‘Is Trump Emerson’s Man of the World’?

Here is one of my favorite columns about Donald Trump, originally published in the Daily Inter Lake on Feb. 13, 2016:

I have already invoked the words of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once to describe Donald J. Trump, a presidential candidate whose “self-reliance” has given him the courage to speak his own mind and risk contradicting himself or being “misunderstood.”

Emerson’s 1850 essay on Napoleon Bonaparte, subtitled “Man of the World,” provides even more illumination of Trump’s sudden rise on the political stage, and why he is equally adored by the common people and detested by the denizens of the halls of power.

The portrait Emerson draws of Napoleon is by no means without its dark side, but yet Emerson is broadly sympathetic to the “little corporal” who turned his small fortune and personal magnetism into an empire whose sway has remained heavy on the public imagination for 200 years since its fall.

As Emerson notes, “Bonaparte was the idol of common men because he had in transcendent degree the qualities and powers of common men. There is a certain satisfaction in coming down to the lowest ground of politics, for we get rid of cant and hypocrisy.”

It is just such a rebellion against the “cant and hypocrisy” of the political class that has fueled Trump’s presidential campaign, and has astonished the establishment, who are apparently getting a sense finally that they may be dis-established if Trump prevails.

Read the rest here: https://www.dailyinterlake.com/archive/article-81eea452-d2c0-11e5-8686-e36ba0b805b9.html

 

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