For months now we have been talking about, listening to, and writing about the candidacy of Donald J Trump. We have all eaten crow with our predictions of his imminent failure and he has been more than happy to remind us of our folly. I still can’t understand his success, or maybe I just don’t want to acknowledge the truth. We cannot dispute either his ranking in the polls or the size of his crowds wherever he goes. Nor can we deny his crassness, his xenophobia or his incredible intolerance. While we are tired of his unabashed egocentric behavior, obviously his supporters are not. To many of us he presents an aberration in what we thought we knew about political behavior in this country. We don’t even ask how low he can go anymore. He has answered that without hesitation time and time again. However, his most troubling move in recent days is to add Sarah Palin to his campaign.
While we have all hoped that Palin had become a bad memory of irrational and ignorant rhetoric cast upon the irrational and ignorant, we were sorely disappointed last night. There she was once again spewing the nonsense that made her a heroine to the ignorant, uneducated, angry, intolerant, xenophobic masses that populate the underbelly of our civil society. These are people whose only excuse for failure is everyone else’s success. Palin feeds these attitudes and makes them feel like the victims of a government that has been taken over by the “other”. Palin reaches into the cesspool of our society and tells its swimmers that they have every right to be angry. They have a right to feel contemptuous of all who look different, pray differently or love differently. Sarah Palin makes them feel good about themselves again.
As I watched Palin on the stage last night ranting about all of the bad that must be remedied and all of the evil that must be obliterated I watched Trump smiling from ear to ear like a proud papa. It’s as if she was validating all that he had been saying these many months. After all, if Sarah Palin, darling of the extreme right is agreeing with me, then I must be right and I am after all a true conservative. It is obviously his hope that Palin’s alliance would once and for all shut down the questions about his true conservatism. It is first and foremost a strategic move against Cruz. As with everything else that Trump has done during these last several months, this is an alliance of convenience, not necessarily of shared ideology. Palin is a true believer who brings with her a conservative base that Trump needs in Iowa and the South. Trump more than anything is a power hungry egomaniac who will do or say anything necessary to win. His is a candidacy that eschews substance and truth in favor of platitude and superficial solution. The fact is, in Palin he met his soul mate.
Most troubling is what this means for the campaign. Anyone who had hopes that Trump would be forced to respond to questions in a substantive way will be waiting until the cows come home. Palin’s addition to the campaign is a clear signal that substance is a nuisance that they will simply ignore. What is equally troubling is that those who support him are willing to allow this behavior to continue. To those who hope that Trump will end up the nominee because they have little doubt that he will go down in flames in a general election be careful what you hope for. I am not as convinced as many that he will be defeated in a general election. The addition of Palin to the campaign simply means that his campaign will be even more dumbed down than it has been. How big is his audience? How will our electorate really react to a Trump candidacy? I don’t really believe anyone knows or that any prediction at this time is valid. If they tell you they know, they are dumbing down the predictions.