There’s simply too much riding on the 2016 Presidential election to be intimidated by its vast field of candidates. So in the spirit of true post-partisanship, the Weeklings has decided to help America vote right. Over the course of this 8-part series kicking off with the Iowa Caucuses and running through the New Hampshire primary, we break down our favorite Republican contenders, and tell you exactly who’s worth pulling the lever for.
Full disclosure: I wrote somewhat negatively about Donald Trump last summer, in these very pages, months before he announced he was running for president–or at least began running his mouth about what he’d do as president–with all the attendant fallout. Even if fallout is now a euphemism for poll success. In any case, I meant what I said then, and I mean it now. However, my opinion of Donald Trump’s role in national politics, and the genuine value he provides, has changed substantially. At one time I was certain he was a massive impediment to national discourse, let alone rational conversation. Now I genuinely believe he’s a powerful force for openness and clarity.
Donald Trump is the payback due the Republican party for thirty years of trickle down economics. He is the bad karma of a vast amount of wealth accumulated through a stratagem in which upper crust tax breaks and slanted regulatory policy were cynically sold as being favorable to the middle and lower class–precisely as they were sucking money from the middle and lower classes. Now, in 2016, poor Republicans have finally had enough. What the party structure failed to recognize as it courted the Tea Party eight years ago was that the Tea Party was not galvanized around ideological purity or the usual Gay Marriage and Welfare Moms red-meat distractions, it was an organic reaction to the party chiefs publicly deriding all of Obama’s economic policies while prospering under him. As the Upper Right Crust continued to make non-partisan bank, the rank and file suffered. Trump supporters are the Tea Party 2.0, on the surface an odd mix of D-list celebrities, Very Angry Women, and Turner Diaries enthusiasts—but beneath is a cauldron of almost exclusively white and underemployed men. Trump has shrewdly courted these people, who loathe the McConnell/Ryan establishment almost as much as they loathe immigration–and for exactly the same reasons–they’ve finally realized the game is rigged, and they’re the only ones not getting tons of free stuff. Like kickbacks, welfare, tax breaks, insider information, food stamps, training programs, visas, health care, Escalades, and especially golden parachutes. Trump’s supporters have opened their eyes and finally seen the Ponzi for the Scheme, gleefully supporting the total repudiation of Republican orthodoxy that their candidate represents.
The smartest thing Trump has done as a candidate is to not bother pretending that economics trickle down, or that they were ever intended to. Every time he crows about his personal wealth he’s doing the opposite of the one-percent tax breakers, and becomes even more the bizarro Romney. So what if I’m rich, Bitch is a powerful message after years of the blatantly fraudulent We all have to sacrifice together. It’s no coincidence his campaign’s three big ideas are to 1) protect entitlements, 2) stop the wily Chinese from swindling us in more “deals”, and 3) deport illegals. Sure, those measures aren’t going to fix the country, but at least they’ll stop us from getting screwed by robber barons, freeloaders, and the hoards of Salvadorans crossing the border to plant an anchor baby and then snag the last middle-management position left at Nordstroms.
The beauty of Trump is that he doesn’t care about party bosses or debate decorum. He takes no money from Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers, owes no favors to Roger Ailes or Karl Rove. He’s the anti-focus group, totally unscripted, and there is a manic beauty to a man whose slogans mock the idea of having slogans at all, whose talking points change from speech to speech, who wings it at the podium the same way he’ll wing it in negotiations with Putin about who gets to carve the biggest slice of Syria after we bomb ISIS into glass.
Trump is a human release valve, and there’s a giddy level of helium in the air every time he speaks. The sheer instability of a Donald sentence hanging above the ignored teleprompter, just before the audience gasps and the moderator stammers, is worth every vote. His glare demands that the other candidates up their wattage, a crippling development for those with no wattage to up. His most outrageous falsehoods are very likely calculated–not only to force his rivals to take stands on issues they’d prefer not to discuss at all, but to destroy the idea that there is safety in even the most anodyne statement. There’s nowhere to run, no conservative route, everything continually in play. When Trump blithely admits that he used to donate money to candidates from both parties because those donations bought favors and he was a businessman who needed favors, what can anyone else say? With one sentence he indicts them all as being paid-for shills, complicit in a fraudulent system that he shrewdly engaged in as a ruthless entrepreneur, but now floats above as a billionaire candidate. Checkmate.
The candidate who wins in 2016 is going to be the one who best takes advantage of the fact that America, after half a century, is fed up with hollow bromides and meaningless promises. It wants action, it wants unpredictability, it wants a version of truth that’s not only packed full of nails-as-redress, but is delivered without a shred of apology.
It wants Trump.
At least for now.
You should vote for Trump because he transcends prediction or analysis. Because he’s the corrective the Republican party laid out for itself three decades ago, forgetting that eventually everyone has to take their medicine. Because he is our Ouroboros, America eating itself, a pigeon come home to a Queens rooftop, fat and proud and glistening. These are odd and dangerous times, so why not pull the lever for a destructive savant of the very best kind, a toy Sekhmet who will either browbeat, infect, extinguish, tar, or make irrelevant all those who come in contact with him?
When Donald Trump raises his hand at the inauguration and delivers a confidently nasal, “You bet your ass I do,” America will finally have become great again.