Is Not Trump’s Great Con His Promise to Fix What’s Already Destroyed?
The bad news for America (and the disintegrating GOP) — Trump’s “pivot” to the general election is revving up his dubious “anything goes” mentality as if a winning ploy. As top party fat cats are learning to their horror, that makes their forced support for Trumpism like playing a broken roulette wheel. What has Trump done positively since his Convention, or weeks before, to expand loyalty in key states, avoid time-wasting, losing endgames, or not desecrate more sacred cows, this week a dead military hero and Gold Star family?
The good news: the massive damage Trump’s doing to the most conspicuous obstacle to national progressive reform: regressive, beleaguered Republicanism. First the GOP crashes, then the Democratic Party reforms. If Trump wins, today’s worsening rightwing fragmentation gets worse; if Trump loses, the party’s huge identify crisis comes front and center. It’s a win-win scenario, I suppose, if we survive the messy fracas.
If quality of one’s campaign tells the tale, Trump’s touted greatness is not about PR dominance, empty rhetoric or rogue leadership but unending demolition. He is a gassed-up tractor run by a crazed computer, battering, turning, reversing, then plunging into another ditch. Barely days after his Convention bounce, Trump invites disaster with a no-win battle against the Muslim family of dead soldier/hero (and a brave father who talks back forcibly). Sen. McCain, among others, is aghast at defamation against military sacrifices. DT’s reign of error wobbles with self-inflicted gaffes on his “relationship” with Putin, a push for hacked Russian emails to hurt Hillary, what defines Ukraine, even who concocted his own party platform. Is the fallout not permanent?
Backlash to Zero Learning Curve
Again Trump proves he has zero learning curve, with incredibly tin ear attacks on the grieving Kahns that replicate egregious ethnic slurs against a federal judge. Does DT truly think his bizarre primary shenanigans, in the weirdest race against weaklings, increase his lengthening odds for winning? Does Trump think forever putting his foot in his mouth against an indefatigable, well-funded veteran is smart campaigning (compared to whacking Ted Cruz)? Is he incapable or unwilling to change gears? No Democratic opponent can split open the GOP like Trump, alienating undecideds and moderates plus former Republican stalwarts. Does DT think even horrendous media coverage is better than less coverage?
Who’s taken in by Trump when he trolls a Gold Star mother for her unremarkable Convention silence, then twists himself into a pretzel, concluding the real subject here is HIS gaseous, irrelevant crusade against terrorism. By exemplifying Hillary’s Convention line — that Trump’s temperament cannot resist being baited — the Donald comes across not as paternalistic strongman but pathetic pawn, a fragile blowhard who equates off-message backhanding with gaining the upper hand.
Trump’s irresistible character flaw shreds his core narrative: behold the limitless man of destiny who alone restores lost greatness. Trump can’t even ignore a Convention slight from a grieving family or not flip-flop on his “relationship” with the thuggish Russian semi-dictator. Oddly, Trump here fails as confidence man, for he routinely blunders, clumsily exposing the very scam he’s trying to play. Contorting his impossible terrorist con — to instantly bomb ISIS to smithereens all the while impugning a family’s sacrifice (a decade before ISIS mattered) — fools no one but fools. How many more sacred cows will be gored, just as the less engaged begin their presidential decision-making?
Matchless Gift to Democrats
Trump is true to expectations, the best gift ever to Democrats, lately achieving the near impossible: make a compromised Democratic nominee look downright prudent, even trustworthy. A remarkable, though ignored, truth: despite similar-sounding shots against the TPP, neocon war-making, and the elite-driven, corrupt status quo, Trump wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in the Democratic primary. Revulsion by Sanders’ fans alone would have sent Trump’s head reeling, not unlike his own erratic, spontaneous brain waves.
For a guy who brags interminably about his self-evident genius — getting rich by building colossal, ritzy stuff— Trump’s historic significance is now confirmed: he is a uniter of odd bedfellows (against his excesses) and already an iconic demolisher-in-chief, whether of his party or campaign. Week by week, Trump’s reflexive miscues are deconstructing the GOP, brick by rotten brick, and the election results should reinforce a profoundly tarnished brand. He is the very model of political self-destruction, perhaps unequaled by any other presidential nominee. That happens when unelected, unqualified amateurs try first and foremost only for the top gold ring.
Trump’s deviant roguery appears too racist and mendacious to get him elected but not too disruptive to make mince meat of the rightwing party coherence that drives its dominance of government. Whatever he claims, imprudent Trump patterns dramatize he’s less interested in getting elected than hoisting the pitchfork to burn down the status quo — and whatever in a moment offends him. There is nothing his blunt cudgel won’t imperil, whether immigration, foreign affairs, civil liberties, taxation, federal spending, trade and tariffs, training/education or trust in modern science. And for the ultimate con: though he is laughably unreligious, Trump represents himself as messianic phoenix to redeem the world after detailing its nightmare ghoulishness. This model invokes a suspension of belief akin to evangelical rapture predictions. Like Jesus, Trump will call from heaven for his congregants to be saved — losers need not apply — and his presumed near divinity will get the whole wide world in his undersized hands.
When Winning is Losing
Whether he wins or loses, the functional Republican brand is as imperiled as the rule of law, civil liberties or immigration standards dictated by impulsive or ignorant whimsy. Did Trump not reveal the full audacity of his arrogance when claiming he’s could get away with openly shooting someone? Is there evidence since he disbelieves this folly? Having gone over the line dissing dead heroes, Trump is already guilty of openly shooting directly at no small targets: that being his own, cynically-adopted party plus increasingly his own chances to run the White House.
Which returns us to the greatest Trump lie: that as president (not tyrant) he can miraculously build up everything rather than tear down. If he somehow gets elected as master of demolition, why would anyone expect his presidency to be different? It’s not like he has any demonstrated expertise in rebuilding a world in darkness and decay, certainly not restoration of healthy politics, infrastructure or national spirit. What skyscraper wrecking ball magically turns into a great renovation machine?
The best news on the horizon: Trump’s last month confirms he’s neither a very good con artist, nor talented demagogue. Both of these roles demand hiding far more than he’s already revealed about his soulless, empathy-free void of character. He is a fixated, unteachable trickster, without scruples or political intelligence, and that means we will see more episodes of shocking, if self-induced demolition. Like fatal car, train, or airplane wrecks, shock value will engage a primitive kind of fascination. But then the vast, saner majority moves on, with empathy and clear commitment to avoid at all costs endorsing avoidable catastrophes. Trump could well serve in the end as the critical, advanced warning signal. Sufficiently disruptive calamities leave no one untouched.