There was a debate Sunday night. It was the lowest rated debate in decades. Perhaps after the first, people passed on tuning in because many figured they’d seen it all. They saw enough to significantly move polls in Secretary Clinton’s favor. Then came the Access Hollywood video. That debacle has moved the numbers even more in Clinton’s favor.
Over that weekend there was a Titanic moment where you had multiple Republicans jumping ship with no lifeboats in reach. They expressed outrage over what Don said. He’d finally gone a bridge too far. This after Trump’s record in his meteoric rise made a point of insulting and alienating nearly everyone but White blue collar men. And White Supremacists. And people who think Drudge, Breitbart and Infowars are legitimate news sources. And so on. And so on.
One thing none of those incensed over Trump would ever admit is they created and own The Donald. Years of Limbaugh and Hannity and the off the rails rants on conservative talk radio built him. Lie by lie. Slur by slur. Conspiracy by conspiracy. Now they are surprised and horrified the creation is beyond their control.
There is no real point in breaking down the last debate. Pundits have parsed, pontificated, preached and overanalyzed it to death. There’s one thing that stays with me. Sunday may have been the first major crack in our electoral process. It may have been the first tentative step towards the US devolving into a Banana Republic. Am I guilty of hyperbole? Could I be overreacting? I hope so.
What has me so disturbed?
Sunday night, on live TV, the Presidential Candidate of a major political party promised to jail the opposition candidate if elected. Let that sink in. If he had his way Clinton would be in jail. In the two centuries our Republic has existed that has NEVER happened. Ever. Even in what may have been the most vicious election prior to this one. That was the 1800 contest between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Acrimonious as it was neither candidate threatened to jail the other.
But now, in the 21st Century we have this threat. It runs counter to our history. It runs counter to what we stand for as a Nation. Or what we used to stand for.
Trump has doubled down on the promise to order his Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor, or as it is actually known, an Independent Counsel.
Trump’s crowd cheers,”Lock her up”.
T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons repeat that chant, tossing in ‘Hillary for Prison”.
Jailing political opponents is something that happens in repressive, dictatorial states. Jails and gulags. That’s why Putin has, as Trump marveled, an 85% approval rating. I am in awe of the 15% who disapproved.
Trump is saying if he loses the election is rigged. This fans the flames of his most extreme supporters to refuse to accept the results. That in itself is dangerous. On Tuesday at a rally with Mike Pence, a woman citing voter fraud, said if HRC wins she supports a revolution. Pence told not her say that.
Trump wants his diehard supporters to watch to watch for fraud. He says,”you know where.” He also says you know what I’m talking about. That’s not a dog whistle, it’s a symphony orchestra of racism. That’s also a recipe for violence at polling places.
The world has always looked at the American political system as the gold standard. Peaceful transition of power. No rounding up people from the losing party. No coups. You could count on America, flawed as it is, to be a political system to be trusted abroad. Trump has blown that up.
Our allies are nervous and appalled at the prospect, dimming as it is, of a Trump Presidency.
Trump’s followers cheer when he vilifies the press for being unfair. They threaten the press corps at rallies as The Donald singles out reporters that dare print the truth. Katie Tur of NBC had to be escorted out of a rally for her own safety by Donnie’s Secret Service Contingent. Pretty sure that’s a first. He’s banned newspapers and other news outlets. Trump has called for weakening libel and slander laws so he can sue those who don’t toe the line.
Trump is a cafeteria Constitutionalist. The 2nd Amendant is sacred and under mortal threat. Everything else seems to be a suggestion that can be discarded when inconvenient.
As a lot of the GOP jump ship Trump responds with the bravado of a political strong man, in the mold of Mussolini. railing at the cowardly, corrupt establishment. It has gotten so bad Rachel Maddow reported on Tuesday fundraisers were being cancelled as donors recoil. Even Gov. Pence can’t lure them in.
With less a month to go, rather than usual GOTV pushes he declares war on the Republican Party. In a campaign of firsts, the Republican nominee throws the party under the bus. He openly says anyone not supporting him should be voted out. Trump tells the world the Party doesn’t know how to win so he’ll teach them how it’s done.
Everyone who treated this despot wanna be as a joke is complicit. That’s pretty much all of us. He wasn’t taken seriously. The Huffington Post decided to cover him in entertainment rather than politics. Conventional wisdom said this was a vanity campaign that would fizzle out after New Hampshire. After all Jeb had a lock on the nomination.
Now here we are. A candidate calling for arrest and incarceration of his opponent. A man who wondered if we had nukes why don’t we use them. A man with ties to Russia through campaign aides. A man who Russia is trying to elect with hacks, leaks of doctored and forged emails, printing propaganda in Sputnik, the english language arm of the Russian government and FSU. After all a lot of The Donald’s stances fulfill a wish list for Putin.
Now something that a month ago was unthinkable seems poised to happen. A Democratic landslide. If Don’s supporters heed his call to not support down ballot candidates there is a chance to flip the House. Here in Ohio if they do as told, even in this GOP Gerrymandered Paradise, a few seats may flip.
Could we see the end of the GOP as we know it? The Establishment is being cornered by the Trump wing. Following November the party could split in a bloody civil war. The Trump voter isn’t going anywhere. If anything they are feeling liberated. The hateful rhetoric of these people has been mainstreamed. They are flexing their muscles, ready to be a major force in politics. If they follow the Tea party template we’ll see them start local and move up to state offices and the House seats.
The Old Guard of the GOP will be locked in a fight for the soul of the party.
By declaring war on the Republican Party Trump is bragging he’s no longer shackled. He also is no longer, if he ever was, moored to political reality. In the next month calling for Hillary’s arrest may be only the tip of this iceberg aimed at the party for which Trump carries the standard. Today it appears Trump is prepared to burn the party down and stand triumphant on the smoldering ruins.
By declaring war on the GOP he is effectively declaring on the America we know. We are in uncharted territory.
Don’t assume the possibility of a rout means you don’t need to vote. That is how people like Trump pull off a surprise win. Complacency is our worst enemy. Get out there and vote. Register people. Drive voters to the polls. Drag friends and family to the polls. This isn’t just an election, it’s a referendum on what kind of country we’ll live in.
Mapmakers of old would at times pen a warning where the map went blank because of unknown lands. The message?
Here be dragons.
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