There are many aspects as to what the Trump Presidency the Trump Campaign built itself on. One of the most prominent components of the Trump machine was populism, which seemed to be a code word that guised American Nationalism. American Nationalism has been around since the dawn of idea of America, and the clearest cinematic example is of Bill “the Butcher” Cutting in Martin Scorsese’s seminal masterpiece, GANGS OF NEW YORK.
Both men, Bill the Butcher (based as a composite character of William Poole) and Donald Trump hold the idea of America so close to themselves. They transfer themselves into the physical embodiment of America. They are strong, tough, loud, and domineering. Any and everything they believe what it is to be an American. Or, what their idea of America should be.
But there certainly is a pause between the two men. Sure, they share a lot of similarities. Both are larger than life, both are incredibly smart politically and know exactly what their followers want to hear. They both have a penchant for foreign women, and they both lie, cheat and steal at their grab to power. There are two things that do contrast them in a very stark manner: honor and honesty.
The Butcher’s patriotism is rooted in honesty. He truly believes what he preaches. He believes in Americans first. He believes that native-born (white) American’s needs should come first. While his thoughts are racists and misplaced, he firmly believes what he spouts. Trump, on the other hand, is anything but honest. He says absolutely anything, regardless of merit or fact, to create attention – to create a distraction. Does Donald Trump really believe there should be a wall between Mexico and America? Does he think that all Mexicans are rapists and murderers? Does he really believe Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination?
Probably not, no.
But what Trump is doing with his hate speech, deflections, and rancor is assembling a legion of disciples that are unapologetically spreading their own hatred and racism through the vessel of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States. Trump, much like the Butcher, accrued a massive gang of blind followers by fear mongering. Those people, they are different. They are taking American jobs. They are taking American entitlements. They are un-American because they are from here. They are not white. Supplement the Butcher’s blue sashes for Trump’s legionnaire’s pickup trucks, an overabundance of American flags, and Make America Great Again apparel that’s made in China.
Both Trump and the Butcher fetishized the idea of America. They get off on waving the flag vigorously in the face of anyone who disagrees with them. It’s their own version of political correctness. They love America more than anyone else, and to them, that immediately de-validates anyone who criticizes them.
The hero of GANGS OF NEW YORK, Amsterdam Valon represents the reality of America. One could even consider him a Radical Catholic Extremist, who’s religion Catholicism is a direct assault on American values and everything that America represents. Essentially, Amsterdam is the Butcher’s version of Isis.
What truly makes Amsterdam the hero of GANGS OF NEW YORK isn’t just that he defeated the Butcher because evil is never truly banished by the hero, it will always rise again through a new champion, it is that Amsterdam embraces change and progress. Amsterdam is change and progress. While it is in fact 2017, and it shocking and appalling to a lot of sensible people around the world that Trump is, in fact, the President of the United states, it is our civic duty to band together and be Amsterdam Vallon.