WORD OF THE DAY

– published in The Transnational (defunct) Volume 4, May 23, 2016 (defunct)

trump\truhmp\noun

  1. Any playing card of a suit that for the time outranks the other suits, such a card being able to take any card of another suit.

A lot like a game of bridge. I mean the Republican primary. A Trump suit and a lot of other cards. And as in bridge, the Trump card loses only to a higher trump, and unless the Republican leadership pulls one of those from its sleeve Donald Trump will be their 2016 candidate for President. And he better be, is the warning coming from him and his supporters. Trump has said if those voting for him are disenfranchised there might be problems like “you’ve never seen before.” I believe him. The growing frustration of lower income and overburdened middle class whites in America (a majority of Trump’s supporters, in other words) is seeking expression. Trump understands this. His statement of potential “problems” is both menacing and inciting. And be certain, it’s intentional. Foremost, Trump is savvy and vicious. At this point he may be unstoppable. He’s turned out to be more than the egoistic showman the leaders of the Grand Old Party thought he was. He’s a bully, a demagogue and a con man. He understood the attraction Republican voters had to the divisive, racist language being used these past eight years, that led to big victories in 2010 and 2014. It worked so well that Trump one-upped them. He’s trumped them so far. How did he do it? He kicked off his campaign saying many Mexicans coming into the U.S. were rapists, criminals and drug dealers. He followed that by calling for a ban on Muslim immigration. He claimed global warming was a hoax. He told the cameras he was proud to have a permit to carry a gun. He guaranteed there’s no problem with the size of his penis, which I took to be his way of updating Teddy Roosevelt’s motto about speaking softly and carrying a big stick. Despite all that, or because of it, the supermodel stud has a very good chance to be the GOP’s public face, or perhaps a body part lower than that, at least through November 8th. And if that happens, how will the Republican establishment spin Trump? Fourteen of their best went up against him only to be squashed by their failure to respond to his degrading insults. And Trump made it look easy. Hammering at each of them until they conceded and slunk away. Rubio he called “little Marco.” Bush had “no energy” and his mother “should be running instead of him.” About Fiorina he said, “look at that face, would anyone vote for that?” The 5’8” Paul “comes up to here on me,” a gesturing hand indicated to chest level. Jindal was a “lightweight governor.” Graham he “could push over with a little thimble.” The bully from Queens who started out with millions of his daddy’s dollars, money that empowered him to be a bully on the New York and international business scenes, is onto something bigger. The stakes are higher. His aggressive language has gotten so far over the top that Chris Christie, a former primary opponent and an all-star bully himself, seems a meek, washed-out presence standing glassy-eyed next to Trump. It’s an ugly, nightmarish scenario. A man who thinks running a country is comparable to building hotels and operating golf courses for millionaires actually could be President. For Trump, the art of the deal is his way or the highway. And know that he believes he can do to countries what he did to his primary opponents. He assures his followers when he’s President America’s going to win so much it will get tired of winning. Though in Trump’s world view “winning” seems a mild form of victory. For him, it’s more like the bludgeoning to death of his opponents with a final swift kick in the teeth issued for the pleasure of it. From here, Trump’s path to the Republican nomination might be as simple as continuing to assert he’ll bring jobs back home, he’ll build the border wall and make Mexico pay for it, he’ll tax Chinese imports unless “they behave,” he’ll support the Second Amendment, he’ll take care of the military better than they’ve ever been taken care of, he’ll protect Social Security. And if that’s not enough, he’ll go after his detractors using the same derision he’s used on others. That might be enough to make his rivals cautious. The Democrats are already preparing for a hostile election battle. Is there enough in their playbook to take him on? How will Clinton respond to his mocking rants? Only a frantic reshuffling of the deck by the Republican leadership can keep Trump from the nomination. And if they succeed, be sure the trouble Trump warns could happen will happen. As for the televangelist Ted Cruz as his alternative? The tone might be different, but he may be worse.

(2016)

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