My 65 second riff last night on Trump’s unhealthy admiration for murderous tyrants and threats to democracy could become soul crushing should it get stuck on repeat. I’m more inclined to take a philosophical view of Trump’s machinations. He is a wake up call to people about Democracy’s vulnerability. Its rather like the image taken of Earth by the Apollo crews from the Moon. From far away the Earth looks like what it is, a fragile place at the mercy of any wayward asteroid. Our Democracy may seem scrappy because it has survived civil war, one particularly nasty Republican spawned depression, the rise of Dictators in the 1940’s and the Cold War. It seems like after all that it should be able to weather an empty, narcissist like Donald Trump.
How did Donald Trump get elected?
The general reason is that the Republican Party has benefited from the modus operandi it picked up from the Dixiecrats that no tweeking of the law is out of line in order to assure that your side wins elections. Robert Caro’s third book in the LBJ trilogy makes that process clear. Southern Jim Crow politicians were stuck in Congress without any hope of becoming President so they resigned themselves to mastering the control of the US Senate to derail any threats to their white Southern totalitarian hegemony. And then LBJ mastered their skills; became an accidental President with the martyred JFK’s aura to push through civil rights laws to their horror and consternation. Johnson was the “traitor” who drove the south into the hands of the Republican Party.
The southerners gathered their wits about them and shucked off their hatred of the Party of Lincoln starting with Arizona’s Barry Goldwater in 1964 who against the advice of fellow Republicans voted against LBJ’s civil rights act and then after the George Wallace explosion, Ronald Reagan. Its worth remembering that he launched his first successful presidential campaign just miles from where three civil rights campaigners were brutally murdered during the Civil Rights era making it clear that their murderers supporters were welcome into his new Republican Party.
In the years following a whole slew of Dixiecrat inspired actions took place to grab hold of national control using the vast resources of America to finance Republican campaigns, deter poor people from voting, and gerrymander the hell out of the nation with incredibly sophisticated computer mapping software and pad the courts with young neo-cons. It has been a zero sum game and its first victim is democracy. Its worth remembering that tilting a level playing field to insure victory removes the salutary effect that losing an election can have.
The great irony is that in doing all this Republican have so lost their soul that voters caught on. Donald Trump made mincemeat out of the best and brightest among them to win the Presidency. Its not that Trump stands for anything better but his bullshit was a lot more colorful. His BS trumped twenty years of Republican BS and I’m not sure the Republican voters should be blamed for that. However, their continuing fandom is worthy of scorn.
Both parties have been sewn together by cynical operatives like Roger Ailes and Karl Rove who have manipulated Americans into detest one another all for the sake of winning elections. Such world class manipulators are not necessarily Republicans. So I’m going to tell a story about the first such functionaries that I met (they were Democrats) when I was an unfashionable Republican during the Age of Aquarius and how I foiled their efforts. But first, I’m going to practice my French.