[Pay attention to capitalization regarding my use of the words “Republican”—a member of the Republican Party—and “republican”—a member of the republic’s body of representatives.]
Republicans have lost all sense of republic. The GOP has nominated Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who promises a dictatorial end of the republic with transparent egotist motivations, and he might win the election tonight.
Fundamentally, Trump has no presidential aptitude, and the selling point behind his candidacy is that that’s the point. All of Trump’s Id energy goes into aggrandizing his terrible personality, and he is emotionally unstable as well as intellectually unqualified. He is simply a terrible presidential candidate: Republicans have failed the republic by not nominating an adequate republican.
America is intentionally a democratic republic because our Constitutional Framers had patrician sympathies and feared democratic mob rule that might someday pose a threat to property. Their great democratic achievement was founding a new state independent of any monarchic hierarchy, though the Framers had no intentions of allowing truly universal suffrage or pure democracy.
The Constitutional Framers included an upper chamber in the legislative body and an electoral college to check the impulsive whims of the populace, and, though they sought to protect the rights and privileges of the propertied class (senators weren’t even elected by the people until 1913), the understanding of our Constitutional Framers was that we would elect capable statesmen. That is the ideal of a democratic republic after all: to find and elect quality representatives to govern us.
Trump is not one. He is a tyrant masquerading as a populist—as tyrants typically do—and he is the democratic threat to the United States that the Framers sought to protect us against. “I alone can fix it” and “I am your voice” are exactly the kinds of sentiments our Founding Fathers and later the Framers looked to quash with their revolutionary, anti-monarchic, republican democracy striving to be a meritocracy (of sorts). Trump proposes policies and loose stewardship that will create a true oligarchy, like a semi-monarchic bourgeoisie in which he is at the alpha male top.
Trump’s authoritarianism is the contemporary adaption of America’s fear of a wannabe tyrant hijacking the American experiment in order to oppress the people with a neo-monarchy. His political career and sudden rise also happen to parallel a handful of infamous former racist dictatorships with a familiar mold. Trump’s fascism may be an uniquely American fascism—one based on gaudy, financial envy and the unashamed egotism of a television reality show celebrity—but his fascism is a threat nonetheless, especially as it comes via a surrealist theatrical production of sociopathic nativism.
Beneath the masquerade of his terrible personality, of course, is not a resolute visionary, but a little boy still struggling with his father’s coldness. He may be successful in hiding his self-consciousness from himself, even if it is obvious to others, but it is discomforting to watch Trump shrug off doubts, blame, fault, details, introspection, fact-checking, humility and civility while interviewing for the US presidency. He acts and reacts purely by reflex, and, even more damningly, he can’t ever take a joke.
The metaphor of #TrumpTrain is an apt one for his existence, as well as his campaign. If he ever stopped escalating any and every competition—perceived or imagined—he would have to brand himself a loser and perhaps implode like a supermassive black hole. So he can’t stop escalating everything, which is why the Clinton campaign has been so successful in luring him into rhetorical traps. He literally cannot help himself but charge for retaliation, and the Republican Party wants to pretend this is a guy who can handle nuclear responsibility.
It’s astounding because Trump’s major motivation in life is very obviously vengeance—Trump himself is fond of explaining this—and he’s been bailed out repeatedly throughout his business career simply because he was able to inflate himself until he was too big to fail. He has done the same thing with this election, culminating in his month of threatening to refuse to acknowledge his electoral defeat and flirting with the idea of provoking a sore-loser “anti-rigging” riot if he doesn’t win. Trump is a republican menace, and political science can measure the reality that he is not a republican. Republicans have outright failed their nation pretending he was ever even a Republican.
Given that Hillary Clinton is the favorite to win, it is ironic that the democratic aspect of our government might save America’s republic from the dictatorship that Trump’s personality will strive for if elected. Mob rule against Trump will replace the cowardly saboteurs in the Republican Party who looked the other way while a tyrant commandeered their party and threatened to imperialize the republic. The angry American mob has not the selfish, careerist interest in capitalizing on the voting base of an unashamed racist and sexist demagogue like the Republican Party.
The question is, will Trump accept a defeat? Or throw a tantrum? The people and our democracy are in the middle of deciding, but if they decide against Trump’s fascism and he acts like a baby about losing, Republicans will have one last chance to serve as genuine republicans by nipping a Trump riot in the bud. They must admit defeat concisely to deflate Trumpism.
It’s bad enough Republicans have allowed Trump to get this close to the presidency, but I suppose they can still redeem themselves in the event that the Trumpian #whinylittlebitch shit hits the fan. Our republic is at a pivotal moment in its history: what are Republicans going to do both tonight and tomorrow?
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.