Is Trump the GOP's Obama Moment?
Many critics of Donald Trump's presidential run have likened it to that of his predecessor, America's historic first Fraud in Chief, Barack Obama. The comparison is apt on various levels. One of the defining peculiarities of Trump's success so far – and I am not one of those who insist he could never win the general election – is that a populist movement inconceivable except as a reaction to the fallout of Obama's fundamental transformation of America actually echoes Obama's own strategy and substance in so many ways. Trump's followers, who in their patriotism ought to hate this fact, have instead chosen to aggressively conceal and deny it.
Let us take a moment, then, to consider some essential points of comparison between the political ascents of two hollow men who might well be meeting one another's masks in the Oval Office on January 20, 2017.
First, the rap sheet on President Obama:
Though he is a doctrinaire progressive according to his public record and past statements, he tries to evade this label during a presidential campaign. Being unprincipled and unscrupulous, he is willing to pursue his longstanding progressive aims – e.g., socialized medicine, amnesty for illegal immigrants, government manipulation of the economy and vital industries – pragmatically and by increments, while publicly pretending not to favor those more extreme goals.
He belongs to the secular liberal faction on social issues. Though he occasionally cites Scripture to pander to an audience, he always sounds ridiculous and insincere doing so. In truth, he vehemently defends Planned Parenthood against those who would cut off its federal funding. He proudly boasts of the friendship and/or public support of some of the age's leading icons of libertinism and amorality. He criticizes those who oppose preferential treatment for men who like to dress up as women and use girls' bathrooms, on which issue he is allied with the influential progressive young guns of the tech world, including even PayPal founder Peter Thiel, a libertarian and friend of Ann Coulter but a prominent "LGBT rights" activist. From these associations and many others, it is clear that he has consistently used his public voice and position to accelerate the anti-family (and therefore anti-republican) vulgarization of societal norms regarding sexual behavior, marriage and family, public decency, and personal modesty.
He instinctively favors using executive fiats to achieve his personal agenda in defiance of the principle of separation of powers, and he prefers economic and political solutions grounded in government intervention and personal bias to those that rely on the social and economic benefits of unfettered liberty. He uses the bully pulpit, his official and unofficial surrogates, and his media allies to rally his supporters and the general population against conservatives, who are belittled as inflexible extremists and religious kooks, or accused of being in the pocket of big oil or the Wall Street bankers.
He has a general propensity to view his public position as license to pontificate about any issue on which he believes his special brand of progressive pomposity is called for. Recall, for example, the way he inserted himself, superfluously and divisively, into the emotionally charged Trayvon Martin shooting case. He stoked already heightened racial tensions by criticizing shooter George Zimmerman's actions, and then, though conceding that the trial was conducted fairly, nevertheless issued an unnecessary, incendiary rant against Zimmerman himself after his acquittal – calling him "a bad guy," "no angel," and "nothing but trouble" – thus vindictively contributing to the sad ruination of a troubled man's life.
He perceives Middle America, rural citizens, and in general those not conforming to the progressive sensibilities of Big City USA (aka New York, Chicago, and L.A.) as poorly educated, mean-spirited, and unsophisticated. In fact, though framing his successful primary campaign as the triumph of an inexperienced outsider facing down the Washington machine, he has since been fully revealed, to the consternation of the rational minority of his early apologists, to be right at home in the world of crony capitalism, global lobbyists, and the kabuki theater of establishment politics.
When it comes to that kabuki theatre, he considers progressive pushover milquetoasts and sell-outs such as Chris Christie, Bob Corker, and John Boehner his kind of Republicans, while preferring unwavering leftists such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel as his kind of Democrats. He actively supported Clinton acolyte Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign in Virginia against conservative Ken Cuccinelli, repeatedly praised and defended Hillary Clinton's performance during her treasonous tenure as secretary of state, and has publicly vouched for Clinton's character, formidability as a presidential candidate, and personal likeability.
He smears political opponents who refuse to submit to the protocols of the progressive establishment's elitist collegiality as unlikeable, "heartless" cranks. What's worse, he threatens to employ the executive branch's bloated power as his personal weapon to intimidate or restrict opponents, such as unfriendly media voices and private entities whose business decisions he dislikes. He considers the Tea Party movement an enemy force, speaks out against its members, and has a consistent record of supporting overt and covert efforts to crush or undermine it.
He receives a wildly disproportionate amount of media coverage, much of it pretending to be unbiased reportage but actually carefully calibrated to boost the commitment of his base while dampening enthusiasm for his opponents. In conjunction with friendly factions within the media, he systematically, and apparently with no qualms of conscience, invents and perpetuates false narratives and bald-faced lies to misrepresent himself and his past, to discredit his opponents, or to protect himself from legitimate scrutiny or criticism.
He favors punishing businesses that do not play by arbitrary rules governed only by his personal notions of "fairness" and "justice"; he supports leftist policies that directly violate core principles of freedom and property rights, such as the minimum wage and affirmative action; and in the face of hard economic times, he knee-jerkingly proposes to subsidize or even nationalize industries he deems essential. In general, he displays such a level of ineptitude regarding the government's role in a national economy, including the crisis of unrestrained national debt, that one is forced to judge him either a dangerous economic illiterate or a dangerous economic subversive.
He leads a populist movement that openly rejects the republican restraints entrenched in the U.S. Constitution in favor of unrestrained deference to the leader's personal charisma and advocacy – i.e., demagoguery and tyranny. To this end, much of his rhetoric is cynically calculated to divide Americans into warring factions along economic, class, and racial lines in order to exploit the resulting anger and distrust. He encourages his followers to feel like victims of "the system," so that he may promote himself as their indispensable savior, and he has thus developed a cult following that irrationally who clings to a hyperbolic image of him, which flies in the face of his actual record, his well-known statements, and common sense.
Let that suffice, then, as a thumb-nail sketch of Barack Obama. Now let's turn to Donald Trump...oh, wait. That was Trump! Oops.
Oh, I know – "but the wall!" Sure, whatever makes you feel better.