The United States has always been marked by its peaceful transition of power from one presidential administration to the next, but a new report claims that tradition may be at risk with Donald Trump, amid concerns he may not leave office even if he loses in 2020. The report from Washington Monthly outlines a series of scenarios under which Trump could stay in the White House even if he loses to a Democratic challenger. While the report noted that none are considered likely, there is still a concern that Trump may resist leaving if he loses the election. The report cited a series of statement from Trump hinting that he would not accept the results of the election if he were to lose, instead citing fraud in favor of Democrats. In order for Trump to remain in office, the results of the election would need to be very close, the report noted. That could allow Trump to revisit his frequent claims of voter fraud. The president would need the backing of Congressional Republicans to make this effective, the report noted, which remains in question. But if Donald Trump were to challenge the results of the election in courts, it could head to a judiciary filled with judged hand-picked by Trump. Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans prevented Barack Obama from filling a number of openings on the federal judiciary, allowing Trump to stack the courts since taking office. “The justices, along with everybody else, seemed to view disputed facts through the lens of the place where they have been ideologically,” Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California Irvine School of Law, told the magazine.
Lying is Who He Is
Lying has become so much a part of his nature, he might even believe his own lies. Everything Trump says anymore isn’t based on facts, but on pure spin to self-promote for advancing his own interests: remember-cable-news-trump-is-
CNN’s Gloria Borger this week talked with multiple former business associates of President Donald Trump, who all explained why he has a habit of lying about everything he does. Borger starts off by talking to former Trump Organization executive Barbara Res, who reveals that Trump planted a fake story about Princess Diana looking for an apartment in Trump Tower back in the 1980s as a way to hype up sales for the building. “That didn’t happen?” Borger asked Res. “No,” Res replied. “But it made the papers.” While this kind of lie might seem harmless, Trump’s constant stream of untruths often ended up coming back to haunt him and those who trusted him, as was the case of the failed Trump Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City. Architect Alan Lapidus, who worked for Trump in the past, told Borger that the New Jersey Casino Control Commission actually shut down one third of Trump Taj Mahal’s slot machines on its opening day because they didn’t work properly. “To shut down a third of the slots on opening day was both humiliating and financially disastrous,” he said. Undeterred by this, Trump found a way to lie to the public about why so many slot machines had to be taken offline — and he told TV host Larry King that the machines were shut down because they got overheated from too many people using them. “Truly, he would just lie about everything,” said former Trump Plaza Casino manager Jack O’Donnell.
As early as sometime this month, we might hit the 10,000 mark on the number of verifiable lies committed by this president in less than 2-1/2 years in office! If it quacks like a duck or swims like a fish, that’s just who they are, as explained in excerpts from george-conway-anthony-
The conservative attorney, who is married to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, on Friday appeared to suggest that Trump’s fondness for telling untruths is actually more deep-seated. He used a fish-themed tweet to explain: “Think of fish,” Conway wrote. “Fish don’t swim because they think it’s fun; they swim because they’re fish.” The Washington Post reports that, as of Mar. 31, Trump had made 9,451 false or misleading claims since his inauguration. That is an average of 11+ lies for each of his 801 days in office. Conway has, despite his wife’s position within the Trump White House, repeatedly used Twitter to criticize the president and question his mental health.
You would never support someone like Donald Trump unless, as seen in the article from Unless?:
Unless you think it is a good idea to continually add trillions of dollars to the ever-expanding $22 trillion public debt.
Unless you think it’s a good idea for the president of the United States to continually lie to the American people.
Unless you think it’s a good idea for the president of the United States to be a racist.
Unless you think it’s a good idea for the president of the United States who claims to hire “the best people,” to hire people who turn out to be convicted felons, liars, and grifters.
Unless you think it’s a good idea for the president of the United States to fail to stand against those who would commit violence against minorities
Unless you think it’s a good idea to ignore the effects of climate change by hiding behind the ludicrous claim that it is a Chinese hoax.
Unless you think it’s a good idea to trample on relations with allies that have stood by America for the better part of seven decades.
Unless you think that it was a good idea to kill The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which as of 2017 returned $12 billion to nearly 30 million Americans who’d been ripped off by banks and credit card and loan companies.
Unless you think that it was a good idea to make it more difficult than ever for millions of Americans to access affordable health care.
No, you would never support someone like Donald Trump . . . not unless, like Trump and his taxpayer-paid apologists . . . Stephen Miller, Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Sanders, Mick Mulvaney, and others . . . you would be willing to deny just about everything America stands for in the interest of soothing poor Donald Trump’s pathetic ego.
But it’s not just starry-eyed Trumpeters who love Donald Trump. Even liberal Dems have reason to love him & here are 8 good reasons why as seen inside Challenge-accepted-I-told-him-
AG William Barr Jumps Onboard the Corruption Train
Besides hiding the Mueller report, Trump also wants to keep his tax returns hidden. The IRS just missed the deadline to hand over Trump’s tax returns to Congress, which Trump’s legal department blocked the release. This battle may drag out in court. Here are the recent reports with the first half of these links live:
The Best People?
Trump’s White House has become a clown show run by buffoons & riddled with corruption. His choices for cabinet positions are so bad most wouldn’t make it through the confirmation process: theguardian/donald-trump-
First it was Stephen Moore. Now it’s Herman Cain. President Trump’s likely choices to join the Federal Reserve share several qualities: They’re apparently unqualified for the job, but they’re unalloyed Trump loyalists who will presumably prioritize his political needs as the Fed goes about the delicate task of keeping the American economy in balance. But there’s one other thing they have in common: They’re on TV. A lot. Cain is a Fox News contributor. In the last year he’s been on the network opining about everything from identity politics to abortion to U.S. policy in Syria. Moore sticks to narrower economic ground from his perch at CNN. Both have followed a similar formula in their television commentary: Trump good, Democrats bad. The rest is just details. Why is this important to note? Because their ascendancy to major government jobs is one more signal that Fox News isn’t just the propaganda arm of the Trump administration — the network, along with CNN, is turning out to be a virtual human resources department for the White House.
If you want Trump to give you a job, going on cable news may be one way to get your foot in the door. Consider the list of cable news contributors and personalities who have joined the administration or been offered promotions in the last year or so: John Bolton became national security adviser, Matthew Whitaker briefly served as acting attorney general, Heather Nauert almost became U.N. ambassador, Morgan Ortagus was tapped as a State Department spokeswoman, and Bill Shine was Trump’s short-lived communications director. That list doesn’t even include earlier appointments like communications director Mercedes Schlapp, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow, former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Tony Sayegh, and of course, who could forget Anthony Scaramucci, whose stint as communications director lasted just 10 days.
This isn’t a big surprise. We also know that Trump can be remarkably superficial in his staffing decisions: Bolton missed out on an early job in the White House because Trump reportedly disliked his mustache. But his response was savvy, according to a recent profile in The Atlantic. No, he didn’t shave. But he did go on Fox News repeatedly. He expressed pro-Trump opinions, and frequently used Trumpist language — dark invocations of the “deep state” — while doing so. He kept at it for the better part of a year until he garnered Trump’s affections. “John played Trump perfectly,” one of Bolton’s associates said. “Bolton auditioned for this position for essentially a year. And he nailed that audition.” Whitaker, who was acting attorney general during a crucial stretch of the Mueller investigation, took a similar route to his governmental post: He got Trump’s attention as a CNN legal commentator critical of that investigation.
All of this matters. The skills that make for steady, wise governance are almost the opposite of the skills needed to shine on cable TV. Governing is a marathon, the sum of thousands of decisions designed, hopefully, to improve the lives of Americans and keep them safe. TV news stardom is a sprint — if you are able to argue for a stretch of five to 10 minutes, repeating the same talking points over and again, you can become famous. Performance skills can sometimes be useful in senior government positions; on TV, they’re just about the only thing that matters. Of course, Trump ascended to his job after his own razzle-dazzle performance, both on TV and at his rallies — and he seems fairly confident in his own qualifications. It may be little wonder that he applies similar logic to his administration’s staffing decisions. It’s bad logic. Stephen Moore had a role in nearly destroying state government finances in Kansas, my home state, while Cain’s own economic ideas have drawn nearly universal derision from mainstream economists. They’re bad choices for the Fed — but it doesn’t matter. In the Trump administration, they have the only qualification that matters: They’re good on camera.
Other articles from the newsfeeds reveal the prez delivered a real whopper of a lie in blaming Obama for separating families & putting children in cages, so as is his way, Trump tries to blame others for his own sins. And if Trump really wanted to fix immigration & build his wall, he already had a verbal agreement with Dem leaders over a year ago, but he quickly reneged on it. He keeps hammering on migrants in pandering to his base, since the Trump cult is full of hatred for desperate migrants who aren’t white & not Americans. It sounds like Trumpeters are taking marching orders from Trump & the Devil himself. These are not live links since there are lots of articles here, so you can read my comments with titles underneath, which you could search for any articles you’d like to see:
Fox Presides Over Evil Echo
The evil echo which Fox fake news has fallen in line with & is now spearheading, is spreading the standard echo-lies in unison with Trump. Their bigoted, racist, xenophobic rhetoric is exposed inside How-Fox-has-been-using-
Former Newscorp senior vice president Joseph Azam says he resigned from the company in 2017 because of a “significant change in tone,” and a “significant shift in the relationship with facts, particularly on the Fox side.” On Sunday morning’s edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, host Brian Stelter asked Azam “What prompted you to resign in late 2017?” Azam noted that he hadn’t worked for Fox News directly, and so “I hadn’t been exposed, for a long time to a lot of what was going on on the opinion side, but beyond that I noticed a significant change in tone.” “I’m a big believer in the marketplace of ideas, and I was fine working with and for people who had very different values and opinions than I did,” he continued, “but I noticed a significant shift in the ferociousness, and frankly, in the relationship with facts, particularly on the Fox side.” “When was that shift in tone?” Stelter asked, noting that Azam started at Newscorp in 2015. “I think in the run up to the election, right, it became very profitable to kind of fall in line with some of the anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, anti-semitic, anti-muslim rhetoric, and I was affected by that,” Azam said. Azam went on to say that he was exposed to it every day,” including on elevator rides with Fox News television personalities.
It was somewhere around the 100th response that my brain turned to mush. Last week, I devoted an installment of my newsletter Welcome to Hell World to a dozen stories from people who, like me, had close relationships that had been strained or ruined by family members who’d become obsessed with Fox News. No matter where the stories came from they all featured a few familiar beats: A loved one seemed to have changed over time. Maybe that person was already somewhat conservative to start. Maybe they were apolitical. But at one point or another, they sat down in front of Fox News, found some kind of deep, addictive comfort in the anger and paranoia, and became a different person — someone difficult, if not impossible, to spend time with. The fallout led to failed marriages and estranged parental relationships. For at least one person, it marks the final memory he’ll ever have of his father: “When I found my dad dead in his armchair, fucking Fox News was on the TV,” this reader told me. “It’s likely the last thing he saw. I hate what that channel and conservative talk radio did to my funny, compassionate dad. He spent the last years of his life increasingly angry, bigoted, and paranoid.”
Something about the piece struck a chord. It had gone viral, and wave after wave of frustrated and saddened Fox News orphans began to commiserate with me and with each other on Twitter and in my messages. Others wrote of similar phenomenon in Australia with the television channel Sky or in the U.K. with the tabloid Daily Mail. I heard from more than a hundred people who felt like they could relate to what they all seemed to think of as a kind of ideological brain poisoning. They chose Fox News over their family, people told me. They chose Fox News over me. There was the one reader who wrote of his Puerto Rican uncle becoming a Fox News junkie, and turning on his own people, as he put it, in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. “He was literally sitting in the dark and still defending Trump,” he said, which seemed a metaphor almost too on the nose. Hearing stories like that over and over again all weekend wasn’t pretty.
As some critics of the piece pointed out, it seems a bit silly, if not stupid, to scapegoat a cable-news network for our family members’ interpersonal shortcomings. I get that. I don’t have an empirical way to assign blame or figure out causality. Maybe Fox News causes some people to turn toward hard-right conservatism; maybe it’s merely a precipitating factor; maybe it’s neither, and for most people, change in political attitudes came from elsewhere. In requesting stories about family members and Fox News, I wasn’t undertaking a scientific experiment — merely seeking to see if there are other people who had the same experiences I had, and felt the same way I did. What I learned is that there are. Whatever the actual direction of causality, there are many, many Americans who blame Fox News for changes in their loved ones, and many people out there who feel as though their friends and family members have been lost to a 24/7 stream of right-wing propaganda.
Dozens who responded to my piece talked about the sad lonely twilight of their parents’ or grandparents’ lives, having been spurned by, or having disowned much of their families over political disagreements. Older people, recent studies have shown, are much more likely to share misleading information online, but the anecdotes I was hearing seemed to indicate this behavior wasn’t limited to the internet. Young parents wrote that they don’t want to bring their children to visit aging Fox-brainers. “The worst is when my children go to spend time with their grandparents and come home with Fox News talking points coming out of their mouths,” one told me. “I have to decontaminate them every time.” I heard from several people that Fox News was a key factor in a divorce. One reader told me about his father, a one-time Trump skeptic turned believer. “He and my mom separated last November. There were other reasons but one of the big ones was his Fox addiction,” he wrote. “I went down to help him get set up in a new apartment. He cried a lot. We found an apartment and furniture and I got the utilities set up but I did not sign up for cable TV. He did that after I left, before he got a job.”
Another person told me that Rush Limbaugh sent his father on the path to isolation before eventually mainlining Fox News on a regular basis. Eventually, out of the blue, his mother filed for divorce. “He was crushed, couldn’t understand why, and took comfort in drinking while watching his friends on TV. She is happier than I have ever seen her and he is sad and angry living in the basement of a rented house, still watching The Five, Tucker Carlson, Jeanine Pirro, etc.” For some, the Fox-driven political affiliations of family members represent a deep betrayal. A son wrote to me of his widowed father choosing Fox News over the well-being of him and his wife, both of whom are disabled. “He is aware that the GOP wants to take away health care and he still voted for Trump. He still likes Trump.” If I had to pinpoint the most common reaction to all the thousands of replies to the story, I’d say it was one of exasperation — and desperation. I didn’t realize so many other people were dealing with this, many said. “Does anyone know an online support group for people going through this to share tips on deprogramming and/or surviving these relationships?” one asked. “If not … would anyone be interested in starting one?”
It’s not the worst idea. The most positive story I heard came from a woman who brought her brother back from the edge with persistent and careful and sustained bridge-building work, showing him the error of his paranoid conspiracy thinking. One problem is that once someone gets pulled into the Fox News vortex it naturally leads to other scummier enterprises. You might start out signing up for a Fox email list or one from the president then quickly find your email being sold far and wide to increasingly less reputable charlatans. “The thing that makes me maddest about this is that it’s about money,” one correspondent said. His dad had been diagnosed with prostate cancer a year ago. “I guess Mike Huckabee has been selling his email to fucking everybody, including one list I noticed when I was getting his email set up called Beyond Chemo. They are selling him his own anger and a bunch of mushroom pills for all the money he doesn’t have anymore,” he said. “He’s gonna die destitute because of this shit and people belong in prison for seeing this as a business opportunity.”
Those who hadn’t yet broken off with family said maintaining the relationship with a person they love is exceptionally difficult, and requires all manner of safeguards. “I’ve been on eggshells with my dad for half my life now,” one wrote. “It really hurts having a father who is kind and smart but has Fox News brain worms. I can only talk to my dad about the weather. Anything else will set him off, even football …” To be fair, there is a rough analog on the other side of the political spectrum, even if it seems, anecdotally, relatively muted. More than a few readers wrote to say this all made them thankful they merely had to contend with Dem-Boomer family who had gone mad for Maddow and Russiagate. “My grandma is a huge Maddow person and operates the same way as Fox News brained people,” one wrote me. “The signaling she gets and reiterates from MSNBC happens in the same sort of ‘brain rot’ way. Like, she heard something on there, or on Facebook, that was about how Trump is about to get impeached — and every day I talk to her and she repeats that.” “I love her, and she’s bright and it’s obviously less offensive” than Fox News, the reader continued, “but the whole fucking garbage corporate 24 hour news model is insidious and so so fucking bad.”
The unfortunate familial balancing act is one I know well from my own family, where an argument, even among people who have explicitly agreed to avoid politics altogether, can erupt at any time. (Many people insisted, like I do myself, that their Trump-kissing parents are the kindest, sweetest people in the world and it makes no sense they would be Fox News viewers.) But it’s one thing to have grown up a liberal in a conservative family, and learned how to navigate difficult political conversations your entire life — even if those conversations have only gotten more difficult. But many of the people I heard from talked about a transformation, whether gradual or sudden. One woman told me about her mother, who has stopped talking to her since becoming convinced Democrats are murdering children. It wasn’t always this way, she explained. Her mother had been a Democrat until 2008, and then something switched. A lot of the stories echoed that turning point. There was something about Obama that seemed to make a lot of previously apolitical or moderate family members lose their minds. Gosh — what could it have possibly been?
This is, I think, where the channel’s genius lies. Any salesperson or con artist will tell you that you can’t incept a thought in a mark’s mind out of nowhere. You have to find the hook that’s already there — fear, or desire — and exploit it. When it comes to exacerbating and honing the anxieties of aging Americans you can’t do much better (or worse) than race and immigration. Because the truth is, Fox News didn’t invent racism, and many of our family members would’ve believed in it on their own. This may have been the hardest thing I learned from the stories I heard: Fox didn’t necessarily change anyone’s mind, so much as it seems to have supercharged and weaponized a politics that was otherwise easy for white Americans to overlook in their loved ones. “Maybe he was always like this, but lacked the exhaust chamber to say out loud what he was thinking. I’ll never know,” one person told me. “It just sucks because I know the people he hates so much are basically the same people as me.”
More about the Crazy Fox
It’s hard to argue most Fox fake news shows are a propaganda arm for the prez, as a wanna-be dictator would dub them as state-run TV that he needs to achieve his nefarious intent: bernie-sanders-fox-news. Especially their prime-time hosts are not real journalists, but cheerleading suck-ups to a demagogue. A cult leader needs a right-hand man to bark out his commands: inside-fox-news-hosts-alleged-
Another Echo Madman
This next slimeball uses the same type of deceptive & sensationalized shock-media messaging as insanity Hannity. When Sandy Hook parents regularly received taunts & death threats from far-right wackos, those who inexplicably believed what Alex Jones told them about the murders of those elementary school kids trapped in their classrooms were a hoax, that is simply a demonic message sent straight from the pits of hell. We should have no tolerance for such an evil mindset, both from those who deliver such lies & those who believe it while acting upon it. The crazy Jones now denies spreading that rumor only because he’s currently involved in a lawsuit vs. Sandy Hook parents. Here is the beginning to the article alex-jones-legal-
Conspiracy-theory magnate Alex Jones is no stranger to legal stunts. Embroiled in a custody fight with his ex-wife, the Infowars chief insisted that he only failed to remember simple facts about his kids because he’d eaten too much chili. Now, faced with a lawsuit in Texas for promoting claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a “false flag attack,” Jones first claimed in depositions released last week that he suffered a “psychosis” that makes him think real-life events are fake. Jones is trying a different, unorthodox approach to more courtroom trouble, this time in Connecticut. Attorneys for Sandy Hook parents suing Jones in that state for promoting conspiracy theories about the massacre say the conspiracy theorist and his allies are doing everything they can to avoid handing over internal Infowars documents and any emails written by Jones himself. When Infowars has actually handed over documents, the lawyers say, any files created by Jones are nowhere to be found.
The same type of thinking possessed of pure evil are embodied by the violent white supremacist movement, which our prez is not only failing abysmally to counter, but his language actually encourages this lethal mindset. In fact, we’re seeing striking parallels to Islamic terrorists in how such a demented ideology is spread & carried out: how-white-supremacy-and-
President Trump has largely shrugged off concerns about white nationalism in the United States — telling reporters on March 15 after a white nationalist murdered 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, that “I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess.” His FBI director takes the threat much more seriously. During a House Appropriations Committee hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, Wray said the danger of white nationalist and white nationalist extremists in America is “significant,” adding that, like other extremist groups, they are a “persistent, pervasive threat.”
That answer, in response to a question from Rep. Jose Serrano, matches the assessment of experts both within the Department of Justice and elsewhere. So does Director Wray’s argument that domestic terrorism is largely “less structured, less organized,” with “more uncoordinated, one-off individuals as opposed to some structured hierarchy,” which Wray said “presents its own share of challenges.” As has been the case over and over again, from Oklahoma City to Oslo to Christchurch, “small groups of people” committed to the white nationalist cause can and have enacted horrific violence. Since 2007, the FBI reports that white nationalist and far-right violent attacks increased from roughly five incidents per year to 31 in 2017. And concerns about white nationalist violence, specifically white nationalist “lone wolf”-style perpetrators like in Christchurch or the 2015 Charleston church massacre, have indeed been weighing on federal officials.
However, despite federal concerns about white nationalist extremism, the federal funding to counter that extremism either hasn’t appeared or in some cases has even been rescinded by the Trump administration. Now many experts — and members of Congress — are decrying the lack of funding for efforts to counter white nationalist extremism. In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee sent April 1, Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) asked for increased funding to combat white nationalist groups, writing, “It is time to take the transnational threat of white supremacist terrorism as seriously as we’ve rightly taken the threat posed by other international terrorist organizations, and to give our law enforcement and intelligence agencies the mandate and resources they need to keep us safe.” Civil rights groups and religious organizations have also been pressing the FBI and the Department of Justice to do more to counter white nationalist extremism.
How big is the Trump base? Everybody has their own view, and mine hasn’t changed since the 2016 primaries. From where I’m sitting, Trump’s actual ‘base” is between 32-34%. How did I come up with this low ball figure? Simple. It’s what he was running in the pre primary and early 2016 GOP primary polls. In both parties, the primaries are an almost purely base affair, only the “true believers” show up to vote. And from Labor Day right on through the early primaries, Trump was remarkable consistent, at 32-34%. When I wrote in November of 2015 that Trump could actually win the nomination, it was simple math. Trump was running at 45^, nobody else in the field was clearing double digits. With the early states being “winner take all,” Trump could bank enough early delegates to make him impossible to catch once the herd culled down. Which happened. Trump started clearing 50% when he became the apparent nominee. Yeah, and I was a Bulls fan back in the days when you could walk up to the ticket window a half hour before game time and buy any ticket you wanted. Nothing creates fans like winning. I have seen nothing in the last two years to make me change my mind, in fact, exactly the opposite. Trump won the electoral college with a minority 47% of the popular vote. And where has he been mired for most of the last two years? At between 38-44%.But the important thing to bear in mind is that the Trump base really is the Trump base. In 2018, the Republicans lost the national popular vote to the Democrats by more than double the amount that Trump lost the national vote in 2016! Not only has Trump failed to do what every winning President in history has done, namely to try to expand his base for the next election, Trump has managed the dubious distinction of actually shrinking his base by sending traditional “loyal” Republican voters fleeing in disgust. That is a mean trick, and unfortunately for Trump, it’s only going to get worse for the next 18 months, because for Trump, it’s not about winning, it’s about rallies. As long as he’s serenaded by drooling mouth breathers with chants of “Lock her UP!” at rallies, everything is going according to schedule.
So, what is the actual Trump base? From where I’m sitting, it’s made up of two base components. The first component is his true, rabid, core base. This is the 10-15% that is so politically disillusioned, and lost in the trappings of celebrity and image, that they honestly believe that Trump is all he’s cracked up to be. These cluster FOX bubbleheads actually believe that Trump actually is building the wall, and that Honduran refugee caravans actually do come complete with prayer rugs and exploding backpacks. They’re mostly older, more isolated, and scared, and Trump plays that fear the way Lousi Armstrong used to play a trumpet. The other 20-25% are nothing more than rabid hack GOP uber partisans, hitching a ride on the Trump garbage truck. And they’re not shy about it, they wear it on their sleeves like corporals stripes. Whether in blogs, on conservative radio talk shows, or in interviews with reporters, they’re blunt and to the point. They wuns dem some Trump simply because he pisses off liberals! It’s the same thing with the Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity fan club cards that they carry in their wallets. They admit it, as long as Trump makes libtard heads explode, he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. If the Democrats ever actually started treating Trump like a joke instead of making jokes about Trump, these idjits would disappear back into the woodwork. But we can’t, for the simple reason that the threat that he represents, and the damage he can do, is too real. And worse yet for Trump, the cracks are showing. The “What the hell do you have to lose?” voters who actually put Trump over the top are starting to find out what they had to lose.
The rules don’t apply to the folk hero. People don’t measure them by the same tape. Behavior that people would never condone in their personal lives, they relish in the folk hero. I believe that the great miscalculation people make in trying to understand Donald Trump and the cultlike devotion of the people who follow him is that they continue to apply the standard rules of analysis. I believe that, like Edwards, Trump ascended to folk hero status among the people who like him, and so his lying, corruption, sexism and grift not only do no damage, they add to his legend. The folk hero, whether real or imaginary, often fights the establishment, often in devious, destructive and even deadly ways, and those outside that establishment cheer as the folk hero brings the beast to its knees. The only vulnerability the folk hero has is an exposed betrayal of the folk. Trump fawns over his base, and they reciprocate.
I think it is a mistake to believe that Trump’s supporters don’t see his lying or corruption. They do. But, to them, it is all part of the show and the lore. They have personal relationships and work relationships like the rest of us, and those relationships depend on honesty and virtue. They, like my mother did, are allowing in him something that they would not allow in themselves. The British Council wrote of his legend: “Despite his superpowers, at the heart of the Monkey King’s appeal is his human fallibility — he is greedy, selfish, and prone to sudden changes of mood and outbursts of exceptional violence. He defies divine authority, laughs at attempts to be controlled, and leaves chaos in his wake. But we know that there is fundamental good within him. He is the misbehaving child who only needs a firm hand and a sense of purpose to come good.” Sound familiar? Anti-Trump forces must stop operating as if they are doing battle with a liar; they are doing battle with what his supporters have fashioned into a legend. How does one fight a fiction, a fantasy? That’s the question. Its answer is the path to America’s salvation.
The result has been that, even as the GOP has achieved remarkably little for the Christian right over the past four decades, the ironclad relationship between white evangelical churchgoers and Republicans has, if anything, grown stronger. The Christian right’s ability to convince white evangelicals that only political power can bring about meaningful change makes it one of the most important political movements in post-World War II America. It has convinced millions of Christians to reject the teachings of Jesus about the dangers of worldly power and put their trust in political saviors to advance God’s work in the nation and around the globe. Today, the Christian right remains focused on the Supreme Court. Many white evangelical churchgoers now see the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade as equivalent to their call to share the Gospel with unbelievers. They subscribe to the message that the only way to live out evangelical faith in public is to vote for the candidates who will most effectively execute the 40-year-old Christian right playbook.
The movement’s message is so strong that even when pastors oppose the politicization of their religion, the message is not likely to persuade congregants. Indeed, many white evangelical pastors do not preach politics from their pulpit. Some speak boldly against the idolatrous propensity of their congregations to seek political saviors. But these pastors cannot control the messaging their flocks imbibe after they leave church on Sunday. And a massive Christian right messaging machine targets these Americans with precision. Ministries and nonprofit organizations, driven by conservative political agendas, bombard the mailboxes, inboxes and social media feeds of ordinary evangelicals. Evangelicals filter what they hear during weekly sermons through Fox News and conservative talk radio, producing an approach to political engagement that looks more like the Republican Party than the Kingdom of God.
None of this is new. People in the pews (or in the case of evangelical megachurches, the chairs), have always been selective in how they apply their pastor’s sermons in everyday life. Cable television and social media expose white evangelicals to ideas that come from outside the church but that claim to be driven by Christianity at an unprecedented rate. This strange but long-standing mix of biblical Christianity and conservative talking points empowers an incompetent and immoral president. It will likely have disastrous consequences for the future mission of born-again Christianity in the United States, as the redemptive message of the Gospel becomes little more than a political agenda that turns off those who otherwise might be longing for the spiritual solace it provides. As long as the Christian right continues to hold sway in white evangelical churches, and as long as parachurch organizations encourage its agenda, the support for Donald Trump among these Christians who attend church regularly will remain steady.