” “Stock Market up BIG! Record highs for S&P 500 and NASDAQ. Enjoy!” This metric for our success is the president’s most cherished, and it’s also nothing more than a mirage for those who live a stock-free life.
The White House and its environs are little more than a sound stage. They host stunt after stunt. The Bible-brandishing photo op at St. John’s Church after protesters were tear-gassed out of the way for the walk across Lafayette Square. The entire Republican National Convention, naturalization ceremony and all.
The tractor-trailer parked on the South Lawn for infrastructure week, whose horn Trump tooted several times as he pretended to drive. The fast-food buffet of “300 hamburgers,” pizza and more, purportedly purchased personally by the president (he soon revised the total on Twitter to “1,000 hamberders”) and arrayed in the State Dining Room to congratulate the college football championship-clinching Clemson Tigers.
The point isn’t whether things are good; it is that they look good to whoever the president imagines his base to be. The aim isn’t to improve people’s lives but to keep people’s attention. He sinks a stimulus package one moment, and next thing you know, he’s tweeting about the Radical Left besmirching Christopher Columbus.
This, all of it, is BS, which may explain for the massive turnout most experts now foresee for Election Day. The yard-signers, however, don’t seem to care, much like the people buying those MAGA Mama hats surely don’t care what a Princeton University philosophy professor has to say about the semantic landscape of falsehoods.
They may not even care especially about Trump, except insofar as he is a means to smashing a system that they think doesn’t care about them: the prattling of insiders to other insiders that fills mainstream media; the politicking that never seems to change anything about their day-to-day existences; the endless churning of a country that looks less and less like them and listens more and more to people who look different.
A Palestinian once told a reporter that Yasser Arafat “is the stone that we throw at the world.” Donald Trump is the stone these voters throw at Washington. This only breaks things; it doesn’t mend them, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it is their BS presidency, and not someone else’s.