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The American people are part of Trump’s fraud, too | Price of Existence

Personally speaking, $454 million is a lot of money. Even a billionaire like Donald Trump is balking at the prospect of paying that much to the state of New York for overstating his wealth and property holdings, thereby defrauding investors. That doesn’t include the $83.3 million and $5 million settlements he owes to E. Jean Carroll for defamation.

But $454 million seems meaningless in the eyes of die-hard Trump supporters. One such admirer set up a GoFundMe with a goal of $355 million — Trump’s penalties before interest tacked on — after the judgment was declared. They proclaimed in the GoFundMe that they will “stand with him, shoulder to shoulder” to “rally in defense for a man who has never hesitated to stand in defense of us.”

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

I laughed seeing that, and then immediately reconsidered my humor when I found out that this grassroots effort to pay for one of Trump’s many crimes has raised over $1.3 million in less than two weeks. 

What exactly are Trump supporters even putting their money towards? 

Though the mere existence of a GoFundMe for a billionaire ex-president is baffling, that $1 million is very real and is all for a brand that likes to take anything from those willing to pay, and diverts attention from the very real issues at hand.

Take the ubiquitous MAGA hat — now selling for $50 on the Trump Store website in shades of red, white and camouflage. If a baseball cap isn’t your style, there’s also a dusty red bucket hat emblazoned with a more subtle “TRUMP,” in all caps, presumably for the teen girls and suburban moms who want to display their love.

Other standout merchandise include whiskey ice molds emblazoned with a gigantic “T” and a Bitty Boomers Bluetooth speaker that bears vague resemblance to the man himself in a blue suit-red tie-MAGA hat ensemble. If you want, you can “pair two Trumps together for an even louder, surround sound type feel,” as advertised on the product page.

As silly as his products sound, I was also reminded that the criminally charged ex-president would not sell an “I <3 Trump Robe Set” – complete with a “luxurious” white bathrobe, candy and slippers all boldly bearing his name for $185 – unless there was at least one person buying it.

Donald Trump has done an astounding job when it comes to marketing, which should come as no surprise. If he was actually advertising who he was and his policies, the evangelical Christian sect of his base would realize that he is farcically Christian and deeply unfaithful to his wives, hiding those facts comfortably behind patriotic country music at rallies. 

Maybe we’d consider his calls to illegalize homelessness and set up tent cities, similar to Great Depression migrant camps, dangerous to the country. If there was more awareness of his desire to have essentially free reign on what students are learning and remove that choice from educators, we might have more reservations about re-electing him as our president.

I would devote a greater amount of my time to the delusion that American Republicanism is supposed to represent small government ideals, but at this point, who cares? Most modern-day Republicans are still going to vote for Trump. If people actually cared more about what he was doing, America would probably be in a very different position right now.

But the greatest fraud of all is the illusion that Donald Trump is in any way a common man who would genuinely stand “shoulder to shoulder” with his supporters, as the GoFundMe contributors seem to believe. 

The 45th president is about as personally involved in the lives of his supporters as he is with the immigrants on the U.S.-Mexico border that he loves to paint as the crux of all of America’s problems. As far as I can observe, I have never seen Donald Trump step down from his lectern and proselytize like a common preacher to his avid worshippers, if only a few times to speak in town halls on brightly lit, televised stages.

The former president is not accessible, nor does he provide any illusion that he is. Trump is a liar. 

Americans don’t believe that senators and members of Congress are honest or ethical people, either. But many still believe in his honesty because he isn’t a “career politician,” despite the fact that he was first a businessman and entertainer. Business is famously known for its performative nature, and acting is itself performance that can captivate ordinary people. That is what has made his political career so successful — because he understands what appeals to his consumers.

We shouldn’t pretend that anti-Trumpers are immune to the outrageous claims he makes about the “stolen” 2020 election or being a dictator on “day one” of his potential second term. They all consume just as much in laughing at the absurdity of his words, mental incompetencies and outrageous tweets. 

We obsess more over his unseriousness and fixate on his brash, abrasive behaviors. For all the political blunders and verbal gaffes that Donald Trump makes, he puts himself in the untouchable position as the laughing stock and idiot of the country to hide his calculations. 

You don’t have to buy a MAGA hat, go to his rallies or even vote for him to buy into the Trump brand.

But there is also a collective fascination with the mentality of a Trump supporter. What is it like to love and exalt a cultish personality like that of Donald Trump?

Late night television has made Trump’s every move a joke. The scripts practically write themselves for the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show’s Jordan Klepper, who has made a running gag out of going to Trump rallies to drudge up the most outlandish characters television can find. 

It can be fun to laugh at people who seem to have lost all sense of logic when it comes to the 45th president, and those who can’t seem to form coherent opinions about political policy. We will laugh until November, when we find out whether America decides that the biggest joke in 2016 is still the biggest joke in 2024. The last time Trump was underestimated, he became the president. Have we changed for better, or for worse since then?

There is only one person winning right now, and it’s the man with his Bitty Boomer speakers, multi-million dollar frauds and a consumerist smokescreen that provides us blindness to his atrocities.

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