|The amazing Donald Trump, "performer as politician."|
It all started as a weird novelty. Jeb Bush proclaimed there was no way Trump would be the Republicans' nominee. Therefore he wouldn't even answer hypothetical questions about it.
We watched perplexed as day after day, this curious carnival barker type named Trump stayed at the forefront of the news. We all became amateur psychologists. We heard talk about "the two Americas."
The tea party was a disturbing novelty. Mitt Romney got taken down by that phenomenon called "the conservative entertainment complex" - term coined by David Frum. Frum wrote a whole E-book about this. If I could find it online and read it for free, I would. That complex appeals to impulses in many older Americans who are having trouble keeping up with changes in our society and world.
Now Trump comes along like a snake oil salesman articulating many of the same fears.
Balance or expediency?
Day after day we are inundated by Donald Trump coverage. We see panelists on TV who we sense are going out of their way to be polite to the Trump element in our society. They do this to ensure that they project "balance." After all, so many people voted for Trump in the primaries. His absurd statements and contradictions have not caused his balloon to deflate, at least not much. It hasn't deflated to where we could anticipate his exit from the race soon. If a big enough insurgency develops in his own party, such an exit might be possible, but would the candidate do it willingly? If his poll numbers collapse?
Will it be worse than Goldwater? Barry Goldwater was a reasonably sound politician with a decent mind. Trump seems to have sprung from the vacuous entertainment world. The objectives of entertainment and politics are at different poles.
Part of the problem with the "conservative entertainment complex" is that it is indeed entertainment. It's not constructive journalism. A responsible politician "sells" sound government, putting together a coalition that will keep constituents reasonably satisfied. So what if it's a sausage-making process sometimes? Trump sells his own charisma with a style that is bombastic and appealing to those people who always grumble "throw the bums out." It's a nice little cliche but not helpful.
Trump is a performer as politician. He's quite comparable to George Wallace but without the pure Jim Crow baggage. A former wife of Wallace said "he doesn't want a marriage, he wants an audience." Trump actually isn't given enough credit for his sheer performance abilities. I wonder if this comes naturally to him or if he has worked and been coached in it. Imagine being able to stand up and have an arena audience in the palm of your hand. Jeb Bush would be boring. Jeb is certainly not inferior in terms of intelligence - the opposite is probably true. But he doesn't have the gift of sensational oratory like Trump.
Some say we need a true businessman as president. Nice try, but government has little in common with business. In government you provide services without regard to making a profit. The American people need another Democrat in the White House, a person who believes in the possibilities of government to help people. The Republican Party has enough power across the various states. Republicans have enough power to put the skids on lots of things. Jeb Bush has in fact proclaimed that we need to "abolish Medicare."
OK, show your hand. . .
If Republicans get enough power, would they really be willing to see abortion outlawed across the USA? Would they really be willing to follow through on this, or have they just been using anti-abortion rhetoric to keep a certain portion of their base loyal, eating out of their hand? Republicans like to say things that appeal to the so-called evangelicals. I would suggest it's mere posturing, that on most of these issues, the Republicans are really pretty indifferent about whether anything gets done or not.
The only true aims of Republicans are these: lower taxes and fewer regulations. I would suggest that neither of these goals are to be understood at face value. Republicans are expected to brag about lower taxes but they realize that government coffers need money. So they allow fees and fines to shoot up. Governor Tim Pawlenty did this in Minnesota. So we see more and more traffic tickets issued by law enforcement with steadily higher fines, to the point where it's truly onerous and has little to do with public safety anymore.
We have certainly seen this in Morris MN. One might well be tempted to sell your car and walk, but police would then probably find excuses to accost you when you're walking. When I was a kid, police just ensured "order." They used more discretion. They knew who the bad actors were in any community. If you weren't a bad actor, the police were not likely to get unpleasant with you. I remember the cop in the Steve McQueen movie "The Blob." He comes upon some kids out for a lark and instantly he knows who all their parents are. Cops don't think like that anymore. They issue citations. They generate revenue for the state.
Michael Moore has described the Donald Trump candidacy as "the last stand of the angry white man." He says "our male-dominated, 240-year run of the USA is coming to an end." We're likely to see a woman become president, on the heels of a non-white man. Non-white? Obama is half-white. Why do we describe him in terms of his non-white element?
Was Richard Nixon conservative? He campaigned as such. Nixon was really just interested in power. He helped make Title IX reality. That's what opened the door for girls playing sports on equal terms with boys. The Republicans of today who appeal to that "conservative entertainment complex" would never go along with this.
Today we see Beyonce featured at the Super Bowl with her cadre of black women with fists raised. And we're on the cusp of seeing a woman become president. White men have been looking up to a non-white president for eight years - of course he's half-white - and now we're on the doorstep of having a woman president. Trump speaks for the rage of a certain element of older people, male especially, who feel overwhelmed by all the change, e.g. the idea that transgender people should use their bathroom of choice. What would Norman Rockwell think of this?
Day after day I tune in to the same cable TV news programs and the beat goes on, increasingly redundant, increasingly making me feel as though I'm just wasting my time.
Watch the financial markets
I would suggest there's one big reason why the Trump balloon keeps sailing: the financial markets have not yet been affected. This is a big wild card in the whole scenario. So is the impulse of many people to just do something illogical or disruptive in the privacy of the voting booth, like us Minnesotans did in electing Jesse Ventura. Trump is walking volatility in terms of his potential effect on the financial markets. We have been yawning and inattentive about how fragile the markets can actually be. Take care.
I'll have to try to withdraw from all the redundant cable TV news coverage of the campaign. I might get more fulfilled watching "Everybody Loves Raymond" re-runs.