Donald Trump disrupted the stale two-party election system and plowed a new and different path through Federal government. Was it something that could last, or was he a flash of gas in the swamp?
Trump’s supporters like to point out that many good conservative goals were accomplished under his administration. They are quick to defend his brash manner by saying he is unfairly judged “for what he said rather than what he did.” But it was more than Trump’s sometimes crass, always ego-aggrandizing comments that caused him to lose the 2020 Presidential election.
While his tens of thousands of meaningless tweets were just so much jibber-jabber, Trump’s behavior was that of a spoiled 12-year-old rich kid. Ultra-successful business leaders like the Koch brothers, or Jack Welsh, or Warren Buffet, quietly take credit for their accomplishments in the form of the health of the ventures and the wealth it brings. Trump bristled at not being the center of attention and even performed look-at-me stunts equivalent to the antics of self-proclaimed celebrity reality show characters.
When the Big Pandemonium was first underway, Vice President Mike Pence was in charge of the Federal response. Pence quietly stepped out of the way at the daily news briefings with the parade of long-time bureaucrats making bold declarations about a virus they hardly understood. The first week of televised presentations were so well received that suddenly Trump had to step in. And that led to the string of embarrassing recommendations about antidotes involving harsh chemicals and other loony claims.
You see, Trump has to be the smartest guy in the room. Aside from his own valuation, he isn’t the smartest guy, just the one with the most money and power. He even likes to take credit for building his billion dollars of wealth, although most of it was inherited from his father in the form of New York real estate holdings.
Early on he filled government posts with capable people, recommended by politically savvy advisors. When a big ego employs someone who has a more specific expertise, the only measure of employee performance is loyalty. Trump’s idea of performance loyalty is doing anything he comes up with, even if it generates from the simple desire to test loyalty. Smart capable people won’t be managed that way, particularly in a world that runs entirely differently than the real estate business.
So by the end of his pilot season on Real Presidents of the White House, Trump had successfully replaced the major players and support staff with yes men so eager to curry favor they would have eaten Trump shit in public and called it caviar. All momentum was lost toward decreasing the size of government and the overreach of lifelong bureaucrats.
Is it wise for someone so keen on staying squarely in the spotlight to act out his personal fantasy of greatness so boldly? No matter who sits in the Oval Office, today’s multimedia scrutiny makes it impossible for even the smallest act to go undetected. Once brought into the light, each and every move is scrutinized, spun, misinterpreted, and promulgated in a dozen forms in a hundred directions.
After a 2016 election in which 46 percent of people who were eligible to vote stayed home, the 2020 version saw the largest turnout in history. We can give Trump due credit for the voting surge. We also must give him credit for the victory of the tired old Democratic National Committee puppet.
Because both the major parties have contrived a system in which only they have a real chance at electoral recognition in each state, the only opposition to Trump was the pathetic offering who now glints at the camera and carefully reads his lines. He was the actual choice of very few voters. But millions of people who cast legitimate ballots on Election Day were voting against Trump.
Ironically, this was a reverse of Trump’s unexpected victory in 2016, when millions of voters rejected the option of allowing Hillary Rodham Clinton to ruin America in ways even Grampa Joe’s team couldn’t cook up.
Sadly, there has been no end to the nonsense about election fraud that Trump floated before the election to set a groundwork for the nonsense that followed the election. Even while promoting himself as the champion of the Republican Party, he continues the divisive chatter that more and more in the GOP want distance from.
The recent revelation that Trump knowingly continued his re-election campaign activities despite having COVID-19 has two takeaways. One, it shows that no matter what the situation, Trump puts his need for attention ahead of the safety and well-being of others. Secondly, when he finally submitted to hospitalization, his oxygen levels were so low that he was near death.
Trump is a worn wheel, constantly veering off course, and making the same tired squeaks. There is no oil that can fix this.
The Republicans need to find a younger, politically savvy and focused hardliner to head the party, and it needs to happen now. First, the nation needs faith in the GOP so that the mid-terms can overcome the Democratic majority in the House, and break the stalemate in the Senate. Instead of the long-worn-out practice of electing the oldest head to lead in each branch of Congress, find the strongest and best voice for change.
Then, in 2024, bring in someone who can quickly undo as much of the horrible economic and social mess that will be created between now and then, and then turn to downsizing the beast that is the Federal bureaucracy while upturning America’s place in the world order. I don’t know who that will be, but I would like our business leaders to pick their champions and let the jousting begin.