Friday, November 1, 2019

The Unnoticed Element of Republican Support for Trump

A fundamental issue has come to a head in the age of Trump without attracting any notice at all. The Left, in its chaotic fury, has overlooked it, and the never-Trump Right, in its slowly unfolding acknowledgement of the dynamics that brought us here, has not yet processed it.

Republicans have always been comfortable with the notion of a figurehead president: a boobish frontman who signs the paperwork while presenting a likable persona to the public (keeping them on-hook for policies benefitting a small coterie of plutocrats).
Why? Because the Ayn Rand-ish wing which has come to dominate the party doesn't want smart government run by smart people with smart ideas, because that tends to be expansive. Better a dim functionary firmly tied into The Program.
Senile second term Reagan suited them just fine (as did disinterested shallow first term Reagan). Same goes for brash pinhead George W Bush, with Cheney quietly pulling his strings. And I scarcely need mention Sarah Palin, potentially a heartbeat from office.

It's not that Republican leaders go out of their way to anoint figurehead boob frontmen (Romney, McCain, Dole, and elder Bush had bona fides). But they don't mind them. Democrats, by contrast, have never once run (much less elected) a figurehead (Carter might have been weak, but he was highly involved and detail-oriented - to a fault, even).

A reasonable chunk of the mystery of enduring Republican support for Trump - from the leaders who secretly despise him to the voters dutifully roused by the floor show - is accounted for by the fact that the proposition of a lost child in the Oval is no shock to Republican leaders, power brokers, and media. Trump is merely a particularly poor iteration - a deranged and damaged lost child - of an entirely acceptable scenario.

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