“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”
-Donald Trump, technically speaking in anecdote
Happy New Year…
Of course, January 3rd was the worst and weirdest day of the Trump Administration, breaking the 347 records set by the 347 previous days. But prior to that, much of the buzz in media was set by Viceroy Trump’s latest taunt of Kim Jong Un, with what The Atlantic accurately described as “The Most Irresponsible Tweet in History” (which is a bit like ‘Most Unmusical Yoko Ono Song’). And about the same time, media were going on about Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, who is retiring apparently against the wishes of Donald Trump, because that seems to clear a path for Mitt Romney to run for his seat. And in the center-left Mainstream Media, I kept seeing all these musings about how Romney was supposed to be a Trump-skeptic conservative. Except of course when he was a presidential candidate asking for Trump’s endorsement. Or when he came to Trump after the election petitioning for a Cabinet post. It’s a testimony to liberal-establishment naivete – or selective amnesia – that journalists were looking for a sign of hope in the prospect of Romney rejoining Republican politics when they were roasting his motives the last time he ran for office.
What I would like “progressives” to admit is that they’re the real conservatives. That is, they want to go back to the glory days of the Great Society and the New Deal. They want to restore a political establishment that was working just fine – for them. They honestly think that their approach to things is the a priori truth, and they seriously seem to think that if you can just bring back the “reasonable” Republicans and get a Democrat back in the White House again, everything will get back to normal.
What they have to accept is that things will NEVER get back to normal again.
And we know why.
On January 3, New York Magazine’s website posted an excerpt from Michael Wolff’s coverage of the Trump campaign transitioning to the Trump Administration: “Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” Flynn assured them.
“Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.
“Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy. ”
This only confirms my personal theory that if anyone was more shocked and horrified by Donald Trump’s win than Hillary Clinton, it was Donald Trump.
This piece is only an excerpt from Wolff’s upcoming book, but almost every paragraph is a new revelation in What The Fuck, from what is already the most WhatTheFuck presidency in our history. For example, when Roger Ailes advised Trump to hire John Boehner as his chief of staff. Trump’s response: “Who’s that?”
As I’ve said, Trump has been spoiled all his life and has never had to pay the consequences for his incompetence and malice, and in the back of his mind, he realizes this. He knows he’s a fraud.
Trump just realized the same thing everybody else did – that our political system is a sick joke. So he figured the best way to get in on the gag was to run for president, knowing better than anyone else how inadequate he was. It was just another stage in his career of branding himself as a success rather than actually being successful at anything other than branding. But then came the punchline to the sick joke: Trump won. And at that point, he realized there was no point in trying to conceal his moral and intellectual inadequacy, since clearly nothing mattered.
That’s why, even if Trump didn’t actively conspire with Russia to win the election, he still compulsively presents the image of being Putin’s bitch, because that’s the way he is, all insecurity and projection. The whole basis of Trump’s political career is a bad-faith argument, so why is that one part any different?
But even that isn’t the issue. As I keep saying: Trump is not the problem. The problem is a political party that would accept being ruled by a Trump.
When Romney lost to President Obama in 2012, Republicans came up with their famous “autopsy” review of what happened in that election and how the Republican Party could turn around. The overall recommendation was to make the Republican Party more, well, democratic:
“AMERICA LOOKS DIFFERENT – If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity. … We recommend the formation of a new Growth and Opportunity Inclusion Council within the RNC … Women are not a ‘coalition.’ They represent more than half the voting population in the country, and our inability to win their votes is losing us elections. Female voters want to hear the facts; many of them run the economies of their homes and understand economics better than the men in their families. But they are also the caregivers for their families. Women need to hear what our motive is — why it is that we want to create a better future for our families and how our policies will affect the lives of their loved ones. Those are things that cannot be communicated well in graphs and charts … the RNC must design, fund, and implement an agressive early voting and absentee effort for target races … GROUPTHINK IS A LOSER – Our friends and allies must realize that the Party is at its best as the Party of ideas, and healthy debate of those ideas is fundamentally good for the Republican Party.”
Well, so much for that idea. The “Growth and Opportunity Project” was a bit too much like the Democratic mentality (especially in using a spiffy communique of graphs and charts to say that you can’t convert people with graphs and charts) but it addressed the fundamental reality of representative government, especially in our “first past the post” election system: To win, you need a majority of votes. If you don’t attract a majority of voters – or actually alienate the people who are out there – you doom yourself to minority status. Thus a party that appeals to only whites, especially white men, will doom itself to minority status even before this country officially becomes white-plurality.
But while this theory seems inescapable, in practice the theoretical majority (of liberal whites, women and minorities) is often not a majority in elections (because even when voting is not made inconvenient by local government, voters often fail to show up). Whereas the core demographic for Republicans – older, middle-to-upper-class whites – are far more prone to show up to the polls. In many cases, they have more free time. But often, the difference is motivation. Not only because of Fox News, but talk radio before it, “conservatism” is now less an intellectual movement than a grievance industry that profits from stoking resentment and a siege mentality mindset among said demographic. The kind of conservatives who vote for “Christians” like Roy Moore, or rationalize voting for Trump, really do believe America’s core values are under direct assault by the party in power. (A feeling that most liberals weren’t familiar with until recently.)
And as I said, if Republicans strung those people along and didn’t follow through on their promises, what difference did it make if they followed a known liar as long as he put up a good fight with the hated establishment? Indeed, Trump was far better than other Republicans or even many Democrats at appealing to as wide a base as possible. He was in that respect the genuinely best candidate Republicans had in 2016. He had serious potential as a president, apart from the minor detail of being a racist, power-lusting, gullible idiot. Of course that was also a big part of the appeal. It’s not as though the Republican establishment were blind to his dangers, and they tried to express their displeasure.
But certain real billionaires, such as the Mercer family, liked the cut of Trump’s jib. They decided, like a certain television executive, that Trump may not have been good for the country, but he was good for their business. So they financed and publicized an outright joke for president, because nobody seriously considered the responsibility of the act. Because nobody thought that Trump would win. Including Trump.
And ironically, the fact that Trump and his base shared the same commitment to consensus “reality” in defiance of evidence is what gave Trump just enough votes to get over.
They went full retard.
You never go full retard.
Liberals scorn Orrin Hatch because he was one of many Senators who seemed to have intelligence and dignity but spent last December gushing with praise for a president that even many Mormon conservatives disdain. But Orrin Hatch is just like the rest of his party. Orrin Hatch sucks up to Trump because in a certain sense, he is Trump. That is, privileged, old, and scared, because his time is almost up.
But even that isn’t the bad part. One wonders after all this why Republicans, who know that Trump is a threat to them as long as he has a mouth to yell and two hands to tweet with, don’t go along with impeachment proceedings and get Mike Pence as President, since he is more conservative and would be much less embarrassing. Of course the fact that the “base” identifies with an embarrassing dingbat is one thing. But it comes down to the reason why Trump the candidate was appealingly unorthodox but as a president has gone along with the hardcore Republican agenda. And that’s because he doesn’t grasp ideology, even to the half-baked extent that Steve Bannon does. So Trump lets Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell set policy, since he doesn’t know enough to be proactive. Or as McConnell allegedly told Michael Wolff in another book excerpt: “He’ll sign anything we put in front of him.”
So along with being a habitual liar who turned himself into a jackass, Trump has one more thing in common with Pinocchio: He’s a puppet.
Trump was installed via the Electoral College – a device the Founders intended to stop “bad” democracy (mob rule) from subverting “good” republicanism (rule of law) and became the device for bad republicanism (rule by rent-seeking elites) to justify itself by means of “good” democracy (‘the public has spoken!’). That fact, the overall Republican tendency to use voter ID laws and other pretexts to discourage voting (or select the voters they want rather than vice versa), and the turn of Republican legislative strategy since winning the White House indicates not simply a desire to enact conservative ideas that might be unpopular. In Reagan’s day, or even Dubya’s, there would be some attempt to make those ideas popular. What we are seeing is a complete disregard for any public support at all, even acting against popular will in favor of Republican elites’ priorities. You do not push a bill like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act through the Senate with no review, no debate, and no consultation with the opposition or the CBO if you think that your proposal can withstand scrutiny. Indeed, the more feedback Republicans get against their proposals, the more determined they are to carry them out over public demand. And as they go further down the spiral of rejecting accommodation with the voting public, and as their Leader becomes more blatant in his contempt for (small r) republicanism, the Party becomes more and more prone to ignoring his power grabs, to making excuses for why they can’t stop him, and finally, to openly agitating for strongman rule.
Of course the reactionary social experiment isn’t going to go as smoothly as it did in interwar Germany. Even now, Germany isn’t as multiracial and multicultural as the US was even in the 1930s. And that was before the Sexual Revolution and the Gay Rights movement. There are a whole bunch of threatened communities who were not mobilized the way they are now.
But you don’t have to make comparisons to Nazis. Just look at Venezuela. Or Iran. People are protesting against an evil government, frequently getting violent pushback, and the mainstream media here is saying that the protests are for “economic reasons”, blanking out the point that the economy is screwed because the political elite have fixed the system to hoard all the wealth for themselves. But it doesn’t matter how unpopular they are, how many protests there are or how much bloodshed there is. The thugs stay in power because they control all the country’s institutions.
Which is why, as long as Democrats still have some control over those institutions, they need to make the most of that and win the Congress this year, to cut Trump off at the knees. I am not optimistic. After all, the Democrats are the party that couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse. But do not underestimate how pissed off the voters are at the establishment. After all, in 2016, they were pissed off enough to vote for Trump. So if they were pissed off enough at the Democrats to kick them out despite Republican backwardness, they ought to be pissed off enough by now to kick out Republicans despite Democratic fecklessness. Because whatever else I might think about Democrats, they weren’t actively TRYING to alienate their base the way Republicans did last year.
For example, the Miami Herald this week has a story about retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s House seat, saying:
“The GOP’s inability to find top-shelf candidates to run for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s U.S. House seat has some Republicans ready to write off the race and shift money and attention to more winnable contests.
“The seat that encompasses Little Havana, most of downtown Miami and Miami Beach is now considered unwinnable by some Republicans in Congress and fundraisers who could infuse millions into a competitive congressional race, according to interviews with high-ranking GOP officials and potential donors. … ‘The seat is now going to go to the Democrats,’ said Raquel Regalado, a former Miami-Dade school board member and candidate for Miami-Dade mayor who recently announced she was dropping out of the Republican race to replace Ros-Lehtinen. ‘I think I was the only moderate who could have fought that fight for a bunch of different reasons. I don’t think you’re going to see a large GOP financial investment. They’re looking for a moderate candidate, but I don’t think they’re going to find one.”
If you’re losing Cuban Miami… that is NOT good.
Remember, the reason establishment Republicans got scared in 2012 is because they had previous experience to look back on. California was the home of Nixon and Reagan. But business interests eagerly sought under-the-table labor from Mexico for their industries and lawns, and then acted surprised when those people, in combination with the pre-existing Latin community, started to become a cultural force. So when Governor Pete Wilson pushed Proposition 187 in 1994 as an anti-illegal immigrant measure, that force started pushing back. Since then California has been one of the most Democrat-dominant states in the nation.
(The fact that there is now an independent commission to determine district boundaries and curb gerrymandering didn’t help.)
The Florida Cuban community, descended from anti-Castro exiles, was evidence along with other groups that Republican conservatism isn’t necessarily the same as Anglo-white nationalism. But now Republicans are moving away from diversity, even away from previous core groups. What happens to Republicans’ national chances if Florida goes the way of California?
They’re fucked, that’s what happens.
Republicans are ultimately pack animals. They slavishly follow a strong leader only as long as he appears strong. Once they admit that Trump is more liability than asset, the people who were lining up to take a photo with him will be fighting each other for the privilege of ripping his guts out. Indeed, that already seems to be starting. I don’t know if that will be enough to save their reputation, or their party, but that will be their instinct.
What then happens to the true believers? What happens to the poor little Trumpniks who actually thought their spray-painted charalatan took anything seriously? Well, they’ll be orphaned yet again. Their revolution will be over before it really started. And they won’t have much longer to kick ass and lord it over the weaker people. If their party loses the majority, they won’t go down in history like the brownshirt bullyboys who kicked Jews in the streets and manned the concentration camps. No- they’ll end up worse.
They’ll be this generation’s equivalent of the last guy on the dance floor wearing gold lame’ pants while all his neighbors were burning their Donna Summer records and chanting “DISCO SUCKS!”