The most confounding part about the success of Donald Trump in getting a very large part of the American electorate to support him is just that — that Trump has a very large part of the American electorate supporting him. Despite his almost complete ignorance of foreign affairs, his almost complete lack of specific plans for the major issues facing Americans and his almost complete lack of respect for minorities and women, the core elements of the Republican political brokerage continue to give money and send out their spinners to try to salvage this bleakest of candidacies.
Those segments of the Republican constituencies that have continued their support for Trump will find it more and more difficult to support the man when every day brings new revelations of his open disdain for minorities and women and his almost complete lack of fitness for office. Evangelicals, Republican women, minority Republicans are all having whatever motivation they had for supporting him eroded to non-existence. The poll numbers in swing states, and even in states solidly within the Republican family, tell the tale of desertion from the disaster that is now Donald Trump.
Yet still the money comes. Still the Kochs and the Adelmans keep pouring in millions to keep Trump in the race. And still the spinners are showing up on the news shows and doing their dogged pivots, answering questions about Trump’s disgusting statements with the same tired attacks on Clinton’s record.
Why? And, once we ask that question, we have to ask about all the rest — voter restriction laws, legislative obstruction, refusal to do their constitutional duty on Obama’s Supreme Court appointee. the blatant gerrymandering, etc.: what is the overarching principle driving all of this? It can’t be anything spiritual, because this man has insulted the very notion of spirituality. It can’t be the conventional principles that define true conservatism — smaller government, commitment to family values, etc. — because this man routinely insults every one of these.
What then? I suggest that there is only one possible explanation: money. For some time now, the money behind Republican candidates have had three goals: reduce income taxes for the wealthy, reduce the capital gains tax, and eliminate the inheritance tax. They have succeeded, and have likely done so beyond their wildest dreams. In doing so, they have driven the American economy to the edge of bankruptcy, and they know it. Their single thought now is to hang on to their fleecing of America as long as they can.
So, they will support even this most disgusting of people to the very end, and, I suppose, when the people have finally come to their senses and restored on the wealthy a reasonable income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax, they will console themselves with the observation that they gained more than they ever thought possible.
More perhaps than any other event in our time, more even than the massive fraud perpetrated by Wells Fargo or the even more massive fraud perpetrated by the entire financial industry with subprime mortgages, the continued financial support of Donald Trump illustrates, nay more proves beyond any doubt, the single-minded commitment of the Trump money men and their ilk to a policy of unadulterated self-interest. Nothing — not the middle class, not the religious communities, certainly not the poor and needy, and most of all not the American ideal — outweighs their determination to feather their own nests by accumulating wealth beyond measure.
The great and terrible fear, apparently irrelevant to these money mongers but stomach-grinding to the rest of us, is that this obsession with self-interest would eventually bring down the country itself. There is, however, hope too. Trump is the natural consequence of the years of greed. By his conduct, he leaves the façade of sincerity that greed has forced upon the Republican party in irreparable tatters. It also, one can only hope, will drive those who supported Trump to this bitter end to do a bottom-up examination of conscience about what they really want America to be. Our nation was founded on the absolutely unquestionable obligation that we have to the rights of every human being. We have, for these and other reasons, wandered far from that defining first principle. Maybe, just maybe, the disaster that is Donald Trump will haul us back to a recommitment to that founding ideal. And maybe the Republican party will rise from the ashes of this election to once again pursue policies defined by the true meaning of conservatism.
Let us hope.