Kind of like dragging the lawnmower and weeding tools out of the garage in order to do undesired yardwork, I have to turn to Donald Trump, even if I simply don't want to. We are told we are living through an amazing time right now, and I simply don't want to be left out of any Amazing Time. So let me at it. With the first debate just around the corner (and maybe that should be capitalized too, given the importance laid on it, this First Debate), it's no time for me to be found wanting.
"Can you believe it?"
This is all anyone says. In coffee shops, in Starbucks, casual exchanges in the grocery store line-up, even at the orthodontist’s office (kids, not me). This phrase -- "can you believe it?" -- means only one thing: Trump. It means they are as horrified by the possibility of this character as the President of the U.S. as, well, everyone else. However, as just about everyone who says "can you believe it?" is a registered voter, we have to assume that 43% of them are liars, that they can very much believe it, because who else is keeping this blowfish afloat?
We are told it's the rednecks. If this is true, then the redneck vote has clearly been denigrated all these years; rednecks, it appears -- and who knew? -- will stick with you not just through thick and thin, or inanity and lies, but through famine and the flood. We should all be so lucky as to have friends who will literally come to blows to defend us when we can't find our taxes or we get caught for cheating... well, everyone. But of course the people I'm talking to in Starbucks aren't rednecks. They're regular people, and 43% of them are lying when they say, "Can you believe it?"
(Actually, I believe more than 43% of them are lying. I believe something spooky like 48% of them or more are lying, because with a candidate so unappealing to those burdened with a college education, it's likely there are a lot of closet Trump voters who shudder at the thought of professing their views at the dinner party, so don't be surprised November 9 when this country gets the government it deserves, or pray that there are closet Hillary voters).
The Democrats and liberals like me are easy to understand. If you want to know what they think just turn on the Lawrence O'Donnell show on MSNBC and witness how it's morphed into "The Hate Hour" ("Goldstein Goldstein Goldstein!" from 1984, we shout quite happily). The other night, the atrocities were so great that for no reason at all, Lawrence got two full hours!
The Republicans -- or those who profess to be Republicans -- are, as usual, a much more interesting lot. While I called it in July 2015 that Trump would probably win the nomination and most likely the Presidency, I got the Republican reaction completely wrong. Real Republicans, apparently, despise Trump -- so don't worry on that score -- but for reasons that boggle the mind. The issue isn't that the man is an out-and-out fascist who can't spell the word, a Huey P. Long without the sincerity, a George Wallace without the conviction, and certainly the most oddly successful con man the country has ever known (even P.T. Barnum didn't dream of the Presidency); no, the problem is, he isn't a traditional conservative. That's right, he just doesn't swear by trickle-down economics. Deal with that for narrow-mindedness.
It's an amazing situation we find ourselves in. There is absolutely no proof that this man is anything that he says he is, and a great deal of reason to believe he is a con man guilty of actual fraud, and yet we have no legal recourse to demand more honest and accurate tax records -- or any records -- from him. He is, in fact, a sort of Professor Marvel as played by Frank Morgan in the "Wizard of Oz", minus the charm and integrity.
Capital endeavors such as the modeling agency with the slave girls are so sordid and seamy that one wonders how anyone can credit the notion of him as a captain of anything, little less industry. This seems such small beer, and it's so hard to imagine a Bloomberg or a Gates considering this a source of income, that it really tips the hat to the idea of Trump as a virtual bankrupt, ripping off 16-year-old eastern European beauties (and doing God knows what else with them) while charging the credit cards of "students" of Trump University. Meanwhile, there are the Trump steak knives and Trump ties in the trunk of the car. How in the world is he getting away with this?
Well, firstly, he's getting away with it because members of the Republican Party forgot that they were Americans first and partisans second. They birthed this idiot through birtherism, and are now literally willing to flush the Presidency and maybe this country's next four years down the toilet rather than lose this one, although, as I say, some are such soldiers to their ideology that they'll stand against him -- again, not because he's a disaster as a human being, but because he isn’t the God Reagan.
Secondly, he's getting away with it because our education system is so abysmal that most people don't even know how the government works, including what the President does and doesn't do. It's just too complicated for them to think about, so when a snake oil salesman like Trump comes along and says he's going to make America great again "so much so that we're gonna get tired of winning, folks, we really are, we're gonna win so much" that they believe him! Even one compulsory civics course in high school might have steered us away from this particular iceberg.
The last culprit, of course, is the press, which from the beginning didn't take Trump seriously because they know almost nothing about the country, about the real pain real people feel, the frustration, the hardship, and the sense of smallness in the face of implacable forces that they feel rightly, view them as a punchline. To wit, Obama, the king of Hope and Change, golfing with Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, utterly unaware how repugnant that image was, particularly to the 12 million Americans who lost their homes from 2008 to 2014.
The main thing all this has done for us, however, is reveal the tremendous flaws in the American system. Trump could win. And if he wins, only an Article of Impeachment would remove him, which sets the high bar of proving High Crimes and Misdemeanors (well, maybe not so high for him), to say nothing of a compliant Congress. But even if it's pulled off, an impeachment sends the country into a spiral. So, therefore, the system is flawed.
Add to that what I'm calling the Nuremberg Principle. If Trump wins, there will be an entire generation of legislators and civil servants who will have to answer for how this all came about, and exactly what their role was in the Trump Administration. If Trump loses, that blood-letting will be reserved only for the Republican Party, but the damage will (with the acquiescence of Ted Cruz today) be almost universal. As a result, I have no idea who they're going to run in 2018 and 2020 or even if there's going to be a Republican party. That is not a good thing.
What's most amazing for me, though, in the final analysis, is that Americans aren't running around pulling their hair out screaming, "MY GOD! THIS GUY COULD GET ELECTED! WE NEED A NEW CONSTITUTION!" No. It's just, "Can you believe this?"
If this is an Amazing Time, we ought to act like it.