One of my criticisms of third parties in American politics is their targeting the top office in the land, rather than the steps that lead to it, and then running candidates with little or no experience in public office for the job.
A crucial part of that experience, we should note, comes in campaigning itself. Can a candidate deliver a consistent message, face the voters, manage a staff, build an organization, raise funds, face criticism? It’s all stuff that will be needed once in office when addressing the details of legislation and governmental budgeting and management.
Little did I expect the Republican Party to find itself taken hostage by this situation when Donald J. Trump captured the nomination. Put simply, his lack of experience is showing in what may be fatal ways.
Yes, the GOP is fielding a full slate of candidates, but it’s lost control at the top.
Trump is a first-timer with no previous political resume, apart from the bribes he made all along disguised as campaign donations. This morning’s New York Times tells of one consequence of those connections – New Jersey’s attempt to collect $30 million in overdue taxes from Trump’s failed casinos, at least until Chris Christie stepped in and reduced it to a $5 million settlement. Sound familiar? And that’s Trump’s “law and order” ideal? It’s more like picking the pocket of every man, woman, and child in the Garden State for $3 apiece. That, or just an extra tax burden for that amount. You can bet it’s hardly the only example of his mode of operation, as we’ll no doubt be reading in the weeks ahead.
It’s no way to run a government, for certain. Or, for that matter, a long-term business. And as for Trump, if we can believe his bravado, the $25 million would have been pocket change.
Is Trump the Chump a fitting label? You can see who picked up the debt.
The New Jersey story, mind you, is only No. 2 on the day’s Trump news cycle. The bigger report is on his latest campaign staff shakeup, demoting Paul Manafort and naming conservative website operator Steve Bannon as his drive’s CEO and promoting Kellyanne Conway as its manager. She’s expected to travel with him, whether to fire him up or keep him on a leash remains to be seen. As for experience in running a campaign? Bannon has none, while Conway’s been a Republican pollster. Neither, apparently, has done ground-level organization work.
The moves can be seen as a reaction for Trump to retool in a more focused and restrained manner – or else. As the Washington Post is reporting, Bannon had been urging Trump to ignore those who want him to tone it down. So you can expect the outrageous statements to escalate. Remember when Sarah Palin “went rogue”? Oh, my.
Trump’s response, then, is defiance, reflecting his inflexible nature and inability to adapt to challenges. Yes-men who tell the boss what he wants to hear are always a danger in an enterprise. “Iceberg? What iceberg?” as the mate would have told the captain of the Titanic.
As for the Republicans, the appointment of the controversial Bannon, known for his disgust at both parties, could be final straw. The GOP may have to cut and run after all. As I was saying about third parties? In addition, those party loyalists who have been sticking with Trump while hoping for something to improve may find they’ve waited too long to bail. How long will the stigma stick?
This is really getting messy. Who would have anticipated this plot line?