A Good Word on Trump from Dave Newton

Bruce Maples (bruceinlouisville@gmail.com)
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Dave Newton is a Kentuckian who has been doing activism and political work for years. He posted something on Facebook about what we are seeing in this year’s election, and whether it might portend a once-in-a-lifetime shift. I asked if I could reshare it, and he agreed.

I’ve really tried to shy away from prognosticating about this election because (1) I was so darned wrong about Donald Trump being just a “candidate of the week” 6 months ago and (2) because predicting the outcome of an election is one of the least valuable ways a person can engage in politics and it’s also one of the most common. But this is just one of those moments, so I can’t stay away. We so rarely know that we’re on the cusp of something so historic.

If electing Barack Obama was a once-in-a-generation moments of moderate progress (and despite his many flaws, I say that it was), what’s unfolding in the Republican primary is a once-in-100-years moment akin to the Democrats losing southern racists to the Republican party in the lead up to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. We’re looking at a potential major shift on the political party level.

If Trump can win Florida tomorrow and a handful of other states (Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri, and not necessarily Ohio, but that would certainly cinch it), then he could become practically unbeatable by any conceivable partnership of his rivals and the Republican Party apparatus.

That means that in just a few months, the Koch brothers, Romney, McConnell, Fox News, and everyone else on the right would have to decide between 1. siding with a clearly insane nominee that will destroy their party or 2. attacking their own nominee and handing the election to the Democrats while doing considerable short-term damage to their own party. And what makes it worse is that some are likely to go with the first strategy and some will go with the second.

Or at best, Trump would have a clear plurality in the polls going into a brokered convention where delegates (who probably have the best interest of their party in mind) could switch their votes to someone else (though the Republican Party apparatus hates Cruz almost as much), and completely subvert the clear will of their own voters leading to an internal uprising that’s nearly as damaging. It’d be even more damaging if Trump then decided to run as a third party candidate.

And if the Trump-like utter lack of accountability, appeals to violence, and generally 4th-grade school yard bully level of discourse we’re seeing in this election catches on and gets imitated by many other politicians, we’re in for a pretty terrible run.

A central and sad truth in American politics is that anger is easy, cheap, and powerful. If you can get someone to hate black people, immigrants, Muslims, or poor people, you can create a space where truth and reason don’t matter. You can use that anger to blind people and get them to believe things they would know with their minds are not true. But you can’t control those angry people and someone even crazier than you can come along and turn them against you.

Elements within the Republican Party have dabbled in anger and fear too much for too long and this is the result.

I’m not a political partisan myself, mind you, but this is a terrible moment for the Republican Party and could be a terrible moment for us all if we don’t organize, see past our differences and unite behind principles we all care about, and get out and do something about it.

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Photo by cornstalker

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