It’s 2004 and, despite my best intentions, I’m a pop-culture junkie. While my one-year-old daughter is napping, I watch an episode of a new reality TV show, The Apprentice, hosted by New York real estate mogul, Donald Trump. The show’s premise: Sixteen to eighteen individuals, divided into two teams, test their business acumen by competing in a series of moneymaking challenges. At the end of each episode, Trump calls the losing team into an ersatz boardroom where he delivers his signature tag line, “You’re Fired!” to the individual he determines most guilty of gumming up the works.

I remember noting what seemed to me an unprecedented televised celebration of US capitalism with its corresponding culture of authoritarianism and non-empathy. Before ordering contestants out of the boardroom, Trump denounced each one with epithets such as stupid, terrible, or...

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