If you're looking for a philosophy behind what Donald Trump does, you're on a fool's errand. But, Rick Salutin writes, there is a common thread that ties everything Trump does together. It's nihilism:
What Trump means by and fears in anarchism would probably be better described as nihilism. It's a complicated and historically amorphous term. (Nietzsche wasn't a nihilist but he thought it should be overcome with a new, harshly honest morality; the Russian nihilists wanted to dismantle their brutal world and replace it with the nobler qualities of peasants and the early church.)
But in Trump, the heavy metal, guitar-smashing caricature of nihilism finds a home. He may be the first pop nihilist ever among world leaders. There's something touching in him saying to John Kelly, at a battlefield cemetery, that he doesn't get it, what did they die for? What was in it for them? Kelly may've been tempted to pat him on the back and try futilely to explain it.
This is nihilism and lack of empathy, not in Bill Clinton's shabby "I feel your pain" sense; but in the sense that there are worlds, literally, to lose, and he doesn't know it. He's less irresponsible than impenetrable. This is the challenge U.S. voters face in two months and it's not about medicare-for-all any more, Toto. Will they be up to it? Personally, I'm optimistic but that's another story.
As Edith Bunker said, as she examined Archie Bunker's head, "Grass don't grow through concrete." Nothing grows inside or outside Donald Trump's head.