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Where’s a plausible re-election blueprint from the shoot-from-the-hip emperor-to-be
Truckloads of evidence again confirm H.L. Mencken’s witticism, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” How astonishing a century later, with billions spent on literacy and thinking skills, that 40%+ deem “convicted criminal President Trump” sounds better than scandal-free “President Biden.” That recalls an Einstein quip, too: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Of course, by that standard, Trump can’t ever be counted out.
Wobbly crystal ball in hand, Trump obituaries may sound premature after misleading recent polls show the Criminal-in-chief holding his own. True, but what has this emphatic 2020 loser, doubling down as the worst sore loser ever, done since to expand his centrist voting support? Zero. Sure, things can change but the writing on the wall says Biden in a year looks better – riding good job growth, an improved economy, lower inflation, better stock market, moderate gas prices, less Israel/Hamas warfare, even a Ukrainian truce – and Trump worse, likely much worse. Over 5% of Republicans say they’ll abandon Trump the guilty felon (count on it), with at least an equal centrist backlash.
So, added to hugely-rejected total abortion bans, House leadership circus, phony impeachment charades, attacks on Social Security and Obamacare (still popular, with zero replacement ideas), ending immigration and caging immigrants, Trump’s latest media machination etupts with talk about ruling as “dictator on day one,” then going full tilt to torture foes. What self-described dictator reforms on Day Two? Why not also declare taxation as theft, outlaw majority rule in the House or Senate, then mock climate change by shredding environmental regulations under a “drill, drill, drill” push? How about indicting patriotic Never Trump media voices? Oh, he waved that cruel cudgel already.
Pardons galore to convicts & lackeys
Will Americans tolerate Trump’s jaw-dropping promise for mass pardons to countless nasty Jan 6 convicts plus immunizing his new gang of yes-men (pardons in advance) – so he never faces internal opposition? Against such overwhelming general election negatives, where’s even one serious Trump/GOP proposal to improve lives of average Americans, Trumpers or not? Where’s ANY outline for health care needs. Or an actual immigration plan? Is not the whole point of a dictatorship to command maximum power and hold it until the misery quotient goes through the roof? What tyranny willingly abandons power or its charade of interim status?
What’s as remarkable as Trump’s crude authoritarianism is his vampire-like staying power: can’t Trumpers back any better rerun of a bad rerun, one with a clue how to manage the presidency? Where’s the wooden stake to his political heart? Never Trumpers grow by the week but the base holds on as if he’s an actual savior, not a cardboard placard mouthing tiresome litanies that everyone else is a crook, a fake, a putz or out to get him. All that from the fakiest, putziest Anti-president ever – laden with more baggage than the last five GOP presidents.
The duration of the Trump fiasco is equal to its intellectual, political and moral dishonesty. If anything, he has a negative learning curve, clueless how to clean up bad campaign pitches (dump idiotic hyperbole, do strategic planning, listen to polls), how to redo the Big Lie (for that poisons all outcomes, whoever wins), and how to understand what a president can and can’t get away with. Really, where’s the gain when rashly boasting, as if the blathering village idiot, that he’ll take a meat ax (vs. a scalpel) to sacred checks and balances, even start a civil war?
If the retribution Anti-president pulls off another miracle win, the world shifts on its axis, not in a good way. Yet the finale of Trump and Trumpism (as electoral winner) is closer to the end than the beginning, pommeled by the next humiliating loss, disqualified in effect by court convictions, or simply expiring after a surfeit of cheeseburgers. The nightmare must eventually end, careening towards the garbage heap of history.
Okay, I lean optimistic but I can’t find enough empirical, hard-won ways that prove Trump can overcome the electoral pit he continues to dig for himself – notwithstanding avalanches to come. What happens when the plethora of trials, rife with outrageously damning testimony, dramatizes the full range of villainy on display?
The calamity of relentless trials
No house of cards scam, run by volatile, impulsive personality flaws, won’t end badly, with messy fallouts. In a vaguely rational, marginally Judeo-Christian culture, can gushy lies, wild distortions and cruel retributions not hit a wall? Either we unmask staggering bad faith or we all face the doomsday that cynical Trumpers envision. What if the election comes down to: the raging Trump horror show vs. order and stability? Hard choice. No rerun of Jan. 6 riots looks to mark Humpty-Trumpty’s fall, to smithereens, one hopes. Yes, those who pervert radical individualism are drawn to nervy underdogs, but this bloodied dog looks increasingly over the hill.
Really, does America keep its marginal dignity by not punishing an epic fraudster — who bellowed voter fraud, only we find it’s all from him and henchmen, then ordered pathetic lackeys on the Capitol to stop an unstoppable formality? Or steal top secrets, ignore all security, then irrationally defy get-out-of-jail-free subpoenas? Or get taped threatening the top GA election official to share his fraud infamy? Here’s either a criminal nincompoop or an attention-grabbing a-hole, the finale for any clueless outlaw who mangled the Covid response, picked egregious advisers, then failed to parlay his own incumbency into a competitive race.
Best case scenario: Trump’s rampaging decade recedes (after a time), stamped as gross, mortifying flash in the pan (vs. more enduring core GOP Trumpism). The worst case scenario is a re-election that devastates the presidency (though not without massive resistance), reduces confidence in sacrosanct, honest elections (defying non-violent transfers of power), and pummels the media, foes, the legal and court systems. He’d also weaken America internationally, with bizarre alliances with “smart” folks like Putin and Hamas. Of course, plan on his career history of massive failures, whether as blundering fascist or nemesis to his own party’s future.
Humpty-Trumpty ready to fall
After the finale, I expect historians to spend years tabulating how many working institutions, democratic traditions and legal systems Trump willfully, strategically shredded – so far with minimal gains to himself (already I argue unelectable nationally), to the majority’s living conditions, helping his own fans, or not devastating his own party’s future. If it weren’t for unspeakable gerrymandering and voter suppression, the unrepresentative Senate (with medieval rules) and the bizarre Electoral College, Republicans would qualify as a regional party, representing Confederate and less populous midwest and western states.
Following this logic, Trump’s legacy stacks up as the most serious bunker buster to the Republican Party, so divisive and unstable it could take decades for a ruling conservative party to repair itself. Democrats can’t match rightwing electioneering heartlessness, but even their often mediocre, squishy party is holding its own against a focused assault by outraged, but hardly brilliant fanatics. I don’t see how a centrist incumbent loses to Mr. Chaos, with an unfixable support ceiling that presages another hard fall, whether he loses (or wins, only to assuredly face another impeachment). Hey, in a world of no pain, no gain, a third impeachment shot could be the charm. Banish this thought when Biden wins.