Many of us can remember exactly where we were when we heard Ronald Reagan was shot, and most of us can recount with exacting detail where we were on September 11, 2001, when we heard America was attacked by terrorists. So too will you, if you’re a conservative, never forget where you were when you heard Ted Cruz had suspended his 2016 presidential campaign, creating a collective conservative convulsion that plunged the party into the mother of all existential crises.
No one single person is responsible for the current death throes of the Republican Party, and so much has been written about who’s to blame. Suffice it to say, many conservatives are looking at a very different 2016 Republican presidential ticket than they’d hoped for.
The coming doom has good people fed up with the whole process; some are leaving the GOP because it no longer represents principled conservative ideology. As conservatives take stock of the long game—four more years perhaps worse than the previous eight—there will be undoubted despair. Not without good reason. It’s a bleak outlook.
But there is always hope, even if that hope only serves to make us laugh a little while we collect our bearings and regroup. So I’ve collected six upsides to a Donald Trump presidential candidacy that is, without a doubt, the most sensational spectacle since Wendell Willkie switched parties to steal the primary from Robert Taft and Thomas Dewey.
Even in 1940 the Republican establishment frowned on upstart industrialists wading into the GOP pool, but not even the #stopwilkie hashtags could prevent his ultimate convention victory six ballots later. Anyhoo, nothing new under the sun and all that. Here is the Internet’s contribution to a positive outlook on the Trump versus Hillary election.
1. The Drama Will Rival Reality TV
As Heather Wilhelm points out in the Chicago Tribune, “Many Americans enjoy watching reality TV because the characters tend to be slightly insane people with an amazing lack of self-awareness. Well, cheer up, America: It will be just like watching the presidential debates!” If any of you watched the presidential debates, you know exactly what she means.
If not, let me summarize them by saying this: it often took tantric-like mental ability to find meaningful information amid the fatuous silliness that frequently ensued. It effectively made the debates more entertaining than informative—a fact that played extremely well to Trump’s strengths while doing nothing for the genuinely interested voter trying to narrow the choices.
None of that matters now, of course. We have Trump, and if past behavior is a good predictor of future action (which it is), he won’t disappoint. I imagine the Trump-Clinton bust-ups will make everyone older than 40 nostalgic for “your momma” jokes.
That said, I’m hoping they both choose the low road. I’ve long since given up on the dream of two adults running for president. Now I just want to be entertained. Seriously, don’t be at all discouraged by the depths of depravity plumbed during this election. It might almost be worth it just to see Trump get so far under Hillary’s skin she explodes on the debate stage like the angry, nasty woman she is behind closed doors.
2. The Only Candidate One Can Compare to Cage Fighters
I have for years lamented the lack of street sense our Republican candidates consistently fail to demonstrate. It’s like they don’t understand politics is a blood sport. This may be why Trump appears so well-suited to the task. According to David Sable and Will Johnson at CNN, “Trump may be the first major U.S. political candidate to break this mold. He has embraced this very kind of ironic, over-the-top messaging that comes with a wink and a nudge and a clear subtext.”
Perhaps it’s because no one since Reagan has been willing to call crap crap that we mistake bravado for bravery, but Trump has managed to convince people with almost no evidence that he is up for the challenge of reclaiming America’s greatness. As Sable and Johnson write, “Trump sells himself as the man who will use any and all means necessary to ‘make America great again’ — without explaining exactly how he will do it.”
Like a dying star getting sucked into a blustering black hole, so too does Trump’s magnetism pull people away from the mountain of evidence that contradicts every claim made about his conservatism. Trump has a powerful, almost Barack Obama-like ability that blinds people into seeing only what they want to see.
In an attempt to better understand Trump and his followers, Sable and Johnson look to the market research of Young and Rubicam, who “surveyed and studied Trump’s consumer brand for many years through surveys and other market research. Crunch Trump’s scores on the dozens of traits surveyed, and he lines up perfectly with one of the world’s most distinctive brands: Ultimate Fighting Championship.”
There you have it, folks. Trump most closely aligns with cage fighting. Does this not explain everything about his mass appeal? Forget well-reasoned arguments and principled policy positions, or having the first clue what you’re talking about. GIVE US THUNDERDOME!
3. Donald Trump May Be a Greek God
This just might be my favorite upside: Donald Trump as a god. Please don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger. Scott Whitlock from News Busters outs “Good Morning America’s” Matthew Dowd for proposing this idea.
In response to George Stephanopoulos’s question about Trump’s chances in the general election, Dowd gave us this gem: “It’s almost as if this is, like, out of Greek mythology, right? The development of Donald Trump. Where the titans of the GOP establishment gave birth to Donald Trump through their actions and inactions and now the son of a titan has slain his father like Zeus and rules over Mount Olympus. And now he is headed to an epic battle against Hillary Clinton. So he starts off at a serious disadvantage, but I don’t think we can understand Donald Trump’s ability in this sphere.”
He didn’t say what mythological creature Hillary would be in this scenario, but if I may speculate for a moment I peg her as Hydra.
4. Opportunities for Beautiful Metaphors
I have no issue with conservatives who want to construct some kind of understanding amid the chaos. Many conservatives are trying to wrap their brains around what just happened, and what better literary tool than a metaphor to help make sense of things. I suspect we’ll see many iterations of Thomas Lifson’s metaphor of Trump the builder.
Trump’s chosen profession, building, is an apt metaphor for what needs to be done for the GOP and America. Before you can build a new building on the urban sites Trump prefers, you have to tear down what was there before. Some heavy-duty political demolition needs to be undertaken. The Republican Party was locked into a downward spiral, with Democrats having re-engineered the voting population in their favor, importing millions of immigrants lacking the skills necessary to prosper in a 21st century economy, and therefore dependent on subsidies from a big government that would buy their fealty in return for the votes to keep big government’s handmaidens in power forever.
But I’m also hoping people will get dive deep and dazzle us with really creative ones. If you’ll allow, I have an example: “Trump’s chosen a comb-over, an apt metaphor for what we need our next president to do. We need someone who can comb over past wrongs; bringing this country desperately needed healing. Those flaxen follicles that reach across the forehead, spanning ear to ear, are a powerful symbol of how Trump will reach across the aisle, uniting our ears in bipartisan glory.”
5. Congress Might Not Completely Implode
If you’re concerned that Trump is going to tank any hopes of keeping a conservative Congress intact, fear not. Jennifer Rubin has outlined for us how a Trump candidacy might help win seats in the House and Senate, or at the very least, not totally decimate our chances.
Republicans should not be shy about ticket-splitting, actively encouraging voters who might agree Clinton is the lesser of two evils to split their ticket. A Republican House and/or Senate is like buying an insurance policy that Clinton won’t have untrammeled latitude on spending, the budget, taxes, etc. [Senator] Portman, for example, could argue he would not allow Clinton to go hog-wild on spending whereas his opponent Ted Strickland would be a chief enabler of fiscal excess. [Senator] Ayotte could argue that in order to make certain Clinton’s tougher rhetoric on Iran is more than just for show, she and not her opponent Maggie Hassan (who supported the Iran deal) should be in the Senate.
6. The First Lady—Amirite?
America has a long standing tradition of lovely first ladies. With few exceptions, they have graciously served America, making the the White House (and their husbands’ administrations) seem more accessible, warm, and inviting. They are definitely the more relatable part of the presidential pair.
We’ve watched them read to little ones, garden, wrestle with personal struggles, and endure horrific tragedy, all on the nation’s stage. But we’ve never had a euro-chic relatable first lady before. Reminiscent of Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy, Melania Trump brings with her the European allure of powerful men, and their supermodel amour intérêt.
In this way, Donald Trump would make the presidency more like Europe than any previous president has. I think this will definitely resonate with progressives.