The Republican Party is already trying to pretend that Trump himself is an aberration, but will fully embrace its animating principles.
One of my favorite images in all of literature (or, I guess, history, though it came to me through literature) is the one at the beginning of Milan Kundera’s masterpiece, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. It opens with remembering the Communist leader Gottwald walking onto a balcony in Wenceslas Square (the same one Havel would later speak from, though Kundera couldn’t have known that joyful moment was forthcoming). It was a cold snowy day, and one of his aides, a certain Clementis, “bursting with solicitude”, took off his hat and placed it on Gottwald’s head. A photo was snapped of the cheerful occasion.
But these occasions become less cheerful once true character is revealed, right? Clementis later proved to have less solicitude toward the revolution as a whole, and so he had to be purged. These things will happen: omelettes, eggs. He was even erased from the past, and was removed from any official photos. These things too, must happen. But, stubbornly, the hat remained on Gottwald’s head. Nothing else remained of the man but his hat, which lingered on throughout history.
The Republicans, moving forward, are going to try to do the same with Trump. They’ll pretend he never existed, but will harness the wild howling energy he has unleashed to drive their party. They will embrace the very worst aspects of Trumpism, and just pretend he was an aberration. The man will be gone, but he’ll still linger over their heads.
Jailing Hillary: All The GOP Is
It’s over. I mean, it isn’t over, and I won’t breathe easy until November 9th, but it looks to be done. Sam Wang at the PEC is up to 95-97%, as of this writing (and, as he points out, this election has been remarkably stable: Trump has never led. It just doesn’t feel that way because any possibility of him winning is terrifying). Silver’s Polls Plus is at 81%, the highest it’s been this year.
And, as Charlie Pierce points out, the Clinton “scandals” uncovered by Wikileaks are just that she’s a professional politician. The idiotic Intercept story about them trying to get reporters to write good stories is only surprising if you’re an idiot or have already decided to be shocked by everything she does. Although the Times Morning Brief showed me quite a scoop.
Emails released by WikiLeaks on Monday revealed some of the inner workings of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, its struggle to refine its message during the early stages of the race, and discussions about negative attacks on her opponent in the Democratic primary, Senator Bernie Sanders.
WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS. Look, no one who is voting for Hillary–which are considerably more people than are voting for Trump–is under any illusions that she isn’t a politician. But those who aren’t voting for he think she is literally half criminal/half devil/half lesbian/half frigid ice queen/half cruel seductress/half incompetent/half evil genius. These aren’t exactly math wizards. That’s what has been driving Trump. And that’s what every GOP rep is banking on.
While most people were sickened and offended by Trump’s wildly undemocratic “You’d be in jail” comments, that’s what people have been chanting at his rallies (and at the goddamn convention) all year. Now it is clear it’s going to be the centerpiece of the rest of his campaign, as well as violent outbursts at GOP “traitors”. As he said, the “shackles are off“. He’s going after Paul Ryan, whose moral courage is matched only by his brilliant economic theories, John McCain, and anyone else he deems disloyal.
So there are a handful of Republicans who might be principled about Trump, and a handful who were principled once it was in their best interests, and then everyone else. While the number of defectors are unprecedented, he still has a huge majority of party representatives, and more importantly, most of the GOP voters. Most of the voters who are not only not offended by pussygrabbing, but who revel in his fake machismo against a woman, and who are not only not disturbed by his promise to lock up Hillary, but feel that doing so is the only reason to have a government.
So, if you want to be generous, you’d say that about half of the Republican Party lives in mortal fear of these voters turning on them. The other half are drawn from these same people, who were inoculated in talk radio and the Reagan Revolution, who really came of age during the impeachment, and still hate her more than they hate even Obama. I say “half” to be generous to the moral cowards, who I think are actually in the minority compared to their wackaloon colleagues.
As soon as she is inaugurated, even as soon as she is elected, they’ll start investigations. They’ll block everything. They’ll indulge in wild conspiracy theories about why she won. They will stop her from nominating a Supreme Court justice if at all possible (she’s a crook, she stole the election, she can’t nominate someone over the will of the people!). I mean, do you really think any of these guys will go home and say “Look folks, she won fair and square, let’s work to make the country work again!” Half of them would be worried about getting shot and half don’t believe it.
So you’ll see the spectacle of hate that Trump has been boiling directed at her. You’ll see the anger, the braying, the witch trials, the cheap smears, the absolute disgust that a woman, especially that woman, could be President. You’ll see the dissonant spectacle of grown men crying about a stolen election while trying not to mention the man from whom it was stolen. It was stolen from America, dammit.
Because that’s what the GOP is: Trumpism. Sure, they’ll steer away from economic populism while still playing footsie with white anger with it, but that’s about it. In substance, he’s no different than they are, just louder and more ignorant and more blatant about things. But his inherent vulgarity only masks inherent similarities with people like Blake Farenthold, Jeff Sessions, Louis Gohmert, Steven King, Darrel Issa, and other luminaries. These are men with deep hate in their hears.
This is where the GOP has been going. They are going to pretend that because he said bad words, and more importantly, because he lost, that he was an aberration, a New York liberal who hijacked the party. That he was able to proved all the passengers were willing, and that’s because Trump is the apotheosis of the modern GOP. So yes, they’ll indulge in the Great Hijacking Myth, but everything will be the same. The braying and the catering to racist goons will be the same. Many of the goons are already in Congress. The hateful yodels will continue unabated. They’ll pretend he’s not there, but the din, when it all blends together, will sound like his unmistakable dull lowing.