Convince me

Perhaps the only facet of the modern GOP that lives up to its name is the “old” part. Not just the fact that they are predominantly represented by old white men, but the fact that they are stuck on an old presidential administration. Just 35 House Republicans voted in favor of the investigative commission regarding the Capitol riots. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is leading the charge against it in the Senate. Over in Maricopa County, the Cyber Ninjas (whom I wouldn’t hire to install antivirus software on my computer) are conducting an absurd circus that they are calling an audit – not quite as headline-catching as Viking cosplayers storming the seat of government, but a ludicrous process that has been characterized as an equally dangerous “adminsurrection.”

Now it’s no secret as to why the legislators are endorsing such lunacy – Trump is an easy ticket to power and wealth. Look at Elise Stefanik: By all accounts a moderate Republican who even has a legislative record of opposition to Trump; but boy did her career skyrocket when she boarded the Trump Train. Like Kayleigh McEnany, Ben Shapiro, Tomi Lahren and others, Stefanik is smart. Evil. But smart. Like Tucker Carlson, Mike Lindell, and majority of the GOP legislators and Trump loyalists, Stefanik has sold her soul to amass power and wealth. Sure, it’s a morally bankrupt path that I’m pretty sure reserves them all suites in the deepest circles of Hell, but I at least understand where they are coming from. Trump offered them a golden escalator to power and they didn’t hesitate. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I also understand why so many Republican voters still support Trump’s claim to the Oval Office. That’s a matter of demographics. Without a strong grounding in civics, people are eager to believe that the snake oil Trump sells is their ticket to prosperity. Trump knows how to appeal to his base of the largely white non-college electorate. For a long time, we could not understand why poor rural working class voters identified so strongly with a rich trust fund urbanite whose ego had crashed so many businesses and torn apart so many lives with utter impunity. But looking back, we can probably say that it wasn’t that complex at all: He spoke their language – he’s not that smart and neither are majority of his voters.

To those who will look to that statement as brash elitism from an arrogant, erudite liberal S.O.B., let me confirm that I do not consider intelligence as a measure of morality or worth; plenty of brilliant people (like those mentioned here) are what Hillary Clinton rightly described as deplorable. And plenty of not-so-smart people form the sturdy, wonderful building blocks of society. In fact, if you’ve ever seen how hard I struggle to halve a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, you might agree that I’m in good company in the not-so-smart crowd. But Trump knows how to tie his voters’ worth to their insecurities and mobilize that. Because it’s probably what he’s been doing throughout his whole life. Why else would he put his name on everything if not for deep insecurity? I’m a communications professional, and trust me – that’s not how you build a reputable brand.

But one thing that has eluded me ever since he first declared his candidacy is what on earth he stands for politically. What are his policies?! Right now, there is a growing group of people who want to see Trump back in office. All I ask is – for what? Let’s tease out this Republican wet dream that democracy is overthrown and their autocrat is reinstated as our country’s chancellor. To what end?

Unlike the poor journalists who for four years hung perilously onto his every unhinged Tweet for fear of breaking news of the next World War, it was my own morbid and masochistic curiosity that drove me to read through the past three months of his mad ramblings on his new blog (if it could generously be called that).

Deadly fighting in Israel; a virus that has wracked the world for over a year; a worsening climate; you name it. Our world is in a fragile place, and the United States is center stage. But you would glean none of that if you read the former President’s blog. Other than a few scarce comments that blame the current administration for all the woes of the world, it is almost exclusively propaganda promoting the Big Lie and deriding anyone who challenges him. Much like his previous social media platforms and perhaps his persona as a whole, there is no substance. And (thank goodness) his blog is not even that popular. But the threat looms dark on the horizon. He is not without a voice, even if he is without his megaphone, and he is certainly not without a Messianic following.

But where are they following him to? He is a navigator without a compass or a map or even a notion of where he wants to end up. For him, the journey certainly seems to be the destination. As long as he has a spotlight, he prospers. Since leaving office, Trump has charged the Secret Service more in lodging than many of his supporters earn in a year. But do his supporters not realize that their savior is keelhauling them?

That the Republican incumbent could not secure a second term on the heels of a crisis over which he presided is rare in modern history and speaks to his complete failure as the country’s executive officer – the one meant to execute public policy. At no point in his administration did he ever have a plan, never mind a strategic one. I’ve echoed variations of the same rebuttal for five years now to anyone who feels that we need a “Washington outsider” to run things for a while: Would you have that same attitude about your doctor? There’s a reason career public servants are the ones we choose to serve the public. A defining feature of public administration is that it is not, in fact, private – it is quite mutually exclusive, and necessarily so. And while the gears of bureaucracy often turn painfully slowly, the remedy must come from within – that’s how our country’s founders safeguarded their new experiment against authoritarianism.

Maybe Trump could best be likened to a hurricane. No one element alone contributes to his destructive power, but the greed of legislators, the financing from special interests, the under-education of his base, the pathology of White Supremacy, and his own toxic ego combine to create a formidable enemy to civil society.

But is it really that nauseatingly hollow? Is it all ego and greed and no policy? After four years of his presidency, I finally agree that we need to make America great again. But if Trump were to re-assume his place at the top of our government, what actions do his supporters hope to see that will make America great again? Convince me!

Published by Brian Bayer

With a degree in journalism from John Carroll University, Brian's post-collegiate road took him to Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he spent three and a half years wearing various hats, including as a teacher, a community outreach volunteer, and a freelance writer focusing on themes of social justice, poverty, and healthcare. While bearing witness to incredible injustice and inequity, he decided to seek the solutions by returning to his hometown of Pittsburgh and to pursue a graduate degree in International Development, which he earned in 2021. He is a proud fellow of the New Leaders Council, alumni of the Johnson Leadership Portfolio program, and serves as a board member with the Sto-Rox Neighborhood Health Council. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Progress Pages, he hopes to provide a creative outlet for innovative minds seeking to elevate progressive ideology.

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