Donald Trump's in the headlines again, and as usual, it's because of sinister and criminal activity. This time, there's the added bonus of suspected espionage, likely around nuclear secrets, because Trump's criminal aesthetic is as understated as his tacky gold-plated New York penthouse. Unsurprisingly, this is causing some in the GOP elite to occasionally slip up, and allow their longing for Trump to just go away to peek out.
"The country I think is so exhausted," Fox News host Laura Ingraham said Monday on a right-wing podcast. "They're exhausted by the battle, the constant battle, that they may believe that, well, maybe it's time to turn the page if we can get someone who has all Trump's policies, who's not Trump."
Of course, Ingraham fails to remember that the majority of the country has always opposed Trump, who lost the popular vote by millions in both 2016 and 2020. Like most Republican pundits, she habitually conflates "the country" with "Republican voters," who are a minority, just one with disproportionate power due to serious flaws in the constitution.
Poor word choice aside, Ingraham's argument is basically that the corruption is finally wearing thin and that Republican primary voters may very well be ready to nominate someone else in 2024. Someone who is just as fascist, but without all the crime and corruption. Someone like, well, Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is even more authoritarian than Trump, but appears to have a lot less personal drama due to spending his non-work hours powered down at a recharging station.
Will Republican voters finally get sick of Trump or are they sticking by him no matter how cartoonish his crimes get?
And unsurprisingly, Ingraham is getting livid pushback from Trump loyalists. Newsmax host Eric Bolling unloaded on her Tuesday.
"What do you mean, 'No Trump?'" Bolling whined. "What's wrong with you?"
This debate between Ingraham and Bolling is refracted through their personal desires. Ingraham's job is secure, Trump or no Trump, and so she's likely just feeling personally exhausted by defending the utterly indefensible, night after night. Bolling is at Newsmax, where he landed after being fired after sexual harassment allegations at Fox News, only because of his skills as a Trump sycophant. But while their views are defined entirely by their career ambitions, it is reasonable to ask who is right: Will Republican voters finally get sick of Trump or are they sticking by him no matter how cartoonish his crimes get?
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The answer is the latter.
Yeah, yeah I know there's polling and focus group data that suggest otherwise, but Trump will easily knock out his primary competitors in 2024, as he did in 2016, with the puerile bullying that so thrills the GOP base. More crucially, this "exhaustion" argument fails to understand that Trump's criminality is not something that Republican voters merely tolerate — it is central to his appeal to Republican voters, especially primary voters.
Crushing the rule of law and demonstrating that the only thing that matters is tribalism and power is the entire point of Trumpism.
Trump is a unique figure in American politics in two major ways. First, no other president has come even close to Trump, in terms of corruption and criminality. His rap sheet of sexual assault, financial crime, fraud, election cheating, attempted election theft, and blackmail schemes is so long that anyone who tries to recite it all invariably forgets another dozen scandals. Second, no ex-president has ever been so powerful, at least in the modern era. There's a reason people who leave the office never run again, even if they are popular like, say, Barack Obama. They know that their party's voters are usually ready for some fresh blood.
Trump's criminality helps explain his cult-like hold over the GOP base. His degeneracy is aspirational to these voters, who like to imagine that they, too, are along for the ride of floating above law and custom. (The audacity of the January 6 insurrectionists illustrates this phenomenon. The conveyor belt into jail for them illustrates the delusional nature of it all.) But the appeal of Trump's malevolence goes beyond the right's fantasies of reality TV villainy. It's about ideology. Fascism and corruption are as inseparable as Rudy Giuliani and cheap hair dye.
Fascism, authoritarianism, whatever you want to call it: It's an ideology that exists to refute modern ideals like democracy and equality under the law. Instead, it's about worshipping power and enforcing strict social hierarchies where the empowered class gets to do what it likes, while the oppressed classes have to live under the yoke. Openly flouting the law isn't just a demonstration of power. It's a tribute to the fascist ideal, where "the law" is something that only applies to the hated out-groups. (Yes, yes, I'm familiar with Frank Wilhoit's famous 2018 blog comment you are about to quote at me.) So Trumpers aren't hypocrites for wanting Hillary Clinton locked up for not committing any real crime while hoping Trump escapes justice. Crushing the rule of law and demonstrating that the only thing that matters is tribalism and power is the entire point of Trumpism.
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A fascist leader who isn't also corrupt and a criminal doesn't make sense. What is the point of having all that power, if you're not going to flaunt your ability to get away with behavior that "lesser" people go straight to jail for? Plus, it drives liberals crazy when Trump gets away with yet another crime, and nothing tickles the GOP erogenous zones like infuriated liberals.
They demand total immunity for people in their tribe while passing laws to destroy people they don't like for things that shouldn't be crimes.
Rep. Liz Cheney's devastating primary loss in Wyoming Tuesday night perfectly illustrates this. Sure, there are lots of factors that feed into it, including the non-stop villainization of her in right-wing media and, of course, Republican misogyny. Ultimately, however, Cheney's defeat was a result of her rejecting the central motivating concern of Trumpism, which is the obliteration of rule of law in favor of a society organized solely on the basis of status and power. Cheney is rigidly right-wing in most ways, but she drew the line at how much impunity power should buy a person like Trump. For Republican primary voters, that is inexcusable. What good is power if you still have to live by some of the rules that you would enforce on others?
Having a president who gets away with serious crimes, while Black Lives Matter protesters and leftists are imprisoned and tear-gassed for no real reason, is pure heaven for the power-obsessed fascists that make up the most enthusiastic portion of the GOP base. There are, of course, other Republican voters who aren't quite as obsessive. But those people tend to vote less in primaries. That's why the increasingly unhinged radicals increasingly dominate the GOP candidate list.
It's not just Trump, either. From Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania to Kari Lake in Arizona to Tudor Dixon in Michigan, the candidates who are performing well with Republican primary voters, even in swing states, are those who are running on a platform of pure authoritarianism. They demand total immunity for people in their tribe while passing laws to destroy people they don't like for things that shouldn't be crimes, like aborting problem pregnancies or admitting that gay people exist. That, more than anything, is what their voters want.
Defending Trump for possible espionage may make Ingraham's job more annoying, but don't cry for the woman who made herself rich feeding fascist lies to an aging GOP base. Trump is exhausting, but that's exactly why his base loves him. He's successfully built a fantasy that titillates them: The man who can commit crimes without limit and never faces a moment of real accountability for it.
Sure, they may feel moments of doubt, since "flagrant criminal" really isn't a good image for a general election candidate. But when primary voting time comes around, the vicarious thrill of getting away with it will always trump Republican voters' more rational concerns. The only way to break the cycle is for Trump to face real criminal penalties, and prove that he does not possess the superhuman powers his base imagines him to have.
IN REALTED: Fox News’ Laura Ingraham admits 'exhausted' Americans may finally be done with Trump
Fox News’ Laura Ingraham admits 'exhausted' Americans may finally be done with Trump www.youtube.com