Now that the Republican and Democratic conventions are behind us we begin gearing up for the general election. The tone and tenor of this election has, up to now, been disturbingly substance-free. Focused on personalities rather than policies and minutiae instead of the crux of the issues at hand, the primaries consisted almost entirely of inter-party and intra-party ad-hominem attacks, dirty tricks, and manipulation.
The Republicans have, on the surface, been fighting a Trump vs. “anybody else” battle where Trump has emerged as an icon for everything wrong with the GOP. While the Democrats are fighting for the soul of their party, the Republican Party has already lost its soul. That struggle is over. The zombie party that remains may be reincarnated as something else – but clearly it now exists in the land of the undead with Trump serving as a placeholder candidate for a party unable to nominate their own from deep inside a mausoleum of their own creation. Torn apart by the internal power struggle between the party establishment, tea party conservatives, economic libertarians, and the religious right, these factions dug their own graves and in the final abandonment of principle have unleashed a political Jacob Marley to wander the earth dragging their chains behind them.
Donald Trump is not undead, he is very much alive.
Donald Trump is not really a Republican.
Donald Trump is not a conservative.
Donald Trump is something different. Donald Trump is the first candidate of the “Trumpist” Party. What will be left of the Republican Party in the aftermath of this is anybody’s guess – but it will look nothing like the GOP of the past. Regan’s big tent is down and the elephants are being retired from show biz, no longer useful in the one-ring circus that is the party of Trump.
It’s certainly not lost on anybody who doesn’t have their head firmly up Donald’s derriere that Trump doesn’t have anything resembling a developed philosophy of governance, a handle on policy, a fundamental grasp of economics, or the basic understanding of international affairs we would expect of an eighth-grade schoolchild. He does not understand the Constitution nor the separation of powers that lie at the very core of our system of government. He lacks any respect for an independent judiciary, freedom of the press, due process, or the rule of law itself. He also has no regard for facts and doesn’t care if anything he says is true. Just Google “factcheck trump” for confirmation of this. None of these assertions are idle conjecture on my part, they are clearly evidenced in statements he has made and continues to make on an almost daily basis. His recent call for the Russians to hack into Hillary Clinton’s email which has brought his deep ties to the Russian oligarchy into focus is just the latest example. There will undoubtedly be more.
One of the first orders of business at party conventions is the passing of the party platform. The platform of a political party states its undergirding philosophy, aspirational goals, and sets forth its intended policy initiatives. While it is not uncommon for a party’s nominee to pay little more than lip-service to some of the platform, typically the standard-bearer will at least sign on to its core initiatives. If you have read the platform passed at the RNC which calls for turning back the clock on just about every social initiative and advancement in economic justice you might consider this a good thing. Rebranding “trickle-down” as “economic freedom”, calls to once again deregulate Wall Street (“freeing financial markets”) and selling LGBT+ discrimination as “religious liberty” among other outrageous positions, one might consider Donald’s overall lack of interest in this platform to be a good thing although that may be more due to the fact that his now infamously short attention span would likely prevent him from getting past the second paragraph of this ponderous 58 page prescription for returning America to the stone age.
Donald Trump has his own platform. It’s not written down anywhere because much if not all of it comes from his head as he thinks about it, but Trump’s platform is not the Republican Party’s platform. It’s the Trumpist platform.
Welcome to the age of the Trumpist Party. Formed by the genetic engineering of the Tea Party with a desire to return to a bygone age of simplicity and lack of structure, the Trumpist party is in the process of procreating in a political Jurassic Park of fearsome creatures long thought to be extinct.
The Trumpist party doesn’t have a written platform because writing things down makes your positions less fungible. The ability to change ones stance for the audience you are trying to please is far more difficult if you have to answer to a written statement making it much harder to claim that you were just joking. The Trumpist Party doesn’t have a written platform because writing things down holds one accountable. A quick review of Mr. Trump’s history shows just how much he believes in accountability – at least for himself.
The Trumpist party doesn’t have a written platform because writing a platform requires that you have a plausible philosophy that will withstand logical scrutiny and is somehow based on facts.
Most of all, the Trumpist party doesn’t have a written platform because Trumpism appeals to people who only care that someone is telling them what they want to hear. That what you are saying has absolutely no basis in truth doesn’t matter, and the bigger the lie and the more frequently repeated the more likely the masses are to believe you because, in the words of one of the most notorious demagogues in history . . .
“All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true within itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.” – Adolph Hitler . . . Mein Kampf (Vol I, Chapter X)
We have clearly seen that the Trumpist Party has fully adopted this philosophy and used it to its advantage, and like the party created by the despot who defined “the big lie” the Trumpist party appeals to the masses by validating their fears, providing an object for those fears, and offering itself up as the only salvation from being assimilated. It extols the virtues of nationalism and national exceptionalism while promising to make a once proud nation “great again”.
Where will the Trumpist Party take us? With any luck we will never find out, but with a compliant congress and the ability to nominate multiple justices to the Supreme Court we might find liberties we take for granted impotent to save us from the intentions of a leader whose only aim is power and control.