The rally reminded all rhetoric of his first gambit for the White House in 2016, when I promised to "make America great again." For 2020 and beyond, I have guaranteed to "keep America great." Trump is prone to bland sayings, and I've invoked words like verdict, witch huntand destiny-Flagging the past four years, and possibly those to come, as a time of persecution and fate. As expected, I counted myself among the persecuted. It was a striking and comical contrast with the day before, on Twitter, when I announced the ICE project to remove "illegal aliens who have illegally entered the United States". The statement was neither unexpected nor the exception by its tone and texture, Trump brandishes a narrative of dislocation. This is, as I have previousa language that voluntarily colors mischief in virtue.
I guess there is some kind of naughty genius. I've hidden the pillars of hatredscouring Gay citizens of their civil liberties, by flattening the rights of women and channeling children in places of detention that the American representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Concentration camps just this week in hollow slogans like "Make America Great". Such proclamations have kept poor white men in power for centuries, but they do not really mean much. The sentence is entirely, incredibly subjective: how and for whom does it make this country better?
The empty poetry of a Trump slogan is that it allows anyone to apply its own imprecise logic. The message usurps the man, he becomes uglier, heavier. Mandel Ngan's photo of Tuesday's rally perfectly sums up this perverse madness. Trump pervades the crowd's love and positions himself as a political archetype of the family: network tie, navy blue suit, self-satisfied. Even if the crowd gets darker around him, he's decorated with light – another cheap trick, I'll bet – like a lighthouse, a savior and a champion. It's a kind of silly luster. He is the only character at the center of his concerns and I imagine that he prefers it well. But even if your eyes can reach it, my attention comes back again and again to the cap of the MAGA network. More than anything, it is the hat that has become the decisive emblem of a movement and an administration, both polluted by power, that have sown discord to ensure their own precarious security as the country heads towards more progressive realities. The MAGA hat is as much a curiosity of pop culture as a political weapon: a logo, a shield, a personal dogma and insignia of contempt.
In the photo, it's the particular tension between Trump and the hat that I'm hypnotized by: man versus message. Both are competing for the viewer's examination. If Ngan records the shot a few seconds earlier or later, the picture we get is completely changed, the hat darkening Trump's face. I suppose there is some kind of twisted parable in that too. Knowing that he does not have the full authority of his own message. It presents a possibility. This is a reminder that the control narrative does not exist in an indissoluble state. He is waiting to be seized, to be remodeled.