I am loving it! The Bannon-Trump fight, I mean. This is what happens to illegitimate movements once their internal inconsistencies tear them apart: the wheels fall off, and everybody is at everyone else’s throat, blaming each other for the disaster.
The illegitimate movement I refer to, of course, is Trumpism, a temporary derangement of American politics. It was never destined to last for long: a few years, at most, until the People returned to their senses and repudiated it, because it’s unnatural to our system and values.
The internal inconsistency is the same as the one that runs through the Republican Party. On one hand, they want to be perceived as a conservative party that’s responsible and can govern. On the other hand, they wink at the white supremacists, neo-nazis and uneducated slugs that fill their ranks. A read-through of the comments at Breitbart amply demonstrates the various mental illnesses (paranoia, delusions of grandeur, sociopathy) that afflict most of its readers.
For a movement to last, much less coalesce into a political party, it needs an internal consistency. The Democratic Party’s consistency, I would argue, is the concept of fairness. At least since Woodrow Wilson’s time, it has fought to include all Americans in America’s benefits. Yes, Democrats have wandered off the path, at times, but the value of internal consistency is precisely that centripetal force that brings extremes back to the center.
Republicans used to have an internal consistency, although it was not in everyone’s interests; for the GOP always has been the party of the rich. That’s a nasty, class-based consistency to have, but, in fairness, the Republican Party has been true to its one-percent funders for a century and more. But with the rise of the tea party and the election of Trump, even that consistency has gone amok. It’s impossible to say what the Republican Party stands for now. It’s become a lunatic asylum, where every face you look at is tripping on its own fantasy, each pair of eyes reflecting a different maniacal inner maelstrom.
Inside this mélange of craziness, the internecine war now being waged between Trump and Bannon is fun to watch. It’s the Mixed Martial Arts of politics, where you can enjoy whacked-out cartoon characters doing battle in the Octagon of Republicanism. Trump vs. Bannon! Watch them sock and pow each other! Watch the blood flow! Even more entertainingly, watch the Right melt down as their two greatest heroes train their guns on each other. Breitbart’s readers are literally blowing their minds: they don’t know whom to believe, what to think, whom to side with. Mostly, they’ve decided not to believe that Bannon said what he said in that book. It’s fake news, they’re saying. The book was published by Democrats, by Hillary, by radical Islamic terrorists. Bannon would never, ever say those kinds of things about his BFF, Trump, and Trump would never call his BFF, Bannon, “out of his mind.”
Well, cognitive dissonance is a hard thing for anyone to deal with, particularly low-information, intellectually-challenged Trump voters. Just when they thought they had everything figured out, here comes Bannon messing it up. Being a Breitbart fan these days is like being a little kid when your parents are having a huge fight. You want to run to your room, shut the door, turn off the lights, hide under the covers and dream—anything to get away from the mayhem in the next room. Only, in this case, there’s nowhere for Breitbart people to go. The elaborate fantasy they so carefully constructed is falling down around their heads—and then, there’s Mueller, lurking just outside the scene, like Freddy Krueger, adding yet another element of terror.
I could almost feel sorry for Trump fans—almost. But I don’t. They made their own bed: now, they have to sleep in it.