The medium is the message

The alleged “appeal” of Ron DiSantis is that he’s “Trump without the baggage.” So why is DiSantis (and Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy, the other Trump imitators) doing so poorly? The answer is that the Trumpenproletariat *want* the Trump baggage. To them, that’s his appeal.

The Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan nailed this decades ago: the medium is the message. Trump is the medium and thus Trump is the message. Anyone else is a different medium and thus cannot be the same message. If you, like me, listen to the actual, you know, content of Trump’s speech and are puzzled, it’s because you don’t understand McLuhan’s point.

I had the same problem with Reagan. When I listened to him, he always sounded to me like a genial old fool. After his debates, I was stunned when the press said he “won” the debate. But Reagan was the medium and the message for his voters, and I was listening to him wrong.

Look, we all know Trump is going to be the GOP nominee. Regardless of the outcomes of any of his trials, the Trumpenproletariat will pull the lever for him in November. But to win the election, he’ll have to expand his base of support. He’s eight years older than he was in 2016, when he seemed to being having fun running for office. Actually having to serve as president for four years, then losing the 2020 election, then seeing many of his anointed candidates lose, then seeing the very real prospect of jail time on the horizon have all made him much angrier than when he last won in 2016. He will have months to test whether the new, angry, vengeful Trump medium plays well outside his cult.