Forgetting for a moment that he’s crazy — a birther “politician” leading the Republican field, really? — there’s little that Trump adds to the ticket, and a lot he subtracts. The only thing I can tell that he adds, as the New York Post’s headliner for today seems to concede, is that he has just an ungodly sum of money.
On the other hand, the danger he presents seems much greater. To get an idea of why, picture this event described by Politico: a tea party event, headlined by Donald Trump. Doesn’t that feel wrong? But why?
As the avatar of the super-rich, Trump, to me at least, points out an uncomfortable (inconvenient?) truth for the tea party. It’s an ideology that disproportionately benefits the super-rich, on the backs of the super-poor, with homophobia and sexism tacked on as a sort of enteric coating to make the whole package palatable to some subset of the latter. Trump is a Galt-type hero of capitalism (YouTube), but it’s not clear what those who aren’t similarly situated gain at the end of Atlas Shrugged, aside from the gift of observing a human apotheosis in which they can claim no share. Perhaps tea party conservatism has a populist element. Sarah Palin certainly seems to think so. But the Galts of the world — and the massive, entangling corporations they represent — were the populists’ traditional enemies. To the extent that post-Reagan conservatism has transmuted populism into some loose coalition aligned against the morals rather than the power of the “elites,” meaning, people who live in cities, I wonder if that’s a reaction the right wants to test in the crucible of presidential politics.
I think no. Which leads one to wonder, how nervous are real politicians about this latest stunt? And when will a real frontrunner emerge, to put a definite end to it?