Colson: Trump ain’t no steamroller
Criminy, no wonder Donald J. Trump’s most common expression is one of triumphant glee.
He has pretty much convinced an awful lot of people (not me, though) that he’s a virtual political steamroller, flattening all who stand in his way on the highway to the White House.
The words “unstoppable” and “unrivaled” tend to crop up with nauseating frequency in the print, broadcast and online media covering the 2016 presidential race, in reference to Trump’s momentum.
But the plain fact of the matter is that the support for Trump, as expressed by Republican primary voters so far, really is akin to a fly on a hyena’s rear end.
True, The Donald continues to stoke the anger of certain voters about a wide range of issues, playing on the worst aspects of human nature — bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, xenophobia and extreme ethnocentrism, among them — but this is not the first time such tactics have been used, and used pretty effectively.
Think back to 2010, when Barack Obama was slogging through the uphill challenge of getting his Affordable Care Act made into law, against a seemingly “unstoppable” barrage of hate and racist-tinged backwash.
It was the Tea Party that at that point was illustrating the very attitudes and prejudices that Trump is playing on now.
Remember when the Tea Party protestors engaged in a remarkably nasty display of contempt and thuggery on the steps of the Capitol that March? Remember the blisteringly hate-filled faces of the protestors as they were captured by national television cameras?
Racial epithets were flying when one of the protestors, clearly carried away by an inflated sense of his own importance, actually spit on U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) as he walked up the steps to do his job and vote on the health care bill.
Another representative, Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the only openly gay member of Congress at the time, was subjected to catcalls and shouts of “faggot” and other niceties by the gathered bigots at that same time.
Looking back, I’m surprised Trump did not go on national television in support of the teabaggers, even offering to pay their court costs should they face criminal charges for their outrageous behavior.
Back then, as now, the Tea Party actually made up a relatively small slice of the overall electorate. It was thanks to Republican gerrymandering of Congressional districts that the teabaggers managed to grow from a minor if very loud segment of the party into the nation-shaking, brawling and bawling behemoth that they have become.
Some might think it was at that point that the Republican Party bosses lost control of their constituents, though I happen to believe it happened somewhat earlier, when the Koch brothers started pouring money and organizational clout on the political conflagration that spawned the Tea Party in the 2008 election.
It was then that the fires of racial hatred became truly enflamed and started to burn away at the roots of any semblance of Republican rationality.
That, to me, was the beginning of an inexorable growth of insanity among “the base,” as Republicans once liked to call the party faithful.
And now, a mere seven years later, the ducks of bigotry and extremism have come home to roost.
The Tea Party has infiltrated Congress to an alarming degree, and others have followed the teabaggers’ lead. It was South Carolina racist, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson who, egged on by Tea Party rhetoric and bile, in 2009 twice shouted out that Obama was a “liar” during the president’s speech to a joint session of Congress.
So the Republicans, eager to unleash the dogs of war against that black man who now sits in the White House and anyone who might ever have agreed with him, were the ones who made the political bed we all now sleep in.
Over the past week, some of the talking heads of radio and television have been busily de-Trumpifying members of an anxious and doom-talking electorate, pointing out that the ongoing train wreck that is the Republican primary process is not necessarily the end of democracy as we know it and that Trump does not have a lock on the presidency.
Locally, on our own little community access radio station, KDNK in Carbondale, I heard that local consultant and DJ Bob Schultz (who is not, specifically, a political operative but who has dabbled in political actions) tried to calm a nervous caller by pointing out that Trump really has tapped into only a small percentage of the broader electorate.
On National Public Radio, pundits also have been striving to downplay the strength of Trump’s power play.
The juggernaut of cable television, of course, happily plays up the Trump phenomenon, in its greedy bid for ever-higher ratings and ad revenue, which gives Trump and his devotees an outsized image.
But the only way Trump can win the Republican nomination and the White House is if all the rest of us throw up our hands and stay away from the polls in November, whether out of disgust or fatigue.
It’s that simple.
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