Many months ago I wrote I didn’t think multibillionaire businessman Donald Trump could insult his way to the presidency. I still feel that way, more strongly than ever, as Trump continues to insult people he needs in order to win the general election in November.
Although Trump’s campaign appears to be in total disarray one month before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, he somehow manages to retain core support from millions of angry and disaffected potential voters well outside the mainstream of American politics. In other words, the old rules no longer apply. If you need proof of that fact, just look at the “establishment” Republicans Trump left in his wake as he bulldozed his way to the GOP presidential nomination.
Who are the “Trumpkins” — Spanish-speaker that I am, I call them “Trumpistas” — who love their flawed hero no matter what he does or says? Controversial author/writer Joseph Epstein tried to define them in a recent Wall Street Journal column headlined “Why Trumpkins Want Their Country Back.” Epstein spoke with “a thoroughly respectable middle-class woman” at a Trump rally and asked her why she was supporting a rude, crude egomaniac for president (he phrased it more politely). “I want my country back,” she replied.
“For the moment at least, the struggle for tradition, liberty and private business endeavor has been substantially stalled,” Epstein wrote. “Multiculturalism, identity politics, political correctness, victim-hood — the progressivist program generally — are now in the saddle, and don’t figure easily to be dislodged.” Especially if Hillary Clinton wins a third term for President Obama, I might add.
“What the woman who said she wants her country back really meant was that she couldn’t any longer bear to watch the United States on the descent, hostage to ‘progressive’ ideas that bring neither contentment nor satisfaction . . .” Epstein continued. He argued those ideas “are tearing the country apart” and cited several examples including coddled college students who complain about “micro-aggressors” — people who disagree with their politically correct ideas — on campus, and “the need for men who ‘identify’ as women to have equal access to public lavatories.” And on and on it goes in the land of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It would be worse under President Bernie Sanders but fortunately, his campaign imploded following the California Primary.
The Trumpkins/Trumpistas see The Donald as someone who can put a stop to out-of-control political correctness. As Epstein wrote, “Trump has succeeded in this political season precisely because of the successful spread of these pernicious ideas.” But after he clinched the GOP nomination Trump trashed Susana Martinez, the popular and politically astute Republican governor of New Mexico, and a respected Hispanic judge in one of Trump’s numerous lawsuits. Go figure! I call it political suicide.
In a Seattle Times op-ed piece, former Sen. Slade Gorton, a moderate Republican from Washington state, wrote “voters are faced with a choice between a possible fascist (Trump) and a possible criminal (Mrs. Clinton),” neither of whom is “remotely qualified to be president of the United States.” Gorton criticized Mrs. Clinton’s “record of failure” and wrote Trump “responds to every challenge with a massive load of ignorance.”
That’s true, but I don’t see a viable way out of this terrible electoral dilemma unless GOP convention delegates rebel against Trump in favor of a more moderate and rational candidate. That’s probably wishful thinking, however, so I think we’re stuck with the two most unpopular presidential candidates in modern U.S. history — the co-founder of Clinton, Inc., vs. an undisciplined unguided missile aimed straight at the heart of American democracy. Help!
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.