What Makes the Red Man Red?
I know we’re in the middle of an unprecedented but not unforeseen fiasco, but I’m going to ask us to direct our attention for a brief moment toward a more fundamental question: what color is Donald Trump?
For most of his campaign, he’s been referred to as orange. He’s been compared to Cheeto dust or to an Oompa Loompa who got fired for being too huge. But every time I watch him, either mid-tirade or staring down the barrel of a prepared speech, I can’t help but feel that he’s become something else. He’s no longer orange. He looks more like what Drunk Uncle would look like if you left him out in the sun for too long. He’s a mix of spray tan and internal facial light bulb. Ladies and gentlemen, the orange man has turned red.
It’s fitting that the man of many colored faces made a desperate attempt to turn red when he decided to run for President as Republican, the party denoted on electoral maps by the color red. But he hasn’t always been red.
According to Politifact, the story of his colors goes like this: Trump was a registered Republican from 1987 to 1999. In late 1999, considering a run for President as a Reform Party candidate, Trump registered as an Independent and remained that way until 2001. From 2001 to 2009, he was a registered Democrat (that makes him a registered Democrat during 9–11, just in case anyone’s counting). In 2009 (once Obama was in office), he switched back to the Republican Party, but then he left again in 2011, registering himself as having no party affiliation. Finally, in April 2012, Trump again registered as a Republican, most likely to challenge Mitt Romney for the nomination. It’s also worth noting that until that 2012 shift, Trump had donated money to both parties but significantly more to the Democratic Party.
So, I return to my initial question: what color is this guy? Because his record, or lack thereof, couldn’t stand on its own and because the man cannot put together a coherent statement, he had to give us clues with his spray tan. So, we know he’s in red-face, but as the infamous song in Peter Pan asks, “What makes the red man red?”
Wikipedia deftly notes that “contemporary audiences may consider [that song] racist and offensive due to its exaggerated stereotypes,” which I think makes it a much stronger (but perhaps less fitting) campaign song for Donald Trump than “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” In the Disney Peter Pan movie, the Chief who sings most of the song is a giant, fat, red-faced man who explains why red men are the way they are. The red man, according to the song, is red, because “he kissed a maid and started to blush.” And thanks to lady chat with Billy Bush and a rescinded Tic Tacs sponsorship, we all know what happens when Donald Trump sees beautiful women: “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.”
So, by the theory of the Chief in Peter Pan, that’s what makes Donald’s face red. The whole kissing magnet thing. I should also note that in that song, Wendy wants to join in but is admonished: “Squaw no dance. Squaw get ‘um fire wood.” So, I guess in this red society women are encouraged to work, but I’m pretty sure Chief Trump would have been fine with darling Wendy dancing. It seems that nothing about Trump the man makes him particularly red or blue. He is an off-color being who craved the spotlight and needed to choose a party. The Republican Party was therefore tasked with scripting him onto their platform, but the only color he brought to the table was his brand.
For reasons that will probably be analyzed in college classrooms for decades to come, his face trick worked. Trump snuck in through the secret back door of the Republican Party by using the password “economy” and registering new, freshly painted red faces to nominate him. But he isn’t traditionally red, and traditional reds know it. For the first time in their 125-year history, the Arizona Republic endorsed a Democrat, Hillary Clinton, claiming that Donald Trump is “not conservative” and “not qualified.” They went on to state that “Trump responds to criticism with the petulance of verbal spit wads. That’s beneath our national dignity. When the president of the United States speaks, the world expects substance. Not a blistering tweet.”
So, slowly the spray tan has faded, and the face trick has stopped working. The red man has slowly lost his spot as chief of the red party. He has said horrific, racist things throughout the campaign, but the red party looked the other way, presumably with an eye on 2020 and a desire to deflect attention from the fact that red is increasingly becoming an unflattering shade.
But now he’s come for their women and children, and the Republican Party can no longer abide. Say what you will about Mexicans or African-Americans, but when you come for their daughters, the Republicans draw the line. One by one, they’re pulling their support. As I write this after 24 hours of, gosh, let’s call it Grab-Them-Gate, the list of Republicans standing by Trump is far shorter (Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani) than those who are not.
So, what makes the red man red? Is he truly red because of his internal kissing magnet or his commitment to fiscal and social conservativism? Or is it just a cheap coat of paint? Maybe he lacks true color. Maybe he’s just a pasty white shell who ran out of gold and decided to try out some red and see how long it could last.