Over the past day Cleveland has had much in the way of political pablum, optimistic speculations, and general flatus vocis. However, the mood ring of the fifth estate has declared their standout moment: words uttered by Melania Trump that appear plagiarized from Michelle Obama.
As expected, the Trump campaign blames Clinton. Less expected is the taking of the high road from a man who installs despots. But the fish rots from the head, and the head of this gravy train is a man who must constantly remind us that his genitals work, that he will “schlong” his opponents (an unconscious nod to Genghis Khan), and that his tiny hands are uncorrelated with his genitalia size. To complement this machismo, women serve as pieces to fit the Trump brand and nothing more. So Megyn Kelly is one day an ally on Fox News, and then she’s an enemy to be disparaged. Wives are acceptable collateral damage when attacking your opponent. Trump’s own family functions as props to satisfy his ends, or as bragging rights, or as a future compliment to the sire. And don’t think of doing what you want with your body, even as abortions continue on their current trend.
This is because these women are objects for political glory, never agents of their own. As much as post-modernists clamor on about the letting the subaltern speak, the more astute contortionists like Derrida claim this is not possible. We see this so often we ignore it. Guest and foreigner used to be the same word. Now, some foreigners are welcomed with open arms, while others are denied tout court. And without consciously realizing it, we square that circle by eroticizing the other as “exotic” without embracing the danger of “foreign” elements. This razor’s edge lets Tea Party males vote for love of an exotic first lady AND out of hatred for foreigners. Btw, in this phantasmal scenario, this also means everyone’s gonna get laid.
With everyone talking in place of the Other, the point is moot. By either PoMo or Trump paradigm, the reductio ad absurdum points to Melania not being an agent of plagiarism. She is plagiarism. She has been denied the agency to act as an intermediary. She’s merely an extension of the Trump campaign and the shows that parody her.
Worse still, we’re watching both sides of the political spectrum using the same words, and then contesting who has the rights to those words, but no one is contesting the validity of the words said. The same words are being used on each side as a cudgel to promote one’s own cause and denounce the other’s. This flurry of accusations glosses over the most important part: if they’re identical words, then they’re advocating the same converging interests. That’s the issue. Both parties are standing behind equally empty, forgettable, fungible words. This means there’s to be no thinking outside the box, even as we enter an election predicated on breaking a rigged system. This means we’re in trouble. And the week has barely begun.