It’s turning out to be a peculiar August for the Western world in which a much-needed break is proving elusive as school nights close in on post-Brexit uncertainties and continuing terrorist tensions.
A paralysis of disbelief at America’s presidential predicament is keeping alternative summer reading at its most peripheral. Historical subjects translate into analogies for today’s events and sting rather than soothe with their foresight, like a wasp nest under the deck chair. Holiday destinations feel more like a return to The Grand Budapest Hotel with nationalism on the rise across Europe and authoritarian clouds now hanging darkly over America’s standing in the world.
Many of us are done with reading about Donald Trump. It is more than evident who and what he is: a fruitcake narcissist who hates, lies, cheats, fails, insults, knows nothing, and offers zero detail on his inhumane solutions to a nation’s unease and frustrations. His foreign policy, based on “lots of people are saying,” would jeopardize worldwide economic and environmental stability, and his “trigger” finger could plunge the planet into the abyss when his doctrine on nuclear weapons is, “If we have them, why can’t we use them?” Everything that can be said about him has been said. He has been medically diagnosed to the point of being certifiable. Jimmy Fallon should play him in a movie.
But Germany’s history of accumulated defeats in the early 20th century shows that humiliation is a dangerous sentiment, especially Trump’s thin-skinned variety which has intensified since his public dressing down by President Obama at last year’s White House Correspondents dinner. Trump used the Republican primaries to lock hearts with the under-educated American white male, belittled by stagnating wages and struggling with a multicultural and more gender-equal society. The parallels with 1938 are haunting. Virginia Cowles, an American correspondent at the time, described British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s inability to understand the popularity of a “curious, rather unbalanced sort of creature” who, it was thought, could be managed by “clever handling” amid public opinion that was “manufactured and fashioned overnight to suit the purpose of the moment.”
Cowles was just one of many exasperated journalists who wrote then about the maniacal delusions of power that threatened Germany’s constitution while the public “drifted back to normalcy.” Today’s opinion columns and editorials groan under the weight of their warnings about Trump as a sociopath, a despot, a draft dodger, a racist, and a Republican stooge gone awry. Slate.com has published 173 reasons why Trump is unfit to be president. Yet what is as consistent as Trump’s jaw-dropping inconsistencies is the real possibility that he will be elected.
The problem is that those Op-Eds are echoing the kindred spirits of their readership. Trump’s disenfranchised supporters are not seeing the flashing red light. Hillary Clinton’s “stronger together” message to counteract Trump divisiveness recalls David Cameron’s “better together” slogan in the EU Referendum that proved to be the last thing Brexit voters cared about. Neither will Trump’s general despicableness win her the election, including his latest insensitivity towards the parents of an American Muslim’s fallen soldier which appear to have dented his post-convention ratings.
Republican billionaire donors might be desisting from Trump campaign contributions, but it is the core of his voting public, and its fulsome flow of real money in online donations between $10 and $50, amounting to $82 million in July, that could still help vote him in.
Republican representatives seeking reelection to Congress should practice real party unity and abandon Trump now, rather than jumping like fleas off the dead back of his campaign if he loses, or risking the consequences of his victory in order to secure one deciding conservative supreme court judge. In the words of the Illinois Representative, Republican Adam Kinzinger, who is voting for Hillary Clinton, “I don’t think I can get there anymore … I’m an American before I’m a Republican.”
Alienating Trump voters and possibly losing control of Congress would be a huge setback for a fractured Republican Party, but preferable to those broken shards of political dysfunction landing on everyone else. The time has come for his party to publicly dump Trump and uphold all that good stuff America professes to have—a conscience, a sense of public duty, and a respect for life, liberty, and each individual’s inalienable right to pursue a better future.