Win or lose, Donald Trump has already changed our politics forever by showing Americans how much fun the process can be. This fun is infectious and altogether uncommon in a culture that long ago (sadly) gave up the three-martini lunch. Trump, by the way, is regrettably a teetotaler though he has the best of tastes in women. Even his ex-lover former Penthouse pet Sandra Taylor championed his sexual prowess. “If you bet big, you win big. If you bet small, you win small,” Trump reportedly told Taylor, and now Trump has placed the biggest bet of them all—that he could be president in a country where our presidents aren’t elected so much as selected by a know nothing ruling elite.
And people are starting to notice how Trump is surviving manufactured media scandal after manufactured media scandal. Why, he’s defying the laws of political gravity, clucked one Sunday host whose name I can’t be bothered to remember. But these are laws; they are suggestions designed to enrich and ennoble consultants and talking heads. It’s about time that someone began questioning Senator John McCain’s patriotism and judgment after he collaborated with the Vietnamese communists, the Democratic Party, the media, and Syrian terrorists.
Trump can reject cuckservative taboos—like fetishizing military service—because he’s bigger than they are. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has it right when says “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time.” “I don’t care what his actual positions are,” Cuban wrote on his app. “I don’t care if he says the wrong thing. He says what’s on his mind. He gives honest answers rather than prepared answers. This is more important than anything any candidate has done in years.”
Cuban isn’t alone. Some of the wealthier individuals I know—a billionaire CEO here, a centimillionaire CEO there—are observing Trump and cheering him on. “If only my wife would let me, I’d love to be in there mixing it up, too,” they say. Their kids are grown and the money is in the bank but they don’t feel as if they’ve done enough. The charity balls are boring and were, after all, their wife’s or girlfriend’s idea anyway. Donald Trump is showing them that they can play by their own book of rules and still be politically viable. Jeb Bush always looks like someone is about to mug him – maybe one of the illegals he’s always championing—while Trump offers the kiddies free helicopter rides. You could tell the reporters—who he abruptly stopped—wanted to come along for the ride.
Simply by showing up Trump is making it more and more likely that we’ll see more candidates that take a flyer and decide to run for president. In the post-Citizens United world of no limits campaign finance rules all you need is a couple rich friends willing to say that they’ve thrown down money. They don’t need to actually even spend it. Indeed, one of the untold stories of the 2016 cycle is how little effect the Super PACs are actually having. One Super PAC leader I know confessed that no one is quite sure what to spend all that money on. The big donors want the benefit of everyone recognizing them as rich but none of the drawback of anyone knowing what they are actually funding. Their paid political consigliores will suggest the appropriate donation at the appropriate time to convey the appropriate ideas to the appropriate people and we will be bored accordingly.
Still, the billionaire backers of some of the SuperPACs are hedging their bets by tossing a little money here, and a little money there. Some of the more profligate of them will give to the political correct candidacies of failed HP CEO Carly Fiorina because she’s a woman and surgeon Ben Carson because he’s black and they want to be perceived as with it. Trump is right when he mocks Fiorina as a loser. He’s also right when he says we’d be better off if Saddam Hussein had not been deposed.
No, it isn’t money affecting the outcome: it’s ideas and the ability to command attention. It’s a bunch of people sharing and discussing research and rumors on Facebook and Twitter, trying to make sense of it all as they gawk, laugh, or love every minute of the show. And as they do, they are forming their own opinions, independent of the media that has tried to package and sell us candidates. If a candidate’s ideas are sufficiently compelling he’ll get plenty of earned media by journalists who desperately want to cover anything other than the poll tested speech of some silly senator or governor on education, the debt, or housing policy.
The journalists don’t get traffic and increasingly don’t make money in our traffic and clicks for ad-supported journalism economy. By being a celebrity and rich Trump simply commands attention. No one knows exactly what he’ll do next. This makes him interesting. That, ultimately, is why Trump isn’t having to spend lots of money: he doesn’t need to buy ads when he’s the main event. Why would he advertise on Fox when he can effectively own it using the playbook of Roger Ailes by being himself? He took one of Fox’s top assets – Megyn Kelly – and publicly humiliated her—not that she needed any help given her past. He even showed up and called out also ran Eric Erickson. Now he’s going after Fox’s professional pollster and fat fraud, Frank Luntz, who once rather hilariously and unselfconsciously called me an “attention whore. Of course Trump didn’t rule out a third party run. Do you think he ever let someone have something that they didn’t pay for in a negotiation?
Every presidential candidacy is a response to the presidency that came before it. Trump then is the anti-Obama. Whereas Obama was manufactured by Hollywood and actually designed for us, Trump is free to say what he thinks—even if it’s about the president himself. Of course no one serious still believes that Obama’s father is the Kenyan Barack Obama. He’s the son of communist Frank Marshall Davis, not the Kenyan. Donald Trump is the son of an affordable housing magnate.
Every political consultant I know is carefully observing the Trump effect and what it might mean for future candidates. Trump is forcing the political establishment along. The Senate considered a measure to defund sanctuary cities. Presidential candidates are forced to admit that they, too, would end the sham of anchor babies or birthing tourism (a.k.a birthright citizenship). Trump is listening to some of the best voices on immigration—Senator Jeff Sessions and Ann Coulter. (He should also be reading Brits-turned-American John Derbyshire and Peter Brimelow for some of the specifics.) He’s put forward the best immigration plan since Calvin Coolidge’s. He’s rightly calling for the illegals to go home and bring their families, too. In Guatemala the front-runner in the presidential election had to weigh in and assure people that Trump wasn’t serious. But what if he is?
The usual suspects say that Trump will break up families but there’s not a lot of evidence that illegals have intact families. Taxing the money they send home would send a message & pay for their costs. We might even use that money to pay for the fence. And if the illegals don’t pay for the fence let’s take Baja California. Donald Trump knows a thing or two about eminent domain. It’s illegal for white guys to own beachfront property down in Mexico but I’m betting Donald Trump could find a use for Baja,just like I’m betting he could get our hostages out of Iran and maybe even take the oil wells in whatever Middle Eastern country is annoying us.
Trump’s next move should be to boycott the RNC debates and start our own with the only other interesting candidates. He might even turn his debate into Celebrity Apprentice where he interviews the other candidates for positions in his cabinet.
Of course I don’t think any of that will happen. Trump has always wanted to run for president and he’s clearly enjoying every minute of it but whether or not he wants to be president is another story altogether. How deeply interesting it’ll be when President Ted Cruz, born in Canada to a Cuban father and an American mother, takes over from where Trump left off.