Keeping Up (Trumpian) Appearances

One of my favorite British sitcoms from the 1990s was the one created by Roy Clarke starring Patricia Rutledge as Hyacinth Bucket (who insisted that everyone pronounce her last name as “bouquet.”) Her husband, Richard (played by Clive Swift) endured her endless social climbing with the patience of Job. Episodes were based on a common theme: Hyacinth wanted people to view her as upper class, even royal, despite the pedestrian nature of her home, her background, and (especially) her husband and family. If a local duke, earl, or other lord happened to be hosting an event, Hyacinth would insist that Richard wangle an invitation, even if it meant disguising themselves as someone else in order to gain admission.

This past week, we witnessed, courtesy of the Republican National Convention, an American version of that British sitcom. Using Fort McHenry and the White House as personal backdrops, the Trump family made a convincing case that they are, in fact, American Royalty. While most of us were taught that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States ended such matters, we were treated to the appearance that those documents merely transmuted the British monarchy into an American version, one in which our new king could present his queen, princes, and princesses to an adoring audience.

What seems odd about such pageantry is the way anti-monarchial names like Washington and Jefferson were dropped so smoothly by the king in his acceptance speech, as if those Founding Fathers would have approved of the use of the “people’s house” in such a manner. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and taxpayers of no political interest whatsoever all pay taxes to maintain the public properties that were used to host last week’s Trumpian photo ops. Yet Republicans seem to think it is just fine for their party to appropriate these properties for their own partisan use.

Was this really a party of “smaller federal government” on display? Can Republicans somehow square notions of devolving more power away from Washington with Trump’s assertion that he is the only one who can make America great again? Are small-government Republicans really okay with the notion that an American President can send federal troops to any town he wishes (such as Portland), using his authority as commander in chief, to solve any problem that happens to annoy him at the time?

Despite all this, we Spirited Reasoners aren’t that concerned about Donald Trump himself. We are more concerned with the millions of Americans who seem okay with the idea that America would be better off if it would just accept Donald Trump as our king, abolish that pesky Congress and Supreme Court, and allow him to spend our dollars and tell us what the law should be in any given case.

Spirited Reasoners view Donald Trump as merely the American version of Hyacinth Bucket. We view this past week’s convention was not surprising at all—simply more of the same keeping up appearances. It concerns us, though, when we watch so Americans treat him like a savior, apparently wishing they could have been invited to last week’s coming out party for the royal House of Trump.