Last August, Donald Trump came to Mobile, circling his “yuge” private jet around Ladd-Peebles Stadium a couple of times before getting out and stumping (or Trumping?) to a crowd of thousands.
The following week, I wrote this about it in my column …
Watching the thousands assembled listen to him, I don’t think he captured or inspired them one bit. In fact, if anything, he lost people he had. As he blathered on about Oreos and Billy Graham and Secretariat and self-aggrandized and self-aggrandized some more, by the end the crowd looked plain bored and like they had been at grandpa’s house a little too long. “Mom, is it time to go yet? PaPa is kind of funny when he says all of these inappropriate things, but now he just won’t shut up.”
And this is why Trump will ultimately fade away.
You can only go the circus so many times before even the most entertaining elephant starts making you yawn.
As he systematically took down the rest of the large Republican field and is now the presumptive nominee of the party, I guess it’s time for me to admit I was wrong. OK, OK, I was wrong. The entertaining elephant didn’t fade away. If anything, with each insult — Low-Energy Jeb, Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted — his orange star only shone brighter in the primary skies, as the others burned out.
And I kind of get it. I guess.
Trump’s appeal is that he seems authentic. Even though he flip-flops and makes statements on issues he later contradicts, or even says he didn’t make despite video evidence (which none of these other guys or gal would ever be allowed to do), somehow he still comes off as more “real” than other typical politicos, with their enormous staffs, overly polished speeches and poll-tested policies on everything. He just says whatever he is thinking — which I agree is refreshing. If only some of what he says wasn’t absolutely cray-cray.
However, I did think his role in this race would be beneficial in some ways, just not lasting. Beneficial because his style might have pushed all of the others to throw away their “how to run for president” handbooks and force them to speak more like human beings instead of political robots who have been programmed to speak in platitudes so as to not offend voters and/or donors, and to deflect when directly questioned about something difficult or even just something mildly uncomfortable. (Grrrr. The deflection is what drives me the craziest. Just answer the freakin’ question!)
And I think some of them even tried to do that but it didn’t matter. Attempts at authenticity came off as fake. It was too late. And while I am sure there are many voters who do actually subscribe to Trump’s more ridiculous and/or egregious plans — like the wall, immigration squads and Muslim ban — I think more of those who pulled the lever for him are just ready to blow the whole thing up rather than vote for more of the same. (I think they’re just hoping he’s j/k-ing on some of those.)
From sea to shining sea, it’s very easy to see the origin of this frustration and why people want to just set fire to the system, and it’s not just in national politics. Government is rotting at every level.
And it’s not a-few-black-spots-on-a banana kind of rotten. It’s more like that nasty water left in a vase after fresh flowers are left in it too long. You know what I am talking about. Or the venison-stuffed cabbage roll leftovers you accidentally left in a bag on a table in the office kitchen for a few weeks, the smell of which eventually made some of your coworkers gag. (It was me. I’m sorry! I took them out of the fridge to take home but I forgot!) It just goes to show you even something beautiful or tasty will go bad in the wrong conditions.
And the conditions in American government are ripe for the people running it to eventually become rank. The intoxicating feel of having one’s ass kissed constantly is just too hard to give up. Granted, the people doing the kissing are using you because they need you for something — probably to make money in some way – but that doesn’t matter – because it just feels so good. Not to mention all those sweet wine and cheese receptions and free travel.
And it starts at the local level. It’s the former well-meaning PTA council president mom who decides to run for city council so she can serve her community, but after a few years in office and climbing up another political rung or two, turns into a power-hungry monster more obsessed with her vanity projects and furthering her own career than the reason she got into politics in the first place. Or the retiree who got in the game to help his neighborhood but found out how sweet it is to travel all over the world on the taxpayer’s dime — you know, for “economic development.”
And our own state leadership right now is the very definition of what is wrong with American governance today. The heads of each branch are under investigation, indictment and/or about to be removed from office.
In addition to the garden-variety charges of personally gaining from public office, there is booby touching by geriatrics and even a drag queen named Ambrosia Starling involved. It would be funny if it wasn’t so very sad.
These branches are supposed to keep each other in check but since none of these leaders has the political prowess to do anything to the other right now, in typical Alabama fashion they’ll all probably manage to stay in office somehow. Or hell, we’ll probably be dumb enough to re-elect them even if they are removed. Oh wait, we’ve done that already, haven’t we? Geez. We really do deserve some of what we are getting, fellow ‘Bamians.
So yeah, I kind of get it. It is tempting to want to burn it all down. But we still have to be careful who we give the matches to, y’all.
I know, I know. For many of us, both of the choices for president are quite sad. It is depressing. Maybe I’ll just write in Ambrosia Starling. (J/k but that is a fantastic name.)