Like all crazy uncles, Donald Trump should come with a muzzle.
The trouble with Trump is he’s not just the crazy uncle at the dinner table; he’s the nutty uncle running amok through the house, room to room, up and down the stairs, shouting nonsense, starting fires, alarming neighbors.
Most other Republican candidates, with good reason, are disgusted by Trump’s outrageous assertions – that Sen. John McCain is not a war hero because he was captured; that Mexico sends us druggies, rapists, killers; that an impenetrable wall must be built between Mexico and the United States, and Mexico – Trump asserts – will have to pay for the wall; that presidential candidate, Rick Perry of Texas, recently started wearing glasses in order to look intelligent.
Republican candidates should not be too surprised, however, by Trump’s loud-mouthed antics. His cartoon comments and silly assertions are very similar to the ones used in recent years by other extremists – other crazy uncles and aunts – who gathered at the Republican Party’s Tea Party table: Herman Cain, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, to name just four. Whether those radicals were demonizing President Obama, demeaning women or cooking up the most ridiculous assertions, other Republicans let them get away with their inflammatory words and their pushy tactics (like Cruz’s efforts to shut down the government). They were afraid to repudiate the extremists’ offensive diatribes for fear they themselves would be “primaried” – that is, challenged by the Tea Party factions in their legislative districts, thus possibly ending their political careers. As a result of those threats real and implied, a certain bullying coercion set in as the right-wing extremists became ever bolder, applying “political purity” tests as they attempted to dominate the entire Republican Party. Their radical agenda went largely unchallenged, and the chickens came home to roost, making a future presidential win less and less likely. Yes, there was a Republican sweep in the last off-year elections (thanks in large part to gerrymandered Republican districts). Obama, however, was re-elected handily, thank goodness.
And now, is it any wonder Trump – the spoiled-brat billionaire, the wannabe president – has stolen the spotlight, sullied the party image and is enjoying a surge in popularity because of his big-mouth grandstanding? In some respects, the Republican Party, because it has long caved in to crazies, has let itself in for this Trump card.
The Donald’s rise in the polls is not hard to understand. He’s an unrestrained loud-mouth, “entertaining” in his outrageous way, the same way hot-air blimp Rush Limbaugh, some claim wrongly, is really “just an entertainer.” Trump is a good example of an unfortunate trend these days: if someone says something utterly outrageous, then it must be true, as if truth can reside only within the most grotesque exaggerations in this Age of Hype.
Another reason why Trump seems – to some – to be just what this country needs is because they foolishly conflate riches with wisdom. How can somebody so smart as to become a billionaire not be a good president? Answer: money smarts are almost diametrically opposed to wise national leadership. That, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with our democracy right now – too much money, not enough wisdom.
Add to that another key to Trump’s surge in the polls: his verbal eruptions – so politically incorrect – are a breath of fresh air to many people who are sick and tired of most politicians’ mealy-mouthed dissembling on the issues. This is the same factor that gave such a boost to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – his uncensored rude outbursts that convinced some people how refreshingly truthful he must be, a real tell-it-like-it is man.
If the Republicans want to win the White House, they’re going to have to repudiate not just Trump but other crazies who seem to attach themselves to the Party like Velcro strips. Candidates Jeb Bush and John Kasich – both reasonable “old-style” mainstream Republicans, would have a good chance at the Big Prize, but only if the Party can wrest control from the crazy aunts and uncles in its house. If the entrenched extremists wrench the Party any further to the right, away from the mainstream, winning the White House will be all but impossible. Spring housecleaning is long-overdue; the clowns should be swept out from under the Party’s Big-Top Tent.
And that includes The Donald. Toxic Trump is just the latest, loudest, most colorful clown in their Three-Ring Circus. Are you listening, my dwindling Republican friends?