The Possibility of President Trump

Let me preface this piece by reiterating where I am with regard to presidential politics. I believe that the existing structural flaws of American constitutional government are irreparable, and that the very concept of the nation state is archaic and obsolete. I therefore see this election as a contest to determine who gets to be the guy who flips the lights off on their way out.

So with that in mind, my interest in this campaign is equivalent to my interest in, say, superhero movies. Deciding who is the best candidate is a bit like deciding which Avenger I like best. It makes for a colorful discussion, but it’s ultimately inconsequential, as far as I’m concerned. That helps me stomach the fact that everyone with a chance to win the White House is either an idiot, a criminal, or both.

Which, of course, brings us to Donald Trump.

trump1-575x385If you want to understand the Trump campaign and you’re not reading Scott Adams’ blog, you are missing the one writer who has accurately predicted every single major development in Trump’s campaign. I read it regularly – he updates it almost every day – and I’ve been amazed at how insightfully he demonstrates Trump’s masterful ability to persuade with methods that have little or nothing to do with rational thought.

My position on Trump is that he’s a shoo-in for the GOP nomination, which means he will be crushed in the general election, simultaneously destroying both the Republican Party and the entire conservative movement in the process. This contradicts Scott Adams’ prediction, which is that Trump will win the White House in a landslide. Previously, I couldn’t imagine such a thing happening for a number of reasons – Trump’s xenophobia will alienate Hispanic voters; no Republican can win the Electoral College given current demographics, and Trump is such a personally repugnant fellow that no serious person could consider elevating him to the highest office in the land.

Now I’m seriously considering that maybe Scott Adams might be right.

Let’s break down each reason separately.

1.Trump’s xenophobia will alienate Hispanic voters.

Hispanics constitute 10% of the electorate and represent the largest non-white voting bloc in the country. As the country becomes increasingly diverse, it becomes next to impossible for any candidate to achieve victory without solid support from Latino voters. George W. Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, while Mitt Romney only managed a paltry 27% eight years later. The Latino trend away from the Republican Party has only accelerated since then, and given Trump’s ludicrous proposal to wall off the Southern border and deport 11 million people in the largest forced relocation of human beings in recorded history, surely we can expect 110% of Hispanics to vote for Hillary this time around, right?

Don’t be so sure.

As Adams repeatedly points out on his blog, Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal” describes how The Donald conducts negotiations. He begins by asking for the moon – something far too outrageous for the other side to possibly accept. That anchors the discussion on Trump’s turf, so that when the final agreement is reached, it’s actually far closer to what Trump really expected to get all along. Surely, Adams posits, this is what Trump is doing on immigration. When he comes out of the primary, he is sure to abandon the more extreme elements of his unworkable and immoral proposal and champion something far more reasonable. The fact that it will flatly contradict his recent position won’t be a big deal at all. Massive ideological flip-flops haven’t proven to be a problem for Trump at any point in this campaign, and it won’t start here.

So Trump comes down from the Great Wall and tells Hispanic voters that he recognizes the insensitivity of his original stance, and he asks them to take a second look at the “new Trump.” By doing this, he doesn’t lose any Tea Partiers – where else are they going to go? Hillary? – but he has the potential to persuade Hispanic voters to take a second look.

But will they?

I’ll address that under point #2.

2. No Republican can win the Electoral College given current demographics

In 2012, Mitt Romney won a larger percentage of the white vote than Ronald Reagan did in 1980. It wasn’t nearly enough. Hispanic voters, as noted above, are increasingly Democratic, and black voters have been voting almost unanimously for Democrats for more than a generation. Diversity, therefore, strongly favors the Democrats, and as the country becomes less WASPish, the GOP, which is the party of old white guys, fades in influence. 240 out of 270 electoral votes are not even going to be contested this time around – those belong to Hillary right out of the gate.

At least, that’s how a conventional race looks. But Donald Trump’s presence makes this a decidedly unconventional race.

A recent poll showed Trump getting 40% of the black vote. That’s almost 4 times higher than the best showing by any Republican in the last thirty years. It also shows Trump with 45% of the Hispanic vote, even before he softens his ludicrous immigration positions. How is this possible?

Well, I think the reality is that no Republican could get these numbers, but Donald Trump is not viewed, by most voters, through any partisan lens. Their experience with Trump predates his political involvement, and their opinion of him is not necessarily tainted by his party affiliation. The Trump brand trumps the Republican brand.

In addition, it’s clear that black support for Democrats is more cultural than ideological. For instance, churchgoers overwhelmingly vote for Republicans, but black churchgoers still unanimously vote for Democrats, despite the fact that they more often line up with Republicans on social issues.  But since Trump isn’t really perceived as a Republican, the GOP stigma that repels black voters won’t necessarily come into play.

If a Republican can erode the monolithic black support for Democrats, even a little bit, that’s a huge game changer. And if Trump really can get a whopping 40% of black voters, there is absolutely no way Hillary can win.

3. Trump is such a personally repugnant fellow that no serious person could consider elevating him to the highest office in the land.

To me, this is the most self-evident argument of the three, yet it’s also the weakest. Fact is, people love Donald Trump. They respond positively to him on a visceral level, which means that rational argument isn’t going to convince them to ignore their gut feeling.

I bump into this kind of thing all the time when I point out that Bill Clinton is a sexual predator – people ignore the facts because they just love Bubba. And people have consistently ignored every ridiculously asinine thing that has come out of Trump’s mouth. No, that’s not true – they don’t ignore his incendiary rhetoric. They embrace it. They love that he speaks his mind, even though what he says should be unspeakable.

The bond Donald Trump has established between himself and his supporters is deep and powerful, and it has little or nothing to do with ideology or policy. It’s going to be very difficult, therefore, to talk a Trump lover out of it, since their adoration isn’t even remotely rational to begin with.

All this said, I still can’t quite bring myself to believe that we’ll ever have to say the words “President Trump” and mean them. I keep thinking the country will eventually snap out of it. But keep in mind that when it comes to politics, I’ve been completely and utterly wrong most of the time. Just ask President Romney.

Gosh, doesn’t “President Romney” sound so much better than “President Trump?”

Schlomo the Christmas Whale

Schlomo

Christmas comes to everyone
In homes or holes or caves
And sometimes Christmas even comes
To those beneath the waves…

……

Gather ‘round, children – come hear from a fool
A truly remarkable tale
of the Jewish leviathan saving the yule
Meet Schlomo, the Christmas whale

CHORUS:
Schlomo, Oh Schlomo, from heaven above
We know that below where we sail
Was Schlomo, Dear Schlomo, wet mammal of love
Schlomo the Christmas Whale

Schlomo’s poor Hanukah never went right
He cried when the sharks and the squid
Would laugh as he tried his Menorah to light
Yet, tragically, it never did

Yet Schlomo’s Menorah brought magical joy
Even without any flame
It gave him the power to see a young boy
And Billy McGee was his name

Billy McGee had a dog named Annette
Annette was his one single friend
But Billy was starving and willing to bet
Their lives would undoubtedly end

CHORUS:
Schlomo, Oh Schlomo, we can’t get enough
Of your sweet inspirational tale
Schlomo, your blowhole exploding with love
Schlomo the Christmas Whale

At Christmas, poor Billy just wanted to sing
But collapsed on his way to the choir
Schlomo was watching and saw the whole thing
On his candles without any fire

With Billy unconscious, there wasn’t much time
Schlomo would have to act fast
He beached himself willingly up in the slime
An act that he knew was his last

CHORUS:
Schlomo, Oh Schlomo, your life that you gave
Your legend will never grow stale
And nor will your carcass, nutritious and brave
Oh, Schlomo the Christmas Whale

Annette staggered by and she took a big bite
Out of Schlomo – you might think it rude
But Schlomo’s pure sacrifice made it all right
By offering his body as food

To church Annette dragged her sick master along
Where Billy awoke and he crooned
And everyone cried at his beautiful song
Even Muslims all wept at his tune

One Muslim was Achmed, an angry young man
Who came to spread panic and fear
But Billy’s pure warbling altered his plan
And led him to shed a lone tear

The tear trickled down Achmed’s care-stricken face
And into explosives it dripped
It shorted out triggers that he’d had in place
To blow up the chapel when tripped

That Christmas when many were saved, it was true
When death and destruction would fail
And all from the love of an undersea Jew
Dear Schlomo, the Christmas whale

Schlomo, Oh Schlomo, from heaven above
We know that below where we sail
Was Schlomo, Dear Schlomo, wet mammal of love
Schlomo the Christmas Whale

Schlomo, Oh Schlomo, your life that you gave
Your legend will never grow stale
And nor will your carcass, nutritious and brave
Oh, Schlomo the Christmas Whale

Schlomo, Oh Schlomo, we can’t get enough
Of your sweet inspirational tale
Schlomo, your blowhole exploding with love
Schlomo the Christmas Whale

 

Merry Christmas!

Political Thoughts from the Titanic Crow’s Nest

how_to_make_donald_trump_hairdoI think I would feel better about myself if I were to re-register as a political independent, since the number of national Republicans who don’t nauseate me has dwindled to almost nothing. (Go Kasich!) I figure that when the standard bearer of your party is Donald Trump, it’s probably time to leave your party.

The problem is that every major political candidate in Utah is elected in Republican primaries, so there’s value in maintaining RINO status in order to still have some semblance of a voice in the process. But it’s becoming increasingly difficult to care about a process that has zero chance of producing a workable, sustainable government.

“Sustainable” is a word most people don’t use to describe governments, but the reality is that the government, at least on a federal level, is barreling toward total insolvency at a rapid clip, so the sideshow of who gets to take the wheel as the ship of state zooms iceberg-ward makes little difference to me. But people still seem interested in my opinion, so I thought I’d take a moment and let you know what I’m seeing up here in the crow’s nest as the iceberg draws closer.

First of all, all you Romney-ites who think Mitt can swoop in for a last-minute rescue are fully delusional. The deadlines to register for the early caucuses and primaries have long since passed, and you can’t win if your name is not on the ballot. And before you say “write-in,” remember that votes for write-in candidates are not counted unless the candidate registers as an official candidate, which is something Mitt is not stupid enough to do for what is sure to be an exercise in futility.

And don’t get any ideas about some last-minute Romney convention rescue, either. Conventions used to allow for that sort of thing, but that was back when Nixons and Kennedys were floating around. Conventions are now rigidly structured as drama-free infomercials, and candidates get to choose their own delegates out of their immediate circle of friends and family. So the only way the Romney fantasy works is if Ivanka Trump abandons her comb-over pappy and votes for the Mittster. Not gonna happen.

So what will happen? Well, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee. That’s what will happen.

Never mind his lead in the national polls – look at the state-by-state polling in the early primary contests. Trump is up in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, and in Florida by more than 20 points, and he has been for some time. And as of today, he’s even ahead in Iowa according to a CNN poll. I remember seeing an online MSNBC clip – I don’t usually watch MSNBC on purpose, but this clip was interesting – where one commenter pointed out that if Jeb Bush had numbers like Trump’s, everyone would be saying the race is over, but since it’s Trump, everyone’s wondering when he’s finally going to implode.

He’s not going to implode. If mocking a female journalist for menstruating, making fun of John McCain for being a POW, calling for special ID tags for Muslims, making up news reports about Arab rooftop celebrations of 9/11, and saying every other stupid thing Trump has said on an almost daily basis hasn’t blown him up, what will? What could he possibly say that’s more outrageous than what he’s already said? Every time he shoots off his big, stupid mouth, his numbers go up.

He’s your nominee, Republicans. And then he goes down in flames against Hillary, the most corrupt candidate in the history of the Republic. The end. Anyone who tells you otherwise who isn’t Scott Adams is either in denial or an idiot.

Scott Adams, you may or may not know, is the genius who writes the “Dilbert” comic strip. He’s also writing a fascinating series of blog posts about Trump where he calls Trump a “master persuader” who is using hypnotism techniques to change people’s minds. His thesis is fascinating, even though, in the final analysis, it’s wrong. Adams thinks Trump’s magical powers will be enough to persuade Hispanic voters that building an American version of the Great Wall of China and deporting millions of people in the largest forced relocation in human history is a good idea. Trump’s talented, but he’s not that talented. No, he will barbecue the Republican brand and leave it as a charred husk for generations to come. But, still, Adams is worth reading, because, even though he’s wrong, he’s wrong in a very interesting and intelligent way.

That’s all I have to say about politics. It might depress you, but it shouldn’t. There is a certain amount of Zen serenity in recognizing your country is genuinely doomed regardless, so the two most repugnant major party candidates ever nominated won’t really change the ultimate outcome one way or the other. Join me: embrace the collapse and smile.