We should all give thanks to Donald Trump’s reality-TV-show run for the Republican presidential nomination because of what it reveals about his fan base.
Assuming Trump’s supporters have actually listened to what the narcissistic real estate developer has been saying, what they want is multiple ground wars, an America that steals from other countries, an America that kills people because of their religion, and a massive police state constantly checking people (especially Hispanics and Latinos) to determine whether they’re undocumented and should be arrested and deported, and even have their citizenship taken away.
These Trumpeteers evidently want a president who believes his duties include humiliating anyone who asks questions he wishes had not been asked or whose business decisions he dislikes.
On a personal level, they want a president whose family values included years of keeping a mistress, Marla Maples, and who, after not having marital relations with his wife for more than 16 months, flew into a rage, tore hair from her head, and allegedly violated her sexually. Ivana Trump, after her testimony came out, said she did not mean “rape” in the sense that her husband should be prosecuted for a crime, but she has never wavered otherwise from her description of that violent bedroom assault.
Trump also abandoned his daughter with Maples, providing financial support but not much more, according to the girl’s mother. (If anyone has photos of Trump and daughter Tiffany taken in the last year, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Trumpeteers also want a president whose own words indicate he is at times delusional, seeing demon-like changes in the face of Fox News personality Megyn Kelly. Her calm visage was visible to anyone watching the debate, yet Trump has said repeatedly that “everyone” saw Kelly become so visibly angry she had “blood coming from her eyes.”
Of course all of these observations rest on the assumption that the Trumpeteers actually listen, thoughtfully and carefully, to what Trump says — and that they understand our Constitution.
Trump has sold himself like a bottle of Coke – all fizz and fun with no substance. And my fellow journalists at the five major newspapers, the major broadcast outlets, and other news organizations have failed to vet the candidate — with minor and tepid exceptions.
The Donald’s marital violence has gotten some mention, for example, but with an emphasis on obfuscations by him and her fudging on the word “rape.”
Likewise, his extensive ties to the biggest Mafia figures in New York and Atlantic City, his history of cheating workers and vendors, and other unsavory aspects of his biography go largely unreported. I laid these out in an earlier National Memo column, but the major news organizations have tended to ignore skeletons in Trump’s closet — again there are exceptions, namely Michael Smerconish on CNN; Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC.
Trump gets a free ride because it’s cheap and easy to cover what candidates say, but takes actual work to examine what they have done. And work costs more.
Let’s start with war-mongering, because if Trump gets his finger on the button, that is exactly what we will get – not just a war, but multiple wars. He says we must have American troops on the ground in Iran, Iraq, and the “Islamic State” in parts of Syria and Iraq. This also means vast occupying armies, though Trump never mentions this fact and journalists fail to ask about that necessary step, if we are to steal the oil and install puppet regimes.
Trump has been urging war for almost 30 years. On Meet the Press in 1987, he said we should use the firing of a single bullet as a reason to invade Iran, seize its oil, and, as he put it, “let them have the rest” of their country.
As a presidential candidate, Trump has said he stands by those remarks and added that he wants American troops to invade the Middle East both to suppress the religious government emerging in parts of Syria and Iraq and to steal oil.
“I am the most militaristic person there is,” Trump proudly declared Aug. 10 on Morning Joe.
This assurance comes from a man who assiduously avoided the Vietnam-era draft, ultimately claiming “minor” bone spurs made him 4-F, though his accounts raise questions about his fidelity to facts. Trump has also said he opposed the Vietnam War, so his promotion of war as policy came only when other young men faced hostile bullets.
Trump has long walked with a bodyguard or two, and has an aversion to shaking hands with other people. (I have seen him go immediately wash his hands after he had no choice but to grip another person’s hand.)
Trump claims he speaks plainly, but he never says he wants to “steal” oil from other countries. Instead, Trump has repeatedly said over the last four years that America should “take the oil” of sovereign nations. In this context “take” and “steal” are synonymous.
Trump is not alone among Republican candidates in favoring another ground war in the Middle East — explicitly a religious war, waged against a modern caliphate (a theocratic government run by a presumed successor to the Prophet Muhammad).
For example, John Kasich, the Ohio governor who is always reminding us of his Christianity, also wants a ground war for the explicit purpose of destroying the emerging caliphate.
As with Trump’s preposterous claim that he can make Mexico pay for an impenetrable wall along the U.S. border, he shows no respect for the fact that Earth has about 200 sovereign nations. Instead he sees other countries as subservient to America and promises to dispatch ground troops wherever he thinks a country needs to be brought to heel.
Trump also seems unaware that no wealthy country has ever managed to keep ambitious poor people from entering it legally or otherwise, a lesson the Romans learned long ago.
His plans would require vast increases in government spending. So why do self-identified conservative Republicans, who want to pay less in taxes and enjoy a smaller government, favor his plans?
Creating a smaller government and lowering taxes is logically inconsistent with waging multiple wars while rounding up and deporting people who either entered the country illegally or stayed after their visas expired.
The long-term costs of more ground wars in the Middle East would run into the trillions of dollars with bills coming due well into the 22nd century as pensioners, widows, and the disabled children of veterans collect benefits for probably many decades after everyone old enough to read this is dead.
Worse, these unnecessary wars of plunder are likely to turn allies and nominal allies into enemies, inviting even more wars and, thus, more costs. America would be seen not as a beacon of liberty and opportunity, but a selfish, thieving, and dangerous pariah state.
The taxpayer cost for rounding up anyone perceived as an illegal immigrant could well be $200 billion. On top of that, there would be disruptions to business — adding billions more to the nation’s tab. And that doesn’t take into account the human cost of turning America into a police state where people turn in neighbors, perhaps for financial rewards or to avoid prosecution for misprision of a felony.
So yes, we should be thankful to Trump. His campaign is revealing just how many people in this country want America to become a modern Sparta, run by a president who demonizes others, wants to limit their personal conduct, seeks to control business decisions, and supports a massive expansion of the police powers of the state — which includes building a wall that will not keep people from coming to America uninvited.
What Trump’s rise in the polls tells us is that many Americans have no idea what our Constitution says, and wrongly believe that sovereignty is only for America. They do not know, or care, that the men who founded this country believed in the common defense, but never in attacking other countries, especially not to steal.
Of course all this assumes the Trumpeteers have actually thought through the reasons they support Trump, and have taken the time to understand what he has said and what he has done. Let us hope for the sake of our liberty and peace that is a wrong assumption.