by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
When a political party can get hijacked by an outsider billionaire vulgarian like Donald Trump, it is palpable evidence that this party is on its last legs. Listen up, rich guys, you don't have to buy a politician to take over these days: why not skip all that and run for office yourself?
And the rudderless Republican Party is ripe for such predation. After all, now that the cultural wars have been won by the liberal left — witness gay marriage — what does the Republican Party have left to run on?
Cutting taxes? Look at the mess Kansas is in. Shrinking big government? That only happens under democratic presidents like Clinton and Obama anyway (and burgeons under the likes of Reagan and Bush). Less regulations? Deregulating the banks gave us the Great Recession.
The fact is that the Republican Party is down to its core racist agenda, which is nothing more than the following: lookie here, you Republicans — our enduring base of older white men — if you vote for us, you can be sure that we will NOT give your hard-earned taxes to the undeserving blacks and poors whom the Democrats expect you whities to carry on your backs.
Not a recipe for a lasting party (whose base of old white guys may be dead in another twenty years). Not a recipe for actual life if the racist, sexist GOP core keeps hating on women, blacks and Mexican immigrants, when young women, blacks and Latinos are where the votes of the future lie, as America becomes less white and more multicultural and gender-fluid.
And into this void that is the dying Republican Party, has stepped one Donald Trump.
(The GOP is only alive because their gerrymandering got them the House, despite a nationwide majority of Dems; in fifteen years at the most, GOP gerrymandering will be overcome by the Dems, and the GOP will be deader than God.)
An erstwhile Democrat, Trump has become a Republican (like Reagan), in order to park his brand at the top of our food chain as President of the United States.
Which is not all that unlikely. Get used to it: Trump will for sure become the nominee of the GOP, given the idiocy of his competition, which he already leads by double digits.
His competition is the so-called deep bench of GOP presidential candidates. Oops, don't make me laugh. They're more like a deeply flawed bench.
Rubio? A Latino lost in a party that never stops dissing his ilk? By being a Republican, the man betrays his own heritage.
Walker? A governor whose job creation ranks below most other states, and who was almost recalled?
Bush? The colorless, uninspiring brother of a war criminal who got us into a dumb war with Iraq, a candidate calling himself Jeb! (is that supposed to represent a lighting rod up his ass?), who is backed by a GOP old-guard elite who are now hated by the base? (Here's the perfect slogan for Hillary if she had to run against Jeb: “A Clinton is better for America than a Bush.”)
Christie? Whose own state of New Jersey disapproves of him?
Fiorina? Who was dumped as CEO of Hewlett-Packard because she nearly hammered it into the ground?
The other ten or eleven candidates are hardly worth mentioning, being entirely worthy of the epithet “clown car” so aptly bandied about.
The oddest thing of all is that The Donald, as controversial as his statements have been — Mexicans are rapists, John McCain is no war hero, Megyn Kelly asked him tough debate questions because she was “bleeding from her wherever” — is actually the only moderate Republican in the bunch.
“They're gonna cut Social Security. They're gonna cut Medicare. They're gonna cut Medicaid,” Trump said on Fox & Friends. “I'm the one saying I'm not gonna do that!” (Most Americans, Republicans and Democrats, agree with him; it's only the GOP elite who don't.)
Trump says the Iraq war was a mistake.
Unlike the others, this former pro-choice fellow would most likely allow an abortion exception for women who've been incested or raped or in danger of losing their lives.
He's got nothing against gays, and he actually likes women. No GOP war on women from him.
So why does the GOP base, and Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter love Trump? Because he is the unbridled macho Id of the GOP. He is angry and belligerent. He runs on his big, vulgar, outspoken personality, and does not really need any policy, which is useful in today's GOP, since the party doesn't have much of a policy either, and has been doing nothing except be anti-Obama for the least seven years. (Trump has so far only come up with two policies: one, to deport all the Mexicans and build a wall on our southern border that he'll get Mexico to pay for; and two, to fight China, presumably by raising tariffs on our imports from them. His immigration policy he cannily picked as red meat for the GOP base of haters — like when he picked birtherism before — and his stance against China, for taking the jobs that our corporations export to them, is something that Bernie Sanders agrees with.)
Not being a politician, there is a great difference between Donald Trump and the other candidates. No other pol (besides Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) speaks their mind as bluntly as Trump does. He is nothing if not authentically himself, which his rivals, being pols, aren't.
And he spoke the greatest truth of the entire first GOP debate, a truth that Bernie Sanders is actually running on. (A debate, BTW, that did not touch on many issues that are actually important to Americans, like income inequality, climate change, student debt, breaking up the big Wall Street banks, paid maternity leave, $15-an-hour minimum wage, homicidal cops, etc.)
BAIER: “Mr. Trump, it's not just your past support for single-payer health care. You've also supported a host of other liberal policies …You've also donated to several Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton included, and Nancy Pelosi. You explained away those donations saying you did that to get business-related favors. And you said recently, quote, ‘When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.'”
TRUMP: “You'd better believe it.”
BAIER: “— they do?”
TRUMP: “If I ask them, if I need them, you know, most of the people on this stage I've given to, just so you understand, a lot of money.”
TRUMP: “I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me. And that's a broken system.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: “What did you get from Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi?”
TRUMP: “Well, I'll tell you what, with Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding and she came to my wedding. You know why? She didn't have a choice because I gave.”
And there is Trump's great tweet: “I wish good luck to all of the Republican candidates that traveled to California to beg for money etc. from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?”
Trump may be a billionaire himself, but he talks like a blue-collar worker. He's neither snooty-tooty nor pancy-fancy. He represents the blue-collar idea of what a blue-collar guy would be like if he were a billionaire: gadding about in his private jet, flaunting his wealth, stamping his name big on his hotels, squiring beautiful wives and girlfriends, and being a completely brazen, narcissistic and bombastic braggart. The GOP guys love him for that: he is a poor person's idea of a rich man. And a popular reality TV star. A brilliant cartoon figure, easy to get. A commercially viable brand. All this is very real to his GOP followers, more real than Megyn Kelly, who looks like all the other blonde bimbos on Fox News, even though she has a few more brains than most of them.
And Trump is certainly more real to the GOP base than the Rubios and Walkers and Bushes, the ones who've been sanded down and blandified and poll-poodled and deballed and polished to vacuous vessels by being in politics all their lives. Heck, just like a blue-collar guy, Trump often wears a baseball cap (sporting his slogan “Make America Great Again”).
Trump captures and expresses the rage of the GOP base at the establishment better than any other candidate, even though he is the establishment. In fact, it goes further than rage: Trump expresses the total contempt of the base for the government, for Congress, for the White House, for the administration, for the whole privileged bunch of pigs with their snouts in the trough of Washington. Here is one gripe against the GOP establishment from a Trump supporter: “We've got a Republican House and Senate and they haven't done a damn thing.”
Americans aren't total fools. They know that America is not working for them. They know that America only works for the 1%. They know that the 1% get away with crime. No Wall Street banksters are in jail, even though they committed fraud on a national scale. Over 45 million Americans are living in or near poverty. One of five children go hungry in America. All of us are one paycheck away from disaster. Tens of millions can't find a job. Tens of millions work part-time. Our social mobility is lower than all other industrial nations. Our middle-class has less wealth than they had in 1969, and we work harder for less money than we made in the 1980s. Yet our CEOs make more than they ever have, between 300 to 500 times the median salary of the workers in their companies, when back in the 1970s, it was maybe 20 times. We working stiffs are getting the crumbs; we have no unions to bargain for higher pay. Corporations are more profitable than ever before, and can certainly pay higher wages, but they have stashed two trillion dollars overseas on which they pay no taxes. Rich guys like Romney pay a 13% tax rate while the rest of us pay 35%. Walmart, the biggest retailer in the world, does not pay its slaves enough money to live on, so they have to go on food stamps to be able to eat, costing us tax payers over $6 billion a year (we should sue Walmart in a class-action suit for that money). Millions of foreclosed homes stand vacant while millions of Americans are homeless. The American Dream has been dead for quite a while now, and regular Americans know that, even if our politicians and pundits won't own up to it.
Hence the popularity of Trump, who speaks to our rage and contempt, and calls politicians stupid. Americans agree with him. Our politicians are indeed stupid. They'll keep on saying stupid things that he can mock them about (Jeb! is great at the stupid, his gaffes drop as regularly as bowel movements), and that will make us share his contempt for them. Trump knows how to slam his rivals, how to stab straight at their weaknesses. Here is one spot-on swipe at Jeb!: “I don't see how he's electable. Bush is a low-energy person. For him to get things done is hard.”
And just wait for when his rivals start trotting out their wives: Trump will be the guy with the best-looking wife — final masculine proof that he is a better man than all of them.
Trump trumpets a populist vibe that our regular pols have a hard time displaying. The GOP pols do not represent the people anymore; they represent the rich people who buy them, like the Koch brothers. Every GOP presidential candidate has at least one billionaire behind him (a mere 130 families gave more than half the campaign money that GOP candidates have). Every American knows the GOP is bought by the rich. And every American knows that Trump cannot be bought, because he is rich enough himself not to need anybody else's money. (The funny thing about Trump's business success is that if he had stuck his inheritance from his rich dad in a Vanguard 500 fund instead of going into business for himself, he would now have had $20 billion instead of $10 billion.)
Trump versus Hillary or Bernie — what a TV ratings bonanza that will be. Trump brings in the audience, which means maybe more Americans will be voting than ever before.
However, there is a disquieting tone about Trump's populism. In his speeches, he comes off like a strongman in the Mussolini-Peron-Putin mode. When he says he will round up eleven million Mexicans and deport them, he is talking about a police action that is unprecedented in our history — a police action that will make us a police state. His wish to weed the Mexicans out of our midst smacks of a certain chap who decided to make Germany Judenrein. Do we Americans feel so fucked, we believe only a strongman can unfuck us? Are we like Russians who will love our own Putin?
We shall see. For now, the GOP base loves themselves a big fat strongman. They'll follow him wherever.
Being the populist raging Id of the GOP, and a rich guy that poor crackers want a rich guy to be like, Trump will get nominated before any of the other clown car passengers can get half a chance. He has read the mood of the GOP base perfectly, and that mood will put him ahead of his rivals. The GOP establishment will not be able to stop him, try as they might (as they surely will), because who do they have to stop him with? Bush? Rubio? Walker? Please. (One insightful statistic: 45% of Republicans trust Donald Trump the most on the economy, compared with 8% for Bush.)
And when Trump becomes the leader of the GOP … when they're so useless and hopeless and rudderless and leaderless that they can be hijacked by the likes of Trump … when they are not only rich man's puppets, but rich man's prey …there is only one way for them to go: over the cliff, straight to their imminent — and very welcome — death.
Trump is the only life left in the GOP, and his advent, paradoxically, also spells their death. He is giving them life while he is digging their grave.
Good for him. The man is doing America a big favor. He's a great American. Go, Trump, go!