I was one of those who said Donald Trump would never win the Republican nomination. I was only half wrong. He won the nomination, but was it still the Republican Party from that point? What we have now is better termed the Trumpublican Party. The Congress is certainly Trumpublican, as of this writing, anyway. It is an open question as to whether this situation can endure after Donald Trump himself has passed on to that great bankrupt casino in the sky.
Will they just haul up a new “bombastic” slinger of insults? Another Chris Christie? He was the Trump before Trump, and the prototype of this kind of leader. Nobody knew his positions on the issues, but he yelled insults at people, so that’s “strong leadership,” and Christie became for a while the heavyweight of the Republicans. But the Trump phenomenon was and is all about Trump. He has no intellectual core, other than hype, hate, hot air, and an endless barrage of insults for anyone and everyone – with the exception of one guy. There is that one man on Earth who will never face a Trump insult, or indeed anything from him save for the most cordial, polite, sweet and obsequious deference. You know the one.
The problem here is much bigger than the fact that one megalo-maniacal narcissist finagled his way into the Oval Office, which is bad enough. The problem is that the people who support him are so removed from critical thinking that they will accept anything he says or does, as long as it remains ever more plutocratic, reactionary, simplistic, and emotionalistic. Conspiracy theories are important to them, too, especially those that are too far out to pass editorial review at Marvel Comics. Trump should be able to continue delivering the formula that his base requires, despite his fraying psyche. (Have you heard him speak off-the-cuff recently?)
Just before the 2016 election I wrote a piece here called The Anti-Intellectual Revolution. It basically said that simplistic thinkers, guided by bellowing demagogues on talk radio and right-wing TV, would bring a disaster to this country. Nothing has changed since then, any more than the support from his base has changed. It becomes more cult-like all the time. But apart from the line that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose supporters, which is the best working definition of a cult I know of, we have the whole business of “fake news.”
You will notice something about this cry of fake news. Trump and company virtually never explain how a news story is fake. Never do they say exactly what is fake about it. In what way is it fake? How about an argument, as opposed to only insults? The sad fact is, his base is programmed to accept a Trump declaration of fake news as the gold standard. His word is good enough for them, on anything. He never has to present an intellectual case in response to his critics.
And so – he never does.
How much better this country’s situation would be if only he would. We might get to the truth on some of these issues. There would be a debate, instead of only an on-going avalanche of invective. But Trump doesn’t want it any other way.
The anti-intellectual revolution has served him well, and it is his personal situation that matters, not the state of civilization in America.
Ironically, fake news may have been a term first used against Trump, not by him. I first remember hearing it in regards to the “birtherism” deal, which was the horse Trump rode in on. People were saying the tales of Barack Obama being born on a witch doctor’s altar in darkest Kenya were fake news. Trump dragged this country through the birther bunk for over three years. Has anyone ever put a dollar figure on what that waste of time and energy cost us? Never will I forget the moment when Trump was finally forced to admit that Obama was born in Hawaii. He stood there at a microphone and said, “Obama was born in Hawaii. Period.” But he looked so indignant about it. Like he was the victim in all this. The wronged party.
Then later came the ultimate hypocrisy, when Ted Cruz ran for president. He was admittedly born outside of the United States, with only one parent being a US citizen, an identical situation to Obama’s. And not one peep was made about it by anybody! It was all fine!
Lack of reasoning is lack of integrity. Intellectual integrity, as well as moral integrity. If a third of the country’s population feels “good to go” with the likes of Donald Trump, it bodes only disaster for the United States going forward.