Trump - Can it please be over?

C. Fraser Smith, BridgeTower Media Newswires

The Founders anticipated Donald Trump — or someone with sufficient guile and power to steal democracy.

Franklin and Jefferson and Washington knew we would have to be engaged to survive a random stealth attack. We were for a time. Then we forgot.

Even so, the original system has operated well. One might also observe it’s been on autopilot — or in the hands of remarkably few people.

Parties, ward heelers, kitchen cabinets, bosses, congressmen and well-intended people of power, resources and judgement have kept faith. Checks and balances have worked well in and out of government.

And yet it has not always kept pace with changes in society.

Americans were more tuned in to politics before “the media” arrived — before television created leaders who could vault over the usual ways of winning popular support. Ronald Reagan, of course, comes to mind.
The Gipper went over the top to the voters via movies. We knew him, his shock of hair, his aw, shucks way of dealing with Russian leaders (trust but verify), etc.

I think we sort of forgot Reagan and his way into our hearts and minds.

Trump did not forget. He decided he could become a party of one via television. Some of us were entranced by his ability to have his way by firing people. Firing people became his political platform.

Rather than Reagan’s shining city on the hill, Trump offered us what he called “the art of the deal.” He would win because he was Trump. Problems don’t exist in Trump World. You fire them.

If that’s a bit arbitrary and brutal, some voters have decided, that’s just the price you have to pay to make things work.

A total cop-out. There are problems, complicated problems. You have to solve them. You have to find solutions. Is it really necessary to say this?

Trump apparently thought he could sell his “fire ’em” approach. He became the personification of the Founders’ fears.

His appeal found remarkable traction among many. Some of us have run screaming into the night.

Can this thing, this sad excuse for a campaign, can it be over soon?

Of course the answer is no, not until Nov. 8, Election Day – and probably well beyond that.

More than the circus

“This whole thing” is more than the Trump Circus.

Hillary Clinton summed it up at a campaign stop in Florida:

“We know who Donald Trump is,” she said in the wake of Lewd Gate. “The question is who are we?”

Indeed. That’s why “this thing” will and must go on. Not the lewd part, but the part about who we are, why we are so divided.

Clinton was referring, no doubt, to many things. One of these would be her earlier ill-chosen reference to the “basket of deplorables,” the haters who seem to hate a lot, particularly Hillary Clinton.

She had an immediate audience in mind: those voters who may sit it out or vote for one of the third-party candidates. The tide may be swinging in her direction, but every vote counts more this time than ever.

Trump should be crushed at the polls. He had no business offering himself — no right beyond the basic right that anyone is free to run in a democracy.

Trump’s sneering invective eclipses anything useful he might have said about policy.

He has made it possible for Clinton to win, not on her considerable merits, but by default.

But are we really choosing between equally bad candidates? Not at all. It’s a false equivalency, the political equivalent of trying to find a scientist who thinks climate change is a fraud.

Bluster and studied ignorance limits critically important debate – undermines the value of a campaign, that period when we think about critically important issues:

• A potentially fatal failure to address global warming;

• The power of money in politics and government;

• Almost no attention to the corrosive power of income inequality;

• Political parties that have lost their way;

• The end of work as technology kills jobs.

Meanwhile, we are distracted by allegations that Trump routinely “stiffed” contractors.

What he’s really stolen is the 2016 campaign.

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C. Fraser Smith is senior news analyst for WYPR. His column appears Fridays in The Daily Record. His email address is fsmith@wypr.org.

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