The Gag Candidate

16a0032c3909918738506e7cf3a8c8caA Trump U. employee was seen carrying a life-size cutout of its founder into their Manhattan offices.

When asked what it was for, he explained that those who signed up for classes were promised a picture with Donald Trump upon graduating. But Trump was traveling, so the students were going to pose with the cutout instead.(1)

Does this not tell us everything we need to know about the “university”, the candidacy and the man?f806f00441b128651d0a9b42daa9c6d1

Collective id

Like all public figures who attain the level of myth, The Donald is a creation of the group mind. If Hillary is our superego, Trump is our id.

The man is a cartoon punch line: a guy so rich you have to put on paper booties when you go to his house, so you won’t scratch the marble floor.

3b557de98a951d8a3978de9631e862e9Trump started as a gag candidate,(2) then swelled up like a float in the Macy’s parade into a certifiable public danger. This happened as Saturn, the planet of governmental authority, hit the Ascendant of the US chart and started squaring Neptune, the planet of falsehood and deception.(3)

Successful fake

"Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain."

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

The concept of success belongs to Saturn. This is the planet that governs the circumstances that comprise making it in a given society. Fraud belongs to Neptune, the planet that teaches us the nature of illusion.

What could be a more fitting expression of this transit than a businessman with a fake (Neptune) university (Sagittarius) to make a splash selling himself as a success (Saturn)?

As the monetization of American society has crossed one boundary after another, privatizing everything from colleges and jails to elections (via Citizen’s United), there is a perverse appropriateness to the fact that a man whose only claim to fame is profit-making has 11265510_568828343259294_8145631464309996609_nascended to this position. Trump makes no bones about applying to the political realm all the scams he learned as a bottom-feeder in the business realm. (4)

What has so many Americans of conscience shocked-and-appalled is his popularity. How is it that so many people are ready to vote into power a celebrity proto-fascist with no impulse control? (5)

Those who’ve been tracking transits lately may well still be appalled, but not shocked.(6)

Saturn rules

If an astrologer saw, in the chart of a client, the Pluto transits that have been pummeling the US chart, we might wonder if the person was due for a total psychic breakdown.10475990_491891417619654_6797634657840263231_n

Add to these the depressive influence, all 2016, of Saturn on the Ascendant square Neptune and you have a knot of nonstop challenges that requires a tremendous maturity to pull off. Without that maturity, the native sees only the fear and loss of Saturn, spread to the four directions by the free-floating anxiety of Neptune.

The statistics on the mental health of the American populace right now mirror these transits. The country is in an epidemic of despair.


Middle-aged white Americans with a less-than-average education have been dying in record numbers, mostly from alcohol, opioids and suicide. Their fatalities surpass, by far, those of any other demographic.(7)

This group has been politically and economically betrayed by the system, and they know it. And it is these folks, by and large, who constitute Trump’s base. In him, they believe they have found a voice: somebody who can stand up to their perceived betrayers (the politicians) and bully their perceived enemies (other ethnicities).

Together with their counterparts on the Left, the Bernie Sanders crowd, these disaffected Americans have made 2016 the year of anti-politics. But whereas

Photo by Igor Morski

Photo by Igor Morski

Sanders’ assault on the establishment is fueled by ideas, Trump’s is fueled by emotions.

Specifically, two emotions: fear and loss, both governed by Saturn.

Fear and loss

With Saturn on the Ascendant — the lens through which everything is viewed — this is the year of fear for Uncle Sam. (8) The transit offers fertile ground for culture warriors like the Fox News crew, who tell their viewers that reproductive rights advocates traffic in fetal body parts, that liberals are going to 5712c5e450a52f7b23d4c8e0075152e3“come for our guns,” and that little girls will be exposed to attack by Frank N. Furter when they go into the bathroom. (9)

Merged, Saturn’s two bogeymen become fear of loss. Since the Grand Cross began in 2008, the American economy has offered up a groundswell of loss aversion(10) for politicians to exploit.

Uncle Donald tells us “We’re losing everything.” We need his immigration wall because “we’re losing so much.” China’s trade practices, he says, amount to “the greatest theft in the history of the world.”

The most scathing epithet in his arsenal is “loser.”

Insult comic

Given that his popularity is based in emotion, not reason, it figures that at least as important as 86adffe5b1b45a066dc736d4d3a8f6f9what Trump says is how he says it.  I think his vocal style is a bigger factor in his ascent than most of his critics realize. When he holds forth from the podium, his followers think he sounds like what they’d sound like, if they had the mike.

Trump has made political gold out of his unapologetic refusal to adopt the stilted affectations of political speech. He benefits greatly from how loathsome the Don-Ricklesusual blathering has become to the American ear, with its euphemisms, its numbing cadences, its grotesque insincerity. By contrast, the Trump style — that of a Borscht Belt insult comic — comes across as new and refreshing.

His fans tell us repeatedly that “he tells it like it is.” But he doesn’t. He just sounds like he does. His fans are mistaking crudeness for truth, shamelessness for courage, and verbal aggression as a harbinger of freedom.


In terms of the country’s psycho-spiritual health, this is why his candidacy is so toxic. He is setting up for betrayal people who’ve already been shamelessly betrayed.

So far, his false promises have served to puff up the sense of entitlement of the most put-upon classes of American society. (11) He has exploited both their economic misfortunes and their hatred of politics, wooing them to trust him as an anti-candidate.

But once they discover he is all smoke and mirrors, his base will feel like a North Dakota plain after the frackers have come and gone. His legacy will be cynicism, Sagittarius’ most poisonous face.


1 Reported by Leah Garchik in The San Francisco Chronicle.

2 The gag candidate phenomenon is discussed in the current Baffler Magazine. Many of us saw Ronald Reagan this way, at first. We were sure no one would ever take a dim-bulb B-movie actor seriously as a politician. A few years later, we were sure the same was true about Arnold Schwarzenegger. (This astrologer now sees incredulity is an covert expression of Saturn [denial]).

3 The square’s effective reach is from late fall 2015 through Nov 2016 (covered in detail here).nancy-reagan-ronald_1457283138590_942562_ver1.0_640_360

4  Since its beginnings in the early 1980s, the cycle of Saturn (government) and Pluto (corporations) has overseen the privatization of every iota of American society, including the electoral process. Details in this podcast.

5 The phrase is George Packer’s, in The New Yorker.

6 Astrologers knew years ago that the planet of breakdown – Pluto — in the sign of societal institutions — Capricorn — would geometrically crucify the USA (Cardinal Cross) (this essay was written in 2008.) Even the old-school political campaign has been rendered obsolete. Trump has shown that with enough narcissism and money, anybody, no matter how unqualified, can run for president. You can run without official endorsements or conventional advertising, making use instead of social media, together with the buzz of outrage that the mainstream media gives you for free.

1526106_520158911459571_5969432930748435728_n7 According to a recent report by the Washington Post.

8 Sociologist Barry Glassner has written about how a “climate of fear” allows politicians and pundits to manipulate the populace.

9 Liberal-phobia has been on the rise since the conjunction of Saturn (conservatism) and Pluto (power) in the early 1980s. Yet all the evidence points to the fact that it is progressivism, not conservatism, that has been under attack. “The right has secured power in just about every American institution except the academy,“ notes George Packer, yet ”… “the less real power the left has, the more dire its image on the right grows.”

10 Behavioral economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have studied the tendency of humans to feel the pain of loss more acutely than the pleasure of gain.7bea34a0fb6d0610fe92d6af8d5c3b33

11 Specifically, male entitlement. His “ostentatiously inegalitarian marriage,” writes Lauren Collins, “– as blinged-out with male dominance as his penthouse is with Louis XIV furniture – can also be thought of as a marketing tool.”