No, they don’t have the same hairdo. Helen Zille has plenty of disagreements with Trump, especially his style, nor can Trump remotely be classified as a classical liberal. But as with any two people, there is usually one thing they have in common.
They have both mastered the extremely effective art of trolling.
Take an issue that is sensitive to the woke opposition, usually a cultural topic, and deliver an opinion that will drive the left crazy. By provoking them you turn a meaningless topic to most decent people into a worldwide issue. When the average citizen witnesses the demonic reaction from the other side, the side opposed to Helen and Trump, they feel it only right and proper to side with the right against these crazed banshees.
Trolling is the careful act of dehumanising your opponents and simultaneously remaining relevant in today’s media. It is a way of seizing advantage of the culture war in today’s society and forcing pressure on a slowly withering written media platform to publish your clear baits, since they need material to stay alive. Fortunately, if you are politically savvy you can utilise this to your advantage. The left fails to realise that they are thoroughly in the minority on most of these issues, and will fall for the trap on every occasion.
To give a few examples of how Trump recognises this and uses it to his advantage, he once quipped on Fox News that if he hadn’t made the tweets he had, the network would never have invited him on to speak about anything. He once told Piers Morgan that he woke up one morning, watching the news on all the TV screens in front of his lavish bed; he wasn’t happy with what he saw, so he tweeted something controversial and witnessed, live, every single TV station dropping the current programming unceremoniously and focusing on his latest tweet.
The perfect example would be when he tweeted a video of how he drove a golf ball “into Hillary Clinton’s back”, which was edited to add the clip where she tripped over the runway.
Now, most people would say that that was perhaps funny, but improper from a President of the United States.
But then the media ran countless headlines and conversations of how this is part of the larger war on women. They summoned shrieking feminists who declared that the time is ripe to stand up against mansplaining. The virtue-signalling from reporters is so bad, they always end up insulting the average person, to which that same citizen then reflects:
It wasn’t acceptable, but it really wasn’t that bad.
Consequently, people find themselves supporting Trump, even occasion extremely reluctantly, just because of the ugly nature of the opposition. And everyone who is acquainted with Trump knows that the argument that he only singles out women is ridiculous, as he has literally insulted every person who has ever lived.
Bringing it back to Helen Zille: Recently, on our podcast, she said that the majority of people agreed with her controversial colonialism tweet. The problem she had was that the Democratic Alliance (DA) didn’t back her and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if the leadership not only support her, but doubled down on that approach. In my opinion, the DA could only be better served if they switched to and essentially made Zille’s tweets public policy.
Their lack of action on the cultural side of things, the fact that they are still stuck on economics, means they are being left out to dry in the current political environment.
As political experts like Dr Stephen Davies would tell you, today’s political divide is on cultural issues, not economic ones. If the DA continues to remain impartial on these topics, the other parties like the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) will claim the right and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will continue to dominate the left, largely because it seems that only the FF+ has the stones to take the EFF on.
To a certain extent, the African National Congress (ANC) and many of the liberation parties across Africa are also trolling us. They keep us trapped in their internal battles, sapping our morale, and then at the same time, are drowning out the opposition, who receive no air time to voice their alternative viewpoint.
At the end of the day, what does it matter whether they stole R51 billion or R52 billion? Everyone knows they are corrupt. The continued negative news have a diminishing effect on the ANC, and largely serves no purpose but to keep the opposition out of the spotlight.
So if any centre/centre-right party wants to become the official opposition, they need to heed the lessons of these two and start the trolling wars. Consider every day what would piss the EFF off, what act would drive them mad, and simply do that thing.
For example, instead of just being another voice adding to the cacophony of those criticising the ANC, hold a march in support of Western values like freedom of expression, the Rule of Law, etc. Don’t only say that there are certain things that the colonialists did right, go to some of the places physically and publicly acknowledge and appreciate it. Don’t only support freedom of expression, defend those who land in trouble because they said the words that cannot be said. Even if it was degrading or insulting, make it clear that you are there to support the idea, but not the actions of the person in general.
If the opposition can adopt these or similar tactics, they can seriously cut into the ANC’s support and make politics for this bored reviewer much more interesting.
Author: Donald Brown is the producer at WorldView, a podcast that interviews interesting guests from around the world.