I got the weirdest email the other night from Donald Trump. He said he loved me. It was very confusing, because the smart people in the media keep telling me how hateful a man he is. It was so confusing it got me thinking: where the hell did this guy sending me love notes come from anyway?
The original plan was as deliriously simple as it was devilish: invent a creature so loathsome, voters would do ANYTHING to avoid letting it anywhere near our sacred power. Make the creature vainglorious, racist, sexist, make it a bull in a china shop, willing and able to smash any convention or piety. Go a step further and make it that thing white people fear most: a criminal. That’s the ticket! With such a creature lurking about like a stalking horse, we could even elect the least like-able woman in the country, or the most intellectually-challenged senior citizen.
So brilliant was this plan, it couldn’t possibly fail. Or could it?
With the once invincible Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pulling out of the GOP nominating contest on Sunday, the time has come to ask whether or not the “anyone but Trump” strategy is indeed as clever as the people who rely on it for their livelihoods believe it to be. The answer to that question will come down to former South Carolina governor and US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s performance in next door New Hampshire. Right now, the tarot cards don’t look so good for her: polls show her down double digits on primary day.
It’s time for a confession. I used to be a member of The Establishment. You know, the kind of people who give Nikki Haley money. The kind of people who, like our very own senior senator, Susan Collins, take money from vulture capitalist and original Steele Dossier funder Paul Singer to keep Mitch McConnell and rest of The Establishment in business. I used to gnash my teeth whenever anyone mentioned Trump. I even voted against Trump twice, and it would probably take an act of God to get me to vote for him this November. But then a bunch of stuff happened and now I can’t help wondering if I was being conned.
At the same time Trump sent me that love note last night, Haley sent me a text. She said Trump was attacking her from the stage. I think she wanted money, but maybe she was genuinely concerned. I’m going to withhold judgement until I can get some more information on that.
In the meantime, one thing is becoming clearer. “Anyone but Trump” is a loser’s strategy. No matter how many times Joe Biden tells me our democracy is in peril (I used to promote democracy in places where it actually is, so call me cynical), I’m not going to believe he is wiser, more competent, or, as a shrinking number of Americans keep telling themselves in ever more self-defeating fits of cognitive dissonance, that he (Biden) “is a good man.” As former President George W. Bush (who actually is a good man) once said, “fool me once…”
All of this Monday morning thinking has led me to a crazy idea: what if the smart folks who are intent on thwarting the growing likelihood that Donald Trump again wins the presidency tried something different. That’s right, instead of trying to convict him on any charge, in any jurisdiction, or striking him from the ballot as our own immensely talented Secretary of State here in Maine has done, or pretending to think its hilarious when Alec Baldwin (who himself just got charged with a crime) parodies him, how about talking about things that actually matter to ordinary Americans?
You know, like the economy (it’s ok to be honest and say we’re beset by inflationary pressures, that food costs more and our wages aren’t going up), the growing sense of hopelessness that’s afflicting the old and the young alike, or America’s declining influence in the world. That kind of stuff. Finding solutions to those problems is admittedly harder than bashing Trump. But I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that finding those answers is more important.