This post isn’t really about Trump. Yah it looks like it at a glance, and I’m certainly going to be writing about him extensively, but Trump isn’t really important as an individual. It doesn’t seem like that now, does it? He’s all over the media and poised to win the Republican nomination. Make no mistake: he’s going to win that nomination. Everybody is scared of what he would do to the country. What he would do to other countries. The dark marks he would leave on our economy, the fabric of our society, and our history as a nation. Kids… Trump isn’t going to win the election. He’s really not. I’ll explain that in greater detail a little later, but again, it’s not important outside of the dramatic effects that will ripple forward politically for a very long time. What Trump represents however is critically important (though shameful). There is going to be a seismic shift in American politics at the end of this year the likes of which I’ve never seen in my lifetime. In fact, and I don’t care how old you are, you’ve never seen it either. Trump is a catalyst of sorts, and while we are very close to seeing him detonate it, this isn’t his IED; he’s just the metaphorical fuse. This bomb lays at the foundation of the Tea Party and it has become part of the core fabric of the Republican party, carefully woven in over decades for votes and money (that’s right I’m mixing metaphors bitches! Anarchy in the UK!). A major split is coming for the Republican party. The consequences of this rift are going to take many years to resolve (they may going the way of the Whig Party). More than that though, this post is really about the spirit of the USA and who we really are as a society.
My friend Michael recently pointed out to me that we are living in a little bubble of progressive young people. He’s right. It’s a little hard to imagine the world outside of it sometimes. Things are pretty great in the bubble. So, here is what I’m going to write to my friend Erik, a German guy, who asked me about Trump: Trump isn’t what’s interesting here. There’s a big tear coming in the GOP, and some ugly truths about the US are spilling out. Trump will be forgotten in time… but his supporters will still be out there, waiting to be reactivated. I’m going to do my best to write this with an informed foreign audience in mind. The tl;dr; is yes: we are that dumb.
Inevitability: The Republican Nomination
I’m now going to describe for you why Trump is absolutely going to win the Republican nomination. I’m doing this because that assumption is absolutely critical to the larger thesis of this blog post, and I have no idea what would happen were it not a given. If you agree with me on that point, you can just skip down to the next section and it won’t affect the trust of this post. Otherwise, here we go: Trump will win the Republican nomination or there will not be a Republican party anymore (at least not as we know it).The so-called establishment Republicans have nothing to fight back with from the standpoint of campaign message or policy. For 7 years, they have been focused simply on blocking anything Obama tries to put forth. On the topic of the Affordable Care Act, Trumps plan, while ridiculous, is up against “no plan” from the Republican establishment. The right has been sitting on immigration reform while at the same time promoting the idea that the US is drowning in illegal immigrants, so it’s not hard to see why their base is behind Trumps idea (even sans a plan) to forcibly deport 11 million people. The establishment’s counter-proposal? Crickets. No ideas for decades (in fact you’d have to go back to Reagan naturalizing everyone in the 80s for any example of concrete action). The recently proposed establishment idea of creating chaos in immigrant communities to convince them to leave of their own volition is no more plausible than Trump’s wall. They can’t go after Trump for being unelectable either, in part because he’s winning most of the primaries, and partially because they’ve spent so much time convincing their base that Clinton is about to get indicted by the Justice Department. They can’t go after him for fiscal irresponsibility when the Republican party line demands huge regressive tax cuts and significantly higher defense spending. Nor can the Republicans seriously go after Trump for not denouncing an endorsement from KKK supporter David Duke, when the guy who once described himself as “David Duke without the baggage” is the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives. The party that’s spent so much time convincing themselves that “facts don’t matter” ironically now finds itself needing the facts more than ever. The Republican establishment is very much a situation of it’s own making; there are no Republican counter-arguments to Trump. Some on the right are striving for the nominee to be decided at the convention. This is a non-starter for a couple of reasons. For one, the numbers just aren’t going to be there. Vegas has a Trump nomination at about 60% as of this writing. The next runner up? Cruz at just 18%. Historically, Vegas is better than the polls at predicting things. It makes sense: when money is on the line wishful thinking or political asshattery are quickly replaced by greed. That eliminates a lot of BS. Trump almost has a third of the delegates he needs to be assured the nomination. It’s hard to see how he won’t pick up the remainder, especially given that the turnout to the polls is surging (shattering records in fact) with first-time republican voters eager to put crazy-face’s hand over the button. Second, a brokered victory over Trump would disenfranchise a lot of republican voters, especially if Trump takes the popular vote (and he will). The protest vote could hand the presidential victory to the Dems, and if not that the loss in voter turnout will. That is a given, and every Republican political strategist recognizes it. The March 15 Florida primary, with 99 delegates at stake, marks the start of the winner-take-all phase of the Republican battle for the presidential nomination. If Marco Rubio loses (his home state) he’ll have to drop out right there. Right now Trump is well in the lead in the Florida polls with over 47% of the vote vs. Rubio’s 26% and Cruz’s 12%. I just don’t see how that gap can be bridged. All of those delegates are going to Trump.
Barring all else, the Republican party actually has the power to exercise a sort-of nuclear option. The only thing the “elites” need to decide is whether the political price to be paid by removing the appearance of democracy from within the Republican party would be greater than that of a Trump presidency. I don’t know the answer to that. All I can tell the Republicans is that they are fracked. Hard.
Impossibility: The PresidencyFundamentally, Trump won’t be elected in the national election because more than half of the country recognizes he would be a terrible president. More interestingly, the Republican party itself has descended in a sort of civil war which will fundamentally change the Republican party itself. It’s only going to get worse in the months leading to November, and this is going to cost ANY republican nominee the election. Actual conservatives won’t stand for it. He’s not really a conservative at all you see, and while the uneducated nationalists flocking to him now might now care about that, it will matter to those who actually have to run this country. Morally unmoored, emotionally unstable, a crony capitalist of the worst kind, Trump won’t be able to please a base he’s promised the impossible, the contradictory, the unconstitutional. His wall will never be built. He won’t build internment camps and deport all the Mexicans and Muslims. These are things that just cannot happen… because they are stupid. His nationalist base by it’s very nature has about a 2 second attention span. When the goods aren’t getting delivered, the raucous mob will turn on him. …but that’s just it, isn’t it? By the time that happens, we’ll have been living under dark Trump rule for 2 or 3 years. Voters will no longer be able distinguish between the words “Trump,” “Republican,” “conservative,” and “buffoon.” He will obliterate Republicans further down the ticket in 2016, 2020, and 2024, and smear the very concept of conservatism as nothing more than his own brand of racist narcissism, destroying decades of right-wing conditioning of the base. Truly, we are in the worst-case scenario for the Republican party. It’s here. I’m not predicting this. It’s right now, and Republican strategists, perhaps more than anyone, know it. The beautiful irony is that the long-term damage being done right now, the damage that is worsened with every Trump vote, will hurt those voting for him politically for the rest of their lives. Here is a class of voter (Trump supporter) who’s voice will never be heard again. If Trump is at the top of the ticket (and again, it’s virtually certain at this point), Republicans will likely lose the Senate in short order. That, however, pales in comparison to the overall discrediting of conservatism that will follow. In pulling down the GOP, Trump will take conservatism with it, and guarantee decades of liberal dominance. That’s politics, baby. Liberal media sometimes likes to paint, with so wide a brush, a portrait of the “stupid right”; it’s just not so. While I disagree with many of their social views and political platforms, there are in fact some very smart Republicans out there. My own brother is one of them. We have fierce debates about about almost every facet of public policy (we actually agree on a fair number of points), but he’s always supremely rational and backs up his positions with facts. None of what I’ve written is likely lost on him or the establishment, and the latter are already chiming in to try and stop Trump. Senator Ron Johnson (R) “won’t support Trump and would consider voting for a conservative third-party candidate in the general election if he’s the nominee”, effectively abstaining from voting. He’s up for a tough re-election campaign in Texas, so I guess he needs to hedge his statements a bit. Senator Mark Kirk (R) didn’t care for the bigoted statements Trump made, and retorted with: “In a typical Chicago way, to my Mexican-American friends, I would say, ‘Donald Trump callate’ — shut up.” Senator Ben Sasse (R) noted Trumps “relentless focus is on dividing Americans, and on tearing down rather than building back up this glorious nation.” Sasse said he would not support Trump because he “displays essentially no understanding of the fact that, in the American system, we have a constitutional system of checks and balances.” Senator Tom Coburn (R) won’t vote for him because he “simply lacks the character, skills and policy knowledge to turn his grandiose promises into reality.” …these are just some of the senators. Did you know #StopTrump is a hashtag trend started by conservatives? Somebody even pulled Mitt Romney out of his harem, dusted him off, and pointed him to a microphone to give a speech about why conservatives should not vote for Trump under any circumstances. Congressman Scott Rigell (R) “Trump is a bully, unworthy of our nomination. My love for our country eclipses my loyalty to our party, and to live with a clear conscience I will not support a nominee so lacking in the judgment, temperament and character needed to be our nation’s commander-in-chief.” It’s sad that there are only a handful right now, but I’m sure more will jump on board as Trump nears critical delegate mass to avoid things being decided at the convention. The truth is that in a National election, to the question of which candidate “you would definitely not support for the Republican nomination for president”, 26% of all Republican voters would refuse to back him, which improves to 28% when only Republican college graduates are considered. If it holds, that is a record. Also, a Trump nomination virtually guarantees the flight of college educated conservatives from Republican ranks for a generation. The Republican party can’t recover from that. The crap Trump is pulling in the primaries isn’t going to fly in a national election. There are more democrats than republicans in America (and boy to they hate him). You can’t win an election without minorities (he’s not winning many). You can’t win an election without women. (…and Trump’s still apparently interested in hooking up with his daughter. Probably not a good look with the mothers of America.) Sorry, Trump fans. It just can’t happen (probably).
If nothing else, consider that 60% of America doesn’t like him. It is the highest negative rating of any presidential candidate Gallup has ever tested. End of line.
We The PeopleTrump schmump, I say. Let’s get down to brass tacks, people. Trump isn’t a disease… he’s a symptom. One thing that really concerns me are media outlets that are solely focused on the abhorrent policies in Trump’s platform. See… that’s not even close to the scariest thing going on here. Trump is just a side-show clown. He’s not going to get elected. What’s scary is that Trump gives validation to his followers bigoted views. I mean this shit seems reasonable to them! The deportation of Mexicans and Muslims, the Wall Mexico is buying us, expanding libel laws so he can sue reporters for unfavorable reports. He validates violence as a go-to solution to social discord. Do you want lynch mobs? Because this is how you get lynch mobs. He “emboldens” them, to use a CI term (fairly appropriate given the context I think). His supporters are now “tellin’ it like it is” just like Trump, voicing even more radical and morally repugnant rhetoric for all the cameras to see. This in turn provides a chain reaction of validation for bigots. To the mainstream media’s credit, perhaps they’ve identified that problem and decided to mute coverage of Trump supporters a bit. You see… it used to be socially unacceptable to say “maybe we shouldn’t have ended slavery” or “gay people should all be put in jail” (you know… so they can’t get any gay sex) but now that the front runner for the Republican nomination is saying it, the thinking goes that it must be OK. What may happen next is that actions follow words. A spike, in my view, in hate crimes could occur: particularly given that Trump will fail to win the national election and as the bigots divorced from “facts” and “reality” will have been denied the national representation they’ve been absolutely assured was going to happen. Now all the racists will have found each other, and having no alternative but to take matters into their own hands, just may.
Is this who we are?
Trump supporters: Who are they? Well, we have a weird political situation here in the US. Left parties the world over were founded to advance the fortunes of working, blue collar workers. The left party in the US chose long ago to turn its back on these people’s concerns, instead making itself into the tribune of an “enlightened” professional class that makes innovative things like derivative securities, iPhone apps, and websites *ahem*. The working people that the party used to care about, Democratic elites figured, had nowhere else to go. The party just didn’t need to listen to them any longer. They were annoying to listen to anyway… particularly as all of their jobs were moving over seas, they had a lot to bitch about. So here we have this huge disenfranchised demographic in the US that no political party is listening to. They’ve been appropriated by the Republicans, not because the Republicans genuinely care about their issues with higher healthcare costs, higher tuition costs, the loss of social mobility, etc…, but because the Republicans NEED the votes! The world is moving beyond the old Republican way of doing things (white men only) and it’s easier to get the working class on-board than change. Slowly but surely over the last few decades there has been a backlash growing against liberalism, against technology that sprints ahead with no thought for the consequences, against globalization and a pluralistic society. The world is leaving a lot of Americans behind, in short. Trump gives this disenfranchised class and the luddites of the nation a voice (half the content of his stump speeches is typically focused on trade). Does this voice make sense? No. That doesn’t matter to the disenfranchised though. There is a significant class of voters who have no alternatives, from their perspective. A class of voters that has been abandoned by both parties because what this class of voters wants, nobody can give them anymore. They don’t understand that those jobs are gone forever, and they don’t care why. They are angry, and they want someone to channel that anger.
Finally, someone is saying what the ignored working-class Americans, with genuine and real grievances, want to hear. That message is angry, for the base is angry. That message is incoherent, because the mob is incoherent. A substantial number of his supporters just want to give the finger to the establishment, by their own admission. The bar for entry is low: Be a devout Trump supporter (an authoritarian). If you are denied entry, it can only be because you are the enemy. Trump has his supporters believing absurdities. Now will they commit atrocities? I don’t know the answer to that. They look pretty frack’n capable of committing them at a glance, don’t they? If you are interested, here are a few Trump supporters taking the time to actually write out why they support him. …but that’s just what they say, here’s what they do: In one incident the school confirmed to the WP happened, Evelyn Momplaisir, frustrated, posted a statement on Facebook: “For anyone out there who thinks the racist rhetoric Donald Trump is spewing is harmless, I just got a call from my son’s teacher giving me a heads up that two of his classmates decided to point out the ‘immigrants’ in the class who would be sent ‘home’ when Trump becomes president. They singled him out and were pointing and laughing at him as one who would have to leave because of the color of his skin. In third grade … in Fairfax County … in 2016!” In Des Moines, Iowa, white students began chanting the name “Trump, Trump, Trump” to the Latino players on an opposing basketball team (it happened in Indiana too… probably not an isolated instance). Some Marine recruit got dropped like a bad habit from the Corps for his harassment of a black girl at a Trump rally. I’m not surprised. The Trump platform says it’s going to deport all undocumented Mexican nationals (around 11 million people) and wrap the whole thing in 18 months. That’s going to be really brutal to execute that many deportations in so little time. Things will get rough. He also wants to ban all Muslims from entering the country. These are racist policies. Trump also wants to bomb the homes of families of ISIS fighters. That’s a straight up war crime, people. Trump supporters are overwhelmingly on-board.
So here’s where the real problem lies. It’s not Trump: it’s Trump supporters. We can’t “ban Islam”; it’s principally un-American and it’s unconstitutional. We can’t bomb communities indiscriminately WWII style; that would be a war crime. We can’t deport 11 million people in 18 months; not without devastating millions of families, spurring racist witch hunts, encouraging bigoted attacks, and creating a major humanitarian crisis. We can’t build his wall… because it’s stupid. We can’t “open up” libel laws so corrupt politicians can skirt around the First Amendment and sue reporters for reporting unfavorably. It’s unconstitutional. We can’t torture people. We’ve had that discussion already, and it is also a war crime. The citizens of the US won’t tolerate it. …but Trump supporters don’t give a snip. That’s a problem, because these are some non-negotiables for me. Trump supporters are the gateway to the ugly underbelly of America. The institutional racism. The secret bigots and haters. The insane and the provably stupid. They get a vote too, and it turns out there’s a hell of a lot of them. They are listening to one another and creating a real, substantive movement in which it’s OK to be racist, bigoted, and vicious, and not every US citizen is really an American. It’s us vs. them but with guns and huge-fuck-off explosions like in Rambo. …because that’s awesome. …so I guess I have to concede this is who we are. There is a substantial voter block that has contempt for the constitution, for social equality, and for rational discourse. That sucks for the country. It sucks even more if you are Republican. That is to say, ‘if you are a smart Republican you don’t want all of that equated to you’. Here comes the seismic shift…
A Republican Identity Crisis
The Republican party is currently in full-on crisis mode. You wouldn’t know it by looking upon a Trump rally, but on the web, in forums, in private and in conservative media, there is a war brewing. Trump supporters are probably barely aware of it. Trump supporters are just getting politically active for the first time, and they don’t circle jerk in conservative forums about what the “liberals” are doing or coming up with ways to thwart “liberals” because THEY DON’T FRACKING CARE! They just don’t. They don’t have a plan. They have strong feelings and demand that their policy objectives are achieved because it’s what they want and that is that. Nope, there’s a secret that’s been hidden within the republican party for many years: There are two, distinct parties within the Republican party. The OG Republicans (let’s call them “elites”) have been running things for ages. They tell the base what to think and who to vote for. Within the base, there are the working-class-would-be-dems-but-oh-well Tea Party-esq neo-luddites. Apparently this is the single biggest block of voters who self-identify as Republican. Increasingly frustrated with the apparent lack of progress from party leaders, these guys broke off and tried to create the Tea Party… party, with the idea that they could overtake the Republican establishment. Well, they failed. Now they are adjusting their strategy. The new plan calls for them to take over the Republican party from within and rule it outright. It’s a war for the minds and souls of the party, and the “elites” are scared.
“This is, in general, a moment of testing for Republicans. It is a character test. Do you believe in the open and inclusive party of Ronald Reagan? Or do you want a bigoted and extremist party in the image of Donald Trump? I have been a Republican my entire life, but I will never support Trump. If voters nominate him, they will confirm everything bad that Democrats have ever said about the GOP. A Trump nomination will splinter the party, sully its good name—and increase the risk that a dangerous demagogue will assume the most powerful position in the world.”
Neo-conservative Writer Max Boot – USA Today
The above (emphasis mine) is probably the most complete and succinct description I’ve read of the divide. You see, it doesn’t matter if Mitt Romney comes out and says “Here’s what I know: Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud,” and that “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing members of the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House, and all we get is a lousy hat.” Trump supporters aren’t even listening. They can’t hear those words because they don’t read. …and then that word comes up again: “contested convention.” Right. People are driven to the polls for Trump. Lock him out and see what happens. Nope. You did it to yourself GOP when you convinced the base that “facts don’t matter.” That was it… the point of no return.
So in future debates you really have to consider your position as a Republican. Can you win the hispanic or Muslim votes? I really don’t see how. Any minorities? Probably not. That’s not a very sustainable path given that the majority of Americans being born will be classified as minorities in 2019. The Republicans, more than anyone, see the need to draw a line here. “Is it OK to be a bigot? A racist? …to ignore the constitution?” It is a test of character. Trump confirms everything bad that the Democrats have ever said about the GOP. Pick your side.
Thinking Beyond The Election – It’s All On Record
Let’s play a little “what if.” What if you could go online and find everyone who voted for Hitler? Facebook posts, tweets, all of it. All of the Hitler support. What would have happened differently long before the Nuremberg Trials? Just something fun to think about. “Some day this election cycle is gonna end (in my best Lietuenant Colonel Kilgore voice)”. This stuff… the stupid debate crap… the videos the tweets the comments… they aren’t going anywhere. It’s on the web forever. Every Republican nose has been bloodied. Everyone has piss on their shoes. It’s an ugly scene. Anyone looks better than these clowns, and reelections are coming up. This could cost the Republicans the House and the Senate. Who are the Republicans anymore, anyway? I’m sure some will become Libertarians. Maybe the Republican former core members will form their own “moderate” Republican party? Who the fuck knows. It’s over. Go home.
I just think about everything Trump has said about Christie. All validated. …and by extension I suppose Christie validates everything Trump says now and even more so before. Hindsight, right? Yah… there are going to be some funny attack ads when Chris Christie is up for reelection. He could be running against a banana and still lose. He’ll probably tastefully “retire” and take a lucrative position at one of many Trump subsidiaries doing exactly what they all do: Nothing. We’re about to see how much of the Republican party is for sale. That should be fun. Each and every endorsement will add to this. An endorsement is saying “this is who I am”, really. It’s going to make Republicans look bad, though. There really aren’t a lot of up shots for them, are there? Put yourself in my shoes. I’m basically a marketer. You come to me with this shit brand… What do you want me to tell you? You’re fracked. Fold this shit and try to roll it into a new brand. That’s pretty much your only option as a company. I can’t sell this. Nobody can. This is the schism facing conservationism right now. If you want the Trump fan base, you need to take the bigotry, the disregard for the constitution, the incoherent unrealistic unconstitutional policy and OWN IT. A lot of Republicans…. those that see the insanity of it all… simply won’t do that. And so they are not Trump supporters: the “elite” have become the enemy. That’s how it works, right?… Right? Welp. Things be gettin’ crazy Erik, and nobody is really sure what will happen exactly. All we know is we’ve never seen anything like this. Maybe it’s the coming of the Idiocracy.
I think shit’s going to hit critical mass on the 15th. Florida. Frack’n Florida. Witness it.
…honestly though? I think there are just that many people voting to burn it all down. That concerns me, because those on team “destroy world” may exist in bigger numbers on the left than we realize. If they do, could Trump win?
TIL: New Zealand has a special “preferred” class of visa for people in technology fields. Australia too (so many shark ads for this watch out!)!
Top conservatives gather to plot third-party run against Trump [politico]
Trump Is No Accident [New York Times]
Jerry Springer: Donald Trump was ‘inevitable’ [CNN]
Why Donald Trump might win by losing Ohio [Christian Science Monitor]
It’s already happening here: Donald Trump and America’s creeping fascism [Salon]
Why Tuesday Could Determine If Trump Wins [Time]
…and this happened.
…but this was funny. 😀 <3 Sarah Silverman.