Donald Trump bends the Republican Party over and makes it cry “Uncle” in Cleveland.
Something smells foul in Cleveland, and for once, it isn’t Lake Erie fish die-offs, the polluted Cuyahoga River, or the Indians’ post-All-Star Break performance. Nope, the stench wafting above the city’s majestic brown and gray skyline came from the Quicken Loans Arena, where the Republican Party officially coronated its own version of a mid-20th century authoritarian Strongman on July 21, 2016.
Historically, America’s conservative party has been no stranger to political scare-tactics, but in his speech to officially accept the Republican presidential nomination, Donald J. Trump — he of the bombastic ego and even more bombastic roadkill coiffure — laid out an apocalyptic vision of America that was beholden less to Ronald Reagan that it was to Immortan Joe.
George Wallace campaigns in 1962 on behalf of aggrieved white dudes across Dixie.
As the presidential primaries bleed into an American spring that’s sure to be unlike any other in recent political memory, one thing has remained bewilderingly consistent: Donald Trump has made the Republican Party his chew toy, and like a stubborn beagle who just found your favorite pair of socks, he isn’t letting go. Whether the boorish billionaire wins or loses the GOP’s presidential nomination, he’s already made his bug-splatter-like mark on the American national windshield, and it’s gonna take a hell of a lot scrubbing to clean off.
Plenty of commentators (including your’s truly) have placed Trump within a rich tradition of American demagoguery. Few comparisons, however, have been more apt than the striking similarities between The Donald and Deep-South reactionary George Wallace, who ran for president during the 1960s and 1970s on a platform of reactionary racism, crude anti-intellectualism, and economic populism.
The Donald’s presidential run proves that pretty much any billowing gas bag can run for president, as long as they have tons of cash.
Donald Trump embodies what it means to be American. No, seriously, hear me out. The Donald is loud, brash, and seemingly allergic to the concept of nuance. Indeed, Trump appears to possess a bottomless well of misguided self-confidence completely unpolluted by the mitigating toxin known as shame. That alone would put him in the pantheon of American leaders who not only carried big sticks, but also wagged them incessantly into the rest of the world’s collectively embarrassed mug.