Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 2016

Posted in Whatever Else on March 21st, 2016 by bill

Party like it's 1992.

I don’t write much about politics, because there’s already so much of that out there, and because I hate getting into arguments. But this year’s presidential election has been so bizarre, so entertaining, and so frightening, that I feel compelled to put down a few words.

On the Republican side, it looks like the nominee is going to be Donald Trump. I can’t believe I just typed those words. Until very recently, no one took Trump seriously as a candidate, and with good reason. He is a walking cartoon character, a golem that someone put an orange toupee on and sent out into the world to wreak havoc. And yet he has continued to amass delegates while “respectable” candidates like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio have one by one gone down in flames.

It seems to me that the key to Trump’s appeal is his certainty. He projects total confidence because he really believes that he could walk into the White House and fix everything, because he is smarter than everybody else and such a great wheeler-dealer. Nobody who has any actual experience in government, and knows how hard it is to get things done, can replicate that kind of clueless bravado. However fake most everything about Trump is, the swagger is real, and people respond to that. In the words of the great American philosopher George Costanza, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”
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