Donald Trump’s biggest crime was winning the 2016 election. For our political and media elite in the Beltway, that was the catastrophic, unforgivable crime, from which all the other (imaginary) crimes they now pursue him for originated.
How dare he win that election? Didn’t he know the election belonged to Hillary Clinton, who’d been building up to this very moment for three decades, courting every relevant constituency, remembering every useful politician’s birthday, and being as banal as possible to check everyone’s “lesser political evil” box?
How dare he win the election on his very first try? If you scratch the surface, jealousy is one of the driving emotions among Washington’s elite against Trump and his electoral success. He achieved what many career politicians would die and sell their souls multiple times for. And Trump did it seemingly casually, almost effortlessly. How dare he? He must have stolen the election!
How dare he win that election with a shoestring budget and a ramshackle campaign apparatus? How dare he win without an army of consultants, strategists, advisers, pollsters, and fancy data interpreters? Didn’t he understand that our elections are an excellent jobs program for thousands of political operatives and media types?
How dare he win the old-fashioned way: you know, by having a simple, direct message; recognizing heartland voters’ economic woes; and campaigning in that retail-politics way of his? Didn’t he know that 21st-century elections are now won with Big Data, microtargeting of voters, and media-hyped candidates?
How dare he lie and exaggerate in that crude, undisciplined way of his? Doesn’t he know that Washington likes their liars to be polished prevaricators who know how to couch their fabrications in think-tankese?
To add insult to injury, how dare he win by just saying what he (and millions of ordinary voters) thinks? That’s just not done. Didn’t he appreciate that Presidential Campaign-Speak is an art unto itself—something that has been focus-grouped, poll-tested, script-driven, platitude-filled, that’ll give no offense whatsoever to any identity group in America, and bores listeners to tears. How dare Trump riff offhand and entertain voters? The gall of the man!
How dare he say obvious, common-sense things like spending blood and treasure on Middle Eastern quagmires isn’t okay anymore, that America can’t afford to be the world’s security underwriter anymore, that our global trade deals have shafted American workers for too long? Who does he think he is?
Doesn’t he know that on the issues of the day, he needs to consult our over-credentialed, corrupt, and inefficient elites before he says anything? And doesn’t he know that the solution to every issue in our politics is counter-intuitive now: Up is down, war is peace, more illegal immigration is good, and having a wall on our southern border is bad.
How dare he care about ordinary American workers in the Rust Belt? Doesn’t he know that we live in a global economy now, and those Americans are toast? Dang Trump for forcing us to pretend we care about those white working-class voters Democrats had snookered for so long. Thanks to Orange Man, we now have to cater to the very people we despise and who cling bitterly to their God, guns, and religion.
And for God’s sake, doesn’t he know that caring about one’s nation and its citizens is passé? It’s all global now! Pretend-caring in a vague, generalized, feel-good way about global citizens while getting richer off their cheap labor is the fashion now.
For all his flaws, Trump is the best thing to have happened to our ossified, corrupt national politics. He ripped the mask off our political and media establishments. His election victory exposed the empty-souled hypocrites in the establishments of both parties and the national media who shill for them. He is the much-needed human defibrillator to the American political system.
What our ruling elites used to have (and lost) after the 2016 election was a powerful sense of control over our politics. Like millions of voters who are outside the hardcore Democratic base, I’ve been enjoying the primal scream emanating from the ruling and media elite. I may not like or agree with everything Trump does, but the spectacle of jittery, grasping-at-anything-and-everything elites has been enjoyable to watch.
With his unpredictable, heterodox ways of policy-making and communicating to the masses, Trump has, in some ways, neutered the media elite. What we have been seeing for the last two-and-a-half years is nothing but revenge on steroids: For the crime of winning the 2016 election, the elites have pinned all manner of crimes on Trump, hoping something will stick.