Trump, Elvis and the economic crisis

There seems to be a somehow symbiotic relationship between the sensational big-haired celebrity candidate for president and the current world economic crash. It is like the world — the whole, entire world — is more or less quietly playing chess together, then the game suddenly changes, as if in a dream, to Halo and in struts the "Master Chief," faceless, formidable and armed to the teeth. And nobody else knows how to play.

Last month, on July 16, Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE announced that he would run for the presidency. This month, on Aug. 24, called "China's Black Monday," the world's financial markets lost hundreds of millions.

I'd made that case with former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin (R): Palin's candidacy for vice president was publicly announced by then-presumptive presidential candidate John McCain on Aug. 29, 2008. Twenty-two days later: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 777.68, the most in any single day in history.


It was suggested then that when Palin entered politics she brought an original, archetypal change to the world and the world instinctively felt it. They, the world, were no longer dealing with the dependable men in grey suits and polished nails, processed Wall Street minds and expensive shoes. They were dealing with a woman direct from Alaska's frozen, primordial forest; a woman who shot grizzly bears and cooked them, ate them and fed them to her many children. Everything would be different now.

She was clearly not in the Eastern establishment tradition. If she were to go forward, a new establishment would awaken in the Western wilderness. Suddenly the rules would all be changed, and not for the first time did America change the rules. Almost overnight, at war's end, a Europe reared on Fryderyk Chopin and Franz Liszt would make the quantum leap to Chuck Berry. Everything changed. The new venue suited our American tempo. The world could follow or be left behind; whatever. A new game was beginning, like jumping from chess or Go to Street Fighter, Defense of the Ancients or Halo. And Palin was Master Chief.

Likewise, Trump changes the game, possibly like Berry or Elvis Presley, bringing a political and economic culture more suited to our American condition. They sensed it in China, Japan, everywhere. Everything begins again, like with Palin, like with Berry. The world could follow on, or not; their choice. Deal with it.

Soon after, Palin retreated to the forest, but her candidacy was a harbinger. This time it is different. Trump is rich. He does not go away. He could well go to the White House.

For so many people, and for so much money, it is strange indeed that the chess game of world economy had such a flimsy basis in the first place. We have long heard that capitalism is based on "faith." But a subheadline Monday in The Telegraph (London) read: "Global markets have swung overnight from a mystical faith in Communist competence to near revulsion."

Enter Trump.

It is time to ask original questions again. Questions the old families — Bush, Clinton, even Kennedy with their last avatar, Barack Obama — are unprepared to answer. Intuitive commentator Pat Buchanan calls the Trump phenomenon a call for a new "nationalism" or a new "patriotism." I see him as a kind of reincarnation of Jerry Lee Lewis who declared to America and the world outside us in 1957, that here, back home, there is and would be to be a "whole lotta shakin' going on."

One conservative establishment spokesman they brought on to BBC scornfully but correctly compared Trump to Presley. Did Presley ever become president, he mocked?

He did not, it might be said. He conquered the world.

Hard to say what The Donald will do to the world and frankly the world outside our borders is not our responsibility, nor is it Trump's. And he is the only presidential candidate in my lifetime to make that claim. Actually, another has made the suggestion: Ron Paul. Y'all remember Paul, Republican representative from Texas, retired now, doing a TV commercial on the marginal cable stations we get here in the mountains of New Hampshire, warning seniors these last months that their life savings is about to disappear? (It just did.)

Palin opened a portal and it will not be closed. And through that portal entered Paul, who denounced America's gratuitous and seemingly unstoppable wars abroad, began talk again of the gold standard and introduced the world to Austrian economics. He soared in the youthful rankings of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) for several years between the rise of Palin in 2008 and the rise of Trump in 2015.

Palin was brutally and relentlessly mocked off the stage by commentators and late night comedians. This time, with Trump, the mainstream media will not make the same mistake. The establishment has already joined the Trump rebellion, and there he is on the cover already of TIME magazine, its editor gushing about him in an interview with Charlie Rose.

After Chuck Berry, the mainstream media was ready for Elvis Presley. After Sarah Palin, they are ready for Donald Trump. Prediction: In 10 years, America will be ready for Ron Paul.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at