Wednesday, February 24, 2016

For a while now I've been trying to make sense of Donald Trump's popularity with Republican voters, and to figure out what it all means.  How can so many people be so stupid?

I've been thinking more and more that Donald Trump's campaign reminds me of George Wallace's 1968 Presidential campaign.  (Something I'm too young to remember personally, but that I learned about in history class.)

And then I saw the headline:

Donald Trump Expresses A Desire To Punch A Protester And His Supporters Go Wild

...and the George Wallace parallel was cemented in my brain.  (George Wallace was also famous for threatening violence to people who protested him.  He once threatened to run over any student protester who would try to sit down in front of his car.)

I was going to write a post on this, but then I thought: actually, this is just too obvious.  I can't have been the only person who's thought of this.  

So I did a quick Google search, and, sure enough, lots of other people have been making this connection for months now. The New York Times, Slate,, The Daily Beast, Democracy Now, Politico, Buzzfeed: they all have articles making this connection.

Rachel Maddow has a whole show on the topic.

Of course, it's one thing to identify a historical parallel.  To figure out what it all means is something I'm still sorting out.  But Rachel Maddow makes the good point that there's nothing unique about the year 2016.  It was always thus.  Or at the very least, every few years this kind of thing rises up again.

As for my Donald Trump predictions from a couple months ago, I don't know what to think anymore.  As it looks like Donald Trump might now seriously be the Republican nominee, I may have to eat my hat and admit I was wrong about him not being a serious candidate.
...but on the other hand, when I listen to all the things that are coming of his mouth, I still have a hard time believing he's taking his own presidential campaign seriously, in spite of all his successes.  It still seems to me that he's doing everything he can to sabotage himself.


Darrell Reimer said...

Big sigh. I begrudge just how much attention is being lavished on this guy and his campaign, so I usually pass over the various links in my FB feed, or what have you. However. Robert W. Merry's piece, Why Trump Has Already Won makes as much sense as I've found to date.

The times we live in are too interesting by half.

Darrell Reimer said...

Also: Matt Taibi

Joel Swagman said...

At our afterwork drinking sessions, there's always a lot of tension here whenever someone tries to bring up Donald Trump. Half the group will want to talk about it, and half the group will insist that they're sick to death of Donald Trump, and try to shout down anyone who wants to talk about it.

I've sided with one group on one day, and the other on another day, depending on my mood. Sometimes it just seems like all too much of a joke, and you don't want to waste any intellectual energy thinking about it. Sometimes it just seems so incredible that you have to talk to someone about it.

I hate to say it, however, but we have officially reached the point where it's stopped being a joke. He is now the likely Republican Nominee. So it's time to start taking him seriously.

Joel Swagman said...

I enjoyed both of those articles, but I especially liked the Matt Taibi one. I forgot what a good writer Matt Taibi is. He is not only insightful, but he just writes very colorful essays.

There were a couple insights I thought were particular good.

To quote:

But, in an insane twist of fate, this bloated billionaire scion has hobbies that have given him insight into the presidential electoral process. He likes women, which got him into beauty pageants. And he likes being famous, which got him into reality TV. He knows show business.

That put him in position to understand that the presidential election campaign is really just a badly acted, billion-dollar TV show whose production costs ludicrously include the political disenfranchisement of its audience. Trump is making a mockery of the show, and the Wolf Blitzers and Anderson Coopers of the world seem appalled. How dare he demean the presidency with his antics?

But they've all got it backward. The presidency is serious. The presidential electoral process, however, is a sick joke, in which everyone loses except the people behind the rope line. And every time some pundit or party spokesman tries to deny it, Trump picks up another vote.

end quote

That's really the truth. The presidential race has been such a circus for so long, I guess it was really only a matter of time before someone exploited it as a circus.


It's stuff like this that has conservative pundits from places like the National Review bent out of shape. Where, they ask, is the M-F'ing love? What about those conservative principles we've spent decades telling you flyover-country hicks you're supposed to have?

Darrell Reimer said...

Yeah, those both nailed it pretty hard for me too. So much presumption.