I keep wondering just what it is that so bothers me about Donald Trump and try as I might I simply cannot help but be puzzled by his resilience and his growing appeal within a substrata of the human condition known as conservative Republicans. Even when discounting the deep-seated anger and frustration that is legitimately felt by a large sector of the American electorate it just seems illogical that this blustering scion of privilege, this narcissistic braggart, Ivy League-educated New York socialite, and just for good measure bombastic opportunist devoid of tact, diplomacy, ideals or ideas is capable of energizing a conservative base whose only convictions seem to lie with opposing the President. Do they really think he is one of them? Talk about delusions of grandeur!
Certainly he has capitalized on a modern-day version of taking America back to a simpler time when it was readily apparent who the good minorities were. In other words, we knew who the "good ones" were and were confident that as long as the levers of power were controlled by White men all was good with the world. But the world has changed and will continue to change and the party who has run on the slogan of "Taking Back America" is resolutely determined to hold on to the dream that we can actually turn back the hands of time. The retro dreamers are damn determined to deny modern-day dreamers the reality of a society that is reflective of the diversity that accompanies the very cultural integration that distinguishes America from the rest of the world. Mr. Trump, if you really want to make America great again you can start by facing the fact that America is a reality show based on the celebration of our differences, not our homogeneity. And even more disturbing is the idea that somehow he gets to determine who the "good ones" are. Really? By what calculus, your own ample gut? A determination of who will be the most compliant workers? Or those who are the weakest negotiators or the most vulnerable to being swindled in the art of the deal?
Yet he stands defiant in front of throngs of largely white, elderly voters who either do not see or acknowledge the future of our country or refuse to accept what is actually happening. He tells us how smart he is and how stupid others are. He talks of competence in making money as though it absolves him for lack of either conviction or morality. He tells us he will surround himself with "good" people yet he lends no hint of an ability to listen to anyone other than the voices in his head, safely shielded by a coiffed hairstyle that seemingly defies gravity. He offers little by way of concrete policy prescriptions for what ails us yet boisterously preaches platitudes about how everything he does will be great. He is rude, crude and arrogant and panders to those who are completely comfortable with a passion for dumbing down America. Yet he is "winning" by whining. Make no mistake about it, if you listen to him closely he is definitely a whiner. Oh great, just what we need, NOT!
Of course, there is still a lot of ground to cover in the marathon race that is the nomination process and the beginning stages of the process are crowded with runners who have yet to hit their stride. Talk of his imminent demise are greatly exaggerated and it is not at all certain how high his ceiling is, but as the race takes shape it is likely that as the competition becomes more focused and the pack dwindles he will see his lead shrink or evaporate altogether. In the meantime, the media seems intent on showering him with lavish attention and he will remain an attraction at the carnival much as the bearded lady or the two-headed snake. That is a reality we all have to live with for the immediate time frame. So be it.
It is conventional wisdom that from a partisan standpoint the best thing that Democrats can do is to simply sit back and let the carnage that Trump is visiting upon the GOP play out with little or no interference from them. If he decides to run as an independent it is hard to see how that hurts Democrats, so allowing him full leeway is an appropriate response at this juncture. It is a sad thing indeed to watch our national dialogue poisoned with such drivel that passes for political discussion, but sadder still that it has energized other candidates to emulate silliness bordering on insanity. That such action and reaction will continue to marginalize the prospects for a Republican presidential victory next year is about the only consolation that can come from the theater of the absurd that is playing out in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Alabama and elsewhere.
Trump is in love with Trump. His eloquence in articulating this man-love is disgustingly genuine. But it is where eloquence in the Trump repertoire begins and ends. The rest of his work in progress agenda is proffered with a lack of coherence and fuzzy articulation that would make a middle-school teacher wince. The true measure of intellectual capacity is not the ability and insistence of the individual to constantly remind the audience just how smart he or she is, but rather to exhibit it through the power of the ideas and thought processes presented in lucid and coherent dialogue. Trump is always right, and he will constantly remind you of that. Trump is cocksure he can fix things by force of personality, and he will constantly remind you of that. Trump is convinced that business acumen will translate into political shrewdness, in business success is determined by squashing competitors and the same must also be true in politics according to the Trump doctrine. There is no basis upon which to make such an assertion except that Trump believes it to be so and therefore it must be, and he will constantly remind you of that.
In conclusion, what bothers me most about Trump is the fact that in order to persuade you, he must pummel you with ineloquent assertions that are delivered with a pugilistic insistence that leaves little room for doubt, discussion, or analysis. He may be wrong but never in doubt. He is a plutocrat posing as a populist. While it bothers me in the short-term I cannot help but hope that in the long-term he will be revealed for the phony that he is. In the meantime, we can only watch as he enjoys the ride and hope that it is a quick ride.