Life has a way of taking you by surprise. Sooner or later, one has to unload (respectfully amended) or get off the pot.
From the moment Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States in the 2016 Elections, I resisted opining over all the political herbage that followed. What ensued was a media circus that rivals Super Bowl games or visits from Bishops of Rome.
As a former fan of Celebrity Apprentice, I surmised that the real estate tycoon was merely toying with ideology and testing the waters in unfamiliar territory — all with a clear-cut goal in mind: expansion of his Trump brand while taking so-called Washington elites and other privileged byproducts of cronyism to school. It’s classic egocentricity and textbook narcissism at its best, especially for a man who used a “small loan” of a million dollars from his father and parlayed it into a real estate empire.
Furthermore, I reasoned that the political landscape was saturated with a large enough mix of competent pundits and spin-doctors on the left and right. Any decision to get caught up in the minutia over Republican, Democratic and Progressive fisticuffs (and expect to be heard) would not be a road less traveled. And believe me, I enjoy giving a go of things lightly whenever possible.
Trump’s brand is trash. It’s no longer about winning. It’s about abusing people–verbally, physically, financially https://t.co/a6oiXa0Hac
— Richard Hine (@richardhine) October 16, 2016
Full disclosure: the urge to dive in and toss literary Molotov cocktails at Trump was tempting on many occasions. Still, the thought of being trapped in Los Angeles-esque congestion like a traffic sycophant deterred me at every juncture.
Along comes a movie, and the tide of compulsion suddenly changed; I felt duty-bound to reconnoiter Donald Trump’s candidacy and the Republican Party — what’s left of the latter. Of course, I dare not compare my level of influence on the social landscape to our current First Lady, but I did nothing differently than Michelle Obama who, until recently, stayed in her lane and allowed her husband to make the case against Donald Trump.
For many, James Cameron’s 1997 Titanic is a motion picture that touched our hearts and served as the archetypal love story between a highborn woman and a handsome drifter. As an avid cognoscente of art — albeit of the smallest of dimensions — my attention lies less on the romantic interludes and more on the film’s fact checking.
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) October 5, 2016
Somehow, after nearly two decades, I still haven’t healed from Cameron’s oversight and pompous attitude with several pieces of global treasures, namely Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” painting. The artwork became the subject of controversy; despite the Picasso Estate’s refusal of Cameron’s request to use a reproduction in the film, the award-winning director proceeded without authorization. The nerve!
As multiple sources — including the Daily Edge — wrote, the vintage painting never appeared on the real RMS Titanic. So much for my inconsequential bickering about the British passenger liner, right?
I mention the film because of its emblematic comparisons to the Trump campaign and the quandary that has taken GOP operatives by surprise.
Recall that the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (Titanic’s operator at the time) boasted about the ship as being impregnable to sinking. The media ran with the story; future passengers rallied to be first on the maiden voyage and competitors balked at the idea. Based on its ideology, focus on macro matters and being the “Party of Lincoln,” the Republican Party — for years — believed it too was impervious to going under.
On the former, we know the truth; the storied ocean liner sank. On the latter, it’s only a matter of time before the evanescent organization meets a similar fate — unless it reinvents itself. I’m not merely suggesting that party leaders toss out the old, usher in the new, mix in a trifle bit of potpourri and think all is well.
Like a quotidian nightmare, the GOP has to contend with a mercurial nominee — puerile at times — who channels a third world dictator with a proclivity for misogynist, racist and xenophobic rhetoric at times. Alone, lifeboats are not the prescription to save the decaying party, which will in all likelihood, be left for dead in Trump’s wake.
It’s all but a foregone conclusion that Hillary Clinton — despite her chameleon-like persona, charges of pragmatism and alleged disconnection with the truth at times — will be the next and first female President of the United States. I temper my pessimism because there’s always the chance that a last-minute “October Surprise” derails her return to the White House.
One only has to recall how Ronald Reagan upset the incumbent Jimmy Carter for president. Republicans often tout “The Gipper” for his hallowed presidency, it’s worth drawing on his monumental victory to illustrate how things aren’t always as they seem.
“Much of the hatred toward Hillary… (caused by) campaign of lies against her that depend on calling her the liar” https://t.co/LaASGDyOhy
— Richard Hine (@richardhine) October 16, 2016
A week before the 1980 Elections, Carter held a comfortable 8-point lead over his GOP rival. Things fell apart in shocking fashion, as ATI wrote, for the Democratic president after the contest’s lone debate. Using his Hollywood acting skills and command in front of the camera, Reagan usurped the election and nearly ran the table: voters from 44 of 50 states flocked to him in voting booths. In a way — without taking a subtle shot at Carter — the peanut farmer crashed and burned much like Nixon did against Kennedy during the first-ever televised presidential debate.
In other words, stranger things have happened — and lifelines are sometimes the Hail Mary passes that seals the deal when political parables fall short. This example is not a “surprise” in the literal sense of the term, but it is worth noting how things can turn on a dime in politics rather quickly.
Donald Trump and his Republican Party are going to need some heart-to-heart pillow talk to right a listing ship.
The New Republic summed up the commingled plight best.
“Like a wounded animal, Trump is becoming ever fiercer even as his faces the prospect of his own political extinction. Trying to link Hillary Clinton to her husband’s alleged sexual misconduct is no way to win an election. It will rile up the hard-core Republican base, sure—and it will offend the very voters (college-educated women) that he needs to win back to have a shot at becoming President.”
Make no mistake here: Donald Trump is not qualified to be this country’s next leader. Of course, if you’re among the 14 or so million voters who supported him during the Republican primaries, my opinion of his leadership potential falls on deaf ears and I’m uniquely unqualified to be a judge of who’s fit to lead and who isn’t.
Fair enough. I’ll give you that.
To the extent The Donald has “views,” they run counter to the Republic for which we all stand. Like a doctor who provides a faulty diagnosis, Trump’s prognosis and strategies for making the country “great again,” is rife with dangers, one of which is global instability and threats of warfare.
My critique is less of an indictment of Trump — the person — than it is of his ability to: build coalitions, strike at the heart of partisan politics and rid Washington of oligarchs and plutocrats to Make American Great Again.
Unlike the unsinkable Titanic, Donald Trump and the Republican Party — the Party of Lincoln — have time to prevent the hull from going under. But have they, unlike the fateful ship, taken an accurate account of lifeboats needed to stall red states from submerging and going blue?
The operative word is “stall.”
[Featured Image by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images]