I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the whole idea of Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican candidate for president in the 2016 election. In analyzing his (to me) unexpected victory, it’s easy enough to point fingers at the media, which gave him unlimited air time; at Fox, which turned into his personal campaign channel (and lost its rating status to CNN as a result); and at those cross-over Democrats in open primaries who, out of principled conviction or pure mischief, gave him the delegates he needed.
Nevertheless, Thomas Lifson, one of the smartest men I know, is on to something more profound when he says that Trump represents a sledgehammer that voters have taken to an irredeemably corrupt political system:
Let’s face it: America has been locked into a downward spiral under the permanent grip that a corrupt system has had on power. Politicians bent on reform, representing voters demanding it, arrive in Washington, DC only to discover the impossibility of breaking the hold on the levers of governance of lobbyists, bureaucrats, and politicians in their pockets. Washington, DC thrives, becoming the richest city in the country, as most of the rest of the nation stagnates and declines. Businesses discover that it is far more important to cultivate government support than to innovate. Rent seeking becomes the path to riches.
Ted Cruz, who deserves enormous credit for suspending his campaign last night, swallowing his anger over Trump’s escalating personal attacks on him and his family, has demonstrated the futility of reforming the federal government from the inside. A man of fierce intelligence and determination, he ran into a buzz saw in the Senate, and became the most hated man there in decades. He stood up for principle, but was unable to move Congress in his (and conservatives’) direction.
A strong majority of Americans across the ideological spectrum understand how broken the system is. Something like two-thirds of the electorate realize that the federal government is working to protect those who grease its wheels and feather its nest. Nobody exemplifies this corrupt system better than Hillary Clinton, now the Democrats’ presumptive nominee (again, barring black swan events).
Separate from Trump’s politics, which are an ever-evolving swirl of conservative and Progressive ideas, Trump didn’t just criticize the existing system, he alternatively savaged and exulted in it. He rode roughshod over political correctness, but he also boasted that as an active participant in America’s political corruption from the other side (the business, not the political side) he knew how to deal with it. He simultaneously represented himself as both player and destroyer.
Looking at Trump’s political views. . . . Let me begin again, given that Trump’s political views change with the polls and the interviewer’s questions. He also lies about them, as he’s done regarding illegal immigration. He railed against it, but he’s always been an amnesty kind of guy. Still, given what seem to be his sort of fixed political views for the time being, here are what I see as the most optimistic scenario of a Trump presidency: