“A Serious Person” is an epithet H.L. Mencken coined and used a number of times in his writings, often with a negative qualifier. Regarding Mencken, as with Rand, I can only compare living through these years without their influence and comfort to walking outside and finding four men on horseback flying through the sky with great seals being broken, and all without having encountered the Book of Revelation. It is hard to imagine the confusion brought on by not being able to fully comprehend, much less predict and expect, how and why so many things have happened, but Mencken and Rand illustrate the personalities we see today in minute detail. That said, after eight years of Obama I would have thought it hard to imagine a person who could — on more than one level — be said to be less serious, but here we are: sucked within a vacuous Reality Show that has grown self-aware, but one taken all too seriously by a large group of perpetually deluded — and I believe as much as anything, tired — people.
It is hard to decide which is the greater tragedy to the field of Satire: that Mencken did not live to see Trump — and know an overall philosophic vindication rivaling few mens’ experience — or that we lost Phil Hartman before he could apply a coat of orange Rust-Oleum and simply repeat Trump’s own words. Why bother with a script when you have an ostensible adult, running for the highest office in the land, who stops a nationally-televised debate to make sure we are all aware his penis is by no means substandard? Remember those quaint days when asking about boxer shorts was considered racy? The man may actually transcend Satire, because for Satire to function a way must be found to imagine a thing worse. Short of Trump shoving a camera in his pants and pausing to send crotchshot selfie evidence to debate moderators, it is difficult to see how that could happen. (Though the idea of a live-action version of The Simpsons “Monorail” number from its own parody of The Music Man, tailored to Trump’s list of impossible promises…It would have been glorious.)
Trump is unserious in a far more sobering and dangerous way, because he clearly does not mean the vast majority of what he is saying. There is no way he could, unless he somehow actually believes The Presidency above the Law to a degree Nixon never contemplated. The Founding Fathers went to great lengths to ensure the power he boasts of wielding is not within the grasp of one man, Barrack Obama’s delusions to the contrary notwithstanding. The frightening reality is that Trump is fully aware and cognizant both of what he is saying now and what he will not do later, of the gulf between what he says he will and can actually do. It is the utterly inane way he chooses to behave which lends the sense he might still be somehow unaware of the damage he is causing and threatens to cause, should his hijacking of the Republican ticket bring the Democrats’ own deeply unpopular candidate to the Oval Office. Trump’s suit is not just empty; the reality is worse. There is something in there: a buffoon, who is lying. He is an idiot, playing the part of a slightly larger idiot. It is the worst of two worlds. He knows full well he cannot deliver on what he promises regarding Walls, Deportations, etc., and he has no intention of doing so, and in no way does he care. He kicks up dust, and it is in dust where he thrives, as Mencken notes regarding William Jennings Bryan. He does not plan on committing War Crimes, but he is willing to pretend he might, if he thinks it will bring him up a point in polling. He is a purely pragmatic windsock, blustering in whatever direction he senses support, offering up whatever nonsense he knows will appeal to people who should know better but all too clearly do not; blither tumbling out of his mouth with rarely a moment of whatever a raging narcissist feels in lieu of regret. Occasionally, he will be caught in a contradiction so blatant his handlers insist he backtrack, but his entire schtick is basically a free-associated babble of whatever he believes will appeal to the betrayed and subsequently enraged Democrats and Independents he knows comprise his base: those people who have gotten exactly what they voted for over the last eight to eighty years, but who see the world in a way where they cannot acknowledge they brought it on themselves.
And make no mistake: there is no saving these people, no hope this particular subset sees the light. That Trump has managed to drag them into the light, however, makes for fascinating Poli-Sci Theatre, because there are those who would have denied their existence. “Democrats, supporting deportations? Never!” If nothing else, The Democrat sense of moral sociological high ground, however tenuous in reality to begin with, has been dealt a harsh blow.
It is like watching a huge group, all planning to contest FDR’s Will since the mid-20th century, demanding their share while never realizing the Will will never be read because there is nothing to inherit, and there never was. These are Roosevelt’s truest heirs, as apparent in Massachusetts as Tennessee, who see our economic system as a pile of cash to which only some are privy, and towards which they can only hope to Vote their way to a piece of the pie. But they in the end rely on their Politicians most for solace, as opposed to action, for repeated reassurance of what both know in their heart of hearts not to be true: that their pensions are safe, and by God, if they aren’t the bastards who took them will pay. That Social Security will be there, and sufficient. That the Government will provide their Health Care, and can educate their children well. That their trust in an overreaching and ultimately dysfunctional quasi-socialism was not misplaced, and if only this next batch of the same promises is put to the test, all will be right with their world. Just a little more time, and a little more of other people’s money moved from here to there — then it will find its way to where it should be at last…Above I describe them as tired. How could they not be, after eight decades of the same lies with the same results? These are people who would never vote for Bernie Sanders, due to no small degree of awareness of what their families fought for in the World Wars, yet who can never admit how closely what they think they want parallels the moonshine-proof dysfunction Sanders would bring.
Trump is for all practical purposes the High Priest of a cult predicated upon Denial. His entire candidacy is based upon repeating what desperate people need to hear, and providing false assurances they will in fact live to see their Promised Land. It is Populist Drivel in its distilled form, absolutely devoid of shame and with no purpose beyond higher numbers. He is clickbait, in human form. He swears to undo all the damage they have brought upon themselves, due to their refusal to acknowledge decades of evidence that the Democrat Party has no interest in their well-being, and to accept his promises they bury their heads in the sand still deeper, to avoid the laundry list of reasons proving Trump is as far inside as an Insider could possibly be. He recently ran a campaign ad in Texas describing Ted Cruz as “the worst sort of Washington Insider.” Such hypocrisy beggars belief, to say nothing of its utter, laughable inaccuracy. The description manages to be exactly wrong.
Trump is what you hit when you dig to the core of the corruption in our System: a manipulator of the System itself, who would and could not exist without it. He and those like him are what makes Corruption keep spinning, and they are the ones who can be counted upon to yell loudest about Injustice, because such shameless complaints and subsequent empty promises are this corruption’s source of both impetus and inertia. On and on it spins, and always in the same place. You do not ask to whose campaigns he donated — you try and find someone to whom he didn’t. Where Power is a thing to be bought, Influence is a thing to be peddled. When The Left laughs and sneers at the concept of the Self-Made Man and the American Dream, claiming no one ever achieves a thing without “help,” this is all they offer in its place: more of the same growing richer and richer, while those they promise to empower remain in the same home for generations. And those inside will not open their eyes, because now only an ever-expanding Abyss they created and abetted for those generations looks back. Where Reality is unbearable, Denial is inevitable. They know they have been fed lies, but only so many can be swallowed before they comprise a life, and to admit such a degree of profound wrongheadedness, to allow it to touch one’s family — it could only bring a withering despair. So on and on it goes.
Finally, regarding perhaps the worst aspect of the entire scenario: that he has been allowed to call himself a Republican may and should signal the end of the Party, at least as anything akin to how we have come to know it. A thing can only become so ridiculous before it can no longer hope to be salvaged. Larry Flynt does not preach in the pulpit of a Church with any hope of a congregation the following Sunday — at least not the one it once had. I now think of myself only as Conservative; the idea of any alliance with what the Republican Party’s current leadership has allowed it to become is no longer remotely acceptable. I am glad my Father did not live to see it, or have to watch the weepy old invertebrates who allowed it to be brought down. He died in 2003, and I cannot imagine trying to explain to him what has happened since then in a manner he could believe. This is not an exaggeration — I believe he might first think I had lost my mind. Our betrayal rivals that of the Democrats described above in scale; ours only came much faster and more recently. We can beat them — were we to offer an actual, clear-cut choice — but our current Leadership now undeniably would rather join them. Only so much can happen before people have to appraise what they are fighting for and where they claim to find a sense of shared identity, and if The Republican Party can even appear to promulgate this…Why should they? Who would claim this as their own? What else has to happen before there is only room for shame? If Cruz, Rubio or the combination thereof do not find a way to make it abundantly clear exactly what Donald Trump actually is to everyone willing to listen, and soon, The Republican Party will for the fourth consecutive election cycle offer up a candidate with more in common with the Democrat candidate than with the people who supposedly comprise The Republican base. The word “corruption” does not encompass such a scenario. Only “infiltration,” and successful infiltration at that, fits the bill.
What follows is an “If.” It is wide in its scope and repercussions, but likelihood is what matters, and it falls within the boundaries of the personalities and past behaviors of the people involved. And in a world where Donald Trump could become the Republican nominee for President of the United States, the idea of Bill Clinton manipulating matters to ensure his wife’s election is simply not that hard a thing to accept. The rumor that a call from Clinton suggesting to Trump that he run is the reason we find ourselves where we do rings true as a possibility in at least as many ways as not, and in this scenario, denials from both men only underscore the possibility. If the call took place, Trump can’t acknowledge it because it would damage his candidacy for thunderingly obvious reasons — even the weakest Republican-in-name-only voter might be given pause at the thought of the husband of the opposing candidate being responsible for their choice for President’s presence in the race — and Clinton won’t because it serves his ultimate purpose to maintain the possibility. Should Trump ever appear to threaten Hillary, however…Then a bitten-lip confession is on the table, and quite possibly whether the call actually happened or not. The idea is already out there, in play, part of popular perception, and that is where people like Bill Clinton work their dark magics. It is undeniably the brand of backstabbing political maneuver that brought Clinton to Washington to begin with, the sort of otherwise underhanded ploy hailed as pragmatic brilliance in hindsight, should it work. And the rumor is enough. It is straight out of LBJ’s bag of tricks: “Make the son of a bitch deny it.” But all told, such lengths may not even be necessary on the Clintons’ part. The image of Trump dancing with Hillary at her inauguration simply is already not that farfetched, with all things taken into consideration. But if there is anything at all to this, if that call, real or imagined, should be forced to rear its head again in public discourse over the coming months, it will matter. It provides Clinton with real leverage. It could well be an insurance policy which may or may not be cashed.
If Trump becomes the Republican nominee he should be its last, and we will all be better for it. We should not have to worry this much. It will be time to rebuild from scratch, with a new generation harnessing proven ideas, principles and priorities tragically worn away during a century-long Socialistic experiment gone predictably awry. There are people in their mid-30’s who have no idea what a genuine Conservative looks like, or what they hope to bring back to the country, because they have never seen one in a position of real power in their adult lives. For this to again happen, The Republican Party may well need to be allowed to reach the ash heap of history. Though our language may as well need to evolve a term to describe such utter abdication of a role on the part of a once-proud entity. “We got Trumped” could become a fresh part of the vernacular, under the Rodham-Clinton administration.