Trump Grumps

Hmmm… I wonder if it is a good idea to begin a column with a stupid question?

Clearly, many real writers ask rhetorical questions some of which are so obviously rhetorical as to appear stupid, but what about the brazenly stupid question?

Oh well, in for a penny in for a pound. Let’s give it a try.

Did you know Donald Trump was running for President?

He is and he is actually leading in some Republican polls. Where he is not doing at all well is among the candidates, parties, political professionals and commentators who appear to be most concerned that he is derailing their quadrennial election gravy train by flaunting the gravy train rules.

If Trump were a satirical candidate like Pat Paulson, Vermin Supreme, Stephen Colbert, Pogo or Will Rogers, it would be fine because they were making fun of the somewhat distorted and defective process we use to choose our leader.

The problem for the gravy train riders arises when the comedian – Italy’s Beppe Grillo comes to mind – uses the somewhat distorted and defective process to actually become a leader. From their perspective, if the wrong guy wins, it calls their livelihoods into question.

Curiously, the “wrong guy” does not mean the Democrat if you are a Republican or the Republican if you are a Democrat. Over a lifetime, it is important for each to win some of the time lest there be no contests to be paid to contest. The gravy train riders get paid for losing though perhaps not quite as much as they get paid for winning. And they want the game to go on.

The risk created by Trump is having voters realize that our endless nominating process is largely a huge publicity stunt at least for the vast majority of the allegedly “real” candidates who pretend to follow the gravy train rules. They are not running for President; they are running for name recognition, talk show spots and the perks of having been a presidential candidate. If Trump can do it too, why can’t Kim Kardashian, Caitlyn Jenner, Pete Rose or Lance Armstrong? That would ruin it for everyone.

Donald Trump strikes me as a jerk, but even a jerk can have something useful to say.

Perhaps we should be asking ourselves whether Trump’s oddball campaign / publicity stunt highlights anything useful for us to think about when we choose our President?

That would not be as stupid a question as the one I led off with.

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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  • In saying that Trump’s success has exposed the American nominating process for what it is, at heart a publicity stunt, you have hit a central nerve of U.S. politics. How else can one explain the extraordinary impact of money (vs. position papers, debate outcomes and retail door-to-door campaigning)? And as you have eloquently observed in previous columns, we get it coming and going: the impact of money is at least as great on the process of governance as it is on elections. Who’s going to do something about it? And when?

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Barry. If the blather distributed in favor of or against each party or candidate is an accurate reflection of the mental acumen of the voters, it will be a tough fight.

      • Both useful comments here. I would argue that Trump’s campaign has been successful in getting attention in the media, but probably very unsuccessful at getting the important support required for the Republican nomination. He has rung the dinner bell for a very small segment of the Republican electorate while simultaneously turning off the vast majority of moderate Republicans and Dems.

        When it comes to the relationship between money and politics, there’s only one thing that is going to disrupt that: a sustained populist movement with grassroots support.

    • If I recall correctly, the Pres and VP are constitutionally required to be from different states. Trump and Stern might both be New Yorkers. I think he needs a running mate from Potomac MD.

  • Trump is as welcome as Sanders, et al.
    Maybe we’ve become so politically correct that his brash behavior seems beyond the pale.
    Whereas, he’s voicing sentiments of some of the populous in general w/o regard to party registration!
    “We’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” resonates.
    Fun that it’s Trump’s dime, to date! Can you imagine the uproar if the Nat Treasury were somehow subsidizing?

    • Maybe there should be an “in the Quiet of Your Own Home” Primary in which the candidates were permitted (encouraged?) to discuss issues that might only be discussed in such a venue?