Sunday, May 8, 2016
The Trump Problem 2: What the Elites Don't Know, but the Base Understands
This morning, the Oracle of Wasilla Sarah Palin made a curse against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and all his doin's, to the effect of her being in support of Rep. Ryan's being primaried and cast in the place of darkness, there to wail and gnash his teeth, like Eric Cantor was.
This is not an absurd thing to say. There is a Republican challenger for Ryan's seat, and if I know anything about the good folks of Wisconsin, it's that they voted for Walker three times and produced a Glenn Grothman, so? Maybe the pride of Janesville should feel a little discomfort. (Or maybe, if freed from having to appeal to everybody as the guy both begged to become Speaker of the House and arm-twisted until he had to deny wanting to make a run at the convention for president in the event it was contested, the sigh of relief.) But how vast this former VP candidate's (Ryan, I mean, not Palin) heresy is depends on your POV.
After all, when I derided Paul Ryan's response to Trump's nomination as he was "just not ready" as being willing to be brought to "yes", I considered that he was going to get there, eventually, but it was just possible that he was aware of a certain ticket with a flashy, but under-informed VP candidate with great right-wing bona fides, but which, nonetheless, lost to a celebrity-quality POC with a funny foreign name and a gaffe-prone 70's vintage Democrat Congresscritter. And even Sarah Palin knows the weaknesses of that particular ticket. In other words--Ryan is just being cagey about whether the entire country is ready to swallow what the GOP base drinks in every day.
I remember when that very question was very much on the minds of a handful of high-profile names in the GOP circa 2009. Rep. Eric Cantor, former Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Gov. Jeb Bush were all keen to take what they learned from the post-mortems of the 2008 election and try to reconcile it with a listening tour of the Republican base.
There's a pretty impressive "Where are they now?" Romney lost in 2012, Rep. Cantor lost in a primary, and Jeb Bush's 2016 Presidential Primary bid was a subject of pity and awe. Whatever they were listening to--it could not help them.
Donald Trump is a lot like Sarah Palin. He makes marginally more sense and is more of a business success, but the best arguments against him are against the elite--he is a basher-in of the noses of the household gods of the elite. The CIA doesn't know whether he can even be trusted to understand or keep their classified counsel. He threatens to defaut on the US's debt. He thinks, as only a rich person can, the the credit of the US is so amaaaaazing that he can settle the debt with negotiation in eight years, without raising taxes on the rich, except he might lower them, but who knows? He would no more be predictable on that than he is about foreign policy--how do you like your consumer index against that uncertainty?
There were neocons in 2008 who did not care for Barack Obama, but went with him because of temperament and because they thought he understood what the hell was going on. I think people of a similar mindset--caring about whether someone understands what the hell is going on, will get Hillary Clinton the same kind of cross-over support in the general election. But Trump is already prepared to talk dirty to that base.
This, you ginormous assholes who pretended that government shut-downs or defaulting on the debt or just being some kind of third-world zero-minimum wage hell-hole that has workers and a standing army defending a debt-service engine are A-ok with you, is what you reaped. The base thinks Trump doesn't sound different--but better. He at least is addressing immigration and all the other things the elites pretended was scary to get their votes.
The regular folks always knew the elites were full of shit, they just never were certain about what. The success of Trump proves it. That he won't be any better in office isn't their problem, but the problem of people who might have known how things work, but pretended otherwise. He is the counterfactual arisen.
The elites seeded the ground in a way that made Trump happen and pretend to be diffident now. Really--I remember when a casino billionaire supported Newt Gingrich. When Foster Friess supported Rick Santorum
Donald Trump is just a billionaire running for his ownself and eliminating the middlemen.
Does the base know Trump is playing them but isn't one of them?
The media says meh. The base wants more and better and faster and now! Trump promises the world. But I think he will only give entertainment.
If this kills Paul Ryan's political future--whev. I think he might be better than some, but elections, at their most democratic, are all about that base, no?
Vox Populi, Vox Die in a fire.