The Way We Trump Now
It is not, despite the angsty sweat-beads flying cartoonlike from the foreheads of a thousand keyboard town criers, a foregone conclusion that Donald J. Trump, a decayed yam in a gimme cap that has somehow amassed a real estate fortune and learned how to mumble the word ‘quality’, is going to be the next president of the United States of America. I am as confident as anyone that the Democratic Party is almost superhumanly capable of losing elections to easily vanquishable opponents, but if Hillary Clinton can’t manage to defeat this human fart joke, the DNC should just get out of politics altogether and start selling beanbag chairs. Saying Trump is beatable is like saying the captain of your high school football team has a slight chance of ending up swabbing the toilets at your local Speedway: it’s not just a possibility, but it’s something we should all get behind and work towards for the sake of basic decency.
It is also not, despite the hugely entertaining envois being issued by panicked elements of the mainstream conservative wing of the G.O.P., at all a certainty that Trump has already sewn up the nomination. The last forty years have been exceptionally quiet for both Democrats and Republicans during the nominating process; you have to back to the late ’60s and early ’70s to be reminded of what we have forgotten, which is that while we’re drearily stuck with the same two bullshit parties, the nature of those parties can still be hotly contested, can change on a dime or slowly mutate into something new and strange, can be decided at the last moment on the nominating floor or in a smoke-filled locked room. We have not had a contested caucus in a long time, but we must never forget that they have not only happened before, but are more likely to happen now than ever, as every bit of alteration to the electoral process over the last several decades has made it more corrupt, more opaque, more extortionate, and more answerable to money.
Which is not to say that the Party of Lincoln won’t come around; we are seeing signs of it already. Pay no attention to the gobstruck poses of the venal hacks who are currently animadverting at Trump as if Genghis Khan had kicked in the doors of the Basilica Sancti Petri and wiped his ass with Pope Honorius III’s face. They are simply worried about being left without a spot at the trough in which to jam their glistening noses. Even a sack of dioxane-tainted ham scraps like Trump realizes at this stage in the political process that if he is elected, he will be expected to govern, and he knows that despite his world-historical bluster, he will not be able to simply stroll into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and start issuing diktats. Trump is a man who, if he knows nothing else — and it’s very possible that he doesn’t — understands clout, and has a keen enough sense of the art of the deal that he named his gross, unreadable book after it the same way he names his gross, uninhabitable buildings after himself.
It is a terrifying thing to find one’s self defending Trump’s intelligence, but he’s surely not so stupid as to not grasp the kind of deals he’ll have to make in order to secure his party’s backing; one reason that he’s not really a fascist is that he doesn’t have a legion of goons out on the streets that he can pretend not to control if the G.O.P. doesn’t do what he wants, and rich as he is, he’s not rich enough to govern without its cooperation. He’s probably got his brain trust, or what passes for one with a man whose brain is largely dedicated to feeling continually plush, racing to Washington to collect guarantees from Mitch McConnell, Reince Priebus, and whatever other oily shits have their manicured fingers on the levers that when he wins, they’ll still be able to dip their beaks in the massive rip-off that will be the Trump Administration.
This is the only fear that animates the G.O.P., outside of a handful of delusional true believers and libertarian die-hards. Trump may be a tad crass for their tastes, but this is essentially the same party structure that, only eight years ago, willingly stood Sarah Palin for the Vice-Presidency of the United States. The idea that Trump represents anything ideologically alien to them is laughable: his racism, xenophobia, and cartoonish nationalism only makes explicit what their leading lights have said implicitly for decades, and if anything, they’re just pouty that he sells it better than they ever did. His casual contempt for democracy, unpalatable embodiment of unfettered plutocracy, and general resemblance to an inverted traffic cone that has been filled with Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce cologne and given a winning lottery ticket cannot be of great concern to the party that gave rise to George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan. The mere fact that the Republican National Committee considers universally despised ideologue Ted Cruz to be a preferable option to Candidate Trump tells you all you need to know about the question of character.
Nor can it possibly be an issue of his failure to adhere to ‘traditional’ G.O.P. values that gets under the skin of anyone but the biggest hacks at the National Review. Everyone loves a winner, and Trump must be one given the number of times he says the word ‘loser’, so can they possibly believe that he’s going to do something like pursue a government-funded health care program? Trump is a right-wing moneybags through and through, and his status as a newly polished turd won’t change the way he smells. His putative friendships with the liberal elite amount to nothing more than the usual tycoonish star-fucking and favor-mongering, and he’s still the same rich bag of shit who chased street vendors away from the sidewalks in front of his buildings because he didn’t like a bunch of poors cluttering up his expensive property. The belief that he would do anything as President to deviate from the party’s single motivating ideal — that rich people ought to be able to operate uninhibited in their attempts to become even richer — simply has no foundation in reality, and in terms of foreign policy, he will happily wave those decisions aside to whatever party hack the RNC suggests, because Donald Trump does not give a whirling shit about foreign policy. The number of things he cares about is one, and that thing has the name Donald J. Trump.
A year from now, there are two very likely scenarios, irrespective of all the hand-wringing both Democrats and Republicans are currently engaging in about the New Fascism and the Death of the Grand Old Party. Either Trump, or the collection of country-club toilet bacteria that animates his Marcraft suits, will be a swinish, venal asshole whose chance to lead the nation was snatched away from him by Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz or some other nearly identical malignant mahatma, thus allowing him to play the martyr who could have saved us all if only those cowardly Republicans hadn’t cheated the American public, or he will be a swinish, venal asshole whose chance to lead the nation was snatched away from him by that conniving bitch Hillary Clinton and her elitist cronies, thus allowing him to play the martyr who could have saved us all if only those devious Democrats hadn’t cheated the American public. Either way, he wins in a way that will be much more personally satisfying to him than actually having to govern the nation, which cuts into his time being a bloated shitbag who gets to be on TV only by choice.
Of course, I could be wrong; of course, he could still become President. In that case, I look forward to hearing from the Clinton campaign how they managed to lose the most winnable election since Kim Jong-Il vs. Nobody in 2009. Tomorrow we’ll talk about how Trump got here in the first place and how it’s the fault of the Democrats, but right now I have to make sure my passport is up to date.