Wham!

I apologize for this post right off the top. I do have other subjects -- in fact whole other posts, already written and ready to go. But this one is going up now, actuated by a David Brooks column, but beyond that by the coming bizarre accession and my anticipation of calamity. And I’m not alone, of course. That noise you’re hearing is the nation (half of it anyway) scanning ahead on the calendar, and the loud crash of mass denial collapsing before reality. In two and a half weeks, Donald Trump will become president. Say it. Say it again.

All fall and into winter I’ve tried to explain to those Trump voters I know that my opposition to the man goes way beyond politics, since Trump’s own disqualifying qualities themselves do.  Indeed, Trump’s program – such as it is – lies at least a few points to my side of, say, Ted Cruz’s, so you’d expect someone like me to have favored Trump over Cruz. And in normal circumstances I’d gag at the thought of Cruz getting anywhere near the White House. But these are not normal circumstances.

If Cruz were president, we’d know exactly what we were getting – a constitutionally extremist social conservative with a penchant for oily grandstanding. What’s not to like there? Seriously, though, with that person and program in the White House, at least you’d know what to expect and how to align and organize against it. You wouldn’t like the content of Cruz as President, in other words, but the container, the form, would still be the familiar functional one of a politician in an office and a capacity of governance.

Trump, on the other hand, presents little to no recognizable aspect of that capacity whatsoever. He seems to say, think or do whatever the hell he wants to. Great for a guy at a party – or on a farcical reality show. But as President of the United States?

I don’t always like David Brooks, but his column today in the Times, “The Snapchat Presidency of Donald Trump,” aptly explains, point by distressing point, why Trump in all his recklessness, shallowness, attention-seeking and self-obsession is a uniquely unsettling, indeed unimaginable (except that it happened) person to function as our nation’s chief executive.

At any rate, here is the column that explains why I wish Ted Cruz, or pretty much anyone, were about to become president, rather than Donald Trump.

If you’re one of the Trump voters who believes he has the qualities likely to make America great, then all I can say is that you voted naively, angrily, willfully or ignorantly, and are likely to experience a yuuuuge disappointment. And if you’re a Trump voter who either privately or openly agrees with Brooks’ analysis, then you voted cynically, understanding that Trump himself is a facade, but believing he’ll likely be a useful one – a colorful curtain behind which this or that powerful conservative interest will effectively mobilize, as Brooks forecasts. 

But I’ll let his gloomily insightful article speak for itself. Read it and weep. Or tremble.

Rand Richards Cooper is a contributing editor to Commonweal

Please email comments to letters@commonwealmagazine.org and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

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