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“Laying Priebus’s Plans To Waste”: A Nation of Sociopaths? What The Trump Phenomenon Says About America

Donald Trump signed the Republican National Committee loyalty pledge on September 3 at Trump Tower in New York.

The Republican Party has a Donald Trump problem—and that has some Democrats thanking Lady Luck for apparently blowing on their dice. The casino mogul, after all, has thrown the GOP into a disarray even greater than that wrought by the Koch brothers and the Tea Party, dashing the hopes of Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, to launch a nominee who could reach out to racial and ethnic minorities, or one who at least would not say terrible things about women.

With his continued antagonism of Spanish-speakers, his incendiary denouncement of the Black Lives Matter movement, and his base comments about actor Rosie O’Donnell and Fox News host Megyn Kelly, as Trump continues to surge in polls of Republican primary voters, he threatens to lay Priebus’s plans to waste.

This is no way to win a general election, the thinking goes. And so in some corners of Democratland, there is happy dancing in the streets.

Trump offers other benefits, as well, to liberals and progressives in the form of the monkey wrench he could throw into the works of Charles and David Koch, who have been positioning their organizational network as the party within the party, replete with resources for candidates who would run on their platform of smashing unions and coddling private capital. Among these resources is a voter data system said to be superior to that of the RNC.

Part of the Koch network of political and policy organizations and entities, the i360 data system is made available to Republican candidates; they in turn use the data collected to construct their campaigns. But then the data stays within the Koch network, allowing the billionaire brothers and their confrères to act as kingmakers within the party at a level beyond the ad-buy and ground-soldier support bestowed by the network’s other entities, such as Americans for Prosperity.

The Trump campaign, through the candidate’s support for socialized medicine and raising taxes on the wealthy, as well as his opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, constitutes a major nose-thumbing at the Kochs. By staying in the race, he denies them the level of control over the 2016 presidential campaign that they surely expected to have.

Beyond the question, though, of whether Trump is good for Democrats lies the question of whether his candidacy is good for America. Some have implied that the response to Trump on the stump—the smoking out of nativists, racists, and misogynists, bringing them to the surface—is indeed a good thing, because it reveals, in no uncertain terms, to whom the Republican Party most appeals. Heck, even avowed white supremacists—not a constituency prone to endorsing candidates of either major party—are professing their love for The Donald.

If I had faith that America would look at those smoked-out varmints in horror, and resolve as a nation to ostracize all who professed such views—and, better yet, enact policies to rectify the vestiges of past oppression and discrimination in our present society—I might be able to buy the “Trump is good for America” argument. But, alas, I am not familiar with an America whose people, as a whole, are willing to do that.

Instead, what Trump is doing, via the media circus of which he has appointed himself ringmaster, is making the articulation of the basest bigotry acceptable in mainstream outlets, amplifying the many oppressive tropes and stereotypes of race and gender that already exist in more than adequate abundance.

For all the ink I’ve just spilled on these two questions, neither is the most important one that should be asked about the Trump candidacy. That would be this one: What is wrong with America that this racist, misogynist, money-cheating clown should be the frontrunner for the presidential nomination of one of its two major parties?

Donald Trump is a rich man despite having driven several businesses into the ground, resurrecting himself through the bankruptcy process—meaning that he essentially cheated his creditors out of what they were owed. According to CNN, “no major U.S. company has filed for Chapter 11 more than Trump’s casino empire in the last 30 years.”

In giving Trump, star of The Apprentice—a reality show in which he played an abusive boss whom the audience apparently loves for his frequent utterance of the words, “You’re fired!”—an even greater platform as a potential occupant of the White House, America enables a vicious swindler, holding him up as a figure to emulate.

He’s a boon to the ratings of news programs, both on the networks and on cable channels. It’s not just the wing-nuts who are watching. America just can’t get enough of this guy!

It’s time to put down the mesmerizing kaleidoscope of the Trump media spectacle, and examine the Trump phenomenon through a more penetrating lens. Revealed is America as a deeply troubled, even sociopathic, nation.

But, damn, it’s one heck of a show.


By: Adele M. Stan, The American Prospect, September 9, 2015

September 15, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP, Reince Priebus | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Now Operating Entirely From A Position Of Strength”: Donald Trump Has The Republican Party In The Palm Of His Hand

On Thursday, Donald Trump signed a loyalty pledge to the Republican Party, stipulating that he would support whoever becomes the GOP’s presidential nominee and foreclose the option of mounting an independent or write-in or third-party candidacy. The purpose of the pledge was to bring Trump to heel. By announcing his decision publicly, and holding the signed pledge up to a thousand cameras, Trump gave the Republican party readymade and provocative attack ad material: In the event that he shirks the agreement, and mounts an independent candidacy at some point, Republicans can air footage that proves Trump broke his word.

There may be some solace in that, but the fact that he was willing to sign the pledge at all should alarm Republicans more than it soothes them. Trump wasn’t communicating to the party that its knock against him for threatening an independent run has been effective. To the contrary, it’s that he doesn’t think the threat is necessary anymore—that he’s now genuinely well-positioned to win the primary, rather than an insurgent threat who can be neutralized by party heavyweights.

This isn’t just a matter of polling—though the polling is consistent with it—but of the way Trump speaks about the pledge itself. He clearly doesn’t see it as an inviolable agreement, but rather as a way to keep the Republican Party from organizing to sabotage his candidacy.

“I really got nothing,” Trump said at a Thursday press conference in New York, speaking about his meeting with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “Absolutely nothing other than the assurance that I would be treated fairly…. I have no intention of changing my mind.”

He got nothing, in other words, aside from an all-purpose and unchallengeable exception, which will force party officials to constantly police one another to make sure they don’t give Trump the excuse he’ll need to launch an independent campaign.

Trump is now operating entirely from a position of strength.

As Slate’s Josh Voorhees noted, over the course of three months, the percentage of likely Iowa caucus goers who told survey takers for Bloomberg and the Des Moines Register that they would “never” support Trump collapsed, from 58 down to 29 percent. A nationwide Monmouth poll of Republican voters conducted a few days later found that Trump has completely reversed his dangerously low net favorables, from 20-55 in June to 59-29 today.

In head-to-head matches with nine other Republican candidates, Trump beats everybody except for Ben Carson. He trounces Jeb Bush 56-37, Marco Rubio, 52-38, and Scott Walker, 53-38, suggesting that as the field winnows, dark horse backers are more likely to migrate to Trump than to any of the establishment-friendly candidates.

This is in some ways no surprise. The right-wing vote has been a majority share of the primary electorate since the campaign began. But building a majority for an anti-establishment candidate seems easier than ever before. It can now be achieved, per Matt Bruenig, by combining the support of just three candidates: Trump, Carson, and Ted Cruz.

A few weeks ago, the best argument that Trump couldn’t win the nomination rested on the premise that his maximum support was too low, and that the party would array against him aggressively as the field narrowed. Trump has spoiled both premises. It is now easy to imagine Trump eclipsing 40 percent of the vote before the primaries begin, and ripping up that pledge if a panicky Republican Party responds by erecting obstacles to his victory. Right now, in the GOP primary campaign, the most pressing question has nothing to do with Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio or any of the people who were supposed to win. It’s whether Ben Carson can keep up the fight, or Donald Trump runs away with it.


By: Brian Beutler, Senior Editor, The New Republic, September 4, 2015

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Reince Priebus, Republican National Committee | , , , , , | 1 Comment


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