Mr. Jones, a 41-year-old man with hard hands and a belly from too much beer, lost his job as an Assembly Technician in 2007, at the dawn of the Great Recession. Like thousands of men across the country who once made a decent living working in factories, Mr. Jones is struggling to regain his footing in a recovering service economy that no longer needs him.
In this new American economy, manufacturing jobs are now outsourced to China, India and other less developed corners of the globe, so Mr. Jones is reduced to toiling in the repair industry, where jobs and money are inconsistent – at best. At worst, he’s competing with less skilled immigrants who will do the same job for less.
In the meantime, his wife won’t stop nagging him about the decaying siding on their house, which he also can’t afford to replace. In addition to the siding, his wife is upset about the browning yard. He doesn’t have time to take care of either because he’s always out working or looking for work. If he did have the money to hire help, the siding repairman and gardener would probably be Mexican – an idea he hates even more than being out of work.
He hates himself for his inability to provide, he hates his wife for nagging him and he hates immigrants for taking the jobs that would be his.
More than anything, Mr. Jones hates the “Republicans and other greedy capitalists who want open borders for cheap labor, and the leftists who want open borders due to their white guilt and hatred of western civilization.”
If only America were like it once was, he’d still have a job, his wife wouldn’t yell at him and America would be great again.
Mr. Jones is a Trump Republican.
Despite a net worth of $4 billion, Donald Trump has tapped into Mr. Jones’ post-Recession, white middle class outrage:
“Black lives matter more and illegal immigrants who break the law get a free pass. Evangelicals in this country no longer feel they have the right to religious freedom and have watched what they perceive as a sacred institution in marriage gutted. All the while, politicians they voted for to represent them just plain don’t.”
Trump's xenophobic, racist and misogynist comments are cathartic for men like Mr. Jones – for men, in general, who were hit hardest by the Recession and its impact on manufacturing and construction jobs - not to mention its impact on their marriages, which helps to explain the spike in intimate-partner violence when the Recession hit.
The Mr. Jones in my story is, of course, an allegory, named after the farmer in Orwell’s Animal Farm. Throughout modern history, in totalitarian dictatorships across the globe, George Orwell is known as “the prophet.” From Russia to Afghanistan, Burma, China and North Korea, his fictional portrayal of totalitarianism rings true. And today, for arguably the first time in history, his allegory prophesizes the fate of America. Never has an American politician so epitomized the Orwellian dictator as Donald Trump.
The Orwellian dictator in Animal Farm is the pig, Napoleon, who – through vague promises and brute force – appeals to a desperate contingency; the animals who are desperate for another way. A better way. Another, better life.
Sadly, desperate people like Mr. Jones or the personified characters of Animal Farm are the most easily manipulated by politicians offering an alternative… any alternative.
When asked what he will offer in place of the Affordable Care Act, Trump promised to replace it with “something terrific," echoing Napoleon’s vague rhetoric when debating his arch nemesis, Snowball, about the construction of a windmill on Animal Farm:
“When the animals had assembled in the big barn, Snowball stood up and, though occasionally interrupted by bleating from the sheep, set forth his reasons for advocating the building of the windmill. Then Napoleon stood up to reply. He said very quietly that the windmill was nonsense and that he advised nobody to vote for it, and promptly sat down again; he had spoken for barely thirty seconds, and seemed almost indifferent as to the effect he produced.”
The debate ends with Napoleon unleashing attack dogs on Snowball and running him out of Animal Farm.
The similarities between Napoleon and Trump are seemingly endless, ranging from their unabashed fear-mongering, obsession with military force, lavish lifestyles and treatment of women (Napoleon impregnated all the sows on Animal Farm). But most worrisome is their rhetorical manipulation of fact; a manipulation that hinges on a restructuring of the past.
Most recently, Trump said he’ll “never say a bad thing about Kanye,” conveniently forgetting he called for a boycott of Kanye in 2009. A harmless enough oversight until you put it in the context of his entire pathology. Fact-checking news site, PolitiFact, rated 78 percent of Trump’s comments “Mostly False,” “False,” or “Pants on Fire” – with 69 percent falling into the latter two categories.
In another of Orwell’s prophetic fictions, 1984, Big Brother’s totalitarian government hinges on the ideology that, “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."
Trump is the most dangerous kind of fiction author; one for whom the facts are debatable. He rewrites the past, controls the present and dictates the future based on his fiction.
With Trump so acutely resembling Orwell's Napoleon, I can only hope American citizens will resist resembling his bleating sheep. Sadly, with Trump leading in the polls, our fate as sheep seems a prophetic inevitability.