Conrad Black recently posted his latest thoughts and equivocations on his would-be hero of the 2016 United States election, Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump. Variously, Black has defended this individual as a prominent New York businessman touting his capacity for administration and profitability; brushed aside the voluminous misogyny claims against Trump as “complete rubbish,” and that in person, Trump “is a lot less coarse than Mrs. Clinton.” On the last point, only one of the elite would know Trump and the soon-to-be-President-elect Hillary Clinton on a personal level.
While Black does a fine job of reviewing the game-changers of American history, and if you’ve not read his biography on Franklin D. Roosevelt then you’ve missed out, the pinnacle point of his current piece is Trump as the newest incarnation of the game-changer, even if he loses to Clinton. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Republican Presidential nominee is a continuation of the established party, just with the temperment and styling befitting one of his tempestuous and subtelty-lacking followers, of whom Trump’s handlers occassionally condemn. To be clear, Trump has not once mis-aligned the anti-semetics, “Luegenpresse” folks, misogynists, white supremecists, racists, bullies, and assaulters within his ranks: like a true leader, he leaves these menial tasks to the hired help.
Trump is anything but different from the corporate, social elite that comprise the political class he allegedly despises. The corporation that backs Trump: Donald Trump. Privately, he is friends with the Clintons and many incredibly wealthy establishment Republicans. Those publicly endorsing him include Dick Cheney, the multi-millionaire who covertly ran George W. Bush’s presidency as Vice President; Rick Perry, the former Texan governor turned Republican presidential candidate; Paul Ryan, the current House Speaker and highest elected Republican official; John Boehner, the former House Speaker; and the Koch brothers, worth billions and actively working for social conservatism across the American landscape. Trump is nothing less than more of the Old.
He symbolizes – nay, epitomizes – the Grand Old Party of yore: incredibly wealthy and handed the keys to the palace by his father; did not want for anything as a child, though supporters make him out to be the Queens’ latchkey kid; supports the Second Amendment to the point of absurdity (repealing Gun-Free School Zones legislation and arming “good guy” teachers); and is a white, heterosexual male that purports to take any woman he wants because of his celebrity, and allows his supporters to use xenophobia to denounce, well, anyone that doesn’t fit the appropriate cultural Make-America-Great-Again mold. Actually, that’s inaccurate: Trump has taken to task the tax-paying, hard-working Americans that are all enemies of the state. Muslims and Mexicans.
Trump and his supporters are political reductionists. With resounding failure, they have attempted to grow the GOP base on the ideas that delicately complex issues like illegal immigration or America’s illicit drug addiction can be resolved by erecting steel and concrete barriers; that social ills can be surgically removed by banning all adherents to a mainstream religion from living or entering the US; that repealing the 19th Amendment would improve democracy; that American military might and munitions can better resolve the Iranian question than President Barack Obama’s pen and peaceable answer; that the black community – which has never been in a worse social condition, according to Trump – should hand the reigns of justice (in another era, the whip) to a white man that better understands their collective plight.
Trump is no game-changer. He has failed to drive a wedge within the Republican establishment and carve out a new era for the party. Similar to Obama soundly defeating Clinton for the 2008 Democrats, only for the latter to return victriously eight years later, Black’s Trump has not “smashed the Republican elders – the pallid Bush-McCain-Romney” or the “Cruz-crazies;” at best, he has put them off until the next race. Rather, the Republican National Committee has used Trump for his pompous, populist and appalling appeal and it, too, is simply waiting for this garish aberration to run its humiliating course before ushering it into the dust bin of history.
Trump is but a change in the moment, a flash in the pan, the comic relief in a typically hard-fought race, a momentary lapse in better judgement. He is the 21st Century’s equivalent to Joseph McCarthy, who in the early 1950s was brought down by the Republican establishment, then administered by no less than Dwight D. Eisenhower, after the infamous communist hunter had the misaligned conception to seek traitors within the immutable rank and file of the United States Army. Like McCarthy, Trump has shown that if given enough rope he will eventually hang himself and his political suicide date is set for November 8.
Trump is not the candidate that has indelibly changed the Republican establishment, let alone American democracy. Beginning in 2020, Black believes that a Trump loss on Tuesday will deliver the next four years of office to the extreme left or right. Predictions, however, are best left to snake-oil dealers and fortune-tellers. While Black may be right about American democracy cusping at extremism, the 2020 Presidential election is but one election since the Republican Party’s inception prior to the Civil War.
That’s right: the GOP has withstood, Civil War, Reconstruction, Desegregation, Jim Crow, WWI, WWII, the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, George H. W. Bush, the other Bush, and many other difficult, sombre moments for the United States and the world. And the Republican Party has the ability to rebrand itself: Abraham Lincoln’s party for social progress and the abolition of slavery is nothing like today’s party as the final, unbending bastion for social conservatism. The Republican Party is an establishment and it will take more than the bombastic bluster of a blunt blowhard to destroy it, try as he might.
It is downright laughable that Black mentions Trump’s name after invoking the memories of Theodore or Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, or even Richard M. Nixon, let alone that he would place Donald J. Trump next to these men on his voluminous biographical shelves. No doubt, Trump is a bright man. But being bright and capable of turning millions into billions does not a president-in-waiting make. Similar to the beauty queens that were not quite beautiful enough to be crowned in victory, as though a serious contender for the leadership of the free world is actually involved in such pandering, philistine pageantry, Mrs. Clinton, warts and all, is about to have the last laugh as she adorns Trump’s lapel with a shiny new 2016 Presidential Participation ribbon.