Thanks to the world-class narcissist now driving the Republican clown car, it ought to be clear to Americans just how badly the donor class has lost control of the presidential primaries, which they once had rigged to dictate who we could vote for.
Millions of Americans seem not to grasp that Donald Trump’s campaign is a mirage, an inchoate blending of the political/showbiz film satires Wag the Dog and Simone, thrown together with all the integrity of P.T. Barnum’s notorious FeeJee Mermaid.
On Wednesday, one of the dimmer figures in the presidential race threw a spotlight on what we should all be seeing clearly: Trump threatens the continued existence of the Republican Party.
That’s because Donald Trump’s campaign is built on hate mongering and discord, while a growing body of surveys, polls, focus groups, and an analysis of demographic trends shows that Americans are embracing the progressive ideals in our Constitution. Whether it’s marriage equality or a path to citizenship for those who entered the country illegally, the tide of history is against not only Trump, but the 15 other Republican candidates who all broadly side with him — just in more subtle language.
And I’m not the one saying that the Republican Party may soon go the way of the Whigs (last seen in 1854).
No, that insight comes from former Texas governor Rick Perry, who’s currently taking a back seat in the clown car.
Fortunately for the donor class, most political reporters only heard Perry say “Trumpism” is a “cancer on conservatism.”
That line alone just doesn’t capture his overall point. Neither did most of the coverage of the rigorously written, nuanced speech that Perry read.
Trump, Perry said, is selling “a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness, and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition” unless Trumpism is “clearly diagnosed, excised, and discarded.”
Perry also made note of Trump’s rare appearances in church, an apparent effort to undercut conservative Christian support. After all, when it comes to religion, The Donald is a devotee of Mammon, but he’s angling for support from primary voters who think GOP stands for God’s Own Party.
The new reality that political reporters obscured is this:
We once had a primary system that required candidates to genuflect before the oligarchs. But now one low-level oligarch is thumbing his nose at the rest of them — and under this new system, the much richer oligarchs, from Sheldon Adelson to the Koch brothers, are as helpless to shape the direction of events as — well, as the mass of voters who don’t have billions to donate.
The Republican nightmare is that Trump doesn’t need donors to stay in the race. The power of all that Koch and Adelson money is discounted, the way Trump sometimes pays creditors just pennies on the dollar.
And so while candidates who never had a chance anyway – Carson, Huckabee, Jindal, Pataki, and Perry among them – will be forced to withdraw for lack of donations, Trump can party on. And Trump told “Morning Joe” Scarborough Friday that if he is denied the nomination, he might run as an independent — unless the Republican establishment starts treating him respectfully.
Political reporters are missing the big story because they get rewarded for covering the horse race, not the issues; for going with the herd, not standing apart. Step apart from the herd and you’ll get picked off, perhaps by an editor or anchor taking a shot at you from the home office, perhaps by the hyenas on the campaign staff.
Telling the news the candidate’s handlers want told, regurgitating manufactured controversies, and highlighting gaffes – those are the stories that make the careers of campaign reporters.
And, besides, it’s easier to focus on who is ahead in the polls than it is to actually learn important policy matters — such as how raising the minimum wage affects job creation, how tax cuts affect various income classes, or the significance of the words “corruption of blood” in the Constitution.
Instead of substance, we will get more circus coverage leading the news. Bowing to that reality, here are two things we know for sure about Trump’s fortune. And it should get some media attention because Trump wants us to judge him by the contents of his wallet, so:
- Trump is worth at least $1 billion, but no verifiable evidence exists to support his exclamations that his net worth is more than $10 billion.
- Trump reported that his production company took in just $4 million over the last 18 months for Apprentice and other Trump television properties, far below the $65 million annual fee he put out in 2011, a number so absurdly unrealistic that his broadcaster, NBC, derided it as “grossly inaccurate.”
Other news we still have yet to see make the major news reports: Donald’s long, unsavory connections to businesses run by organized crime and the lawsuits by minority workers at multiple Trump companies complaining about harassment.
But the lack of that coverage is no more surprising than Barnum’s avoiding hard questions about his fake mermaid.
Photo: John Pemble via Flickr