Trump’s penis size is perfect metaphor for today’s GOP

"HE STARTED IT!" Donald Trump seems to be saying at the GOP debate.

“HE STARTED IT!” Donald Trump seems to be saying at the GOP debate.

Maybe viewers didn’t blink an eye because they thought the bar couldn’t go any lower, but the Republican presidential debate reached new levels of vulgarity when front-runner Donald Trump assured the American people that, don’t worry, he’s definitely well-endowed.

It was only a matter of time before the GOP candidates who try to out-tough each other at every opportunity strive to prove their manliness by discussing the size of their genitalia.

Really, are we surprised? That’s what the Republican Party has become: a contest to see which male has the biggest dick. Or, which one is the biggest dick.

Sorry I had to stoop to their level, but the shout-fests that GOP campaigns and debates have become invite that kind of locker-room language. It’s nothing but constant yelling at the junior high level when we should be hearing about ideas and proposals that will move the country forward, boost the economy, serve people in need, and deal with world issues.

When Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in a desperate bid for relevancy and attention, started his childish remarks about how the shortness of Trump’s fingers probably correlated to another part of Trump’s anatomy, I suppose Trump felt he had no choice but to brag about penis size. He also retaliated by calling Rubio “Little Marco.”

The Republican Party has long tried to establish itself as the party of toughness. If you want someone to keep you safe, vote GOP, its candidates claimed. Not for nothing has the GOP spread its image as the “daddy party” for its supposed (yet undeserved) reputation for being tough on terrorism and in fighting crime while the Democratic Party became the “mommy party,” concentrating on the social safety net. It says a lot that a popular GOP button selling the day of the Iowa caucuses read “Trump 2016: Finally someone with balls.”

Since the media botched the job of reporting honestly on Trump and his ever-present lies, his failed businesses, and his constant insults to everyone else on the planet except Vladimir Putin, they’re now trying to explain the Trump phenomena in terms of the Trump voter. Those voters straddle party lines and include evangelicals who should be shunning a womanizer who runs casinos. The newest meme (once you’ve gone beyond “white supremacist”) is that Republican voters are looking for an authoritarian figure.

A story on Vox describes work by several academics that attempts to measure what it is about Trump that appeals to a certain type of voter. Here are the qualities (and we’re using that term loosely) those voters seek, according to two political scientists, Vanderbilt University professor Marc Hetherington and the University of North Carolina’s Jonathan Weiler:

Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force. They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things. And the extreme nature of authoritarians’ fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.

A candidate like Donald Trump.

Matthew MacWilliams, a PhD student working on his dissertation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is studying authoritarianism. He polled likely voters, looking for correlations between support for Trump and views that align with authoritarianism. “What he found was astonishing: Not only did authoritarianism correlate, but it seemed to predict support for Trump more reliably than virtually any other indicator,” Vox says. This graph shows the correlation among voters in South Carolina.

Chart by Matthew MacWilliams, PhD student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (via Vox).

Chart by Matthew MacWilliams, PhD student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (via Vox).

You can see the same meme playing out when looking at debate audiences and those who attend Trump rallies. When Trump says he wants to bring back waterboarding, increase the use of torture, and kill the families of terrorists (side note: war crimes), his audiences roar their approval. Those same audiences are only too willing to push, shove, and kick anti-Trump protesters at his rallies, especially when they’re people of color and Trump can condescendingly ask, “Are you from Mexico?”

On a trip to Italy last fall, our tour guide, between descriptions of ancient ruins and modern pasta, tried to explain today’s Italian politics. “Silvio Berlusconi is much like your Donald Trump,” Lorenzo told us.

It makes perfect sense. The billionaire Italian media tycoon who served four terms as prime minister famously held “Bunga Bunga” parties and was accused of having sex with underage women. How much different is that from the twice-divorced and philandering Trump, who once said his daughter was so beautiful that if she weren’t his offspring, he’d like to date her?

Sex jokes aside, the example of Berlusconi as a leader portends more frightening parallels. Although Trump’s remarks frequently invite analogies to dictator Benito Mussolini and his fascism, Italian writer and native Valentina Pasquali sees a more apt comparison. As she writes in a story in Foreign Policy:

I’m thinking rather of what Italian politics suffered during the 1990s and 2000s, when we elected a billionaire with an abrasive style and a populist flair to govern us. The name of our Trump was Silvio Berlusconi and — spoiler alert — he did not make Italy great again. …

Over the course of the campaign, Americans have gotten a taste of Berlusconi-like bravado. But it is nothing compared to the main course — to what the likes of Il Cavaliere and other self-avowed nonpoliticians do to their countries once they’ve actually been put in charge. …

The single worst thing Berlusconi has done, with his decades of dismissive — if not outright abusive — talk about everything from political parties to the judiciary to the media to the presidency … is that he has shattered Italians’ trust in their democratic institutions.

We can only hope that America never has to learn that lesson with a Trump presidency.

1 Comments on “Trump’s penis size is perfect metaphor for today’s GOP”

  1. Great post, Sher. The Republican discourse is a sad commentary on our country. Janet alerted me after she read your post.

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