After watching Donald Trump yelling at the world Wednesday night, I'm more discouraged than ever about the current state of the American political process. How could this have possibly gone so far? Are we really this vulnerable to the whimsy of necrotic populism? Sadly, we are and there are scant firewalls to prevent it from happening again and again.
In case you missed it, Trump's whiplash posture -- one minute "softening," the next minute going full Hulk Smash -- was on unavoidable display Wednesday, beginning with his awkward meeting with Mexican President Peña Nieto and concluding with what was supposed to be a major policy address, but which ended up being one of the most horrifying presidential-level speeches ever. In addition to the apocalyptic hatred and loudness of Trump's rant, it was, of course, loaded with terrible speechwriting, joined by outright fiction.
For example, Trump went off-prompter to declare that no one knows how many undocumented immigrants are in the United States, saying, "Our government has no idea. It could be three million. It could be 30 million. They have no idea what the number is... But whatever the number, that's never really been the central issue. It will never be a central issue. It doesn't matter from that standpoint."
Seconds later, Trump said, "[T]here are 11 million illegal immigrants who don't have legal status." He just said that no one knows how many "illegals" are here, but then continued by announcing there are 11 million "illegal immigrants who don't have legal status." Illegal immigrants don't have legal status -- as opposed to legal immigrants who don't have legal status? Huh? Shitty, awful, inexcusably bad writing.
Lost in all of Trump's yelling, lies and redundant language was the fact that immigration isn't really an issue, currently. The Republicans have more or less invented it due to voting demographics showing an emerging Latino majority that'd surely hand the Democrats a ruling majority. However, we know for a fact that Mexican migration is a net negative right now with more Mexicans leaving the U.S. than are arriving. The Washington Post's Philip Bump posted the following graph illustrating the rate:
So, when Trump repeated that the Obama administration has an "open border" policy, he was clearly lying. One out of many, many, many lies.
Details aside, let's get back to the big picture here. If Trump's undisciplined pandering and screechy malevolence ever becomes the standard for American politics, I don't want any part of it. I can't repeat this enough: we're on the brink of disaster, with roughly five percentage points separating us from Trump and the abyss.
Simply put: Trump is an embarrassment to civilization. A crackpot who exploited a broken party and a broken nominating process to threaten the world.
Within our present system, a reality show demagogue can parlay his tabloid popularity into a run for president. He can win the nomination by appealing to the basest, cruelest, most simplistic instincts of reactionary voters who are too ignorant and lazy to understand the finer points of issues and who are mostly brainwashed by an impermeable bubble in which a bottomless well of misinformation and propaganda, carefully designed and crafted to tap into the reptilian brains of the poorly educated and easily influenced, deceives enough voters to cast a winning number of ballots in support of this destructive figure.
He can emerge from the nominating process more or less unscathed, even though he blunders into an ongoing series of fatal errors, multiple times per day, then, a few days later, he somehow gains in the polls simply by not blurting as many racist, insensitive things as he did when he was badly trailing the Democratic nominee.
He can literally sidestep every standard by which all other candidates are expected to achieve, and the news media, along with a frustratingly large chunk of the voting public, will give him a pass anyway. Again, he can say a million things that no other candidate could possibly get away with, and because the news media has been rendered completely impotent before the false accusation of liberal bias, the existential threat he poses -- the urgent relating of facts that'd easily disqualify him -- will take a back seat to horse-race narratives and smirky roundtables in which, inexplicably, Bill Kristol, who's always wrong about everything, pops up on the liberal network, MSNBC, because fuck us. (Kristol appeared on Lawrence O'Donnell's show Wednesday night. I have no idea why.)
Worse, this horrible embarrassment can still win most of the same states won by previous Republican nominees, despite being a dilettante -- a feckless empty suit with punchline hair. And this amateur will continue to be compared and contrasted with a woman who's objectively lightyears more qualified. But that's irrelevant when there's an equivalence quota to fill on cable news.
While the Democrats have superdelegates, the GOP nominating process is without a firewall to prevent another Trump. And so the Republican Party needs to devise one now. I mean, right fucking now. I know Bernie Sanders supporters are cursing at me for saying it, but I simply don't care. The superdelegate system as it exists today is, obviously, crucial to the future of democracy. Without a stopgap to prevent populist weirdos from getting this far on the backs of screaming yokels and impressionable fanboys, we're vulnerable to more Trumps. And if you think there can't be a Democratic Trump, you're very wrong. Without a firewall, anything can happen. Again, Trump is all the evidence one requires to make a case for superdelegates. Though, infuriatingly, the Sanders people successfully managed to de-fang the process, subject to approval next year -- even in the face of Trump's ascendancy.
Author and Newsweek columnist Kurt Eichenwald wrote, "Our country has gone insane. Willful ignorance, a steady diet of propaganda, & lazy reporters aching 2 impress each other are destroying us."
That's about right. Trump has exposed a massive loophole in the system, created by all the things Eichenwald and I have enumerated. The sooner this loophole is closed and sealed, the safer we'll all be. Leaving it open will amount to the end of America as we know it -- either this November or inevitably sometime in the future.