…by MATT TAIBB @ Rolling Stone….
Slogans include “Trump 2020: Grab ’em by the Pussy Again!” and the ubiquitous “Trump 2020: Fuck Your Feelings.”
One merch hawker — an African American man with a visor, wraparound sunglasses, and spiked, dyed-white hair — is snaking through the crowd, pushing a T-shirt: “Donald Fuckin’ Trump.” On the back, the shirt reads “Bitch I’m the President!” “Five bucks for hats, 10 for tees!” he yells. “ ‘Bitch, I’m the president!’ ‘Make America great again!’ ”
“Four more years!” someone in the crowd yells back, to cheers.
Two and a half years into his presidency, Trump has already staked a claim to a role in history usually reserved for hereditary monarchs at the end of a line of inbreeding. Historians will list him somewhere between Vlad the Impaler and France’s Charles VI, who thought his buttocks were made of glass.
Much of America loves its Mad King, whose works are regularly on display. Russians under Ivan the Terrible used to watch dogs being hurled over the Kremlin walls when the tsar’s mood was bad. Americans have grown used to late-night insults tweeted at nuclear powers from the White House bedroom.
Royal lunacy is traditionally a secret, but in Twitter-age America it’s a shared national experience. We are all somersaulting down and out the sanity chute. The astonishing thing about Trump is that he wasn’t foisted on us by a council of Bourbons, or by succession law. We elected the man, and are poised to do it again.
History will judge us harshly for this, and will look with particular venom at Trump’s political opponents in both parties, who over the years were unable to win popularity contests against a man most people would not leave alone with a decent wristwatch, let alone their children.
Trump’s original destiny was the destruction of the Republicans as a viable entity in modern American politics. Then he ran a general election like he was trying to lose, and won. Now his legacy is the spectacular end of America’s fragile racial consensus.
Ten years ago, an African American won the White House in a landslide; today, the president is somewhere between a Klansman and Jimmy the Greek. The media legend is that Trump succeeds because he’s a racist, but this undersells it. Trump is 50 years behind the worst elements of the Republican Party, which spent decades carefully stuffing race under bromides like “states’ rights” and “free stuff.” The GOP now is in an all-out bucket brigade to rescue the dog whistle.
The rescue is failing. We’ve gone from Trump being skeptical of Obama’s citizenship to musing about “very fine” neo-Nazis to a Twitter version of “Go back to Africa.” In Cincinnati, even his most hardcore supporters talk about wanting him to shut up. “I wish,” says one fan, “he would edit himself a little bit.”
For all this, every time Trump seems headed for the dustbin of history, he bounces up again off the messageless paralysis of his Democratic opposition. When Trump vanquished a giant primary field of Republicans in 2016, Democrats cheered. When they lost the general election, they acted like it was an unrelated surprise event, an outrage to decency itself. They remain ineffective as anything but a punchline to the Trump story.
This cycle has led to more alienation and made the 2020 election a gruesome, exhausting black comedy. This is our penance for turning the presidential campaign into a bread-and-circus entertainment. Middle Americans got so used to getting nothing out of elections, they started treating national politics for what it had become to them, a distant, pretentious sitcom….
Trump in this way is more all-American than Mark Spitz, Liberace, Oprah, Audie Murphy, and Marilyn Monroe. He’s a monument to the consumption economy. He represents fake boobs, the short con, the tall tale, gas guzzlers, and a hundred other American traditions.
This is why the endless chronicling of Trump’s lies does little to dent his popularity. Trump’s voters don’t need to read PolitiFact to see what Trump’s about. They see it in his waistline. Few politicians in history have revealed what they are to voters more than Trump. Christ, we even know what the man’s penis looks like….