Oh Please God, Let Donald Trump Keep Talking
Donald Trump and I are having a great week.
In his case, it’s because likely Republican voters have weighed in, and they heart The Donald. He was already in second place with Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire, and a recent Reuters poll placed him in a dead heat with rival Jeb Bush. Now another survey, released Tuesday by USA Today, actually shows him leading Bush, 14 percent to 17 percent. A majority of Republicans, nearly 60 percent, say they have a favorable view of Trump, which is very nearly a complete turnaround from as recently as May. The whole thing — by which I mean having an overt racist take the lead because there is nothing your base loves more than an overt racist — has pretty much turned the Republican presidential race from a mere carnival of sadness into a shitshow of epic proportions.
And this, as you may already have guessed, is why I am having such a fanfuckingtastic week.
I know. There’s basically zero chance that Trump will hold on to this lead for anything but a fleeting moment. I am not the first to recognize that we only have to look back as far as 2012 for examples of other early GOP primary front runners — Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain — who ultimately turned up the crazy so deafeningly loud that even Republicans were forced to change the station. Almost three-quarters of Americans polled say they essentially regard Trump’s candidacy as a tasteless joke. (Were he not Canadian, we could probably put Neil Young in that camp, judging by the fact that he told Trump to stop using his music and then turned right around and told Bernie Sanders to turn that shit up.) Even Trump’s flimsy lead in the aforementioned poll falls within the margin of error.
But for a second, let’s stop trafficking in reality. For just a moment, join me in the hope that this terrible and actual human nightmare will hang in there for as long as possible. Because if there was ever any question about the values the modern Republican party holds dear — racism, xenophobia, anti-intellectualism and garden-variety lunacy— Donald Trump, a bullhorn with a comb-over, is ready to shout it at the top of his lungs.
The other Republican contenders may play to the same ugly ideas, but they cloak their language (although only just barely) to disguise it as something else. Rick Santorum, in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting and the repeated refrain to take down the Confederate flag, speaks substantively to neither issue but instead talks about “states rights” and suggests that the way to end racism is to shutter Planned Parenthood. Bobby Jindal defends anti-gay and racist remarks with drivel about constitutional rights, but then decides Article Three — the one establishing the Supreme Court — should be scuttled when SCOTUS makes marriage equality the law of the land. Ben Carson says political correctness under Obama has made America “very much like Nazi Germany” and the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” Ted Cruz actually calls the consecutive days on which SCOTUS upholds healthcare and marriage equality “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.” Scott Walker implies gay people are child sexual predators and tries to make poverty as humiliating and punitive as possible by fighting to drug-test food stamp recipients. And Rick “Forgetful Jones” Perry just executes people — a fact that, you might recall, Republicans actually cheered him for. We could do this for all eleventy thousand Republican candidates, but I’m sure you already get the picture.
With Trump, though, there’s nothing to decode in his speeches, no dog whistles you have to strain to hear; it’s all loud and wrong and right there on the record, with no pretense of being anything but ugly and hateful. When Trump offers his thoughts on Mexican immigrants, he is clear and direct about the fact that this is what he truly believes. When he sends the press an 881-word essay saying that “the worst elements in Mexico are being pushed into the United States by the Mexican government,” and that “tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border,” he is telling us, in no uncertain terms, that this is how he thinks. When he retweets supporters that Jeb Bush “has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife,” or that he should "Get to The WHITE House" (you know, to reclaim it from the black people currently living in it), he is sending a resounding message about who he is. Likewise, when Republicans applaud Trump for his honesty or claim he’s speaking for the American people, they too are telling us that Trump is expressing exactly what they think. Only out loud. And without the big show of pretending to be a decent human being that his competitors put on.
For this, the GOP base loves him — because of the disgusting and hopelessly misinformed things he’s saying. Remember, this is the same absurd caricature who wouldn't shut up about Obama’s birth certificate; who still persists in calling the fully exonerated black and Hispanic men of the Central Park 5 “no angels”; who was upset because a Mexican director won the Oscar this year for Best Picture. Donald Trump has always been awful and racist, but that wasn’t enough, I suppose. It took him being awful and driving his racist rhetoric right to the tippity top for the Republican base to fall truly and madly for him. In a league of crazy racist xenophobes, Trump has proved himself the craziest, most racist xenophobe of all, or at least the most upfront about it. And for that, he is being rewarded by a party of people who cannot get enough. Because that’s what the modern GOP is all about.
So when Lindsey Graham complains that Trump is “a wrecking ball for the future of the Republican Party with the Hispanic community,” I wonder where he’s been for the last few years. By the same token, when John McCain — the man who gave us Sarah Effing Palin — says Trump has “fired up the crazies,” we can only hope some researcher out there is developing a medication for people suffering from alarmingly low levels of self-awareness. And when Carlos Curbelo, a freshman Republican congressman from Miami, suggests that Trump is some kind of liberal in disguise (“a phantom candidate”), shouting assbackward ideas and trolling the country to give Republicans a bad name, it seems like someone should remind him what party he belongs to and ask him what year he thinks it is. Since amnesia has to be the only excuse.
Although I know he won’t make it over the long haul, Donald Trump really is the candidate the Republican party deserves. Bereft of wit, unable to write a good comeback that doesn’t just lean on calling everyone a loser, possibly inflating his personal wealth by literally billions, Trump is a total bore in so many ways. But as a true representative and reminder of what the Republican Party has come to, we can only hope he sticks around. He couldn’t possibly tack to the center after all the garbage of the last few weeks, and the saner elements of the Republican Party know he’d lose to Hillary, whom he currently polls 17 points behind, so it’s a safe bet that donors and others will spend their money elsewhere.
Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Donald Trump, the lone candidate to have a butt plug crafted in his image and piÃ±atas in his likeness, remains in the race, near the top, for as long as possible. And that he keeps right on talking. Because he’s the real voice of the GOP, and it’s only fair that we all get to hear it.