Trump versus Democracy

The Trump campaign is a huge mess, the candidate went from suffering of pathological narcissism to being politically bipolar, the spokespeople and surrogates are the most aggressive and the least truthful in recent US history, prominent Republicans are defecting in droves, and all of this can be blamed on a biased press and a rigged process.  Trump came out of the GOP convention with a modest bump in the polls, but succeeded in making it disappear faster than Michael Phelps collected his medals in Rio.  He attacked the Muslim parents of a US Army captain who died in Iraq, presented an economic plan that would only benefit the super-rich and increase the deficit by trillions, suggested that gun owners might assassinate Hillary Clinton before she appoints Supreme Court judges, and insisted that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the co-founders of ISIS.  While thus presenting himself to the nation as the Republican nominee Trump gave up his attempts to stay on message with the help of a teleprompter, which per Matthew Dowd had turned him into a tranquilized circus lion, and went back to his old ways as an orange baboon with rabies.

According to recent reporting in the New York Times Trump’s inner circle has desperately tried to protect him from his worst instincts, but in spite of promises by the nominee that he would heed their advice they have only seen him slip deeper into the intellectual and moral morass where he is most comfortable.  It has reached the point where there is serious speculation that Trump is deliberately trying to lose the election, apparently because he fluctuates between moments of deep depression, when he’s resigned to returning to his life as a real estate huckster, and manic episodes of self-aggrandizement, when he really believes that only he can save the nation but simultaneously feels that the nation doesn’t deserve him.  As self-destructive as Trump has become, however, it is unlikely that he will throw the election or withdraw from it.  For someone with Trump’s competitive juices and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, being perceived as a loser is the worst thing that can happen, so creating a narrative that explains his upcoming loss in November and absolves him from any responsibility is his absolute priority.

The first part of that narrative is blaming the press.  Triggered by the New York Times article but with a halo that covers all of the media Trump is now attacking the political press for being fundamentally dishonest.  As an example, this morning his campaign manager Paul Manafort complained in an interview that not more attention has been given to Trump’s economic plan, disregarding that the launching of the plan was immediately followed by the assassination and ISIS remarks.

The second part of that narrative is blaming the election process, and this is where it becomes really dangerous.  Trump has already declared that if he loses Pennsylvania, where he is ten points behind in the polls, it can only be as a result of fraud, and he has called upon his followers to monitor polling stations to make sure that the same voters don’t go in there more than once.

A free press and the freedom to vote without intimidation are essential ingredients of every democracy.  The press can largely take care of itself, but how about minority voters in open-carry states who find some of Trump’s goons with AR-15s on their way to the voting booth?

Hugo Kijne

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