Ignore Donald Trump at your own peril. Mika Brzezinski, co-anchor of the “Morning Joe” show, said this from the beginning and everyone laughed.
Not long after Trump announced his candidacy amid a media hootenanny, Sam Stein, senior politics editor for the Huffington Post, sat across from Brzezinski and smirked that all news about Trump henceforth would be posted as entertainment on HuffPo. Brzezinski wasn’t amused. She asked how HuffPo could justify this, given that Trump led in all the polls. It’s not entertainment anymore. This is serious. Stein just shrugged.
Brzezinski then declared that discounting Trump was a huge mistake. Even lovable sort-of-douchy blowhard Joe Scarborough agreed. He pointed out that all media criticism of Trump only backfires and works to his advantage, and referred to Eugene Robinson’s column in the Washington Post, in which Robinson likened Trump to Godzilla: The more you try to destroy him, the stronger he gets.
It’s true. Trump steps in his own poop, over and over, the media scrambles to declare him terminally stinky, and so what — his shoes are Teflon. He walks away smelling like a rose. Trump confounds everything politicians and the media know about how to play the political game, yet they keep trying to neutralize him using the same tactics that just failed. (See definition of “crazy.”)
Why does Trump’s popularity keep rising along with his ever-inflating ego? Is he likable? Certainly not. Is he admirable? Well, in a strictly business sense, sure. Is the best-qualified person to serve as president of the United States?
Oh, come on!
Will Trump handle reticent, petulant Vladimir Putin by calling him stupid and a horrible person? Will he declare Angela Merkel a dog and a fat pig when she confronts him? If Congress mutinies, will Trump just bellow, “You’re fired!” and replace them all with beauty pageant contestants? (Who would probably do a better job running the government than Congress. At least we know they want world peace.)
Come on. Logically, you know Trump is a cartoon.
And this is where the wheels come off.
Trump’s burgeoning popularity isn’t about logic or sensibility. In fact, it isn’t even about Trump. It’s about anger. Not his — of his supporters.
On the July 30 episode of Morning Joe, they aired a focus group discussion of New Hampshire Trump supporters. Their comments were extraordinary. They like his no-nonsense attitude, and are unconcerned about his insensitive, politically incorrect gaffes and comments. One woman uttered the really mind-blowing epiphany: “He’s just like me.”
I know — you did a mental double-take just now. How could a billionaire megalomaniac possibly be like any of us average folks? Anger. He’s fed up with the slow grind of government incompetence and politics-as-usual. He views the current state of our political system as hopeless and knows that the corporate world has politicians dancing on strings. That’s at the heart of Trump’s appeal: Nobody can buy him because he has his own money. Therefore, he can say whatever he wants because he answers to no one. What you see is what you get. In the context of politicians whose positions blow with the breeze of self-servitude, Trump stands alone.
People trust Trump because he’s a colossal jerk from time to time, and says things they’re thinking but wouldn’t dare say out loud. He is their mouth. What comes out of that mouth is this: People are sick to death of our political system in general and Congress in particular. The majority of us sent that message to Capitol Hill when we elected Obama — twice. Hope and change. Remember that? We wanted that. What did we get? Eight years of relentless Congressional Republican obstructionism.
On the other side of the aisle, Republicans wanted something else (which is loosely defined as the opposite of whatever Obama attempts to do) and were also thwarted. And so, the entire dysfunctional ship crashed on the rocks of sequestration. Congress ceased to function because it had ceased to function.
During the thick of sequestration in 2013, a Gallup poll revealed that the public’s approval of Congress was at an all time low: 13 percent. Congressional Republicans polled worse than Democrats, but not significantly. People were mad at Congressional Republicans for obstructing progress and disgusted with Democrats for being completely impotent. We watched as Republicans beat Democrats up and stole their lunch money every day, and Democrats just sat there and peed their pants.
Congress has become unilaterally loathsome, and sequestration was the ultimate evidence. The American public is done. A pox on both your houses.
And then came Trump.
Those who can’t stomach Trump turn to Bernie Sanders, who, at the purest level, is a thinking man’s Trump. Trump and Sanders supporters essentially want the same thing: something else! They’re also angry and disillusioned, and fed up with the political status quo, but they still want to play by the rules. Trump supporters? Not so much.
Trump supporters no longer believe in the democratic process. So, what’s the only other option when democracy fails, and you’re really angry and disillusioned? Rebellion. That’s what supporting Trump represents: a rebellion; a Civil War without weapons. The bloodshed will take place on Election Day, when the rebels attempt to drop the Trump bomb on the government, blow the whole damn thing up and start over from scratch.
You may laugh at the words “President Trump.” Temper your gaiety with “Governor Schwarzenegger” and “Governor Ventura.” Both were elected when the angry and disillusioned cast a Hail Mary vote on Election Day.
It could happen.
If it does, it’s a measure of voter anger. And Congress, you have only yourselves to blame. Eugene Robinson likened Trump to Godzilla. I liken him to the terrifying Genghis Kahn, who said to those he ruined: “I am the punishment of God … If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”
Yup, Congress. You did it to yourselves. And to the entire country, too.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at email@example.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com