Although we remain adamant, in this space, that the less said about one Donald Trump the better, it should be more than a bit bothersome to the bulk of the national electorate that it was a good news / bad news scenario that followed this racist buffoon’s entry into the Republican field of presidential aspirants. Why was there a bad-news component? Why, with the likes of NBC, Macy’s, professional golf and others responding maturely to his typical sleazeball utterances and giving him the boot, was there need for a countervailing madness of second place in GOP voter preference polling going to such a jerk? Why, indeed, a result so ludicrous from a supposedly informed citizenry?
For starters, we ought be reminded that the notion of the informed or enlightened electorate is one that at times cries out for strict reality-check review – that although the electorate has twice shocked itself and voted Barack Obama into office, it has also seen fit to maintain a Republican majority in the House of Representatives that, among other things, has voted about 60 times to derail the Affordable Care Act, indifferent to the critical need it fills for millions of fellow Americans. The “informed” electorate routinely votes into office Senators and House members who pooh-pooh scientific evidence on global warming and attach no priority to protection of the environment. An “informed” voting public, both at federal and state level, elects avowed apologists for ongoing carnage resulting from the profusion of unregulated guns in the country. In light of all of which, and more, so-called likely Republican voters giving a significant enough thumbs-up to a Trump side show performance seems not much of an oddity, where Republicans are concerned.
Fact is, Trump may be the most obscenely distasteful of the lot but among the cast of characters vying for the nomination there’s no shortage of weirdos who would lead the country God only knows where, if given the chance. Conservative extremists like Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Scott Walker and others in the mad GOP scramble may not have the Trump capacity to make themselves super-obnoxious, but they don’t cede much to Trump as far as their ambitions for taking the country into a darker, more regressive place.
The recent Supreme Court decisions on the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality highlighted the energy in the conservative sector for stopping in its tracks anything that hints at embracing a 21st century outlook for the country. There’s no one among the Republicans running for president who is on the side of what the high court decided in those two matters, with the possible exception of a contender whose name is hardly ever mentioned, former New York Governor George Pataki. And what’s amazing is that the presidential wannabes adopt hard-line positions on the recent court rulings and other front-burner issues, little concerned that theirs is not a reflection of majority sentiment among the population. Indeed, two high court conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, were not surprisingly blasted across the conservative spectrum for daring to cast votes that mirrored the views of the hoi polloi.
That conservative disconnect with popular sentiment makes a GOP House majority since 2011, a GOP Senate majority as of this year and GOP control of most of the state houses around the country difficult to reconcile. On its face, the idea that Republicans, touting values that are out of step with most of the polity, could exercise a disproportionate amount of control doesn’t seem to add up. Thoughts again turn to the high court and the infamous Citizens United decision that allowed unlimited, unregulated funds into the electioneering process and brought names like the Koch brothers front and center as shapers of the nation’s political course — a decision in which the votes then cast by Justices Roberts and Kennedy made for the great un-leveling of the political playing field, turning participatory democracy on its head.
We thus have an environment in which a Trump revels. Spewing racist venom as he did against the Mexicans, his was a direct appeal to the haters like himself on the Republican side of the divide. We of course had heard him play that song before, even targeting the president of the United States, no less. The Republican crowd, even as partial as it has been known to be on occasion to extremist hucksters, will likely humor Trump only but so long. Obama’s being elected president has set in motion this frenzy among a collection of right-side kooks, that any of them could do likewise. Sometime between now and when the next president is sworn in, the kooks will have come to realize, we think, that those dreams of relatively easy elevation to the White House are pure myth.