Thursday, October 20, 2016

Response to The Hot Take

(See Just Above Sunset: The Hot Take)

So as of today, there are, at least theoretically, only 19 days until this is all over. Or at least that’s true for most of us, including Hillary Clinton — although maybe less time than that for Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who I suspect will be pushed out before election night, if she doesn’t jump first.

As for Donald Trump himself, he may have 81 days, which gives him until inauguration day to decide whether to accept the results of the election, unless he grants himself an extension.

He’ll have to look around him at that time and, with mock solemnity, pronounce whether or not the election was “rigged”,  whatever it is that he decides this even means, and then decide what to do about it. Maybe he’ll have a ghostwriter write a book about it, and then try to sell it to Hollywood.

While this has been pointed out before (although I’m sure most party members will refuse to agree with this), we can all place the blame for the rise of Donald Trump on the slow-motion collapse of the Republican party over the past fifty years, owed to the fact that it has, during that whole time, been carrying within itself the seeds of its own destruction. That is to say, the kinds of people party members have aimed to be over those years are just the kind of people who are attracted to Trump.

It can arguably be traced back to the astounding success of Barry Goldwater’s driving the centrist-dominated party off the road in 1964. Although conservatives lost that election, the outlaw status granted them by their failure allowed them to change the rules of politics, rendering it henceforth heroic to adhere more solidly to principles comprised of uncompromising nonsense than is healthy in a self-ruled republic.

Conservatism’s hijacking of the GOP paved the road to the invasion of Washington in 1994 by the “Contract with America” crowd, at which time Newt Gingrich, with the help of pollster Frank Luntz, started compiling lists of trash-talk "talking points" to be used to demonize DemocratsLuntz "helped Gingrich produce a GOPAC memo that encouraged Republicans to 'speak like Newt' by describing Democrats and Democratic policies using words such as ‘corrupt,’ ‘devour,’ ‘greed,’ ‘hypocrisy,’ ‘liberal,’ ‘sick,' and ‘traitors’”— thereby recklessly upsetting that delicate balance that had previously allowed the two parties to share responsibility for managing the country.

Throughout the 1990s, a bogus series of investigations into everything the Clintons did was launched by the actual “Vast Conservative Conspiracy”, funded by Pittsburgh billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife through his so-called "Arkansas Project", to the point of poisoning the Clinton political brand forever; insufficiently-conservative Republicans (called “Rinos”, for “Republicans In Name Only”) were targeted by hardliners in hopes of ethnically cleansing the party; and “Tea Partiers” turned “primary” into simultaneously a verb and a threat.

After impeachments and government shutdowns and threats to tank the American economy if it didn’t get its way — and finally an arbitrary refusal to vote on a presidential appointment to the Supreme Court — the new Republican base effectively brought American governance to a halt. Hope gave way to hopelessness after feeble attempts at reform, like Reince Priebus’s 2012 election-debacle “autopsy”, which urged that the party make attempts to be nice to minorities and women, fizzled.

Maybe they should have heeded him and shown more self-restraint, but Priebus’s fellow Republicans, who recognized his “autopsy" as nothing more than lipstick on a pig, couldn’t help themselves, just as Donald Trump, being Donald Trump, himself rebuffed all attempts throughout his campaign to clean up his act. Trump is what he is, just as Republicans are what they are, and it is not within their nature to not do what they do. 

When you think about it, all of this made it almost inevitable that only some self-funding out-of-control billionaire — an outsider who is, at the same time, crass and incompetent and ignorant and deplorable in most every way — should emerge from the Republican primaries as the nominee, despite the fact that the same psuedo-macho qualities that attracted his Republican primary voters would necessarily repel the larger, more discerning portion of American electorate. It had been pre-determined by history that he, along with his party, lost this race before he even got off that escalator.

You and I have nothing to do with this, other than to watch from the sidelines, wondering if they have hit bottom yet — and if not, how will we know when it happens?

But maybe early next year, someone will suggest the party split into two parts and go their separate ways. It will be interesting to watch Republican elected officials sort themselves into whichever party, and also to watch them fight over who gets to keep what.

Meanwhile, although I’m sure we will all have lost interest by then, it will also be mildly interesting to see what Trump decides to do if he finds that the election was rigged — and he will. A political movement, or even military insurgency? I doubt it. His followers were too lazy to find out what the hell was really going on in the world, so how likely are they to open up neighborhood offices and register voters, much less take their firearms to the hills and live in tents?

Maybe Trump will use his new mailing list to start a TV network, or maybe a TV show, or at least a podcast, or maybe try to somehow franchise the “Trump Movement” — at which franchisees will next year launch a class-action suit for fraud, and then it will quietly declare bankruptcy, late on a Friday night, after all the networks have locked in their rundowns — and about which, by that time, none of us will care anyway.

As awful as this guy is, I’m sure many of us will miss all the noise after he's gone. We must be careful what we wish for.

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