Donald Trump is a cartoon of a man, a tycoon, a politician. He has the general outlines of a human being, without the details. How he came to be this way would be an interesting study, I suppose, but in terms of the office he seeks, irrelevant. He’s a man with many parts missing.
It’s a strange story, how he got himself and us to this place, and one that I doubt anyone quite understands yet. It’s more like a 1970s hostile takeover than a political campaign. Trump identifies a group of discontented shareholders who feel left out, offers a sort of leadership, manages to rope together a sizeable minority who terrify the board of directors, and bullies his way to what he wants. In the 70s it would have been greenmail. Now it’s power, tho’ he hasn’t the least idea how to run a campaign. His discontented shareholders are the “alt-right,” a place where it seems that anti-semitism and misogyny are daily bread. The alt-right hangs around the GOP like people who buy a single share of Pepsi and show up at the annual meeting demanding that the company stop making soft drinks and potato chips. His two foci of discontent are immigration, which I don’t think anyone has a coherent policy for, and globalization and job displacement. I can accept most of the arguments for free trade, but I would like to see someone discuss employment issues. This campaign isn’t about issues, however. It’s about which of the major candidates is the least appallingly horrible person.
The GOP leadership was slow to awaken to what was going on. Can’t blame them too much for that. One rule for Republicans is “don’t attack each other” at least in public. The so-called leadership never did quite twig; when Marco Rubio started direct attacks on Trump, he got publically spanked by Orin “So Retire Already” Hatch and some others. Orin is so old that he’s in an even older generation than I am. And it does seem that there are tensions between some of the old codger GOP senators and their younger, friskier, more ambitious colleagues.
So what to do now? The presidential election has been decided – I know that the Trumpistas cling to hope, but things are deteriorating and will get worse. Some folks think Paul Ryan should not have been so public in distancing himself from Trump, but I think that his route is the needed one. The GOP must distance itself from this buccaneer, salvage what can be salvaged, reject the alt-right vocally and unmistakably, and prepare to do what they can to withstand the assaults on liberty that a Clinton administration will bring.