Trump Fatigue

People have been predicting a Donald Trump flameout since February, but he kept proving them wrong by winning primaries. Their predictions might not have been in error - just premature. As the "Summer of Trump" gave way to the "Autumn Winter and Spring of Trump" there are signs the novelty might be wearing off.

Trump's sophomoric statements aimed at the newly elected mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim, and the response by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo when she was asked about Trump show that among people representing some of our closest allies Trump Fatigue has already set in.

Trump's fundraising deal with the Republican donor class has started a new round of pandering to "conservatives" and backtracking on some of the key promises that animate his campaign. These attempts to play nice with the Republican establishment can only hurt his brand and dissipate the energy of his angry white base.

Not only will kissing up to figures like Sheldon Adelson and Paul Ryan reveal Trump as a flip-flopper, his fan base has already rejected many of the so-called conservative principles he now must embrace: tax cuts for the rich and austerity for everyone else, "free trade" deals that outsource jobs, voucherizing Medicare, privatizing Social Security, and engaging in endless foreign wars. These policies aren't popular among rank-and-file "conservatives" anymore, and certainly not with Trump's core supporters.

If he moves too close to the establishment on these unpopular issues Trump risks turning his insurgent campaign into just another vanity run by a bored white billionaire. A big part of Trump's appeal has been the result of the white working class rebuffing the corporatist agenda of the Republican establishment, an agenda Paul Ryan and the big donors confuse with "conservative principles."

Trump is a master of the 24-hour news cycle. He knows how to strike just the right chord to set off the Drudge-Fox-Talk Radio conveyor belt straight into the heart of the corporate media. And at the close of one news cycle he injects another shocker into the media maw to be chewed on for the next 24 hours.

We've never seen a demagogue quite like Trump before, a celebrity with gut media instincts and Twitter chops. Yet there's got to be a point where America changes the channel.

Trump is like the cymbal player in a John Philip Sousa band. When he unleashes he grabs attention and the sound can be deafening. But audiences can only take so many cymbal crashes before they crave a little subtlety in their music. And Trump doesn't do subtlety.

People who originally saw Trump's campaign as an elaborate publicity stunt still might be proven right. Even if he loses badly in November he'll for perpetuity be introduced as the "Former Presidential Candidate." That will be terrific for the Trump brand. But Trump has never faced the general electorate.

Long before Trump, Republican governors and secretaries of state in swing states were already moving to suppress as many Democratic votes they can get away with. But even with all the voter roll purges, ID roadblocks, and the rationing of voting machines these efforts can be overcome if enough young people, college students, African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and others register to vote in large numbers, get to the polls, and don't allow long lines and disrespectful treatment dissuade them from exercising their Constitutional rights.

The fact that either major party in the United States could nominate a figure like Trump is evidence itself for the decay of American democracy.

The Trump train wreck has been in the making for decades. The Republicans' "Southern Strategy" ended up "Southernizing" the party. And when the first African American president was elected the GOP base turned to birtherism and the dog whistles got louder. Trump rose out of the reactionary impulse that beats in the hearts of every angry white man who believes America has left him behind.

But after eight years of President Obama embodying a vision of a multicultural America the idea of diversity has been institutionalized. And we're not going back.

Trump is like a giant helium-filled Macy's Thanksgiving Parade balloon, filled with hot air, but able to attract attention for doing nothing except being highly visible. By November an energized opposition should be able to poke it full of holes until it leaks and flattens and descends to the ground.