Trump, the GOP, and the Fall

Original photo by Gage Skidmore, used under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0). Click on photo to see original.

At this point there is no doubt that Donald Trump is the single worst major party presidential candidate in living memory, almost certainly the worst since the Civil War, and arguably the worst in the history of this nation. He is boastful and ignorant and petty, disdainful of the Constitution, a racist and a sexist, the enabler of the worst elements of society, either the willing tool of, or the useful idiot for, Vladimir Putin, an admirer of despots, an insecure braggart, a sexual assaulter, a man who refuses to honor contracts, and a bore.

He is, in sum, just about the biggest asshole in all of the United States of America. He’s lucky that Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad is out there keeping him from taking the global title, not that he wouldn’t try for that, too, should he become president. It’s appalling that he is the standard bearer for one of the two major political parties in the United States. It’s appalling that he is a candidate for the presidency at all.

But note well: Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich. Trump’s road to the candidacy was laid down and paved by the Southern Strategy, by Lee Atwater and Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove, by Fox News and the Tea Party, and by the smirking cynicism of three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake.

Well, surprise! Here’s Donald Trump. He is the actual and physical embodiment of every single thing the GOP has trained its base to want and to be over the last forty years — ignorant, bigoted and money-grubbing, disdainful of facts and frightened of everything because of it, an angry drunk buzzed off of wood-grain patriotism, threatening brown people and leering at women. He was planned. He was intended. He was expected. He was wanted.

But not, I think, in the exact form of Donald Trump. The GOP were busily genetically engineering the perfect host for their message, someone smooth and telegenic and possibly just ethnic enough to make people hesitant to point out the latent but real racism inherent in its social policies, while making the GOP’s white base feel like they were making a progressive choice, and with that person installed, further pursuing its agenda of slouching toward oligarchy, with just enough anti-abortion and pro-gun glitter tossed into the sky to distract the religious and the paranoid. Someone the GOP made. Someone they could control.

But they don’t control Trump, which they are currently learning to their great misery. And the reason the GOP doesn’t control Trump is that they no longer control their base. The GOP trained their base election cycle after election cycle to be disdainful of government and to mistrust authority, which ultimately is an odd thing for a political party whose very rationale for existence is rooted in the concept of governmental authority to do. The GOP created a monster, but the monster isn’t Trump. The monster is the GOP’s base. Trump is the guy who stole their monster from them, for his own purposes.

And this is why the GOP deserves the chaos that’s happening to it now, with its appalling and parasitic standard bearer, who will never be president, driving his GOP host body toward the cliff. If it accepts the parasite, it will be driven off the cliff. If it resists, the parasite Trump will rip himself from it, leaving bloody marks as it does so, and then shove the dazed and wounded GOP from the precipice. That there is a fall in the GOP’s future is inevitable; all that is left is which plunge to take.

I feel sorry for many of my individual friends who are Republicans and/or conservatives, who have to deal with the damage Trump is doing to their party and to their movement, even if I belong to neither. But I don’t feel sorry for the GOP at all. It deserves Trump. It fostered an environment of ignorance and fear and bigotry, assumed it could control the mob those elements created, and was utterly stunned when a huckster from outside claimed the mob as his own and forced the party along for the ride. It was hubris, plain and simple, and Trump is the GOP’s vulgar, orange nemesis.

Trump will do the GOP long and lasting damage, and moreover, Trump doesn’t care that he will do the GOP long and lasting damage. Trump was never about being a Republican; he was just looking to expand his brand. As it turns out, like apparently so many things Trump does, he’s done an awful job of it — the name Trump, formerly merely associated with garish ostentation and bankruptcy, is now synonymous with white nationalism, sexual battery and failure — but the point is on November 9th Trump is going to move on and leave the wreckage of the GOP in his wake, off to his next thing (everyone assumes “Trump TV,” in which Trump combines with Breitbart to make white pride propaganda for the kind of millennial racist who thinks a Pepe the Frog Twitter icon is the height of wit — and I hope he does, because the Trump touch will drive that enterprise into the ground, and little would warm my heart more than a bankrupt Breitbart).

Trump is the party guest who sets fire to your house, gropes your spouse and drives over your neighbor’s cat when he leaves; the GOP is left to deal with the police and the angry neighbors. It’s almost piteous, except when you scrub back to five hours earlier to hear the GOP say “What, Trump wants to come to the party? Well, he’s an asshole who drove Fred Jones’ car into the pool the other weekend, but he’s always good for a laugh, isn’t he? Surely it will be fine,” and then tells him to bring his bad boy self right on over.

There is no good way for the GOP or its members to extricate itself from this mess. Trump has doomed them for this election cycle. But there is a moral way, and they should take it. When a grifter and a con man has suckered you into a shitshow, you have two options: bail out early and admit you got shit all over yourself, or stick with the con and affirmatively choose to drown in the shit. No GOP politician should ever have endorsed him; the moral hazard he presented was obvious and clear and became clearer the further he went along. But if they were foolish enough to have endorsed him, it’s not too late to bail out. He’s going to lose either way and drag the GOP down with him; these politicians might as well come out of it with their souls, besmirched but still their own.

And obviously to me, no one with sense should cast a vote for Trump. He’s not just a candidate, he is an active repudiation of what we should expect from the United States and those who lead it. A candidate who can’t open his mouth without a lie falling out — a lie that everyone including him knows is a lie — doesn’t deserve to be president. A candidate who threatens millions because of their religion does not deserve to be president. A candidate who promises to extralegally throw his political opponent into jail does not deserve to be president. A candidate who fosters white nationalism, racism and anti-semitism does not deserve to be president. A candidate who brags about sexual assault and then tries to dismiss it as mere talk does not deserve to be president.

These are not merely Democratic or Republican issues. These are American issues, human issues and moral issues. You can’t vote for Donald Trump and say you don’t know what you’re voting for. You’re voting for hate, and chaos, and the deluge. Anything else that you think you get from voting for him will be washed away in the flood.

Trump is the single worst major party presidential candidate in living memory, but he’s there because the GOP spent decades making him possible, and its base, trained for decades to look for someone like him, made him its standard bearer. He needs to lose and the GOP needs to be punished for him. Conservatism and classical Republican ideas won’t go away, nor should they. But if the GOP can’t break itself from its addiction to the bigoted and the ignorant, then it certainly deserves to die. It’s brought the country to the edge. Shame is only the beginning of what it should feel for it.

Update, 3:00pm 10/12/16: I’ve made my official presidential endorsement. It’s, uh, not for Donald Trump.

236 Comments on “Trump, the GOP, and the Fall”

  1. Notes:

    1. Hey, political thread. Mallet is out. Please behave yourselves.

    2. To forestall the inevitable “Yeah but the Democrats/Clinton –” comments, I will stipulate that both the Democrats and Clinton have their issues (although both at the moment of an exponentially lesser degree, both in themselves and regarding the threat they pose for the nation), BUT this isn’t an entry about that, it’s an entry about Trump, the GOP, and the culpability the latter has for the former. So please, stick to the topic at hand, and include Dems/Clinton only to the extent that they are directly relevant to the discussion. You have the whole rest of the Internet to generally fume about Clinton and the Democrats.

    3. Likewise, attempts to drag Bill Clinton into the conversation will simply be deleted, because it’s not germane to the topic, and also, OH BOY is that a red herring because a) he’s not running for president, b) if he were running for president in 2016, and you don’t think his shitty behavior toward women would be dragging his ass down and properly so, you don’t actually live in 2016.

    4. I do want to make it clear that I really do genuinely feel sorry for my Republican/conservative friends this year, because there are real issues of concern for them this election year, and without the White House in GOP hands, it becomes substantially more difficult for them to address those, and they have to face the very real dilemma of having to vote for the worst candidate ever, not to mention a legitimate moral hazard, in order to have a shot at addressing those issues. And while it’s easy and (yes) fun to point and laugh at this quandary, simple human empathy makes me feel for them.

    Not to mention that Democrats and liberals who are currently feeling smug are at least partially doing so because they don’t have the same quandary this year. But remember, lefties, there may come a time when you have the choice of voting for a legitimate shitshow of a candidate — someone who is an active danger to the fabric of the Republic — or missing out on 25 years of controlling the Supreme Court, or the Congress. And then you will be confronted with the gulf between what you should do and what you might end up doing, as many GOP/conservative people are this year.

    Don’t pretend that all of you will do the right thing — or won’t rationalize the bad thing you will do as being a good thing, or at least, less of a moral capitulation than it is.

  2. The GOP were busily genetically engineering the perfect host for their message…Someone they could control.

    But they don’t control Trump, which they are currently learning to their great misery.

    So Trump is an evil kwisatz haderach come early, ala Paul Atreides, and out of control of his would be creators.

  3. I disagree with one part of your analysis. I don’t think Trump is “lying”, because lies are things you know aren’t true. And I don’t think Trump actually distinguishes true from false enough for that to be a part of his worldview. If you try to make sense of him within a context of some things being true and others false, you will never get anywhere. He’s very suspiciously like narcissistic abusers, who at any given time “believe” whatever they think will look best or justify their choices. But they’re not *lying* the way other people would. They don’t genuinely know that the thing they’re saying isn’t true. Right now, it’s the thing they want to say, so they are saying it. The idea that there could be a “factual” standard distinct from “what I want to say” is not really present.

  4. I’ve been looking forward to your commentary on the Republican candidate (who I won’t name because reasons). Could not possibly agree more strongly.

    I was fairly lukewarm in my feelings about Clinton until recently. I still see plenty of issues with her, but my profound aversion to her opponent and all he stands for has pushed me into being a wholehearted Clinton supporter.

    Thanks, as always, for your sane and rational commentary, sir. It is much appreciated.

  5. God I love your writing! I have family in the US (in-laws) a mix of republicans and democrats mostly with a growing horror of what the oompa-loompa is doing but every now and then one of the pro-trump fam pop up on social media and I think – how did I get to be related to these? The thing that scares me is that the ones that I know are (mostly) intelligent, educated folk but they have a massive blind spot when it comes to political allegiances and are willing to go down with the ship if need be.

  6. Seebs:

    Trump knows what he’s saying isn’t true. He doesn’t care, and he’s trying to dominate others into believing him rather than the facts. That much is true enough. Either way, however, it’s a dangerous quality in a president.

  7. Anyone who thinks a candidate that brings Alex Jones into contact with the Oval Office is so profoundly out of skew with reality that you get a real sense as to how “It can’t happen here” is not only wrong, but deeply, profoundly and blatantly wrong.

    Trump has been on Alex Jones’ talk show more than once. Trump has praised Alex Jones.

    Alex Jones peddled the following conspiracy theories

    * 9/11 was an inside job
    * The Sandy Hook Shooting never happened
    * Obama is gay, Michelle is a trans woman, & Sasha and Malia were kidnapped from Morocco.
    * Obama and Clinton are possessed by demons.

    This is a man Trump panders to because Alex Jones has a lot of really excitable listeners who went en masse to Republican primary votes, and probably added a few points to Trumps percentages. He’s also someone who Trump’s friend and unofficial campaign manager Roger Stone deals with even more frequently.

    And that’s just one part. Entire multivolume encyclopedias could be written on the other negatives Trump has had show up just since he signed on. He’s going to destroy the GOP

    Good. They deserve it.

  8. I had already worked up a healthy heaping loathing for the spatchcock *before* he showed up with the alumna from The Arkansas Project, *before* he spent most of the 2nd debate attempting to physically intimidate Clinton (and WhereTF were the moderators on that?), and *before* Kurt Eichenwald’s latest story tracing a direct line from Putin’s disinformation apparatus to Trump’s wizened campaign.

    Now? Now I want him crushed. More to the point, because he could not have gotten here without them, I want his followers crushed. Trump is like a poultice bringing the scum in the body politic to a pus-bloated, diseased head. After the job is done of defeating him (please please please), the next urgent issue is what can be done about them.

  9. The time has come for Republicans to decide whether it’s more important to be conservatives, or Republicans. With this nomination, I feel the GOP has forfeited the right to bear the mantle of the party of opposition to the Democrats.

    Being a straight, white male geek of a certain age, I’m, of course, a libertarian (seriously, in the elder days you couldn’t get a nerd card without voting libertarian at least once), and really, if we’re going to have a two party system, I’d rather have two parties that agree on marriage equality, sexual and reproductive rights, criminal justice reform, religious freedom, et al, and stick to arguing over spending and regulation.

  10. The Republicans for years have protested vehemently against the stereotypes that people attach to their party (rich,pandering only to the wealthy, out of touch, corrupt, WASP-centric, smug, etc) only to elevate the perfect distillation of all of the cliches ever leveled against them. Even worse, their candidate also embodies all of the flaws the Republicans have screamed about in their opponents – anti-American, anti-military, draft-dodging, out of touch, pro-Russia, Hollywood elite, morally corrupt, womanizing, etc. I would almost welcome it as karmic justice, if it wasn’t so catastrophically dangerous to the whole world.

  11. Donald Trump. The Kwisatz Haderach of GOP politics. I think he’s already said to the party elites, “I will never do your bidding”.

  12. Well said, Mr. Scalzi.

    TBH I’ve been horrified by the walking trash fire–I mean, Donald Trump–for months now, but the last two weeks have reinforced to me that for the sake of our nation, this god-awful brazenly-lying Goering clone in a shitty toupee must be not only defeated, but dismantled. I want him to get ZERO electoral votes. I want him to lose comprehensively and totally, to the point that his brand is forever tarnished and no thinking creature will ever consider buying one of his products again. I want the IRS to catch up with him and I want him to spend the rest of his sorry life in prison.

    And I know that that won’t happen, and that’s what REALLY scares me about the current state of our country.

  13. I couldn’t watch more than a few minutes of the last debate. When he stalked up behind Secretary Clinton and stood glowering behind her, I had to turn it off. He is the embodiment of every abused woman’s nightmare.

  14. I lean left, but I’m not a registered democrat by any means. However, the GOP has twisted itself so far from its prior identity that I presume to vote straight D, except for some minor school board type positions. Even with a D sweep of senate and the house, I can’t see the current situation as a good thing. American needs two sane parties. The GOP needs to be free from its current hijackers so we can return to honest policy disagreements and hold each party in check. I just don’t see where to even begin…

  15. Count Hasimir Fenring? Nah. He was intelligent and loyal to a cause larger than himself. Trump is emphatically neither of those things. Though he does have some sort of half-assed, non-deliberative, not particularly reliable, animal cunning. More like a Monty Python inspired over the top comically evil kwisatz haderach come early. Except, unfortunately for all, it’s real.

    It seems possible to me that we, or our children, may some day look back at this Trump / Republican debacle as the triggering event that inspired a new phase of forward progress in all the metrics typically used to judge the health, success and happiness of a society. Because of shock and fear of how close we came to a Trump presidency. But I doubt it. I’m sure that road will continue to be as tough as ever for quite some time.

  16. And right on cue, Trump begins tweeting about Paul Ryan’s partial defection. There’s not enough popcorn for this.

    I was a registered Republican for many years, but for more than half of that time I viewed my job as “voting against the crazy ones”. And then, about 10 years ago, they stopped giving me non-crazy ones to vote for. I’d already realized that I agreed with virtually none of their positions, so out the door I went; I don’t seem to have been alone in that.

  17. Agree with all of this except that it isn’t people without sense who are voting Trump, it’s people who are bigots and care about being bigots more than any other concern. Bigotry is what is needed and is enough. So maybe people without sensibility?

  18. It is an interesting question (and I don’t have a definitive answer) whether the Republicans engineered their base or if their based existed and someone had to serve it. There might be an alternate reality where Kennedy loses the close 1960 election. Nixon serves as a slightly less insecure dude in 1960-1968, perhaps without a Vietnam albatross, and remember he was a relatively competent and adaptable leader in many areas even in our timeline. The Democrats reevaluate and slowly turn towards their Dixiecrat wing. Snowball effect. In 1980, Reagan pursues more or less same goals and tactics as our time, but without leaving the Democratic Party or by returning to his “true home” as a Democrat with a Southern Strategy.

  19. I said this during the rise of the Tea Party, When Boehner and team gleefully laughed and embraced those nut jobs. “you got a tiger by the tail buddy, lets hope you can control it or it will eat you”. And so here we are.
    I take no joy in this. My husband and I went to Germany in May, and were asked numerous times by Europeans to explain Trump…how can he be so popular? My husband responded that ultra right wing candidates/parties are alive in well in Europe. True, they said, but we expected this to never happen in America.
    Same with me. So sad. But yea, he has to be crushed. But don’t think this ugliness will go away when he loses. We will still have to deal with the remnants.

  20. As bad as Trump is, I’m pretty sure John W. Davis was the worst major party canidate since the civil war. From his Wikipedia page:

    “Davis acquired much of his father’s southern Democratic politics, opposing women’s suffrage, Federal child-labor laws and anti-lynching legislation, Harry S. Truman’s civil rights program, and defended the State’s rights to establish the poll tax by questioning whether uneducated non-taxpayers should be allowed to vote.”

  21. Awesome post, Mr. Scalzi.

    I think it’s really important for those of us on the political left to not demonize “all conservatives”. Conservatism (or “classical Republican ideas” as posted above) are *crucial* for a functioning republic. There *must* be a debate that allows the best ideas to surface and gain consensus and be acted upon.

    A left-leaning government unchecked is as bad as a right-leaning government unchecked over the long term.

    I hope the imminent destruction of the GOP allows for the creation of a new party of fiscal conservative/socially moderate folks who can be an effective part of the next generation of political discussion.

  22. As I write this, Trump has already started in on the “stabbed in the back” campaign, and I”m sure he’s only going to we move towards the election and its aftermath, and frankly I’m glad he is.

    The GOP needs to implode and it needs to do so with the force of a thousand suns. Individual responsibility, personal freedom, small government, and fiscal conservatism all have value to any society, but they can’t flourish in the political arena when they’re hobbled to a small-minded social conservatism that conflates religious tyranny with religious freedom and revels in bigotry and anger.

    Let the religious right and the Aryan supremacy ethno-nationalists savage each other on the outskirts of politics so the rest of us can get on with building a better society.

  23. Why did anyone ever think doing anything with or for Trump was a good idea? The man has absolutely no redeeming features and yet people fawn over him, invest in his businesses, put him on television and act like his word means something.

  24. He got less than half of the vote for the Republican nomination. But the Party couldn’t see how dangerous he was, and refused to unite around a suitable anti-Trump. (Was there one? Who was running?)

    Thinking back to last winter I was complaining that every election but one since I was 12 (and I’m now 51) has had a Bush or a Clinton running for President and I just couldn’t vote for either of them. Then, later, when it was becoming clear that Trump might actually get the nomination, I got scared. What if the Democrats, instead of nominating a moderate with potentially wide appeal, nominated an actual-facts Socialist who would alienate a substantial portion of the non-white/non-female vote? So I held my nose voted for Clinton in the Virginia primary.

    By August I was seriously thinking about the oath I took, upon joining the Army, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and just what that oath might entail.

    Then, Friday evening, Barbara Comstock (who cut her political teeth investigating Bill Clinton for the Republican impeachment committee, no RINO she) bailed on Trump, and I knew he had almost certainly lost. Without white women in the suburbs he is done.

    Utah is an interesting case. All the Republicans in Utah effectively simultaneously abandoned Trump (some were #nevertrump, but). I suspect the LDS Church leadership made some phone calls, possibly a Conference call, and exercised its strong (rarely openly used) secular power there. It will be interesting to see if Hillary makes an ad buy in Salt Lake City.

  25. So essentially Trump is Serpentor from G.I.Joe.

    He was built up to be the perfect leader and exactly what everyone needed to win. He has unfailing belief in himself as that perfect leader. He takes away the organization from the person poorly running the organization for decades. Once he takes over is then found to be as incompetent, if not more so than the person previously running it.

    So yah,..sounds about right.


    It is amazing. Some of my conservative friends and relatives are finally seeing the light and deciding to not vote at all or vote for Clinton. They are holding their nose and doing what is ultimately best for this country.

  26. I agree with everything you said, except one not so minor bit:the bit where you say he can’t win at this point.

    If enough “not Trump” people decide “well the polls say he lost, why should I go bother…” the actual Remaining Trump supporters might out number people that bother to vote for someone else.

    So please folks don’t get complacent, do go vote. If you don’t want to vote for Ms. Clinton look at the “minor” parties, or write in the person you feel most qualified (not that that prevents Trump from winning, but it waters down his percentage).

  27. I am British with an EU spouse. I have two young sons who are growing up in the EU but who may want to study or work in the UK one day. I work in an EU country without difficulty owing to Britain’s current membership of the EU. As you can imagine, the Brexit vote was a gut punch for me and my future.

    I’ve never been to America. I have no family or close friends in America. My job has no connections with America. However, if God tapped on my shoulder and offered me a simple choice between Brexit and President Trump I wouldn’t hesitate in choosing Brexit. The prospect of Trump with power is terrifying for the world.

  28. Unlike you I feel no sympathy for the Republican fringers not actively part of the Trumpenproletariot. Because if you take away plutocracy, theocracy, bigotry, and a sort of vague longing for soft imperialism (“the new American Century”) what’s left in the 21st Century “conservative” pantry? A mania for privatization? Reducing “government regulations” to pre-Love-Canal levels? THAT is “conservative”?

    The United States aldy has a moderately centroid, corporate-friendly political party. It’s called “the Democratic Party”.

  29. PrivateIron:

    I think there’s always going to be a reliable stratum of people who will be motivated by identity politics, and here in the US the strongest identity differentiation we have is racial (followed, I think, by religion and finally by class). It used to be owned by the Democrats and now is owned by the Republicans. But once the GOP had them, they tweaked them and added to them through coalitions, etc. And then with Gingrich forward (in my opinion) they really started laying on “not just opponents but enemies” shtick.

    J Osborne:

    I do emphatically agree that people must vote and not assume that others will vote their interest for them. I also think this will be a high-participation election on the left. They’re motivated.

  30. The GOP has made their bed and must lie in it, karmic justice indeed… they have brought out the worst of the worst who would do well in a banana republic where civility is nonessential. Pity we are all being dragged through this circus by this ass clown, may sound judgement prevail.

  31. And yet…and yet….Hillary has to fight tooth and nail to put him away. She’ll win most likely, with comfortable Electoral numbers. But the popular vote will be close when it should be a walk over for her.

    That is because *both* party’s are controlled by Corporate Interests, the People know this and We are tired and angry. The main difference is that the DNC was able – barely – to suppress their Party Base insurgency, but the GOP could not.

    And now Hillary is paying for that. Note that Bernie was never *less* than ten points *ahead* of The Donald at any time in this election cycle and would have now been coasting to victory next month. Oh well…

    I live in California and if not for Prop 64, would be staying home. But if I lived in a swing state, I’d vote for Trump even though I agree with everything you say above. A Trump Administration would wreck the GOP and a Clinton defeat would badly damage the Corporatist wing of the Dems. A Win/Win in my book.

    Yes, that would be awful, but, sir, if you truly paid attention to what life is like for the majority of Americans, you’d know it is pretty awful already and neither candidate is going to make it any better.

  32. I’m starting to think that the sanest option might be for the Democratic Party to undergo mitosis between its wings, so that maybe there’d be two political parties with different outlooks, but with a shared sense that blowing up the whole system isn’t the answer when you don’t get what you want. For a good chunk of US history, the two parties both wanted to improve the fortunes of the country, but disagreed on what was the proper way to do that.

    Then came the Civil War.

    Then the concept of loyal opposition returned for a while.

    Then came Nixon.

    Then the concept of loyal opposition returned for a while.

    Then came Gingrich and the Contract with America.

    And the concept of loyal opposition has been pretty much missing ever since.

  33. Speaking as a straight white male from an upper-class background, I believe that I lack the experiences to be scared or horrified by Trump’s inability to take his goddamn seat and shut up during the debate. I do, however, expect that the President of the United States, and any person who thinks that they can seriously fill that position, will have the discipline to sit still in a chair and quietly allow a debate opponent to make their point before taking their allotted time for a rebuttal.

    Hillary Clinton, in both debates, was disciplined to an extreme level that i can barely comprehend. Were I in that seat, I would have been incoherent from rage in five minutes, incoherent with laughter after Trumpler’s 6th or 7th whopper, and unable to sit still or be quiet because I’d be too busy tearing apart his bullshit.

    Anyway. The walking trash fire that is Donald Trump–was simply by being unable to sit down, shut up, and let Clinton talk–unfit to be President. I do not think that a man who can’t manage skills that we learn in fucking kindergarten should be given control of a nation with nuclear weapons. I don’t think that a man with a dick so tiny that he feels it necessary to talk down to his debate opponent, threaten her with extrajudicial and unconstitutional imprisonment, and has to be asked three times to give a straight answer on the sexual assault charges because he’s so busy rambling off-topic and bragging obvious whoppers about “nobody has more respect for the women than me”, has the intelligence, discipline, moral center, or basic human decency to lead this nation.

    I’ve had my doubts about Clinton in the past, but honestly, she’s not only the only sane choice, but actually objectively a pretty good one. Unlike the shrieking manbaby that is her opponent, Clinton is disciplined, intelligent, experienced, and energetic, exactly the kind of leader that we need going forward. So what if she’s a little more hawkish than me? At least she hasn’t promised to order the US military to commit war crimes like a certain evil cheeto has.

    The hot dog made of human effluvia that is Donald Trump, on the other hand, is the perverse lovechild of Theodore Beale, internet creep Roosh V, and the Koch brothers. He is the seething id of every racist, homophobe, sexist, bigoted creep in the USA. He must not be allowed to win even a single electoral vote; the future of our nation depends on it.

    tl;dr: I’m not just voting for Clinton because the alternative is a festering pustule on the face of the human race, I’m voting for her because she’s a legitimately competent politician and the only person who can now save us from the apostle of filth and vermin that is Donald Trump.

  34. So how long until Trump outright tells his followers at one of his rallies to not let anyone who they believe is not a Trump follower into a polling station?

    Not the WINK WINK he does now, but actually says something to the effect of: “You gotta prevent them from rigging the election. Don’t let people who you know will not vote Trump into the polling stations. Make sure they have a right to be there because the people working there won’t be vetting like they should. They want me to lose”.

  35. I have a masters degree in Political Science, and I know the importance of having opposition parties because without them, that way lies totalitarianism. I’m a fiscal conservative, but I’m pretty liberal or moderate on a lot of issues. I worry that one party will gain control and shove their agenda down the throats of the American People. I want a country where people can express opinions and disagree civilly without fear of reprisals. I don’t know if that is possible anymore, but we need to try.

  36. While every word of that is true, he is still a better candidate than Ted Cruz and Dr. Strange.

    There are no serious Republicans left. We now get Palin, Trump, American ISIS, and whoever they can trick into to driving the clown car.

  37. Nebris:

    A Trump Administration might wreck the GOP, but it’d do it in much the same sense that a high-yield thermonuclear bomb would kill a wasps’ nest in Central Park: namely, the collateral damage would be beyond staggering.

    And that may not be metaphorical, either. This is a person who will tweetstorm – and has – at three in the morning about having his behavior called out by a former beauty pageant winner. He’s staggeringly ignorant and incurious, with a pathetically fragile ego, and it is frighteningly easy to goad him into doing something utterly stupid.

    And for the sake of tearing apart his political party, you’d have him in a position with access to the most powerful military in known history, complete with a nuclear arsenal? I wouldn’t trust him with a rubber spork, myself…

  38. Bashar Hafez al-Assad? Really John? Really? One has directly caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions, used chemical weapons, and is a vicious psychopath. The other is a racist bigoted sexist narcissistic asshole, but isn’t even close to the same level. I realize hyperbole is a writing style, but you seriously devalue your own argument here by making that comparison. Maybe Berlusconi is a closer parallel.

    Wow, you made me defend Trump. I need to take a shower.

    Apart from that, I agree, The R’s cynically used abortion, religion and barely coded bigotry to distract from their party masters constant looting of the economy, and it’s come back to bite them on the ass. However, there is a lot of genuine anger amongst many (mainly white, mainly working class) as a result of economic stagnation, and the desire for change, any change, leads to Trump.

  39. I was raised in a Republican family. Ten years living in Chicago have moved my sentiments pretty far to the left, but I never lost my skepticism of “Big Government.” I may be more of a bleeding heart than I was at 18, but I still think there are real, substantive conversations to be had about how much government is too much, about regulatory capture, about taxes and spending, etc.

    Unfortunately it will be a generation before we can have those conversations again: the GOP sold conservatism up the river.

    Not just by pandering to bigots, though that certainly happened (and this post was right-on in that regard) but by pandering, lying, and misrepresenting across the board.

    Republicans sell tax cuts without spending cuts, ballooning the debt, and call it “conservative.” It isn’t. It’s just profligate.

    Republicans preach that “life begins at conception” and call it “morality,” but display less than zero regard for children (especially poor and/or nonwhite children) after they’re born – and in so doing, damage the entire pro-life movement with their blatant hypocrisy. (Full disclosure: I’m a devout Catholic in the Cardinal Bernardin/”Seamless Garment” mold)

    Republicans defend monopolies and oligopolies by lying through their teeth about “Free Markets” when anyone who’s taken Econ 101 knows that the point of a “free market” is that markets should be competitive – monopoly is just as bad as over-regulation, and frequently worse. They espouse free trade when it suits them and abandon it when it becomes unpopular.

    Maybe the only thing that the GOP has actually taken a consistent (and in a warped way, principled) stand on is its staunch opposition to science. It’s infuriating.

  40. Agreed John, on pretty much all points. I find it interesting how over the years, my republican friends have started voting with the democrats more and more because their party has left them and gone to crazy town.

    I think it does a disservice to the whole country to not have a conservative party. Hopefully one will emerge and the crazies will be sidelined.

  41. Thank you thank you! Everything I’ve been thinking but have been to incoherent with horror to say.

    As of this AM, 38% (38%!) still support Trump. And they will still be here on November 9th with all of that hate and bigotry. They only way to reach them will be for the GOP to completely change their hate mongering, divisive rhetoric and policies. And they will only change if they suffer massive down ticket losses and a new generation of GOP emerges. But there are still many, many horrified by Trump that will happily vote for other GOP. So most days, I despair.

  42. Nebris:

    “sir, if you truly paid attention to what life is like for the majority of Americans, you’d know it is pretty awful already and neither candidate is going to make it any better.”

    Well, no, that’s bullshit, and the apparent implication that I’m living in some ivory tower with no connection to “the majority of Americans” is more than a little condescending. I live in rural America with people who farm and have blue collar jobs; our family members are likewise members of the middle and working classes. If you don’t think with this particular election there isn’t a party with policies (much less a presidential candidate) that would be manifestly better than the other, that’s on you, not on the parties themselves.

    Likewise, I’m deeply skeptical every time someone trots out the claim the Sanders would be far and away ahead of Trump. One, anyone who thinks a Jewish quasi-socialist would be traipsing to victory against a GOP that goes into a flaming rage at the word “socialist” and a candidate who has been inflaming anti-semites possibly hasn’t been paying close enough attention. Two, conflating primary results and polling with what happens in the general is not a good idea (see reason one). Three, the race we have is the race we have. Focus on it, not on an alternate reality, please.

    Four: It was never going to be a walk. Clinton as (in my opinion unfairly) high negatives and the electorate is as polarized now as it has ever been at any time in memory. The Republicans could have nominated a ham sandwich (would that they had!) and it would get 40% of the vote. It wouldn’t have been a walk no matter who the Democrats nominated.

    Finally, I have very little patience for people who at this point vomit up some variation of “they’re both just the same, one is just as bad as the other.” It a lazy, contemptible lie, and it’s even lazier and more contemptible this year. I’m not going to argue against the idea that the parties are generally corporatist, but if that’s the only lens you choose to look through, again, that’s your problem and not anyone else’s. There are real and substantial differences on any number of issues that directly and manifestly have an impact on people’s lives. And this year more than any other in living memory, there is a stark choice between competence and demagogic incompetence.

    If you can’t see it, that’s fine (it’s actually not fine, but it’s your karma, at least). I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t exist.

  43. Wow that’s a mouthful. And I presume you are a democrate who thinks we need a few more years of the shit storm that we have had for the last almost 8 years. I’m afraid of ISIS I guess this doesn’t bother you.

  44. *points up-thread to all the _Dune_ references*

    I’d say this quote is particularly pertinent.

    “When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe nothing can stand in their way. Their movements become headlong – faster and faster and faster. They put aside all thoughts of obstacles and forget the precipice does not show itself to the man in a blind rush until it’s too late.”

  45. I don’t really understand why people have suddenly started disapproving of
    Mr. Trump. He hasn’t changed in any significant particular since he started
    campaigning, or indeed since he first came into the public eye. That he
    degrades women has long been known, and is one of the reasons why his popularity
    surprises me. In the words of the eminent philosopher Lorelei Lee, “practically
    everyone has a mother”. On the other hand, another of her apercu’s states that
    “there’s a limit to practically everything”. Perhaps Mr. Trump has reached
    his, but I don’t quite see why.


  46. @pothead71: what shit storm? By just about every objective measure, America is doing much better today than it was 8 years ago.

  47. The Republicans had a failure of imagination. They could not conceive of a non-politician beating them at their own game — forgetting that people like Trump succeed because they’re just as good at politics as the professional politicians. Empower the empowered enough and you get guys like Trump who will take all the toys if they can. The presidency is a toy he wants to play with because it completes the Ego Set.

    I could see eight years ago that Hillary might have a chance at the presidency when Obama won the Democratic presidential ticket because “loose now, win later” is always an option when you don’t employ scorched earth tactics. When Biden declined to run, Hillary was a shoo-in for the Republican party’s presidential candidate. I think Trump realized this and took advantage of the situation. For him, she embodies everything he (and the Republican party) is against. He thought it would be a cake walk once she got the nomination. It hasn’t been, and that’s making him angry because Trump is angry at loosing to a Politician’s Politician (rather than a Politician On Lowest Difficulty Setting like the rest of the Republicans) who also happens to be a woman (and therefor Not Worthy of Winning). That’s why Trump is doubling down on what’s succeeded in the past. It’s always worked before, and he can’t conceive of it not working now.

  48. Don’t forget the reason Donald Trump has so much support, and why he is still hanging in there. I’m a broken record, but I put it down to the GOP’s Lessons From Nixon’s Downfall. They learned two big lessons there – 1. Control the Press, and 2. Destroy the Evidence. Lies, vote-rigging and dirty tricks were already old, old political tools, but the Republicans really honed them to a fine art as well – and the Nixon crew (and their acolytes and apprentices) have been a huge part of every GOP candidacy and administration since Nixon. Donald Trump may be defeated, but as long as Fox News and the radio shouters maintain their Stalinist hold on a big chunk of the nation, we’re still in very great danger. The next GOP candidate will not be so blatant. Look at Mike Pence. Even now, the television people continue to struggle with the simple idea that Donald Trump is more than just a somewhat intemperate speaker. Of course, now that the Popular Kids Clique are turning their backs on him, the media people will at some point suddenly change their shirts and rush to pile on as well, but given half a chance, they’d avoid that because they hate the Clintons so much. The 25 year propaganda campaign by America’s Pravda Industry has really worked well.

  49. Trump reminds me of my favorite tech joke:

    What’s the difference between a computer salesman and a car salesman?
    The car salesman *knows* he’s lying.
    (Or if you prefer, the car salesman probably knows how to drive.)

    Trump has been described as not a liar but a bullshit artist. The latter is indifferent to the truth; he neither knows nor cares about the truth of his statements but is only interested in their effect on his audience and the power they give him. Pointing out his lies has no effect on him, and that’s why all those other Republicans who ran for President had no idea how to deal with him.

  50. Well, Paul Ryan said he didn’t want to be Speaker and it looks like he won’t be for too much longer. However the election turns out. I wonder which think tank he’s going to end up at?

  51. Kilroy:

    Shhhhh… don’t bring facts into handwaving about ISIS terror.

    Also, Pothead71’s comment will lead us far off-topic, so let’s not actually do that, please. I think the comment itself stands on its own as a testament to its own quality.

  52. I don’t know if everyone’s already seen it, but the Yale Record had a pretty funny take on the impact of binding electors in the unfortunate hypothetical of Trump getting elected.
    ( Here’s the URL for anyone who’s interested: )
    I’m hoping the last debate finally killed his chances, but I’ve been hoping his chances were dead since before the primary and his poll numbers keep taking hits and then recovering to a disturbing extent–and really, what isn’t disturbing about Donald Trump–so I’m not going to bet on it just yet.

  53. Just a typo, I think: “enfeeble the political weal” should maybe be “enfeeble the political weak?” Trying to figure out how a bruise could be enfeebled….

  54. David:
    “Weal” is also the root word of “wealth” and means something like prosperity

  55. Another annoying thing that occasionally crops up is that Trump’s an aberration because he’s a “liberal”. (There’s a whole other argument about the mismatch between a definition of “liberal” that includes Trump and a definition of “liberal” that explains why “liberalism” is a bad thing.) Or that “when Trump did that horrible thing, he was a Democrat”, which argument needs several passes through a meat grinder before it’ll make any sense to me.

    But I wonder, has anyone done the thought experiment: what would have happened to Donald Trump if he’d decided to run as a Democrat?

    (My theory is that he’d have cratered in the primaries, or he would have done something to make himself persona non grata in Philadelphia, or more likely both…)

  56. The GOP and Donald J Troll have done to the 2016 election what the rest of the internet trumps have done to [your favorite community] comment section. The Republicans have spent 30, 40, 50 years (back to McCarthy? back to the New Deal?) enabling fact-free approaches to politics, economics, and the social fabric of the world, and Donald is just latest to play king of the hill on the trash heap.

  57. Another possible glitch: Is it possible that in the phrase “an angry drunk buzzed off of wood-grain patriotism” you intended “wood-alcohol” instead?

  58. @Not the Reddit Chris S.

    What makes you think Trump would not severely abuse power if he had more power? He’s already said he uses the little power he has to assault women because he can get away with it. He’s already said he would jail his political opponent if he was president. He’s already said that as president he will use nukes on other countries, ignore NATO, and remove privileges from China if China crosses his companies (and probably other things I’m forgetting). Who is to say he wouldn’t use chemical weapons if he had the power to and thought he could get away with it?

    He’s not as bad as your standard dictator yet possibly only because he has not yet been given the opportunity to be so. Hopefully we will never find out how low Trump can go because he won’t be given more power.

  59. Nebris said:

    “Yes, that would be awful, but, sir, if you truly paid attention to what life is like for the majority of Americans, you’d know it is pretty awful already and neither candidate is going to make it any better.

    Both of those claims are hyperbolic at best and there is much good evidence against both of them. If you were to actually look at the data, not just a talking head’s opinion of what the data means but actually take the time to go look at the data, without exception in modern US history nearly every metric used to judge the health of a society has increased during Democrat presidencies and decreased under Republican presidencies. And not by small margins that might be of comparable size to the error bars either. Budget deficits, rate of national debt accumulation, unemployment, productivity, wages, wealth distribution, military readiness and much more. There is no comparison. The Republican party has failed at the very things they have preached for decades are their core principles while at the same time continuously claiming that the Democratic party not only fails at them but unethically believes differently. Meanwhile, in the real world, the data very clearly, unambiguously, demonstrates precisely the opposite. Clearly enough that these days even many of the economists that have in the past championed the Republican party’s bullshit trickle down economics openly admit that it is so.

    Criticize Bill Clinton all that he deserves, for what he deserves, but his presidency started with a shit sandwich and ended with the best times in the US since, well maybe in our history. Respect in international affairs, economic health, budget surpluses, reducing the federal deficit, it is hard to find a metric that wasn’t at or near the best in US history. And despite lockstep Republican obstruction all of those metrics have manged to improve significantly under the Obama administration after the epic shit sandwich left him by the Bush Jr administration.

    The myth that the two parties are similarly awful is pure crap. In the real world degrees do matter and there is at least an order of magnitude difference between the two. The myth that there isn’t much to choose from between Trump and Hillary is an even higher grade of crap. The people who can’t see that are letting us all down.

  60. All I can say at this point is that when I worked briefly in GOP politics back in the 80’s I wondered for how long the Movement Conservative dream could be squared with the Social Conservative dream. The answer turns out to be quite awhile, so long as you corrupt both.

  61. @nicoleandmaggie – I have more faith in the US military not obeying clearly illegal orders than you do – I’d be shocked if the Joint Chiefs of Staff would ever issue an order using chemical weapons, and they’d be unlikely to use nukes in a first strike, too.

    As for throwing people n jail, there is still due process.

    However, I do take your point – there would be huge constitutional ramifications if people had to start saying “No” to President Trump, but I’d like to believe that the checks and balances would still work.He would be President, not an unfettered dictator.

  62. Well, it looks like my post at OCTOBER 11, 2016 AT 10:52 AM above was completely unnecessary. Our host addressed the same comment and of course did a much better job of it than I.

  63. Wish I had more time this morning. There are some things I slightly disagree with that would take more time to expound than I have. The main problem with this election is that it is so emotional that research and facts have no meaning. Just your article has more intelligence in it than all the other rhetoric I have so far seen. But…

    Mainstream Republicans are not at fault in this. The GOP bought into the sheep’s clothing of the Tea Party”s Save Our Homes. That was one of the biggest mistakes. Then the Tea Party stripped off their overcoats to reveal the Daleks below.

    Voting in a mass they overwhelmed all others and named their chief Dalek Trump.

    I now submit that we with a bit of intelligence and free will now begin to nominate John Scalzi to head a refurbished Whig Party. I will say I would get on my knees and beg but that would be a lie.

    I do hope you will seriously think on this though.

  64. Yes, Lee Atwater and the rest, but Newt really started it big time when he instructed his membership (and I paraphrase). “Don’t call them ‘Democrats,’ call them ‘traitors.'”

  65. Wait, its been years since I read the book. The powers that be in Dune *created* Paul Atreidies? I thought they were foretelling his coming, not making it happen. Hm.

    As for the election, there are some who like to use the analogy of how a forest fire clears the underbrush and lets new growth arise as a justification for voting Trump ( or voting Stein or Johnson, knowing it helps Trump). The thing I have noticed is all those people think of themselves as employees of the analogous “forest service” rather than as one of the *trees*.

    Anecdotally, every single one of them have been white, male, christian, so they believe they wont get burned by Trump’s fire.

    And the level of callous indifference required to suggest that others may have to burn so that you can enjoy the lush green that doesnt force you to vote against evil, is mind boggling. Fuck these fuckers.

    Politics is about helping all of us. If you’re about letting others suffer to help yourself, thats just being a shit.

  66. I agree with most everything said here, including JS’s most thoughtful overview – which I dearly wish would make Associated Press or Reuters as a column.

    I live in a sea of – and have best friends & relatives who are – Republicans. Because of the Fox News-like culture here, Trump could indeed kill someone and it would make no difference. The “News” here either wouldn’t notice or at least reword it so as to turn it into a Democratic conspiracy; and all around me folks follow suit. They are so fixated with the “OTHER Party” being evil that there’s no room for parley. I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I still believe here at least, Republicans will probably vote for Trump (they will walk to the ballot confused, then weakly and sheep-like do what they’ve always done).

    I pray Trump loses overall while I quietly as usual vote Democratic (man, even the League of Women Voters frown at me when I get my ballot here); but I also hope and pray the Republican Party may sew itself together from and learn some of the lessons like what I’ve heard from the above comments. I’ve seen Church splits that have had vicious fights over the most harebrained reasons; but most of those remnants have eventually gotten better, and with a spot of humility, too. I’m begging for something like that.

    Yes, the Republican Party has apparently marched itself into this mess, but forget the Tory-Whig changes over time in British history. Things do change in funny ways, and maybe some “New Republican Party” can become a leaner, safer machine.

  67. Do you remember the conspiracy theory when Trump started doing well during the Republican primary process that he was secretly a Democratic plant? It was stupid at the time, but seems almost nostalgic now. Still the GOP are kind of reaping what they sowed by tying themselves to the Trump publicity wagon. Hopefully they’ll take stock after this election and realise where they’re heading.

  68. Wait, what? From the WaPo

    …Billy Bush bragged about the vulgar Trump video while at the Olympics in Rio, telling fellow NBC staffers he had a “tape of Trump being a real dog.” (His boasts prompted staffers at “Access Hollywood” to track it down.) …

    So Billy remembered this? And he didn’t tell his cousin Jeb last Spring? Or did Jeb know, and decide not to use it?

  69. @Greg: Paul was the result of the bene gesserit breeding program to create the kwisatz haderach, only he arrived a generation early. His son with Shaddam IV daughter was supposed to be the true kwisatz haderach.

  70. I know of some folks who are for the most part against what Trump’s for, but have held off abandoning him, or voting for his opponent, because of the Supreme Court.

    I’d like to argue that the Supreme Court is usually *not* as compelling a reason to vote for a presidential candidate (particularly someone who you otherwise would not vote for) as it’s often made out to be, and that’s true both for Republican and Democratic candidates.

    The reason, basically, is that most of the things that people care about with regard to the Supreme Court are political outcomes, and the Supreme Court is supposed to be a *backup* system for political outcomes, not the primary one. The legislatures are supposed to pass clear, Constitutional laws, and the executive is supposed to carry them out properly. Generally, the Supreme Court should only have to intervene when they don’t do this. It’s still and important and necessary job, mind you– but it’s better to have legislators and officials do the right thing in the first place than have the court have to clean up the mess later on.

    Mind you, sometimes we care about the Supreme Court when we want them to *stop* intervening in an area where they’ve overridden the rest of the government. We see this both on the left (with things like Citizens United) and on the right (with things like Roe v Wade). The thing is, there’s only so much a president can do here. They have limited, and usually unpredictable opportunities to appoint new justices, and when they do, the justices (and very rightly so) don’t just roll up their sleeves and implement the agenda of the person who appointed them. They have judicial independence; they can only rule on cases that come before them; they’re supposed to rely on precedence (and not just arbitrarily overturn it because they don’t like it) and the facts and arguments brought to their attention, and they can and do change their minds, and sometimes their overall judicial philosophies, based on all of that. Roe v Wade has held up for over 40 years of a Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court; likewise I expect Citizens United to not be overturned outright any time soon even if a Democratic-appointed majority is seated in the new year.

    This is not to say that the Supreme Court is not an important issue to consider in presidential candidates: it is. But if you’re being told to support a candidate, or party, that generally does things you object to because of the prospect of a Supreme Court someday coming around to what you want it to do, you’re being played.

  71. @Not the Reddit Chris S.

    I didn’t think that was the argument you were making though. I thought you were disagreeing with Scalzi and saying that Trump wasn’t bad enough a person at heart to try to take Assad’s title, as Scalzi had suggested. I agree with Scalzi that he’d try and that he probably would if given the opportunity. Hopefully we will never find out!

  72. I still have the horrible feeling that he’s going to win. I know it’s very difficult for a republican when the Democrats have a solid chunk who ALWAYS vote democrat and only really need to add Florida on top of that, but don’t underestimate the fringe-dwellers. I can see mass voting by the disenfranchised (or those who believe they are), the NRA, the Christian Lobby, the random Nationalistic rednecks. Meanwhile there is still a fairly solid chunk of the democrat vote who are saying that they don’t want to vote for anyone but Bernie. If voter turnout skews a bit this could turn out very badly.

  73. In the part of the world I come from (i.e. “states surrounding Arkansas”), there’s a healthy “never-a-Clinton-ever” sentiment at play. I’m expecting a really interesting conversation with my folks in the next couple weeks. My argument will be simple:

    “I cannot vote for a man whose entire life history demonstrates he is the total opposite of everything you’ve ever taught me about being a good person. I cannot betray you that way.”

    I’m hoping they’ll understand this, and hold their nose if it helps, and vote for Clinton, but even if they vote for Johnson (who is basically “W with/on weed”, when you get right down to it), at least they won’t betray all that they are by voting for Trump. I’ll love them regardless, because they’re my folks, but some element of trust will be missing.

  74. All I know is that on my way home from work Friday I was stopped at a light at one of the major intersections in my small California town where there were Trump supporters waving flags on all the corners. They were getting honks of support from what seemed like every SUV and pick-up driving by. We liberals in our Priuses had to despair in silence not daring to display opposition for fear of bodily harm.

    I wish I shared your feeling that this election would cause change to the GOP and its worst traits, but even if Hillary is elected the Congress will still be controlled by the GOP and they will be even more hateful, spiteful, and obstructionist than they’ve been for the past eight years. They will easily convince their base to forget the Trump debacle. After all, when you have your followers trained to ignore facts, it’s just as easy to make them forget history. The party leaders will nonchalantly drive over this minor speed bump to continue down their road of destroying the economy and environment in service of their personal coffers. And the people most devastated by their damage will still be enthusiastically cheering them on.

  75. John wrote, “You can’t vote for Donald Trump and say you don’t know what you’re voting for. You’re voting for hate, and chaos, and the deluge. Anything else that you think you get from voting for him will be washed away in the flood.”

    Vote Satan-Pence. At your own peril, of course.

  76. Haven’t even read the whole post yet, but…
    “… three generations of GOP operatives, who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake.”
    This is wonderful. Have you considered writing for a living, Mr. Scalzi?

  77. @Kilroy
    Sorry, but geek pedantism rears its ugly head in me. Jessica was instructed to have only daughters so that one would be wed to Feyd (Baron Harkonnan’s nephew) to produce the kwisatz haderach…and then I guess he was supposed to marry the Emperor’s daughter to “place a Bene Gesserit on the throne. Like I said…geek pedantism. :)

  78. @Some Kinda Rando: let’s also not forget that Trump is openly and loudly buddying up to the despotic leader of Russia (the former head of the KGB, to boot), and is not-so-openly enmeshed with Russian financiers. Yes, the candidate of the party of American exceptionalism, democracy and free markets, whose most beloved leader of recent memory was vigorously anti-Communist, is in a bromance with a leader who, if you wrote him as the villain in a Cold War thriller, would be panned as cartoonish. But rather than freak out about Trump being a Red-lover, or even pausing to note that whoa, our leader dude pals around with an anti-freedom supervillain, the collective response from the GOP is [shruggy-guy emote]. So, yeah, principles: not a thing.

    Regarding Trump’s popularity, bullies always have a rabid following. People who feel powerless and wish they could be stompy assholes to everyone they don’t like admire him, and feel empowered by their support of him. They’re the Crabbes and Goyle’s to Trump’s blowhard version of Draco Malfoy. That’s why talking to Trump supporters is so often like watching a performance-art piece modeling Orwellian doublethink. They don’t really have logical reasons that he supports their principles; their admiration is purely emotional, and you can’t really square the circle of ‘he makes me feel like I could kick all the asses of people I don’t like’ with ‘here are sound reasons he would be a competent and worthy leader’.

  79. Well, full disclosure up front. I’m a Democrat, married into a political family with folks who work in the D establishment, etc., etc., just saying I am biased.

    Political parties are a natural outgrowth of the Constitution. We have a powerful Executive who runs the government and is elected separately from Congress. In a parliamentary system you wait until the results of election are known to form a governing coalition that runs the government. We gather the factions into a party before the election to support and compliment the President. Or oppose, the founders seemed big on limiting the ability of one group to dominate everything. So, to have any impact on government you need to be in a party. Maybe we could get the parties to change this, but you have to get them to agree first. Fat chance of that these days!

    Back in the day I used to cross party lines as Democrats used to run some ugly old-school conservatives, and Republicans used to have a strong moderate wing that was quite appealing. But also back then we started losing every presidential election, and except for Watergate we would have lost six times in a row. We had a dominant nutty ideological wing that put purity above winning, and so we lost and lost, until the Clintons came along, with their focus on winning and compromising when needed.

    That is where I see the Republicans today, they have a dominant ideology (or two or three) that tolerates no argument on ideological purity. They let deology run everything and because of the political demographics, they will always win some non-zero portion of any election. Add in the fact that Democrats have a problem convincing their voters that every election counts even when it is raining, and you end up with the gridlocked system we have.

    So, Democrats aren’t smug, well maybe some idiots are, but the professionals are not. They understand the system and are mostly happy that You-Know-Who blunders into alienating the groups he needs in order to win.

    Or does he?

    There is a theme bubbling just under the surface that posits that he didn’t enter the race to win, but when he did win the primary, and saw the collapse of Fox as political kingmakers begin to show, that he joined up with Roger Alles, Breitbart’s Bannon, and his son-in-law’s media “empire” in order to create a new media entity to capture his voters post-election. If that is the case, it not only explains his desire to burn Fox and the Republican establishment, but tells us that he isn’t going to slink off the stage into some shadow. The themes of rigged elections and the perfidy of the Republican establishment are sticking around and it gives him a power block that not only gives his ideas a political presence, but will be profitable for him and his circle. Fox Squared.

    I trace this back to the development of a “media huckster track” in Republican primaries. For the last few cycles we see that they have allowed a number of candidates to run who are only trying to improve their profile in right wing media, for the purpose of selling product (books, vitamins, etc.) or getting a pundit position on Fox. Leaving this track effectively for sale was a bad idea.

    So, he’ll lose this election, but will not go away very soon.

  80. The pity is, you’re preaching to the choir, or mostly so. The Trump supporters and enthusiasts will either not read your remarks or cast them aside with a wave of the hand and roll of the eye.

  81. Being an Englishman I’m an outsider that doesn’t know a lot about US politics and really couldn’t care that much. I’ll say that based on Brexit alone I fully expect Trump to win. Trump winning would also be the embodiment IMHO of the American dream.

    Guy starts off with nothing (a few measly million) builds a business empire and then ignores the status quo to become POTUS. People everywhere can say to their children “Look if Trump can do it then anybody can do it”.

    Trump comes across as a reality TV show and this seems to be the fault of America as a whole. Two years for elections? (eighteen months?) Who but the rich can afford to run? Making an Election entertaining is logical. The UK has the monster raving loony party to inject some humour. And hats. Dissatisfaction with politics is widespread so people might as well try and get some entertainment out of it. Especially as it lasts sooo long.

    That’s the single downside I can see about the UK Parliament fixing the terms. Election campaigns become longer, more expensive etc. At least in the old days the papers were interested in when for longer than who.

    Maybe American Politicians should start wearing funny hats or dress up as clowns…

    Animal stories are good to. Larry the cat was safe during the May transfer but people were concerned about where he would live. Seriously just search ‘Larry the Cat’.

  82. Richard Robinson:

    The words get around, believe me. Although of course in some circles they are not regarded in what one would call a flattering light.

    But, you know, while I do write to engage others, in no small part I write for me. It’s important for my own sense of self to be able to say that when someone like Trump showed up, I said this about them.

  83. @gregory: Oh, how I’d love to have some sort of time limit on campaigns. Say, 90 days. That’s plenty in an age of modern communications methods.

    Alas, I strongly suspect we’ll have someone declare their candidacy for 2020 *on Election Day*, maybe even before the polls are closed everywhere (the US spans at least 5 time zones). It’s, unfortunately, the logical extrapolation of recent trends.

  84. Watching this whole thing from next door has been unnerving and fascinating. I do hope that this deals a horrific blow to the GOP, in part because their playbook has been used in Canada with such gusto that some people here now think there’s something about bearing arms in our constitution and have begun to question the principles of universal health-care– being able to say “See? That’s what that sort of behaviour gets you!” would be very welcome.

    What worries me is that, given how roughly half the population down there identifies with the GOP, the horrific blow is going to have repercussions well beyond the RNC High Command bunker. The worst case scenario of that worry is “those second amendment guys” we’ve heard mentioned actually getting up off their duffs en masse, but even short of that I think you guys are in for a rough go post-election.

    …and sharing a great big border and vast quantities of trade with you, I’m nervous on my own behalf, too.

  85. But I wonder, has anyone done the thought experiment: what would have happened to Donald Trump if he’d decided to run as a Democrat?

    My guess is that being a real-estate millionaire wouldn’t play as well in the Democratic Party as the Republican, and the fact that there were only two major candidates, both of whom were pretty well established nationally among liberals*, rather than a van full of often-overlapping positions with few stand-outs means Trump would have more trouble carving out a base of firm supporters.

    Then add in that Trump was one of those people who leapt on the ‘Not saying Obama wasn’t born in the US, but…’ bus and I can’t imagine him doing well as a Democrat, unless we take the time machine back farther than 2015.

    I mean, I admit I didn’t think Trump would do this well as a Republican, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    * Granted, Sanders was one of those people that wasn’t well known beyond the Northeast, people really passionate about economic reform, and the sort of political nerds who know exactly who the current Independents in the Senate are. (I include myself in the latter.) But the last two are the sort of people who do primaries and caucuses.

  86. @gottacook “wood-grain patriotism” You forget that John is a writer. Writers love to use metaphors. I read the phrase as “someone whose patriotism is only on the surface”. It fits perfectly with the trumpsters who think that dressing in red-white-and blue and flag-waving is patriotic, while at the same time holding all of the un-American beliefs that Trump espouses.

  87. Great article, should be published in a mainstream newspaper.

    I disagree on one point. The GOP elite/Rove/Limbaugh/Fox News/etc didn’t train the base to be assholes. Those people already existed. What the Right-Wing Echo Chamber did was de-marginalize them, legitimize their assholery, and give them talking points, cherry-picked data, and ginned-up propaganda they believed were irrefutable proof of their righteousness.

    Also too, I would cut off a random appendage to be able to write like you.

  88. A few things, with apologies for incoherence caused by toddler and typing with thumbs on my phone:

    1) I’d say he’s more like if Feyd-Ruatha were the Kwisatz Haderach instead of Paul. Yes, yes, he overthrew the government, but he basically kept the same structure with himself at the head. For the long-term, Paul refused the sandworm transformation that would fundamentally transform the society basically out of cowardice (later, his son Leto did accept it).

    2) @Kilroy – the Kwisatz Haderach was not supposed to be Paul’s child with Irulan, as Jessica had been ordered to give the Duke only girl children. Not that I can recall exactly who they were going to pair said girl child to, possibly Feyd Ruatha?

    3) Now I’m reminded what a piece of misogynistic dickery the Dune series is, damnit.

  89. I thoroughly agree with everything John says about Trump and the process the Republicans followed to arrive at him. (Also, note that Feyd Harkonnen was another result of the Kwisatz Haderach breeding program, so that works pretty well.) Trump is a malicious demagogue who has embraced the far right. Everything he and that side does must be combated.

  90. Shooting fish in a barrel…did you really believe the Orange God was ever a truly viable candidate? Hes a cartoon/game show host for goodness sakes. Even his name calls him out as the propped up facade liberal controllers are using to create a Clinton landslide. This will be the outcome, and then perhaps you might take some time to dig into the mess that the Clinton’s represent throughout their reign.

  91. Mythago: Putin was never the “head of the KGB”. He rose as far as the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in a relative backwater assignment in Dresden before retiring to go into politics. He’s a weasel, not a lion.

  92. The corollary to the comment I made earlier; the “other” problem with Trumpism is that, as noted, without it (fear, bigotry, anger, white nationalism) all the GOP really has left is stooging for open plutocracy, and I can’t imagine even at this point that the Trumpenproletariat will be willing to openly go all D.B. Nortontrooper (obscure movie reference hint: “Meet John Doe”).

    BUT…given four years of a Hildebeast Administration…hmmm. I wonder. Anybody willing to wager all the money in their pocket against all the money in mine that sometime over the next four years we see a mashup of the “alt-right” and the Trumpeters going full-on Blackshirt? The GOP becoming a genuine Fronte National?

  93. Toby:

    Was that serious? My sarcasm detector is on the fritz.

    In any case, if Trump is a liberal plant, how the fbeep is it that during the primaries, the Republican Party couldn’t: a) neutralize him as a candidate; or b) present a viable alternative to the yam?

    As far as I can tell, the answer is that the GOP grew increasingly reliant on the Southern Strategy voters to give them majorities, and when Trump conned the Southern Strategy voters into following him like the Pied Piper, the rest of the GOP was screwed, because they couldn’t figure out how to take out Trump without alienating the Southern Strategy voters, and without them, the GOP was probably going to lose this year. It’s the same problem they’ve got with down-ballot races right now.

    How problematic Hillary Clinton might be is a discussion for another time (as per our host); the conditions that got Donald Trump nominated as the Republican candidate for President this year can be laid entirely at the door of the Republican Party.

  94. See, I’m not convinced that he knows that what he’s saying isn’t true. I’ve dealt with narcissists, and so far as I can tell, they genuinely believe whatever they’re saying at a given time, even if it’s completely contradictory to things they said five minutes earlier. Because… I don’t know why. But that seems to be how they work. The idea of knowing a thing isn’t true presupposes that “true” is real to you.

  95. I have this nagging worry that this is all part of the script. Glenn Beck (!) disowns him and at the very end of the penultimate episode, Donald steps aside allowing … Ted Cruise? Mike Pence? Someone else to assume the Republican mantle and win big by being neither Trump nor Hillary.

  96. @Seebs: I think an important distinction can be made between liar, narcissist, and bullshit artist. The liar knows he’s lying, the narcissist believes the lie he’s lying, and the bullshit artist does not care. Of the three, the bullshit artist has an extra layer of Fuck You All that’s part of the especially smelly garbage on this particular trash fire.

  97. Trump has spent the last year insulting and alienating every growing demographic group. Trump is the GOP’s suicide note to the future.

  98. Boy, you hit it on the head here. Way back in the 1960’s, Barry Goldwater warned that his own party was in the process of being taken over by hard-right religious elites who would eventually turn the GOP into something unrecognizable by the common folk. Well, it’s here, and has been for a while. The party of the people, the party of small government, the party of Lincoln, has become everything you are saying. The GOP leaders are just as bigoted and ignorant as Trump can be, but they do it under the doublespeaking guise of protecting us from the supposedly anti-religious, baby-killing and money-hungry government and people who are not like themselves. As you note, this has been a work in progress for over 50 years now, and we are seeing that the GOP leaders are simply out for themselves instead of the electorate, trying to remake America into their own ideal image. Scares the crap out of me. Trump’s main plus right now, as you noted, is that the GOP simply can’t control him; whether he gets elected or not, hopefully he’ll stay in “GOP” politics, even if just as an observer, and teach the other GOP idiots something about America.

    Disclosure: After many years as a [Goldwater] Republican, I decided not to run for re-election in my small town last year; I made this decision even before Trump came along as I was already tired of being told I wasn’t a real Republican. Now, I get to comment from the peanut gallery.

  99. @jscarry: I do not forget that our host is a writer, and a good one. Nonetheless, if he intended “wood-grain” in the sense of a decal, it went right by me, likely because “wood-grain patriotism” was preceded by “an angry drunk buzzed off of…” That caused me to recall a scene from (the broadcast version of) “The City on the Edge of Forever”:

    McCOY (in 1930): I’m glad you got away, too. Why do you think they want to kill us?
    MAN: Look, fella, you take a sip too much of that old wood alky, and, and almost anything seems like it…

    In other words, I assumed (possibly wrongly) that “patriotism” was meant in the sense of Trump’s followers using their concept of it as a path to paranoid delusion.

    In any case, I look forward to the day (which I trust will be next month sometime) when media coverage of Trump consists only of stories about his vulnerability to prosecution.

  100. Someone said: “That is because *both* party’s [sic] are controlled by Corporate Interests, the People know this and We are tired and angry.” And then made the point that therefore voting for Trump was a vote against corporate politics.

    This is willfully self-deluding BS. Trump is the apotheosis of corporate interests. Do you really think a Trump presidency would foster legislation that would overturn Citizens United? Because *that’s* how to dramatically, and quickly, reduce the interference of corporate interests in our politics. Any individual president can’t accomplish much if the law says corporations can buy votes, and that is what the law presently says.

  101. @Minty

    As I recall the Bene Gesserit plan:

    Jessica has a daughter by the Duke
    Said Daughter gets married to Feyd (which would end the Harkonnen-Atreides feud in the bargain)

    Their first son is the kwisatz haderach, prepared and planned and controlled for.

    Jessica, out of love for the Duke, had the son herself, and ruined it all.

  102. I think Trump’s ability to be sincerely dishonest (however he does it) lent extra weight to his admission that he admired Clinton’s tenacity at the end of the debate. For once, it seemed like he was being sincere, honest, and positive. It was probably the first time since he started campaigning.

  103. While I’m a registered Democrat, and do give money to political parties, for the first time I’m actually going to use my law degree and serve as an election/poll monitor, just because of the Trumpkins and the threat of voter suppression. He’s openly calling for voter intimidation, so I might as well stand up for the right to vote.

  104. Perhaps we can breathe easier as the 2016 threat of a Trump presidency continues to wane. But I can’t stop thinking, “What about 2020?”

    The GOP is only a little over a year into even knowing that this angry base existed as a force and could be activated and utilized. It was clear that the establishment primary candidates were completely clueless about how to connect with their base. Starting in 2019, the professional demagogues will have had 4 years to absorb, ponder, and decide how to harness that base for their own purposes. What I fear most is that just like Trump 1.0, this next GOP candidate will not care one bit about governing for the betterment of our nation, but unlike Trump 1.0, Trump 2.0 will have a plan, be polished, know how to run a campaign, and just might be able to win in the general. Remember, even with all his baggage, when Trump would spout just moderately awful things over a couple week period in early September with nothing really, really bad coming out, the national polls tightened up to tossup numbers.

  105. One of the reasons I’m not a more enthusiastic Clinton supporter is that I suffer from Clinton Fatigue. I’ve just had enough. A significant, but not overwhelming, part of Clinton Fatigue is Bill Clinton’s inveterate skirt-chasing. Even after all these years it drapes a layer of tawdriness over everything, including how well qualified Hillary Clinton is for the office. Mind you, she has made plenty of her own contributions to my Clinton Fatigue in her own right.

    (dodges to avoid the Mallet)

    I understand why Trump brought out Bill Clinton’s accusers. On the surface I was aghast at the cynicism and hypocrisy but on a deeper level this stunt spoke to my Clinton Fatigue. The Donald is a master of dime-store psychology so to some extent the stunt worked. But he’s all about tactics and not strategy so this could backfire.

    Samantha Bee spoke some other words that I hope will get around and reach beyond the choir:

    After the special fun of explaining the Starr Report to our children in the 90s, we spent the next 16 years cleansing ourselves by electing monogamous Christian man who respect their wives and daughters…All you’re doing by bringing up Bill Clinton is reminding us how much we don’t want another Groper-in-Chief.

    Here’s hoping that people will stop to connect the dots.

  106. “Mainstream” republicans and conservatives not only have supported legal discrimination against me and my kind for my whole life, they continue to do so. I have zero sympathy for any of them, especially the ones who say “I’m no bigot! I just want lower taxes!” The wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from that part of the electorate is a balm to my soul. I hope their suffering never ends.

  107. Please (please please please) never take the result of an election for granted. Go vote if you have a vote.

  108. Hello American friends,

    There is a Hungarian saying along the lines of “don’t drink a toast to the bearskin…” (until you’ve shot the bear). The election is yet to happen, who the hell knows what the next couple of weeks might bring, etc etc… so you haven’t quite dodged the Trump bullet yet. But believe me when I say we (the rest of the world) are all pulling for you.

    At any rate, let’s assume you do the rational and sane thing and elect Hilary over Trump. Here’s my depressing thought of the day for you: if this time around you ALMOST elect an ignorant, angry, racist, misogynistic, blustering, lying megalomaniacal sack of orange oatmeal, what do you think the odds are that after 4 or 8 more years of neoliberal business-as-usual, (that means more income inequality, poverty, war, and all the other fun things), that you won’t elect the more telegenic vat-grown and civil-seeming variant that Scalzi brought up when there’ll be even more rage and disenfranchisement (in the general, non-voting sense) seething within the electorate?

  109. @gottacook and @JScarry

    (Oh, boy! We get to examine the text!)

    I took “and angry drunk buzzed on wood-grain patriotism,” as drunk on fake and potentially lethal patriotism; the way bootleggers were reputed to cut their grain alcohol with wood alcohol, causing brain damage, blindness and death.

    I loved this image in John’s essay.

    I also love the idea of a “faux wood-grained finish” patriotism; a slap of contact paper over the real surface. That’s a great one too.

  110. Your main point is correct, certainly. A couple of side notes, though.

    1) The Republican leadership — the money people, in short — certainly made the choices which led to Trump, but they never *wanted* Trump. They really wanted someone who could **pretend** to be Trump. They wanted someone who could turn it on at will when addressing the credulous base, but then drop the shell and talk business with the folks who *really* mattered. They thought they were getting it because Trump is a businessman, and they are as much victims of their own religious faith that businesspeople are inherently smart and rational and everything that is good, as they are victims of the base they trained to expect exactly this. But the base has been a lot clearer-headed either than the leaders expected them to be, or than the leaders have been themselves. Where the base saw an incarnation of their own bigotry and lust for dominance, the leaders saw a businessman — the epitome, in their world, of the savvy professional who knows the score and won’t do anything that’s bad for the wealthy.

    The base was right about what they were getting; the leaders weren’t.

    2) I get that you’re writing about the GOP. But to the extent that you’re also writing about what choices gave rise to something like Trump being a candidate who could get this far, the Democrats need to come in for their share of the examination. Not because they’re “just as bad” or anything like that, but because their own choices had a lot to do with how Trump could get this far, and why the Republicans were capable of doing any of the things you correctly described them as doing. And if we — I speak as a Democrat who’s had to do some soul-searching this election cycle — keep making the same bad choices, we will only get more of this kind of opposition, because we’ll be leaving the Republican base to them, and they’ll keep using it to pull that wagon.

    If the Democrats had offered anything remotely like a path which gave the current Republican base real hope — hope for their economic futures; hope that we’d get out of war; hope that the government gave a damn about them in any conceivable way — it would not now be the Republican base. And it would never have been susceptible to the techniques the Republicans used to dangle carrots in front of them. The white, socially conservative, working class used to be a bastion of the Democratic Party. We lost those people because we didn’t pay attention to their needs; and if we hadn’t lost them by our own failures and choices, the Republicans wouldn’t have been able to scoop them up. While the Republicans told the white working and middle class attractive lies, the Democrats stopped telling them anything at all. It’s ignored them altogether for decades now, and given them policies which make their lives progressively worse along the way. Gave the rest of us policies which made our lives progressively worse too, of course… but it could hold onto us by becoming the party of social justice, which most of us who remained Democrats considered more important than the economic injustice which was being done along the way.

    The ones who are now the Republican base never wanted social justice to begin with. But they had been part of the original Democratic coalition because it offered them economic justice, and they could be cajoled into accepting social justice if they got economic justice along with it. When they saw that the Democrats had abandoned economic justice altogether, and expected them to swallow the medicine without the sugar, they left for a party which promised them neither — which, by their lights, was better. And then we made it worse by mocking and disrespecting them for being the sort of people who could vote Republican… and, even more, the sort of people who would vote based on their bigotry. Well, they can and do — but they didn’t until nobody in *either* party would give them anything more substantial to hope for from their candidates.

    That’s something we’re going to need to stop… both for the sake of practical electoral needs and for the sake of our own decency. No party should be leaving people — any people — in a position where the only thing they can hope for from their government is the licence to hate.

  111. Consider me uninformed but how on Earth can a Non-Politician be allowed to be presented as a possible candidate for President? Here in the UK we have elected Members of Parliament who may (or may not) be proffered as Leader of their Party, and thus “elected” as a Leader of that Party. I’m learning (haphazardly) about how the US system works, but I really don’t ‘get’ how a non-person can EVEN be allowed to stand as a representative?

    This person has NO political knowledge/background whatever, so why was he put forward as a potential (presidential) candidate in the first place?? I am flabbergasted at the stupidity of your (so-called) political party ‘nominations’, and I really, really am in the dark! Could I stand for President?? in the way this person (obviously with enough money) has done?

    Apologies b/c this really doesn’t follow your intelligent observations – for which I am indebited – but I would love to understand how this ‘idiot’ came about :(

    And as an aside: I am ridiculously scared to death if he he gets near the White House, and those special telephones!

  112. On whether or not the T-word knows he’s lying, I posted elsewhere that having been married to a lawyer with an awesome memory, I had to step up my own “remembering what happened when” game in order to hold my own in arguments.

    The T-word never has to remember what he said, as *no one ever contradicts him.* Or hasn’t up to now. His employees just acquiesce and adjust to the demand of the moment. (I had a boss like that once. I resorted to getting orders in writing to preserve my own sanity) I suspect his family and associates do the same.

    So his memory is unpracticed. I suspect he genuinely believes he Never Said That, and evidence to the contrary is a pretense of his enemies. I suggest we consider what it would mean to the USA to have a president with the memory and attention span of….oh, look, SQUIRREL!!

  113. Add me to the praise choir for the excellent writing and salient points made – I have already shared it far and wide. DT’s circling the drain as we head into the home stretch to the point that I think that maybe at this point HRC could steal a brag from Hair Fury and shoot someone on 5th Ave and would still win. But only if we all show up.

  114. @wiredog:
    Good point Re: Billy and what *might* have been a useful weapon for Jeb (or anyone besides Trump) in the primaries. I have wondered (and perhaps OGH can shed some light on) why these kinds of “revelations” are just coming up NOW. Did the opposition research in the primaries just miss this stuff? Did everyone assume it wouldn’t have mattered anyway (and maybe it wouldn’t have, since no-one on the left is surprised, and on the right the sudden switch to caring what Donald Trump says about women correlates somewhat suspiciously with the tax revelation and the poor first debate performance)? I mean, the media has repeatedly said they didn’t take him seriously and didn’t cover him as a serious candidate at first, but he’s been the prospective nominee since March. This tape is from 2005. Unless there was a long, legal process involved, one assumes *someone* should have been able to access it – and at least TRY to embarrass him with it – before now.

  115. Mirabile dictu, Mr. Scalzi.

    @Martin Fisher (@armorguy)

    “I hope the imminent destruction of the GOP allows for the creation of a new party of fiscal conservative/socially moderate folks who can be an effective part of the next generation of political discussion.”

    Well, Mr. Fisher, we’ve actually been here since 1971…we’re called the Libertarian Party. Not that either of us might agree with their entire platform. I’m not a fan of wide-open borders; others might disagree about gun ownership or any number of other things. But on balance, fiscal conservatism and social moderation (or even liberalism) is pretty much our métier.

  116. Carole-Ann – the sole constitutional requirements for being president of the United States are: you must be a natural-born citizen, you must be at least 35 years old, and you must have been resident in the U.S. for at least 14 years. Elections are run by the individual states, which have their own requirements as to how and when candidates must file to run for election, and the parties have their own rules, also. As long as an aspiring candidate meets those requirements and rules, he or she can run for president regardless of education or experience.

  117. I do not hate Republicans. I do not hate Democrats.

    But . . . a few weeks ago Mrs. Clinton got into trouble by stating that half of Trump supporters are in what she calls a “basket of deplorables.” Mr. Trump and the RNC had a field day (or couple of weeks) with that. It’s still being used in TV ads. She — as a candidate for the presidency — failed to remember that if she won the election, she would need to be the President for ALL Americans.

    Now we have seen enough evidence that Mr. Trump himself is deplorable. So, I will go further than Mrs. Clinton was willing to go (mostly because no one cares what I think, and there are no stakes in it):

    ANYONE who votes for Mr. Trump is deplorable. (And I like some of you folks!)

  118. “Could I stand for President??”

    If you were native-born and old enough, yes. The Constitution lays down no pre-qualifications for anyone to run for elective office, except that candidates for president have to native-born and thirty-five years of age. As we do not have a parliamentary system, non-politicians jump into politics at every level all the time. Dwight D Eisenhower was never elected to any public office before he became president; neither was Ulysses S. Grant. All you have to do is show up and persuade the electorate that you’ve got the goods.

    This ‘idiot’ (which is too polite a term for Commandante Supremo El Trumpo) got to be the Republican candidate for president because he pushed a lot of ugly buttons and promised things he will never be able to deliver and persuaded a lot of people that he was the man of the hour– a lot of people, it should be noted, who belong to a special subset of primary election voters susceptible to Trump’s, um, charms. John has already outlined them well enough. It remains to be seen if those charms play with the larger national electorate (pray God, the answer is ‘NO!’).

  119. pocketnaomi, I just don’t see it. Your analysis and the claims you make are not accurate in my experience. At the worst the Democrats may be guilty of failing to adequately counter the concerted propaganda efforts the Republican Party has engaged in for decades specifically to try and convince the people you are talking about to vote against their best interests. Assuming those best interests are economic justice there is no comparison between Democratic and Republican administrations and their actual respective policies.

    Anyone who cares to can find the data for themselves these days, but as with anything it does take some effort, and the data clearly and unambiguously shows that Democratic administrations and their policies have routinely and always stomped the guts out of Republican administrations and their policies, for decades, on economic justice metrics.

    Does this mean that we should settle for the Democratic party we’ve had, no need to strive for something better? No. Does it mean that blaming the Democratic Party for some people swallowing the propaganda of the Gingrichs and Roves of the Republican Party makes any sense? No. If people actually took the effort to inform themselves, and given what the press has become it takes some real actual effort, but after all this is our lives, they could easily have seen that the Republican Party has been lying to them. And that is something worth getting pissed off about.

  120. I don’t think the people who voted with their feet to go occupy Wall Street were bigots. Leftists maybe, but not bigots. They felt little and angry and didn’t want to take it any more. Later they hoped a non-politician would respect them. If only Trump were a kinder and gentler American. I don’t know who will protect them now.

  121. I’m on the other side of the pond, watching as my country falls apart for entirely predictable reasons, and the only thing I have to offer is that anyone who thinks voting for Trump will show the politicians what for is delusional.

    A hefty chunk of the Brexit voters thought they were administering a sound kicking to politicians who were too far from understanding the lives of ordinary working people. The result is that the politicians will get to keep their jobs for at least another four years, and a lot of ordinary people will no longer have jobs.

    This is not an outcome any rational person wants.

  122. “an angry drunk buzzed off of wood-grain patriotism”
    I really, really love this phrasing.

  123. darrelle: I think you’re correct in that the Democrats did NOT stop trying to reach out to the white working class. Their policies really are helpful to them and could be of great aid.

    The elephant in the room is that these policies are ALSO helpful to blacks, Latinx, Asians, Middle Easterners,etc., AND this is anathema to a great deal of the white working class. The politics of white resentment is far more powerful than many white people are willing to admit (though it’s fairly clear to non-whites), and it’s what’s fueling the Trump campaign (and to a lesser degree the Sanders candidacy).

    Thing is…you don’t need the white working class (or the white portion who think they’re working class) in order to win national elections (Congressional elections and state elections, however, are a different story). Obama showed this. Clinton is showing this. Im not sure that gearing a campaign to the white electorate resentful of the rising power of non-whites is going to be fruitful for either party.

  124. @Carol-Ann I think @AmyPrendergast did an excellent job talking about the requirements part of your question. I wanted to mention some of the psychology at the moment. Of considerable note is the distaste for politicians in the current US political climate corollaries of which have been posted above (clinton fatigue etc.). The basic premise being that we need someone from outside to clean things up. Usually, this is a hollywood fantasy (Dave), unfortunately, people have come to believe this fantasy is the only way to “fix washington”. One interesting twist to the Donald Trump storyline, is that typically the person in question is working class, so I think they aren’t grabbing for the exact story, but instead some mashup with (to borrow Mr. Scalzi’s words):
    “ignorant, bigoted and money-grubbing, disdainful of facts and frightened of everything because of it, an angry drunk buzzed off of wood-grain patriotism, threatening brown people and leering at women”

  125. @John Mark Ockerbloom, as far as “think of the Supreme Court” voting goes, remember that the Court’s already down one judge. Unless Congress gets off their collective butts before December and votes on a judicial nominee, whoever gets elected this November _will_ be able to nominate a Supreme Court judge as soon as the inauguration parties are over.

    Most of my history reading covers earlier periods, so I’m not sure how often a newly-elected President has been able to put someone on the Court right off the bat. And yes, it’s one judge out of nine, but whoever gets the position will be a tie-breaker — that’s a lot of influence right there.

  126. Very well put.

    It’s interesting (frightening?) to think of what this portends for the future of the GOP. I tend to think that regression to the norm comes into play, and the next candidate is going to somewhat less of a nutjob.

    No guarantees, of course.

    There is a certain deliciousness in thinking that if Ms. Clinton serves two terms, that would mean the the US would not have been led by a white male for 16 years, and that is going to seriously piss off those mouth-breathers who think the presidency should always belong to them.

  127. “…who have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, crushing their fortunes with their social and economic policies, never imagining it would cause an earthquake.”

    As a geologist, I LOVE this analogy. Beautiful.

  128. @pocketnaomi:

    I hate to say it, but your post is indicative of the left-wing, white-liberal-guilt, self-blaming attitude that the Trumpeteers (rightly) disdain. Democrats didn’t destroy the manufacturing sector or the unions – the right-wing and globalization forces did that. Democrats didn’t cause the income inequality we’re currently experiencing – wall street had a huge part in that. Democrats may not have fought tooth-and-nail against some of these things, but that’s to be expected out of a party of individuals that tend to lean towards being progressive, but otherwise have no major common theme. What the Democrats DID do was build the social safety net that mitigated the damage. They fought (and fought HARD!) to ensure medicare and social security weren’t raided. They forced Obamacare through despite unprecedentedly vitriolic opposition. They fought to ensure that people couldn’t discriminated against due to their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. And what the was the result?

    Redneck morons with little education and low emotional intelligence screaming “Keep your government hands off my medicare!” while taking their now-insured kids to the doctor for the first time in years thanks to Obamacare. Callous assholes who happily voted for ‘Christian’ leaders who promised to stop abortions regardless of federal law and who rejected Obamacare funds that would have helped their constituents. Bigoted throwbacks who literally couldn’t care less that Trump is despicable because he hates the blacks, the latinos, the women and the gays as much as they do. These people are angry because their world of well-paid unskilled labor and white cultural supremacy is eroding and they’re listening to a corporate media that tells them it’s all the fault of those evil liberals. They have literally been voting against their own best interested for generations.

    So when liberals engage in hand-wringing and whine that they ‘haven’t done enough’ for these poor, privileged white folks who are now losing their privilege, the reaction isn’t gratitude. These people don’t respect ‘effort’ or ‘good intentions’. They respect strength, self-confidence and authority. The answer isn’t to go Jimmy Carter and ask them to put on a sweater when heat gets expensive – they’ll hate you for that. The answer is to turn right back on them, point the finger and say “You’re not happy? Then what the hell are you going to do about, asshole?” Don’t whimper that the liberals have ignored them, challenge them to get off their own asses and start working for change! Manufacturing jobs moving away? Come up with an alternative business! Change or die! Can’t legally keep the colored kids out of your pool? Deal with the consequences! Want to keep the illegals out of your state? Well don’t come whining to us when Arizona’s economy collapses due to a ‘papier bitte!’ culture that drives out all your cheap labor. Want to keep discriminating against gays? Fine – just don’t complain when no one wants to do business in or with your backwards, bigoted, shit hole of a state. Unhappy? Then DO something about it!

    Pointing the finger back at them for their own bad decisions won’t make them love you, but they’ve been taught since birth to hate you anyway. It WILL make them respect you, however. When they whine and bitch and moan and you tell them either shut up or pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, they’ll realize you’re not some sort of pushover. Then, when their leaders tell them to hate the weak liberal pussies who are afraid of their guns and their whiteness, they’ll think twice before believing. But if you whine about how we’re not paying attention to the dwindling population of bigots on a downward slide, you’re not changing their minds and you’re not helping anyone.

  129. So, the question becomes, what is needed to prevent this happening again?

    In my opinion the real problem is the system that allowed a vocal few leverage their choice onto one of the only two major parties.

    Problem 1: We only have two major parties. So, if one of them screws up we are down to one choice, which is the same as having no choice. A duopoly is not real competition. Real competition improves quality.

    Problem 2: Primaries. The primary system puts a lot of power in “the base”. To get through the primary system these days you need to appeal to “the base”. I say “SCREW THE BASE!” Democracy is about “the people,” not “the really passionate people.”

    So, how do we fix these problems and try to prevent another “lesser of two evils” election (where one choice is blatantly evil)? Get rid of primaries and replace them with a ranked choice voting system. In a ranked choice system a vote for a “3rd party” is not so much of a spoiler. Also, having more choices at this point means that when someone blows up, it is much easier to fall back to another candidate. And, if 3rd parties are less of a 3rd rail, then maybe we would have many choices to fall back on.

  130. I’m just amazed it took this long for Trump to become an embarrassment. When did he stop?

    Of course, you can insult Mexicans, blacks, people with disabilities, women in general, and anyone else, but get caught leching on a blonde white woman and that’s it, jack.

    I do disagree that he knows he’s lying. I honestly don’t think he does. I don’t think he’s ever needed to remember what he’s said before, because that has nothing to do with his purpose, which is to win. At all costs. In every engagement, no matter how small. Every time he talks to or meets with anyone he has to assert dominance over them and get what he wants and he will say whatever is necessary *at that time* to do so, with no regard or, quite possibly, no awareness he ever said anything else. Accuracy is not important. Consistence is not important. Only winning is important.

  131. I’d never been a Trump supporter in any way, but the Access Hollywood tape had a special resonance with me. In the 1970’s, while taking a Photo Lab Tech training course in the US Army, one of the other soldiers told me “Hey, I grabbed Alice’s crotch in the darkroom.”

    “Alice” (name changed) was a WAC, the sole female member of the training class.

    It was one of those moments when you’re given a clear moral choice and the question “What’s the right thing to do?”

    And… I failed that moral test. Because I did… nothing. I just stared at that other soldier for a few seconds, and he moved on. I didn’t call him out on his behavior, I didn’t offer support to Alice, I didn’t report it to superiors. I just… let it go. Ignored it. Tried to pretend it hadn’t happened.

    That didn’t work. That incident, when I chose to not act, is hardly the only thing in my life I regret or feel shame about. But even forty-plus years later, it’s still one of the biggest.

    And now the entire country has the same choice to make that I did in 1972. “What’s the right thing to do?”

    So for God’s sake, for your own sake, when you cast your vote… don’t be me.

    (I wrote about that incident at longer length here: “Hey, Arthurs, I Grabbed Alice’s Crotch”)

  132. This election is so depressing. I have people close to me who quote nonsense from Breitbart and other right wing sources and no amount of facts to the contrary changes anything.

    Trump is likely going to lose and he is going to consume the GOP from within like an underground coal fire. And then what? Breitbart will continue to spew nonsense and people I know will believe it as gospel.

    I think the problem is the question. Its not “Does Trump know he’s lying?”. Truth doesnt matter. If it did, politifact would be the end of any lies.

    We’re like the Greatest American Hero. But instead of a super suit, its our brain. And we dont have an operating manual for it. Anyone recommend a good psychology of mind that looks into how we think? Cause we’re not logical, and we sure as fuck dont care about truth.

    The question isnt “does trump know he’s lying?”. The question is how does his lies get in to people and take hold? How do people think and process such that Trumps bullshit is swallowed whole? Its just so depressing.

  133. Leah writes: “As far as think of the Supreme Court voting goes, remember that the Court’s already down one judge. Unless Congress gets off their collective butts before December and votes on a judicial nominee, whoever gets elected this November _will_ be able to nominate a Supreme Court judge as soon as the inauguration parties are over.”

    Which is why I expect that the confirmation process on Merrick Garland will get underway the first day the Senate meets after Election Day (assuming enough people turn out to elect Clinton), and I’m pretty sure he’ll be confirmed by the Senate in short order in the lame duck session. The Republicans know that it’s either Garland or whoever Clinton appoints, and given that Garland’s got a fairly middle-of-the-road record overall, neither the Republican Senators or their base are going to want to pass on him in favor of someone else they can easily anticipate would be well to his left.

    (The Democrats could subvert this script if they wanted to– Obama could withdraw the nomination on election night, or Senate Democrats could decide to block him, saying “You had your chance; now we’ll give you what you said you wanted and have the incoming President choose someone.” While there could be a certain in-your-face satisfaction in that, I think Obama and a critical mass of Democrats would realize that filling the seat expediently with the vetted, qualified nominee the President’s chosen is the more adult and responsible thing to do.)

    And then what happens? Well, nobody really knows. Garland’s been pretty quiet about his positions overall, to the point where NOW “expressed concern that he is ‘more or less a blank slate’ on core women’s issues like reproductive rights.” (to quote from a Washington Post article). I don’t expect him to launch an immediate frontal assault on Roe, though, both because of who nominated him and because judges known to behave like that towards high-profile precedents generally don’t get nominated or make it through the confirmation process. Likewise, I don’t expect that he’d lead the court to do a quick U-turn on Citizens United. Picking a president who might pick a justice who might rule in certain ways that might affect what legislators do or can’t do remains an imprecise and uncertain way of steering the political course of our nation. You’re generally better off picking a president you think will do the best job as the chief executive (Supreme Court nominations being one of many aspects of that job), and also making sure you find and vote for legislators who will pass good laws to begin with.

  134. @John – I don’t think even the Republicans are as transparent to try to confirm Merrick Garland in a lame duck session. I’d expect if they tried it, the cries of blatant hypocrisy would be defining. Obama should at that point withdraw the nomination and say that the selection is up to the next President – that’s consistent with the lies that the Repubs have been saying the whole time, so they have no credible leg to criticize him.

  135. @Theophylact – you are correct, and thanks for pointing that out. Rather than weasel, I’d cast him more as the henchman who is beating up our spy-hero when Karla enters the room and tells him to leave the two of them to talk. Which actually makes the bromance even sadder, really.

  136. Now imagine the following:

    Clinton’s elected and she names a new justice, who is duly confirmed. Because of their ages, another two, maybe even three, justices die or retire during her term(s) and she gets to nom replacements for them also. Feel the schadenfreude as you picture this, and the inevitable “she had them killed!” conspiracy theories.

  137. Since Assad is the Hitler of the Day and is in the original post, I believe this is a fair question. Should we feel empathy for the people who support Assad in the belief that he is their only defense against ISIS, in spite of his activities like using chemical warfare against his own civilians including children?

    Should we have empathy with the position that maybe Aleppo is the cost for a peaceful Syria?

    At what point does this support, cross the line into complicity? At what point is it no longer a legitimate moral hazard, but an abandonment of a moral center for potential political gain? At what point does the idea of “does the ends justify the means” cross the line in Syria? Especially when the cost is ascribed to the accounts of others while the comfort accrues to oneself?

    How easy is it to distance oneself from the views of strangers while giving the opinions of those closest to us more of a pass?

    In the heat of the moment, I am sure many of us will like those in Syria vote for the costs to fall elsewhere. I am sure that many of us on a daily basis look the other way instead of rocking the boat at our own expense. I am sure that most people throughout history have accepted security especially when the loss of liberty falls to others.

    My empathy in Syria does fall to those who support Assad actually.

    Not alone. But empathy is not zero sum. My empathy also, and to a much greater extent falls to those in Aleppo, to those who have been the victims of the war crimes of the Assad regime. Those people don’t just deserve empathy they deserve justice.

    However the supporters of Assad, and to those like Trump who contemplate their support of him for the “greater good” also get my condemnation. They are complicit in his rise, in his power, and in his and his party’s continued abuse upon those other people in Syria.

    I find that support shall I say deplorable. Our understanding might help find a broader solution, but that must include or condemnation of their support.

  138. Holy crap, JS! Nicely skewered! But next time, don’t hold back! Say what you really think!

  139. Pocketnaomi, the Democrats lost the white working class (particularly in the South) not because they abandoned them but because of civil rights. The white working class could, in fact, NOT be cajoled into accepting social justice, aka sharing the American Dream with black people.

  140. Amen John. This is the end of the repuke party. Oh what a party we will have on November 9th. Don’t forget to visit the RSHD’s web site to bathe in their pitiful tears!
    The next 8 years of Hillary’s Presidency will be glorious!

  141. @Kevin Fitch, I respectfully suggest that you don’t grok the system we have right now and the dynamics that make it what it is. It is easy to just say that parties are a problem, but they arose because of our constitution. Differences of opinion lead to people forming factions who vote for common purposes. In a parliamentary system those factions would become parties. Our system encourages factions to band together to form parties to reach a majority. Smaller parties are “inefficient” in that they shift power to the party furthest from the small party, so the second strongest party absorbs them in order to compete.

    Within the parties the factions still exist, and a party that lasts is one that learns how to build a common set of goals that all the factions can live with. I don’t want to go on and on about this, but if you look at the constitutional officers, you see that we are set up to move power to those who can get anything over 50% of the seats or electors. And 67% is even better and allows you great control of the entire government. If you look at the minor parties we have now you can see how they would easily fit in one of the two major parties as factions.

    From my perspective, parties are not a bug, they are a feature. Factions will always arise if there are differences of opinion. When we all become compassionate Bodhisattvas we will not have factions, but until then we are going to have differences and will form factions.

    Parties are private clubs, it is only an illusion that they are part of the government. So primaries are private choices made by the parties. Not only that but each party has state chapters that make local choices about the primary election. Each party makes and adapts the rules for their primaries. For example, the Democrat’s “superdelegates” were put in place to ensure that minorities would always have some representation in the choice of the candidates even if their voters were not sufficient to make an impact on the regular vote. Yes, unfair, but part of the system a private club chose. Caucuses, for example, are hard for working people, poorer poeple, and others to attend, so they are kinda unfair and certainly unrepresentative, which is strange for a party that claims it is trying to be diverse and helping the poor. The Base that you despise are the only ones who attend those.

    My whole family are part of the Democratic Base and we spend a lot of time paying attention to politics, government, law, and generally what is going on in the whole world of politics and diplomacy and economics. I don’t think we should be denigrated for acting on our ideals and trying to make good choices when so many people don’t bother to pay the slightest attention to these critical things. The Base are the people who make an effort and participate and I think it would be better for us all if more people cared.

    So, your proposals are to pass laws that remove the choices of private political clubs can and cannot do to select who will represent their members? You understand that the only way to make this change is to get the existing parties to agree to this, or build up the coalition of one party so that it has enough power to change things by itself. Do you think that will happen?

    But actually, your plans don’t end up replacing the primaries, because political clubs still need to choose their candidates and you end up with primaries again. You can’t get rid of primaries because the Constitution guarantees people the right to freely associate, so political clubs will still form and form parties and still choose candidates. The factions/parties will still wield power the same way, choosing political goals that draw over 50% of electors. So, you end up where we are now.

    In short, you already have four choices for president in most states, two of them being minor parties. Your proposal would not change anything because the same system will arise in short order. Because our constitution is set up to apportion power in a certain way, and this system is the natural outcome of that. If you want to change things, build coalitions and bring votes to a party, who will then listen to your voters. Light a candle, don’t curse the darkness.

  142. To paraphrase what a misogynistic Canadian Trump supporter said to me over Thanksgiving dinner : “Sure, Trump exaggerates and says things he doesn’t mean. But with him, I know in advance that whatever he says is bull. And I can take that.”

    Basically, an openly lying, sexist, racist president was far more acceptable to him than Hillary Clinton. No rational argument could be made to that.

  143. @Carol-Ann, anyone can run, yes, but you need backing (i.e. money) behind you (note – do NOT believe Trump when he says he is self-financing his campaign; he’s NOT.) to get somewhere. There are a lot of rich guys (Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers, and on the other side, George Soros) willing to put up big bucks to hype their favored candidate, with advertising, mailers, TV commercials, etc. But if Trump didn’t connect with an unfortunate number of deplorables (sorry, that’s how I see it) someone else would be the nominee now.

  144. Since no one else seems to have done so yet I would like to point out (once again) that Andrew Jackson was almost exactly as bad as Trump in almost exactly the same ways and presents a very cautionary tale.

  145. @Kevin Fitch I’m going to agree with @Fran_K : getting rid of the parties doesn’t address the issue. The issue is that if you want to vote for people who you like in a presidential election, then you need to start voting for them on the city council, school board, your state legislature, your governor. Because that’s where presidential candidates come from. The Governor’s mansions, the Senate, and they get to those places from local elections.

    So on November 10th (because we’ll all be hungover on the 9th, even if we drank water, ate saltines and went to bed at 6pm) you go out and you look at the people in your area from all the parties (there are more on the local level, I’m personally up to my eyeballs in socialists) and vote for them. Campaign for them! Run for office yourself!

    I hate to quote a t-shirt, but, be the change you want to see.

  146. @donaithnen: The only good thing I ever heard or read about Andrew Jackson was that he was very devoted to his wife.

    For those keeping track of the balancing pans of his life, that makes exactly ZERO impact, since the “evil actions” pan hit the floor.

  147. Unfortunately, whether Trump self-destructs or not, we are still left with his angry base, which is not insubstantial. And the woman who was filmed on NBC News tonight saying “If Trump isn’t elected, I’m ready to start a revolution,” was dead serious, and she’s not alone. We are going to be paying for Donald Trump for the next three generations.

  148. If the Democrats had offered anything remotely like a path which gave the current Republican base real hope — hope for their economic futures; hope that we’d get out of war; hope that the government gave a damn about them in any conceivable way — it would not now be the Republican base.

    Unfortunately, yes, it would. The Trump Base is overwhelmingly composed of the heirs of Atwater and Jim Crow. People that Walter F. Page wrote about more than a century ago [1] as being the victims of an extremely one-sided class structure in the South that exploited poorly educated, poorly paid, mistreated lower-class whites [2] who were kept loyal to the system because they had a class even lower than them to kick down on. They might be poor, but by God they weren’t black!

    And, yes, the pulpit certainly played its role too.

    Nothing has really changed. They are still culturally welded to their bigotry, their religion, their disdain for education, and their guns (which were important in the antebellum days and under Jim Crow.) And they are still being exploited. As for all those “libtards,” they’re part of the problem. Good Americans don’t need clean water, or clean air, or ventilation in the mines, or medical care, or schools — their employers, their preachers, and their community leaders have told them that their real problems are caused by the damn’ unions, the Yankees, the nggrs, and the furriners.

    [1] “The Pulpit and the Stump”
    [2] Black lung, anyone?

  149. While I’ve been hoping Trump will lose by a landslide since the primaries, I don’t think the GOP will learn anything from it. My prediction is that, come Nov. 9, they’ll chalk it up to Trump being an outsider and pretend that that was the problem.

    I suspect we’ll be stuck with this version of the GOP for at least the next four years. Hopefully, at that point the electorate will realize that people like Pence aren’t any better than Trump, they’re just less obvious about it. (I don’t actually expect this to happen, but I can still hope.)

  150. John and Steven: Though the terms “boor” and “bore” are not mutually exclusive, I agree with Steven. Trump is many things, but boring isn’t one of them.

  151. Kevin:

    Problem 2: Primaries. The primary system puts a lot of power in “the base”. To get through the primary system these days you need to appeal to “the base”. I say “SCREW THE BASE!” Democracy is about “the people,” not “the really passionate people.”

    I don’t think I agree with that. Sure, I think it would be a good idea to make primaries easily accessible (looking at you, NY). But the primary process, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. Sure, democracy is about the people, but decisions are made by those who show up. If you can’t be bothered to be involved, then you are stuck with what other people pick.

  152. tl;dr–Lie to a lot of people for a long time and then have them figure it out and they’ll “be vewy, vewy angwy.” “You won’t like me when I’m angry.” cf. French Revolution

  153. John, an excellent summary of the present situation with the GOP.

    I do not think the GOP is capable of healing itself. After 50 years of hate, the patient is dying of the cancer. Unfortunately for them, they deserve the death they worked so diligently to enable. This will leave a power vacuum on the left as the Democratic party has already moved to the right to assume the former position of the Republicans.

  154. As an economic conservative, it’s hard to find a home, as an American I’m sickened by everything that has happened so far. Thanks for the great post, and I would like to double down on how we (all of us) as Americans own this train wreck, here’s a link to NY Times article that I thought echoed my feelings to a T.

  155. This is the best analysis of Trump and the GOP I’ve seen. Bravo, sir, bravo. *stands up and applauds*

  156. Trump is not a black swan event, but rather a “black elephant” – which is a mix of black swan (a surprising event; all swans were white until we discovered Australia) and the elephant in the room (something big that we are ignoring). So a black elephant event is a surprising event that couldn’t have been predicted because we were too intent on ignoring it.

  157. Trump is the logical outcome of the long con the Republicans have been running. As Rick Perlstein put it

    Lying is an initiation into the conservative elite. In this respect, as in so many others, it’s like multilayer marketing: the ones at the top reap the reward—and then they preen, pleased with themselves for mastering the game. Closing the sale, after all, is mainly a question of riding out the lie: showing that you have the skill and the stones to just brazen it out, and the savvy to ratchet up the stakes higher and higher. Sneering at, or ignoring, your earnest high-minded mandarin gatekeepers—“we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” as one Romney aide put it—is another part of closing the deal.

    Trump merely does it better.

  158. You are definitely right about the anti-abortion, pro-gun, and white supremacy glitter guaranteeing Trump some votes. I live in the South and some voters refuse to vote for people who are pro-choice who might take away their guns while talking about how racism is no longer a thing because look at all the blacks in power now. They then turn around and talk about how bad the blacks run things and how Trump should be president so all our little girls can grow up.

  159. I don’t think Trump thought this one through. Sure, maybe he will start that media business, but on the other hand, he will be branded as a loser. And that sticker will stay long after the business is bankrupt.

  160. I can’t be really hopeful here. A person with no qualifications for the job of President and no desire or willingness to defend the Constitution, more baggage than JFK, La Guardia, and Newark combined, and with an ego the size of Manhattan and a skin that could be pierced by an AFM could still end up being President over someone with, like, actual qualifications and skills (because she’s apparently a liar, as said by someone who can’t go ninety minutes in public without telling more whoppers than Joe Isuzu). Congress continues to go Republican, implying that the content-, honesty- and principle-free rhetoric that Republicans (mostly) have employed for some time is more than enough to get lots of people to go along for the ride in the handbasket. Lots of angry people will still be here, wanting control over society and angry that all the people they hate and and fear wouldn’t give it to them, and unwilling to trust any information that isn’t what they already know and believe. This is not a recipe for sanity.

  161. I agree that Trump’s candidacy is the natural offspring of the base that the GOP deliberately created and cultivated–and that they have totally lost control of their own creation, as did Dr. Frankenstein. (That’s FRAHN-hun-shteen.)

    To that point, Nate Silver posted an interesting article on 538 this morning (last night?) pointing out that the reason House Speaker Ryan’s position is so tricky today is specifically because Trump is significantly more popular with Republican voters than Ryan himself is. (And being Nate Silver, he backs up his argument with polls and stats and stuff.)

    The media keeps subtitling Ryan as “the most powerful Republican” in the land. But that is in the sense that he currently holds the highest elected-office of any Republican in the land. There is a sense in which Trump is now the most powerful Republican in the land, though he’s not an office holder, because he is the one with the most support from voters (according to the polls, anyhow).

    Which is really, really worrying. Because around (say) 2am on November 9, when it’s clear Clinton has won the general election and the networks have all called it, even in the increasingly unlikely event that Paul Ryan locates his spine and exhorts disappointed Republican voters to respect the Constitution, the republic, and our democracy by accepting the election results… are they going to listen to him, or are they going to listen to the much more POPULAR Republican politician, Donald Trump–whose rhetoric currently suggests thay he might incite rioting and violence rather than concede and urge the polarized nation to rally behind the new US President.

  162. Kevin Fitch: “So, the question becomes, what is needed to prevent this happening again?”

    I think the source of the problem can be traced back to a fundamentally unfair system of democracy in America. This unfairness is what has Trumpers and Tea Party supporters adopt the idea that the system is rigged therefore we’ll elect someone like Trump who will destroy the system, and once things get bad enough, once the system is in ruins, we will build a new system, a fair system, in its ashes.

    The thing is, they’re not wrong about the system being rigged. But their solution is basically “fuck it, I’m too pissed to care”.

    Yes, the 2 party system is horrible. Third party candidates that voters might love are always sqeezed out by the system. Trump loves to talk about Bernie, not because Trump supports a single one of Bernies progressive views, but because Bernie getting squeezed out ties into the narrative that the system is rigged. And Trump is running on a “The system is rigged, elect me to destroy it” ticket.

    But why is the system rigged for a 2 party system? Because the constitution requires a candidate for president get 51% of the electroal votes to win, and it defines the ballot approach to be a simple “vote for one candidate” rule. If there are 3 candidates who each get 33% of the vote, then congress decides who becomes president. THis forces parties to constantly grow to try and cover 51% of the voters. And that results in a two party system.

    We need to ammend the constitution to change the voting method for president to use an instant runoff approach. Voters list their candidates in order of preference, and if a voters first choice is eliminated, their next choice is selected. Continue this until someone gets 51% of the vote.

    The electoral college is a huge source of disenfranchisement. Most states use a “winner takes all” approach. So if 51% of state voters vote for a candidate, then all the electoral votes from that state go to that candidate. This means that if you’re a Republican in a blue state like Massachusetts, or a Democrat in a red state like Texas, you’re vote is effectively ignored at the first cut. This disenfranchises voters and reinforces the idea of a rigged system.

    When ammending the constitution to adopt an instant runoff ballot approach, ditch the Electoral College system completely. Use direct voter counting.

    Citizen’s United makes rich peoples’ votes count a lot more than poor poeples’ votes. It has to be overturned by the supreme court or the constitution has to be ammended to fix it. I think Cititen’s United has enough hate directed at it that we could ammend the constitution to fix it. And while we’re fixing it, maybe we could ditch the electoral college and switch to an instant runoff ballot.

    Then there is disenfranchisement at the local level. At the state level, the party in charge of polling places can stack the deck against the opposition party. Republican politicians pass legislation to disenfranchise Democrat voters by requiring voter id, pre-registration, making mail in ballots and on line voting hard. Republican politicians also have a habit of under staffing polling places located in Democrat neighborhoods. Republican neighborhoods will get a lot of voting machines open for long hours resulting in short lines and convenient voting. Democrat neighborhoods will get too few voting machines open for short hours, resulting in long lines that take hours to vote, making it difficult if not impossible for people to vote.

    This local level Game of Thrones bullshit needs to end. Voting day should be a federal holiday. Registering to vote should be easy and automatic. voting machines need to be distributed evenly through each state (number of voters per machine should be constant throughout any particular state).

    Right there, we’ve got four massive problems that work to disenfranchise the vast majority of voters in electing their president: Citizens United, Electoral College, simple majority wins (no instant runoff), and obstructionism that keeps voters out of the voting booth. We should push for an ammendment to fix all four at the same time. Citizen’s United is famous and has some push behind it to ammend. But all four of these structural problems severely disenfranchise voters and serve to reinforce the fact that the system is unfair and rigged.

    There is also disenfranchisement going on at other levels. Gerrymandering stacks the House of Representatives in favor of whichever party is willing to game the rules to win. Gerrymandering makes it possible for 70% of voters to vote Democrat but 70% of people elected to be Republican. It’s anti-democratic, and it only serves to reinforce the idea that the system is rigged. It is also a source of why the federal government never gets anything done. A minority of voters gain control of the House but a majority of voters elect the president, so even though the president is a Democrat with 51% of the vote, the house is Republican with 45% fo the vote. And then the House obstructs the president and nothing ever gets done. End Gerrymandering, and the House will tend to align with the president, and stuff will be more likely to get done.

    THe Do-Nothing congress is enabled in part by Gerrymandering which stacks the House against the majority of voters.

    Trump and the Tea Party both leverage the fact that the system is grossly unfair into a “vote for me and I will destroy it” mentality.The fact that Trump has zero political experience becomes an asset instead of being a liability to run the most powerful position in the nation. He doesn’t understand basic civics of how government works, and his supporters don’t care. Their mentality is the system is so broken that it should be burned down, and then they handwave how easy reconstruction will be in the smoldering ruins.

    If you make the system fair, if you fix the major structural issues that disenfranchise large swaths of voters, then you rob demagogues like Trump of the “Its broken, let me destroy it so we can rebuild” campaign.

  163. @Carole-Ann:

    how on Earth can a Non-Politician be allowed to be presented as a possible candidate for President?

    In a nutshell, the presidential candidates for each major party are elected by the public — specifically, anyone who chooses to declare an affiliation with that party. This takes place in events known as “primaries” and “caucuses”, the rules and timing for which vary by state. Political experience may help but is not essential. Obama was a US Senator for only 4 years before he was elected President. Eisenhower never had experience in elected office at all.

    Could I stand for President?

    No. The Constitution says you have to be a “natural-born” US citizen over the age of 35, and I’m guessing you don’t meet the former condition. Otherwise, yes, anyone can stand, subject to requirements to get on the ballot in each state (usually, gathering a few thousand signatures from registered voters). There are several minor-party and independent candidates in this election too.

    I am flabbergasted at the stupidity of your (so-called) political party ‘nominations’

    Jeremy Corbyn. Boris Johnson. I’d be more cautious about casting stones if I were you.

    @John Mark Ockerbloom:

    The legislatures are supposed to pass clear, Constitutional laws

    That would be nice, but Congress has been very bad at it in recent years. Issues of public policy end up being resolved by the Supreme Court more often than they otherwise would.

    [Presidents] have limited, and usually unpredictable opportunities to appoint new justices

    It’s not so unpredictable this time. There’s one vacancy already; maybe Garland will be confirmed before Obama leaves office, but there’s a good chance he won’t. Of the remaining eight justices, three are over 70 years old: Stephen Breyer (78), Anthony Kennedy (80), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83). The odds of one or more of them needing to be replaced in the next four years are high.

    So the next President will likely appoint at least one justice, and maybe as many as four.

    Roe v Wade has held up for over 40 years of a Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court

    Largely because of Anthony Kennedy — appointed by Reagan, but a supporter of Roe v Wade. As noted, Kennedy’s old, and today a Republican nominee would most definitely not be pro-choice.

    In general though, I agree “but the Supreme Court” is pretty much an argument of last resort, when one has no other reason to be enthusiastic about the candidates.


    Technically, Putin was never head of the KGB. But he served as head of its successor organisation the Federal Security Service, before being appointed Prime Minister by Yeltsin.

    Also, Dresden wasn’t a backwater to the KGB; they saw (then) East Germany as being of crucial importance.

    @Bruce K:

    But I wonder, has anyone done the thought experiment: what would have happened to Donald Trump if he’d decided to run as a Democrat?

    George Wallace more or less did it in 1968. Hunter S Thompson’s descriptions of him are strongly reminiscent of Trump: Appeal to the working class, rage against the elites, open racism, lack of anything resembling viable policies.

    But Wallace’s opponents had some actual policies and principles, and they fought him instead of trying to pander to his supporters.


    I think the source of the problem can be traced back to a fundamentally unfair system of democracy in America.

    Counterexample: Franklin D Roosevelt. It’s perfectly possible for a populist candidate promising radical change to succeed in the US system. Not easy, but then it never is.

    To some extent “the system” may be at fault, but tinkering with it won’t necessarily help. France has (non-instant) runoff voting in Presidential elections, but in 2002 that did not go well.

  164. Carole-Ann

    In America any boy may become President, and I suppose it’s just one of the risks he takes.
    Adlai Stevenson


  165. One of the best reads of the season. Brilliantly adds everything up, brings it all home. Thanks for writing this.

  166. Good read and agree. I think I am the point where I’m done thinking about this election but been thinking a lot about the day after the election. I would entreaty all my left brothers and sisters to be gracious in this win because frankly the script needs to change for the country and allowing space and safe shelter for GOP moderates to start the process of fixing their party into something better for America is going to be very important. The Left crowing and trying to ‘rub it in’ will make it harder for them to do so.

  167. Iain: “It’s perfectly possible for a populist candidate promising radical change to succeed in the US system.”

    Yes, but Trump isnt running on the “Its easy to succeed while working within the rules of a broken system”. Trump is running on a campaign of “see all these flaws in the system? Its broken. Vote for me, and I will demolish it, and a new, perfect system an arise in its ashes.”


    Talk to enough Trumpers and you will notice a pattern: they point out the flaws of the system, they point to a career poitician like hillary as proof the system protects crooks. And when you point out that Trump has zero political experience, is a horrible, horrible businessman, bankrupticies and unethical behavior, point out he has no understanding of even basic civics of how government works, they generally *smile* and say something to the effect that maybe what we need is to break the system, to get things so bad that people finally “wake up” and fix things.

    I believe someone did exactly that on this thread.

    Trump is riding a narrative that the system is broken and needs to be destroyed to start over, which means his lack of experience is a benefit, not a hindrance.

    Its the same dumb excuse used by third party voters: you point out that a third party vote in us presidential election is a throw away, and they dont care. You point out that voting for Stein actually helps Trump, and they LIGHT UP. At which point their “logic” becomes clear. They want to cause harm to the system, they want to cause harm to the public, in the hope that maybe it will be enough to get people to “wake up” to how broken the system is, and fix it.

    Its horrible convoluted logic that makes no sense. But that doesnt matter because it is driven by an emotional level process in the brain. If you partake in an unfair system, boycott it even if that boycott harms you. Thats the emotional response. It cannot be argued against because it is not logical in the first place. And it is exactly what the tea party and Trump are leveraging to get supporters.

    And the only way to get rid of that leverage is to fix the system so it isnt broken. Get rid of the blatant flaws that disenfranchise people.

    “France has (non-instant) runoff voting in Presidential elections, but in 2002 that did not go well.”

    The US system is flawed, but you point out FDR? I suggest an improvement, but you point out a single situation where it wasnt perfect? You realize that a single incident does nondisprove a general pattern, right?

    Instant runoff may produce candidates you dont like, but its still an improvement from the grossly disenfranching system that is US presidential elections.

    The goal isnt to be perfect. The goal is to enfranchise voters, so demagogues like trump cant point to Bernie as an example of a broken system, and then run on a “vote for me to tear down thesystem” campaign.

    Trump and the Tea Party run on a “wrecking ball” platform.

  168. @Greg: You misunderstand me. By all means, reform the US system. It’s antiquated and undemocratic in many ways. (No vote for Congress if you live in Washington DC? What’s that about?) Just don’t expect that to fix everything, or even most things.

    In the 2002 French election I mentioned, division of the left-wing vote meant the final round was between Jacques Chirac, cynical centre-right machine politician, and Jean-Marie Le Pen, open fascist. It effectively disenfranchised everyone to the left of Chirac, a good 40% of the population. History may repeat itself this year, as Socialist President Hollande is so unpopular that the runoff may be between another centre-right and far-right candidate (most likely former President Sarkozy and Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean Marie, respectively).

    More generally, it’s a general result in political science that any voting system will sometimes give “unfair” results. For example:

  169. Iain: “any voting system will sometimes give “unfair” results.”

    Yep. But the system for US presidential elections has several layers that make sure people have no voice at all. The winner takes all in the elctoral college means conservatives in progressive states and progressives in conservative states have no voice. (Or very little voice that is quickly ignored). Citizens united means rich people are heard a lot more than poor. The two party system means third party candidates are seen as enemies of the politician they are most closely aligned to.

    People arent perfect so no system will be perfect. But at the very least, we should have a system where everyone is heard, and heard equally. When you dont listen to people long enough, they start thinking maybe a wrecking ball is the only solution.

  170. I agree that the Democrats did not lose the white working class over economic policies, but over civil rights for black people. The impact of “The Southern Strategy” is well known. You can google for it. The other important trends were the rise of the religious right and the importance of the abortion issue, and also, which no one here has mentioned yet, the fact that since Reagan the GOP has not only been demonizing its opponents, (as someone said about Gingrich,) but has been claiming that government itself is the problem, full stop.

    So today, in Oklahoma where I live, you have a trend that began in the 1970s and has come to full flower today — a state entirely dominated by the Republican party at all levels, where it’s impossible to get elected to state office if you are pro-choice, and the elected officials talk all the time about how anti-government they are. Meanwhile we are last or next to last in education, infrastructure, and health, and were one of the states that refused the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare out of sheer partisan spite.

    One thing though — some of the resentment that white blue-collar workers feel is not just racist resentment, but also the impact of a 30-year failure to deal with immigration. In our state the depression of wages caused by undocumented workers in many construction trades has had a real impact on those industries, for example. I am not blaming the people who come here to work and will accept lower wages, but I’ve seen citizens driven out of certain trades because they couldn’t make a living wage doing them any more. The government has done a terrible job of facing up to this without hysteria or hypocrisy. Remember when Texas tried to pass an immigration reform law, trying to document everyone before they could get a job, but they exempted nannies and lawn crews? The law didn’t pass, but OH THE HYPOCRISY.

    All this has been made a jillion times worse by the fact-free approach to news that the conservative media has embraced, all the time peddling the lie of the liberal media being untrustworthy.

    I have no idea what the solution is. I am looking for guidance from places like Colorado or Ohio that are actually swing states where Democrats are still viable.

    Please turn out, you guys, who vote in places where you can actually sway the election and make sure HRC wins. Voting in Oklahoma, my vote for her will be swamped in a Republican tide, but turnout is going to be the absolute key to this election nationally. No Democrat can afford to sit on their hands. It’s going to be so close.

    Thanks for the good discussion. It’s too rare these days. And I agree that we need a real two party system. I hope for better days for the GOP. I hope they can find a way to move beyond this cycle.

  171. @Fran_K, @JustaTech, perhaps I didn’t explain my position very well. I am NOT against parties. I do not want to “get rid” of them. In fact, I want MORE parties. I want an election system that lets the voter express some more nuance in their vote. The winner-take-all system pushes us toward the binary party system we have. I would much rather have a moderate candidate who a large portion of the country thinks is OK than a more extreme candidate who about half the country thinks is best. Because the voter cannot express “A is best, but B would be OK” there is no chance for us to find those “candidate B’s”. Right now those candidates are filtered out during the primaries by “the base”. Or, they don’t even try since there is no chance they could make it through the primary.

    @JustTech I do vote, and I try to vote for those I like, but I don’t see very many of them.

    @Fran_K, you seem to be suggesting that the electoral system should reward those who put in more effort (aka The Base) with more electoral power. This is where I strongly disagree.

    Also, I do not want to take away the freedom of private political clubs to run their own primaries. Although, in hindsight, that is clearly what my original comment implied. Where I was going (and clearly failed to elucidate) was that by changing the electoral system we can encourage more diversity (in political opinion, and I suspect by extension diversity in the traditional sense) in the candidates who make it to the general election. This will make primaries (which I see as a problem) less important. This will get rid of primaries as a problematic filter in our electoral system.

    This is a big country I think we have plenty of room for many parties Republican, Democrat, Tea, Breitbart/Trump, Pro-Life-Progressive, ACLU/Libertarian, …

    Everyone needs to feel their voice is being heard, especially those with whom you disagree.

    I think @Greg is on the right track. The real power in a democracy is choosing which choices are available. Right now the system pushes the choice of choices toward the politically powerful. I want to move toward reducing the power of choosing the choices. I feel a ranked-choice system (e.g. the instant-run-off suggested by @Greg) is a step in that direction. Getting rid of the electoral college is probably also a step in that direction.

  172. Well said. As usual. I particularly like “drunk on wood grain patriotism.”

    On the “maybe the worst ever” front, I’m sticking with Andrew Jackson. It’s a bit of a cheat, because Jackson won and got to actually DO the awful things he wanted to do.

  173. “Trump will do the GOP long and lasting damage.” Dude, no. That’s not how this works.

    Trump either destroys the GOP utterly, and it is replaced with a new party, or it recovers back to 50% strength after a few elections. Two parties are the only stable equilibrium under our first-past-the-post voting system.

    Your whole post you personify the GOP, but it’s not a person, and it has no identity. If it had any identity the party of Lincoln would never have followed the southern strategy in the first place. It’s just a 50% coalition. What’s left and what’s right is totally contingent on recent political history. The only thing that lasts is the existence of the left-right axis. Even as the meaning of the sides change completely, the existence of sides endures.

  174. Someone on another blog (Balloon-Juice) mentioned this screed, and quoted a bit of it. I remarked there that Scalzi can twist a fine sentence, and here I will promise that you can string them together well.

    I want to point out that after 12 years of Reagan and GHW Bush the country was in bad shape. Bill Clinton was elected, and in only 8 years and without wholehearted support in Congress had still managed to drive a deficit into a surplus, kept us out of war AND didn’t start a real financial collapse.

    In fact people were doing so well that while Republicans in Congress were busy Impeaching Clinton the American people were driving his popularity levels to near record highs. Then in only 8 years GW Bush managed to get us into two wars, allowed the worst terrorist attack in the world’s history to take place right there in NYC and DC, and crashed the world’s most powerful economy into collapse.

    People lost jobs, homes, families, lives, everything… because of the GW Bush policies, as directed by Dick Cheney.

    Then we elected a bright new leader named Obama, and with little support from a political party that has become mostly Treasonous anti-American scum, managed to reverse the world’s worst economic collapse in living memory, lessen our endless warfare, provide insurance to over 2o million people many of whom would have died a miserable starving death without that government aid.

    His reward is to have unprecedented hatred, despicable lies, and treasonous obstacles placed in his way by political leaders like Mitch McConnell. But it looks like Mrs Hillary Clinton, the worlds second most qualified person to be President will take over and keep the momentum going forward.

    I don’t know what to do with people so disconnected from reality that they think being required to be polite to everyone while the economy recovers is worse than having a real depression. They are mentally ill, of course, detached from reality, to believe that current conditions are worse than conditions 7.75 years ago, when employment number were plummeting, houses were being left abandoned, people were living in cars and thinking themselves fortunate to have an old beater car.

    Crime is more rare than it has been in our lifetimes, especially if you omit crimes against prohibition. But these bigots must be polite to LGBT folks, African-Americans, Muslims, Native Americans, South Asians, Chinese, everyone. OMG I have to be polite to everyone!!!!! The world is ending. Filled with hate by Murdoch and the Republican noise machine.

    Well, things are better, and I hope we can continue to make things better. With Hillary. Now I gotta go phone bank!

    Thanks John!

  175. I’m an independent (which here in CA usually means fiscally conservative, smaller government and social liberal) and I’ve voted GOP more often than Dem, although not by a huge margin. What really bothers me about this is that there are some conservative ideals that I think are very valuable and which will now be left without any representation.

    I agree with you that this is the GOP’s doing. They’ve somehow gone from conservative to religious, racist and sexist. They’ve fostered this environment of hate and gloated about their success in stopping Obama’s agenda without really advancing any ideas of their own. Yes, we can argue that democrats are not without fault, but even I, the guy who didn’t vote for Obama either time, can clearly see that the GOP signed their own death warrant. It’s gotten so bad that I’m now considering not voting for ANY GOP candidate just because of the ideals that their party now represents.

    And while there’s a piece of me that’s happy to see them crashing down in orange flames, I do worry about the future. I don’t agree with every Dem policy. I don’t agree with every liberal idea. I think a good government needs a mix of ideologies to promote and advance the best of each or at least to force the other side to compromise rather than veer into extremism. And that’s what we’re losing.

    I miss what the GOP used to be before it became this horrible caricature of itself, and I think we are all worse off for having a government with a narrower idealogical representation.

  176. I think your post gives too much credit to the party apparatus for creating this phenomenon, and misses the mark that it was actually gross ineptitude on the part of the national committee, and specifically Reince Preibus for allowing the environment from which Trump was able to emerge with the nomination. At least six of the narcissists that ran in the Republican primary would have handily beat a seriously damaged candidate in Hillary Clinton, but the GOP isn’t even a fraction of the well-oiled machine that is the Democratic party. Your advisory caution to exuberant liberals could be extended, because if/when Republicans learn to model the Democratic party and it’s ability to game the electoral system, the pendulum will swing, quickly. In the mean time if Reince Preibus does not voluntarily own this botched abortion and step down, then he needs to be summarily fired.

  177. Looking in from the outside (I’m not American), here’s what frightens me the most: whether or not Trump wins, one third of Americans strongly agree with him.

  178. @Amy Prendergast, @dan, @Jeff M. @Iain Roberts

    I’ve had this conversation several times with Americans, and it seems that you regularly miss the point. It’s not about ballot access – that’s actually much easier in the UK than the US (all you need to stand for Parliament here is ten signatures and a £500 deposit, which you get back if you get 5% of the votes – I’ve done it twice). It’s about access to the party’s nomination.

    The thing that we in the UK call a “political party” is completely different from the thing you in the US call a “political party”.

    Our political parties are private entities, owned by their dues-paying members and subject only to some minimal legal requirements (reporting where their money comes from, prohibitions on discrimination, etc). Being a member of a party involves sending off money to the party HQ, and you get a membership card (I am, literally, a card-carrying member of a party – it’s in my wallet). Members can be expelled for not agreeing with the values of the party, by the party’s internal processes.

    In order to be the candidate of the party, you have to go through whatever process the party determines. In most cases that involves a vetting process first, and only then are the people who have passed vetting allowed to be voted on in a primary (which is usually only open to dues-paying members; I voted in a primary recently for the Mayor of Greater Manchester, comparable to a Governor in the US, in which a few hundred people voted; even in the locally-more-popular party, there were under ten thousand votes cast. Greater Manchester has a population of 2.7 million). Trump would not have passed a vetting process here; a political party would have looked at his views and said that they didn’t align with the party’s views.

    In order to reach a high level within a party, such as leader (ie nominee for Prime Minister), you generally need to work through the levels – a bit like the old Roman cursus honorum. Each party has its own rules for becoming leader; all the parties that have ever participated in goverment require you to hold elected office before standing in the leadership election (which is our equivalent to the PM primary).

    My understanding is that there is no statement of Republican values that all members of the Republican party are obliged to say they believe in, and which they can be expelled for not believing in. The Republican party is just whatever people say they are Republicans. There is nothing to stop a Stalinist from standing for the Republicans – or, more to the point, a KKK member. When David Duke became the Republican nominee for Governor of Louisiana, and was promptly disavowed by Republicans everywhere, we got explainers in the newspapers of why he was allowed to stand in the primary election and why the party couldn’t kick him off the ballot. I’m sure that seems strange to you, but to us, the idea is that the party is responsible for its candidates, and failing to expel them reflects badly on the party.

  179. The discussion about reforming our electoral system is interesting. I’ve long thought that a parliamentary system (for example) has some clear advantages. It kind of requires a certain degree of cooperation almost by definition. Unfortunately, I think there is a less than zero chance of any constitutional amendment succeeding, at least until another few generations have passed away. Fundamentally, we’re still fighting the Civil War.

  180. I used to be as conservative as anybody I knew. And, starting with Reagan, people to the left of me made more sense, and people to the right made less sense. I still abhor government waste, I still think the federal government is somewhat larger than it needs to be. For a while, I didn’t understand that it really was the right going off into la-la-land, until McCain walked that woman out on the stage and introduced her as his VP selection. That’s when the light came on, and I realized, “Oh, these people are actually insane. Okay, this makes sense now.” I still have friends who I used to be able to converse with, who are now making nonsensical statements in support of Donald Trump. This makes me very sad.

  181. Could not agree more. But as many posters have pointed out, it is very important to ensure that the flawed US election system does not produce a paradoxical result due to problems with turnout and misguided 3rd party voting. A lot of this is driven by persistent false-equivalency propaganda.

    I wrote a thing last week about this that you may find amusing — “Your Voting Dilemma as Explained by a Cheesy Star Wars Analogy”. You can find it here:

  182. “Yes Minister” had a great episode on reforming local government and creating a genuinely accountable government apparatus. You could tell it would have worked because it was instantly derailed by EVERY political faction and interest group.

    To get rid of the Electoral College, you just need the consent of everybody who benefits from their marginal surplus of power under that system. To enact nationalized voting reform, like ending the felony ban or making the process easier for working people, you just need the consent of all the people who work hard to suppress the turn out of people they don’t like. To get rid of gerrymandering, you just need the consent of our gerrymander overlords in all their amphibious, localized glory.

  183. Kevin: “The winner-take-all system pushes us toward the binary party system we have”

    I may have munged two concepts together. At the federal level, the constitution requires 51% of electoral votes to win. Each state decides how to award their electoral votes. Most choose a winner-takes-all approach, though a couple award electoral votes proportionally.

    The federal requirement for 51% of EC votes else congress decides who is president is what forces a two party system. If your party can only get 30% of the vote, you arent viable, so you have to merge with another party until you get 50%. Resulting in two parties.

    The state level approach of winner takes all electoral votes for that state, doesnt cause the 2 party system, but it does cause rampant disenfranchisement. Progressives in Texas have little incentive to vote for president. Candidates focus on pitching their message to a slim population in swing states.

  184. > these politicians might as well come out of it with their souls, besmirched but still their own.

    For what shall it profit a man, if he save his soul but suffer the loss of his office?

  185. @gregory:

    I’ll say that based on Brexit alone I fully expect Trump to win.

    The polling miss on Brexit has caused people to wonder whether a wave of secret Trumpists will cause all the polls to be wrong and push him to victory.

    The chance of that becomes smaller as Clinton runs up the score.

    But I’ve also been looking into the Brexit case and I think it’s not 100% analogous. Leave had actually been slowly gaining throughout most of the run up to the election, and two weeks before the vote, it was narrowly leading in the polls-of-polls by an amount pretty close to the actual result. Then about a week out, the shocking murder of MP Jo Cox by a man shouting pro-Brexit slogans upended everything, and in the last few days, there was this discontinuous jump in the polls in favor of Remain. But the referendum results did not agree; Leave won.

    It’s possible that there was a systematic error all along, and the opinion shift after the Cox assassination was real. But it’s also possible that the assassination itself just created a short-term poll-biasing effect that hadn’t existed previously, and was not reflected in the voting.

  186. @PrivateIron: Bipartisan districting commissions actually have been instituted in a couple of states, though–which required the party in power to give up the ability to gerrymander in their own favor. It’s not impossible.

  187. Matt: it was one of few encourage signs I have seen in a long time. We also need courts that will continue to uphold said commissions in the face of challengers.

  188. PrivateIron: “you just need the consent of everybody who benefits from their marginal surplus of power under that system”

    I think Citizens United tipped the scale to the point where people are realizing that just because its called a “democracy” doesnt mean the rules cant disenfranchise lots of people.

    I hope that the push to fix citizens united sees all the problems inherent in the system and tries to fix the many issues around the presidential elections.

    Yes, power players will fight giving up their power, but CU was such an obvious and lopsided power grab that reform is at least in the realm of possible if the right leader took up that flag.

    Bernie folks should have incentive to support reform, especially something that gets rid of the w party system. Citizens United is horrible and most know it. There might be enough to make real reform happen. It would need someone to champion it. Maybe Obama might get bored being retired.

  189. @Kevin Fitch, Thanks for clarifying, I actually agree with most of your ideals for a system closer to a pure democracy and having more choices.

    Just to clarify my position. I don’t think base voters should be rewarded more, but that the rest of the population is allowing this state of affairs by mostly ignoring politics and related big issues. Base voters are not a special category that is bestowed this special status. Anyone can be a base voter by getting involved, the parties love to have people get involved and works to try to draw them in.

    I actually think it would be better if everyone were paying more attention and that everyone were as active as base voters. I can’t believe people pretend this stuff is not worth their attention when it has such an impact on their lives. OK, well maybe just being a bit more involved would be good.

    Sorry if it seemed like I was advocating for the status quo, I was speaking from the view that people ignore the system we have and why it is the way it is and not that we must keep it at all costs. What you seem to be suggesting implies that we adopt a parliamentary system, an idea I do not oppose. Nor do I oppose changing our voting system to have a more democratic representation.

    What I am saying is that we have an existing system that has parties and that the only legal way to change it is to use parties to eliminate parties by changing the Constitution to have something like a parliamentary system. The Constitution doesn’t demand we use parties to do this, but they cannot be avoided in the current state of things. We can’t change it in a positive way without first understanding how it works.

    Our system has mostly settled into a equilibrium where two major parties swap control of the government for the last few hundred years. If the Trumpeters break the Republican coalition then Democrats will take control of everything. The remaining groups will struggle until they realize the only way to influence things will be to form a new coalition party, probably with the Trumpeters and other non-Democratic groups that reach a majority as a group. The way I see it, this is the main dynamic of how our politics works, it is a second-order effect of the Constitution.

    To change this we need to change the Constitution, which is a difficult proposition if you don’t have a vast majority of citizens demanding it. Nobody wants to have a Constitutional Convention because it opens everything to being changed and is therefore full of risk (think of a religion or ideology being enshrined in the Constitution). The only safe path is to get an Amendment passed and have a super-majority of the states ratify it, which currently means you have to get party support. The best way to do it is to get all of your voters to join a party and push the party to support your agenda and go down the Amendment route.

    I’d likely support a well-crafted Amendment to improve elections. You need to get some people who understand the Constitution in detail and who understand the political landscape to figure out how to do it. Then you have to get a lot of voters who support the idea. This is a big thing requiring great efforts by many people. I’ve heard many ideas about changing the system since Watergate, lack of ideas is not the problem.

  190. “Voting day should be a federal holiday. Registering to vote should be easy and automatic.”

    No. Voting in all states should be vote-by-mail, such as it’s been here in Oregon for more than 20 years. (In our case, that usually means “drop off your ballot in the ballot box the next time you stop by the library,” since the ballots go out several weeks before election day.) There are also drive-by drop-off voting boxes throughout our county. (Next-door to Oregon, the state of Washington now lets the counties decide if they want to be all vote-by-mail–and all the counties have indeed opted for that voting method.)

    This gives maximum flexibility for people to vote (even on national holidays, a lot of people still have to work). It also allows every ballot to be validated (thanks to comparing the signature on the outside of the envelope to the signature on file) as they come in, so counting the ballots on election day is much easier.

  191. I live in a super-liberal bubble, by careful choice. And when Trump announced his candidacy, a lot of my friends laughed it off as a joke. A few of us were very worried, however. But all our worries were dismissed — “He will not get the nomination,” most of my friends said flatly, even scornfully. But we would say “I hope you’re right,” in a wary tone.

    Took me a while to figure out what we few, we worried few, all had in common. We all had a family member who had gone down the FOX News rabbit hole. The others only knew conservatives either online or distantly. To those of us who had personally watched loved ones devolve into a wither of racism, vitriol, and Islamaphobia, it was very easy to see that Trump had legs. His nomination was pretty predictable from the moment he descended down that escalator.

  192. @JohnLorentz: I do get a little worried that in places with less commitment to procedural democracy than Oregon, universal vote-by-mail might be amenable to vote-buying or intimidation (“bring your ballot to work and fill it out in my presence, or you’re fired”), since there’s no way to verify that the ballot is secret.

    It doesn’t seem to have happened to any great degree in places that have it, I admit.

  193. “[They] have been fracking the white middle and working classes for years, … never imagining it would cause an earthquake.”

    That line is pure genius.

  194. Okay, I’ve read the article and most of the comments and here is something that I don’t think has been covered … Trump is not only going to ruin the GOP’s chances this year, he will ruin them for many years to come, because he is effectively taking away their publicity arm.

    In all likelihood, Trump never expected to win the election and doesn’t actually care about it at all. He is instead aiming at being “the new FOX” and he’s doing it at the exact time that FOX is imploding. He also has the (recent, former) head of FOX and the current head of Breitbart on his team. In other words Trump is going to take FOX news and Brietbart, and all the alt-right news outlets over simultaneously.

    Trump will lose the election, FOX will fall, Brietbart will become one with the new emergent “Trump TV” or whatever it will be called, and the “alt-right” media outlets will all be captured by Trump TV.

    This means that if the GOP wants to have a “sane” conservative party, they will have to fight *against* FOX news, and *against* the alt-right groups that used to support it from now on. It won’t be FOX news, it will be “Trump TV,” but it will be the same thing. FOX/TrumpTV won’t support anything but lunatics of course, why would they? There won’t be any support of moderate conservatives like the Clintons or any of the moderate Republicans because they are far too “radical” for the FOX/Trump TV base.

    So, from next year moving forward, (assuming the Donald loses), every serious GOP candidate will have to “fight the crazies” in the same way as the Democrats have had to for YEARS. The emergence of a “sane” conservative party is not only going to be very difficult, it’s unlikely to happen for many years under this scenario.

    It seems likely to me that a lot of the old bigots and fantasists the GOP created (“the monster” from the article), will actually have to physically die out before sanity is restored on the right. 20 years?

  195. ” I do want to make it clear that I really do genuinely feel sorry for my Republican/conservative friends this year, because there are real issues of concern for them this election year, and without the White House in GOP hands, it becomes substantially more difficult for them to address those, and they have to face the very real dilemma of having to vote for the worst candidate ever, not to mention a legitimate moral hazard, in order to have a shot at addressing those issues. And while it’s easy and (yes) fun to point and laugh at this quandary, simple human empathy makes me feel for them.”

    I call shenanigans. This is an awful lot of false equivalence. They’ve spent 3+ generations building this. They deserve empathy for succeeding in burning themselves and the republic ? No. The GOP has been the party of “I’ve got mine jack” with a strong side of racism for decades. That IS the Southern strategy. Their leadership created a plan to literally break the country and embrace extreme partisanship in order to win power. They’ve had to retreat to the bubble of Fox News and Breitbart just to maintain the illusion. Trump has just said the quiet parts of the GOP platform loud, and that’s what makes people upset ? They were totally cool with all of this as long as they held the larger broken piece.

    Our Republican friends should be shamed and ashamed. Then they should vote Democratic, or actually do something about retaking their party from the white nationalists and oligarchs. No matter how bad things get, the Republican party isn’t going away. Your friends get to decide whether they want to fight for it to represent them, or cede it to the Trump base. So far, they seem to have chosen “cede it to the racists”. Or maybe it does represent them, their protests notwithstanding. Maybe in their hearts beneath all the denials it’s always been “I’m not a racist, but looking the other way on racism in my party isn’t so bad, as I’ve got mine, Jack, and lower taxes and using the police to force women to give birth against their will is totally worth it”. Over 75% of the Republican base support Trump, even after this past week. So your friends are either very much in the minority, or they just think it’s gauche to admit it represents them enough.

    “Not to mention that Democrats and liberals who are currently feeling smug are at least partially doing so because they don’t have the same quandary this year. But remember, lefties, there may come a time when you have the choice of voting for a legitimate shitshow of a candidate — someone who is an active danger to the fabric of the Republic — or missing out on 25 years of controlling the Supreme Court, or the Congress. And then you will be confronted with the gulf between what you should do and what you might end up doing, as many GOP/conservative people are this year.

    Don’t pretend that all of you will do the right thing — or won’t rationalize the bad thing you will do as being a good thing, or at least, less of a moral capitulation than it is.”

    Double shenanigans. The democrats surely spent plenty of time in the wilderness after Carter. But for the last twenty years, they’ve actively tried to build a big coalition including all manners of ethnicities, religions, and other interests like climate change and health care. You know, winning power for the good of a broad range of people and interests (yes, themselves included, they are human). The ACA is one of the best things to happen for millions of people since the new deal, and the democrats took it in the face in the 2010 midterms to pass it anyway.

    Democrats have every right to feel a little smug that the efforts of their party lead to a convention this summer where they represented the best of America, patriotism and all. This didn’t happen by accident. People (people better than me) have worked very hard for a very long time to make the democrats like this. Instead of say, the Blue Dogs of Bill’s era.

    Will it last, no, of course not. But the two parties have spent long long years getting here, and pretending like history doesn’t exist so we can have some equivalence between the parties is still pretending. Democrats will never face this kind of dilemma without years of change first. You think the party of Obama and Elizabeth Warren and yes, Clinton, is going to nominate a “threat to the Republic” for president ? That’s a funny. A Carter or Dukakis or Kerry, sure. Maybe even 2024. But a shit show like this ? If it does, it’ll be decades in the making, and when it does folks will deserve what they built or condoned.

  196. It would be sad, if it wasn’t self inflicted. Since it is self inflicted, I find it very hard to feel sorry for the Republican Party. The party ignored its base for years, while the base got hurt by Republcan policies and actions. When Trump offered to fix the problems that the base was facing, of course the base went with him.

    A lot of my friends who are Heinlein Conservatives, are totally aghast at what is happening to their party. They should be, but they should have seen this coming. It was an obvious consequence.

  197. I ran across this quote from Reagan’s more-or-less farewell speech at the 1992 RNC:

    And whatever else history may say about me when I’m gone, I hope it will record that I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence rather than your doubts.

    Quite the contrast to Trump, n’est-ce pas?

    Reagan did not always live up to this lofty goal (to put it mildly) but these weren’t empty words. There’s a big difference between someone who strives to live up to something, however imperfectly, and someone who heads to the bottom immediately.

    Speaking of heading to the bottom, this is the same convention at which Pat Buchanan gave the culture wars speech that Molly Ivins quipped “probably sounded better in the original German.” Those definitely were not halcyon days.

  198. Many great comments here, but special thanks to and applause for election monitors and GOTV volunteers!

  199. Part of Trump’s appeal lies in his supposed refusal to bow down to being “politically correct.” I put that in quotes because I believe when he says that, he is mistaking it for “decent.” And yet when Hillary calls half of his supporters “deplorable,” he harps upon it for weeks.

    But if we’re truly not going to be politically correct, then in fact a large portion of the GOP base, as you have asserted above, truly are deplorable. Although I think strategically it was a mistake for Hillary to say it, it’s a fact that this great mob wants its guns, wants its position in the hierarchy back, and wants to put an end to the wide spectrum of colors and beliefs that make up modern America. What do we do with these people? Wait for them to get old(er) and die off?

    Another thing you mentioned is the GOP’s demonization of its opposition over the years. This has shut down debate and moved the Democrats way too far to the right. And it’s all because of the alarms the GOP would raise whenever anyone said anything that could be interpreted as borderline socialist; the panic they call up if anyone running for office desires to limit gun ownership in any way; and the GOP’s habitual practice of painting alternative ideas as an assault on America itself.

  200. @po8crg:

    I’ve had this conversation several times with Americans, and it seems that you regularly miss the point.

    Who is this “you” who are missing the point? I’ve lived in the UK for the past 25 years and I’m quite familiar with the politics here, thank you. If the “point” is that the UK and US systems are different, then yes, that much is well known. But they aren’t as different as you might think.

    UK parties traditionally have been run by elites, except when they aren’t. Jeremy Corbyn became leader of Labour in 2015, and Iain Duncan Smith of the Conservatives in 2001, over the objections of traditional party power brokers. The latter was a disaster, the former appears to be heading the same way.

    It’s worth noting that only the most dedicated party voters show up to US primaries. Trump got the support of about 10 million people in the primaries — that’s a lot, but it’s only 5% of the US electorate, and only about 10% of registered Republicans. So Trump was chosen by a narrow, self-selected subset of the electorate. The distressing thing is that, having become the Republican nominee, whatever he says is by definition part of mainstream political discourse. This is a serious problem when what he says is a torrent of hateful nonsense.

  201. George: “What do we do with these people? Wait for them to get old(er) and die off?”

    As best as I can tell, the answer to this question is “yes”. If you ever find an alternative solution that works, please let me know.

  202. I have a tangential but, I think, relevant question. You talked about legitimate R concerns that are only addressed by voting R. May I ask those concerns are? It’s possible that I have…information bias? The issues I care about are such that I haven’t encountered those legit concerns. The places where the D and GOP differ, as far as I can see, are “is social welfare worth spending money on?”, “are women people or walking incubators?” “Is climate change a thing?” “do we want to be able to breath the air on earth?” and “are queer people and brown people, in fact, people?” Every other issue on both sides seems to leave plenty of room for reasonable compromise. What concerns do republicans/conservatives have that can’t be chalked up to ignorance (if not malice) or outright bigoted nonsense?

  203. I keep saying to people that I knew that the Republicans would nominate someone like Trump, but I never thought they would actually nominate Trump. That is to say, I knew from about 2008 onward that after the Republicans tried to put forth an Establishment candidate and failed so badly that they allowed the election of Obama (who is, of course, everything they hate about modern America) that they would eventually settle on a “true Conservative” who passed all the purity tests.

    It didn’t happen in 2012, because there were too many “true Conservatives” out there splitting the base’s vote, allowing Romney to win by default, but that only made it more likely that we’d get a deep-red wingnut in 2016. I assumed we’d see Ted Cruz, or Paul Ryan, or Scott Walker–someone who was deeply committed to the small-government, religious-right, neocon mentality and checked every single box. (My actual guess was Scott Walker at the time.)

    But what I, and a lot of other people got wrong was assuming that the core identity of the Republican Party was what they all said it was. In actual fact, the core identity of the Republican Party is now nativism and xenophobia. Ted Cruz might have been willing to shut down the federal government in a fit of pique, Scott Walker may have been willing to turn Wisconsin into West Mordor, Marco Rubio might have been perfectly happy to deny climate change even as his home state sank into the Atlantic Ocean, but Trump was the only one willing to go right out there and blame the brown people for everything. Nobody could out-racist him, and he won. That’s inarguable at this point, and the conclusion it leads to is simple–xenophobia is a more important value to the Republicans than religion, small government or global hegemony.

    (Look, he’s a three-times married serial sexual predator who loves Russia and wants to spend eleven billion dollars on a boondoggle construction project. There’s no part of him that makes sense unless you accept that the Republicans care more about being racist than anything else they claim to believe in.)

    The problem is, you can’t run on racism anymore. There just aren’t enough racists. Trump got a consistent 30-35% of the Republican Party. The Republicans are 40-45% of likely voters. About 55-60% of the country votes. His ideology basically appeals to less than ten percent of the populace. And that 10% is getting older and sicker and, um…deader every year.

    Which means the Republicans reinvent themselves or die. Trump is the first bell in that Republican Civil War, and lucky us, we all get to see it play out.

  204. You have magnificently reiterated the reason I love you, JS!
    A great big heartfelt thank you for this post! 🌹

  205. I prefer the term “Burning Tire Fire” to describe Trump (someone used it for Merck on In The Pipeline a while ago). Noisy, smelly, toxic, attention-grabbing, and if it’s in the right spot (like under I-78, say) it can destroy a lot.

  206. Jeremy Bee:

    Trump is not only going to ruin the GOP’s chances this year, he will ruin them for many years to come, because he is effectively taking away their publicity arm.

    You’re on the right track about Trump, but Trump isn’t going to take away the publicity arm. Rupert Murdoch is old, but he’s trained his kids to do okay, though they are a little less rabidly conservative. But that’s because the Murdoch family is adaptable as long as it creates money and power. They have a global media empire that has not just screwed up the U.S. but also the U.K. (Brexit,) Australia, and trying to do it in many other countries (India is currently a work in progress.) They make money off of fomenting stuff like this; Ailes was just useful until he wasn’t. And Fox Cable was just the showiest of their operations in the U.S. with a tiny, old audience. Its main value was because the other media paid attention to it — and they still do. It has not imploded, just sagged. I doubt Murdoch particularly cares.

    Trump will build himself a mini media empire kind of like Glen Beck’s (which is now in the crapper.) And it will fail because Trump runs up debt, skims off the money from it, fails to deliver and wanders off. That was the entire economy in the 1980’s, when Trump was at his height, and it still is the favorite money-making operation of many top business executives. But it’s not going to be the Repub’s publicity arm, just another useful outlet while it lasts.

    Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal and the Dow Jones company that owns it. He’s been using it and other media properties and television shows for awhile to help sell Republican Party’s trickle down economic proposals, despite the fact that trickle down economics is a farce and creates disaster for the U.S. economy systems whenever it’s used (see Kansas.) Because it is good for his businesses to promote the idea. He’s got lots of Americans convinced that trickle down works because it’s been an effective money making scheme for people like Trump and the Silicon Valley tech lords. Murdoch owns the entire Fox broadcast network, which controls hundreds of local affiliate news programs that say what Murdoch wants them to say and which Fox pays to blast in hospitals, hotels, airports, etc. 24/7. He’s got the Fox Business Network, Barron’s, sattelite networks and cable channels, 30% of Hulu, news/talk shows packaged for other channels through 20th Century Fox. Compared to him, Trump is an irritating flea who makes poor real estate deals.

    Murdoch leads the conservative group of rich people who have their big meeting once a year, while at the same time he did fund-raising for Hilary in the Senate (after having spent years making money over trying to throw her and her husband in jail for mainly made-up crap,) and ordered the New York Post to endorse Obama. He’s made money having Fox Cable and other media properties both support Trump and shred his campaign to ribbons at the same time. The people who shape things are not ideologists. They certainly aren’t nationalist, since their assets are spread globally. They are for manipulating markets, media, companies and government officials in order to consolidate power and make money.

    So Trump will make his little venture because he’s a con artist who makes his money from that sort of con. And Murdoch will bank off that venture as he sees fit. And the Repubs who had to deal with the wrecking ball of Trump are quite in Murdoch’s debt at the moment. Trump was overall good for Fox. And they won’t care when he leaves the political stage.

  207. It seems likely to me that a lot of the old bigots and fantasists the GOP created (“the monster” from the article), will actually have to physically die out before sanity is restored on the right. 20 years?

    It’s already been over 150 years. I suspect you’re just a wee bit optimistic.

  208. Comments off again. Good night and see you tomorrow!

    Update: Comments back on, BUT we’re coming close to the two-day comment cut-off limit, so: If you have something to say, now’s a fine time.

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