Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Welcome to the Crazy World of Donald Trump

I vaguely recall a month or two ago there was this "conventional wisdom" that once Trump wrapped up the Primaries and got the nomination sewn up for the Republican ticket, he'd try to pivot back to the "moderate" center of a general campaign. That Trump would calm down, dial back the anger and the bomb-throwing. That Trump would drop the harsh tone he'd been using in opposition to immigrants and civil liberties and foreign relations and all that.

Welp. You can squash that "conventional wisdom" under a boot-heel. Trump's not dialing back a thing. He's doubling down on the cray-cray (via David Graham at the Atlantic):

Donald Trump isn’t pivoting to the center. If anything, he’s growing more bombastic, more erratic, more—well, more like Trump, as the primary gives way to the general election.
Celebrating his 70th birthday, the presumptive Republican nominee provided attendees a mix of red meat and bewilderment, veering between denunciations of Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and The Washington Post (all well received) and proclamations of his strong support for LGBT Americans (met with some apprehension). In the weirdest moment of the night, Trump seemed to imply that American troops in Iraq had pocketed money meant for reconstruction after the war...
...The shooting in Orlando over the weekend has given Trump a new way to talk about immigration and national security. It has also dashed Republican officials’ latest hopes that Trump might be persuaded to tone down his rhetoric. Instead, he has redoubled his call for a ban on Muslim immigration, effectively accused Obama of treason, and announced that he would not credential The Washington Post for reporting those comments...

Try to remember that to Trump, he's never been about honesty or accuracy or facts: He's always about getting attention, pushing the outrage, selling the anger. He'll never tone it down for anybody. And it's not because he believes all of the insults and lies he utters - some of his own bullshit he might believe, maybe - but because he believes it will get him victories.

For a Republican Party now focusing on the priorities of the general election - not just for the Presidency but for Congress and even vulnerable state governments - where appealing to a broader (more moderate) range of voters REQUIRES a pivot to a muddled, milder middle (even just for appearance's sake), having Trump command the Crazy Train to Warp Factor Nine has got to be driving every leader - RNC chair Priebus, Speaker Ryan, various Senators and Governors some of whom already caved to support Trump - straight to the hard drinks and to the doctor's office with sudden cases of ulcers and headaches.

And we're still a few weeks away from the Cleveland convention. There is every chance Trump is going to keep Tweeting and speaking his Id to crazier and harsher stances on public policies.

For myself, I can only hope this starts translating into party-wide abandonment. America can only hope that whatever's left of the sane fringes of the Republican Party bolts for higher ground and votes... well, for once I'll begrudge them voting Libertarian, with former Governor Gary Johnson as their nominee.

Did you ever think we could live in a world where the Libertarian (these are the guys who worship the Gold Standard and dance in their Speedos on a national stage and I am NOT linking to that, even I have standards) candidate is the SANE and EXPERIENCED alternative to the Republican candidate? I mean, usually the Libertarian nominee is some college professor or fringe-issue businessman, but they've got a two-time governor who actually knows what he's doing (relatively speaking, I still oppose a lot of their tax and deregulatory platform on principle) while the Republican Trump is an ignorant amateur blowhard lacking qualifications to even run for the Pasco County Mosquito Control Board (all apologies to Pasco County for dragging you all into this).

Still, it troubles me that while Trump's poll numbers are slipping he will continue to enjoy a level of support among voters all because he's taken over a major political party and can count on tribal affiliation to earn him votes he clearly does not deserve. I keep thinking back to Rude Pundit's revelation how in 2014 his own relatives, knowing better, still voted full Republican even though they knew the Republicans would screw them over on health care needs. All because they couldn't break their tribal conditioning.

Trump may be polling at 37 percent right now but by GOD we need to see him at 27 percent (or better still single digits).

Why 27 percent as the cutoff? Well...

There's this classic blog post on the site Kung Fu Monkey. This was back in 2005 people, and while the argument was about how low Bush the Lesser's polling could go - which by 2007-08 got really low at 25 percent - the overall discussion was on the political crazy, and this discussion on "The Crazification Factor" can help you comprehend just how long we've had this problem:

John: Hey, Bush is now at 37% approval. I feel much less like Kevin McCarthy screaming in traffic. But I wonder what his base is --
Tyrone: 27%.
John: ... you said that immediately, and with some authority.
Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That's crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.
John: Objectively crazy or crazy vis-a-vis my own inertial reference frame for rational behaviour? I mean, are you creating the Theory of Special Crazification or General Crazification?
Tyrone: Hadn't thought about it. Let's split the difference. Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification -- either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.
John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?
Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?
John: ... a bit low, actually.

We're coping with Special Crazification now, America: where an entire Republican party's voting base has become so worked up by a false reality sold to them by liars and Ponzi schemers that they chose a bullshit con artist as their Presidential candidate.

If you're just wondering, John refers to John Rogers, television producer who was working on a show Leverage at the time he blogged that (who is Tyrone?). Just recently he Tweeted about one of Trump's campaign PAC funders:

This is the world we are in now. Reality and fiction are twisting on each other.

Welcome to the crazy.


dinthebeast said...

This really gives people with mental problems a bad name. I mean, sure, they are crazy, but for the most part they are harmless. I guess we need a specific name for the politically insane. If they make a DSM-6, it should have an entire chapter on Trump and his followers. I'd say make a category for Republican syndrome, except we actually need there to be sane Republicans to operate our two-party system of government. I wonder if I'll ever see any?

-Doug in Oakland

dinthebeast said...

And just like that I found one, from Utah, no less:

-Doug in Oakland

Pinku-Sensei said...

"dance in their Speedos on a national stage"--I don't recall if I already mentioned it here, but the person who did that is from Michigan. In fact, he was nominated for Sheriff of the county where he lives. I don't know if he'll still be running. The Michigan Libertarian Party was so embarrassed by his behavior that he was suspended from the party. Yes, even the Libertarians have standards.