How did we get here, friends? Our political process has been turned upside-down, and Ken Bone is allegedly a breakout star, and Billy Bush is the only relevant Bush in an election against a Clinton. Donald Trump has hopefully strengthened our resolve in who we are as a nation and as a people, but in doing so, he has quite nearly burned down the institution and assuredly sullied the experience. How did we get here? Because the latest news has been turning my stomach, I’m going to take a time-out and examine the mission behind the mystery.
So, here’s how it all began. For some time now, DJT has been growing out his shiny yellow hair. Nightly, he would gather the kids by his vanity as he brushed out his golden tresses like Marcia Brady, regaling them with stories of the countless Aryan children he’d save with his charitable donation to Locks of Love. He would tell them about how there used to be a time in the not-so-distant past, maybe before 1964, when gold-headed men ruled the world and how, by crowning worthy young boys throughout the country with his gold locks, he would restore America to its past glory. He would make it great again.
But then a sad thing happened. The good people at Locks of Love rejected Donald’s donation. “This isn’t a naturally occurring color!” they exclaimed. He heard them mutter, “Is this even hair?” to each other as they ran their hands through the tinselly straw to which he had devoted so much time, energy, affection, and unwanted touching.
“I’m sorry, sir,” they said. “We cannot accept your donation at Locks of Love.”
“You can’t accept my locks? They won’t accept my locks. I have a friend. He called me up. Worst negotiator I’ve ever met. This guy. Worst deal ever. He calls me. Mr. Trump, he says. All my friends call me Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump, he says. I just donated my hair to Locks of Love to save the children. You should see this guy. Look at him, and then you tell me. Ugliest guy I’ve ever seen. Maybe a 2, if I’m being honest. A 2. Believe me. No women, this guy. I’ve never seen him with a woman. Me? Oh, I get them. I get all of the best names, in terms of women. Believe me. But this guy donates his locks. They’re a disaster. Brown. Long. Total disaster. This guy donates his locks. You take his locks? But you don’t take mine? Oh, you’re missing out, let me tell you. You’re missing out big league. You won’t take my locks but you take this guy’s locks, this dog. OK. I’ll show you what I can do with my locks. Like I need you. I’m rich. Let me tell you. Like I need you? I’ll do it alone with my locks. I can do that, you know, because I have so much money. I went to the best schools. I know the best people. I have the best locks. Everyone says so. I’ll make America great again. Believe me.”
And in that heated moment of rage, the dream of a bright, glowing America seeped down from his golden locks into his brain, which is apparently a very good brain, and the disastrous course was set. He would make America great again, and he would do it with locks.
“Lock Her Up” has become a synonym for “Make America Great Again.” It became the anthem of the Republican National Convention, and it might be the only policy objective Trump supporters care to hear him discuss. At first, he let the “Lock Her Up” cry be the chant of the people, but he’s now made it his song, too (instead of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”?). At the second debate, he clarified/threatened that should he be elected, he intends to have Hillary Clinton imprisoned. Since then, he has been doubling down on the threat, joining the crowd’s chants at a rally in Pennsylvania on October 10, cooing, “Lock her up is right.”
But branding here is key. They could have used the word “jail” or “prison,” but they didn’t. They needed a “lock.”
Still, have you ever known DJT to show restraint? He heard that potato chips slogan about not being able to eat just one, and he decided that’s how he’d approach everything in his life: work, marriage, women, spray tans, insults, assaults. Branding endures with repetition. He puts his name on everything he makes, and in this campaign, he does that with his locks.
If “Lock Her Up” wasn’t enough to distinguish the brand, he cemented it with “locker room.” When the 2005 Billy Bush tape surfaced, Trump’s very first response was to call it “locker room talk,” and suddenly a national discussion of locker (or “Lock Her”) rooms has commenced.
But why was that his first response? Call it “banter,” call it “private,” call it “guy talk,” or just call it “regrettable,” but why did Donald Trump go straight to “locker room talk”? 1. The conversation did not take place in a locker room. The conversation took place on a bus. It wasn’t even a room! It was a bus in motion, en route to a job. Nothing about it resembled a locker room. No one was in any state of undress or preparing or recovering from any sort of physical activity. It was a bus containing two men wearing non-sports attire and microphones. 2. This was not locker room talk. Professional athletes like LeBron James have spoken out, clarifying that what Donald Trump said on that bus is not talk they hear in locker rooms. 3. A locker room is a not a protected space. Words matter, whether they’re said in a locker room or on a bus. There is no dude-to-dude-in-locker-room privilege that protects “locker room talk” from prosecution. 4. Really, DJT? You already appeared on Dr. Oz and revealed that you’re a little chubby. If you’re going to imply that you talk like a guy in a locker room, you should look like a guy who’s been in a locker room.
So, this entire defense ignited a national examination of rooms that contain lockers and did nothing to excuse Donald Trump’s heinous words and conduct. But it got the people who weren’t saying “Lock her up” to start saying “lock her.” And let’s also remember that Donald Trump’s co-star in that 2005 video, Billy Bush, was the one to land an exclusive interview with would-be robbery victim, Ryan Lochte (you know, “lock T”).
And, as an extra shiny bauble dangling from a teenager’s high school locker, CNN interviewed Melrose Place’s Andrew Shue this week, which means Heather Locklear must be next to weigh in. (I’m not reaching with that one. Believe me.)
So….why? Why, Donald Trump, are you so intent on getting the country to say “lock”? Is it because of my Locks of Love theory?
Are you going to be a locksmith when all of this doesn’t work out? There’s a company in Grand Rapids, Texas called Trump Security and Locks. Is that your company? Is that what your tax return would reveal? Are you actually a locksmith from Texas?
In 2009, the company LifeLock appeared on an episode of The Apprentice. They recently entered a $100 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over contempt charges. Are you involved in that?
Your campaign made a payment of $26,000 to the Chicago law firm, Locke Lord, LLP. Was that not the full amount owed? Did you agree to compensate them in air-time?
Are you invoking philosopher John Locke? Do you believe that the mind at birth (or at one’s first rally) is like a blank slate? Do you want to lure us in with your state of nature theory of equality and shared goods but then ultimately hit us with the need for law and order? Do you also want to preach religious tolerance but then prohibit certain religious sects if they mandate loyalty to a foreign authority?
Or are you a seemingly kind but potentially nefarious John Locke from Lost? Are you hiding a disability? With this disability masked, do you feel empowered to be a leader? Are you even here, or is this all some dystopian nightmare?
Why, DJT? Why have you done this to us? Why have you turned this democratic process at first into a Bravo reality show and now into Fear Factor: SVU? Why have you made us all talk in vain about locks and locker rooms? I imagine we won’t have our answers until about a year from now. Maybe they’re buried in one of Al Gore’s lock boxes, or maybe Trump is just hoping to claim proceeds from the sale of this very fancy Trump locket.
I don’t think I’m going to unlock any of his plots today, but if a year from now he owns a conservative news network, and it shows up in your local listings as KLOC or KLOK, remember you heard it here first.