Friday, January 22, 2016

Donald Trump and Sarah Palin: White America on Fire

The 2016 GOP campaign should be renamed "Fear Factor."

Deal with the devil? Pretty much.

Donald Trump had a problem. His name was Ted Cruz. He solved it with the endorsement of Sarah Palin. Mmmkay. Now whaddya do? The Republican establishment thinks they should slit their wrists.

Living with Palin's reentry into politics is not going to be easy, except for Trump (for now). Amanda Marcotte of Salon says the roller coaster ride that is Palin on the stump taps into the conservative base's heart of darkness, sans evidence or logic:
Palin understands what other Republicans are just beginning to get, which is that the conservative base is an audience that is post-argument. Conservatism of the 21st century is an ideology built on sand. Its arguments fall apart upon the briefest of examination and the supposed “evidence” for their beliefs are mostly lies and self-delusions. Sticking with the argument and evidence-based structure in the era of climate change denialism and creationism is a fool’s game and Palin knows it. Better instead to focus strictly on emotions and tribal identity, eschewing not just argument but even structuring your speeches to resemble arguments. Imagistic speeches that arouse passions while silencing doubts is not stupid, but brilliant.
But Palin, by eliding the argument-based structure of traditional speeches, is getting past this altogether. Anger is turned into hate is turned into more anger, until it spins off, completely unmoored from any considerations like “why” or “how.” Her innovation helps Republicans get over the logic and evidence problems that plague them. And so we can expect her methods to become more, not less prevalent over time.
I'd find this kind of analysis suspect if Palin's rhetoric didn't interface so keenly with Trump's own stream-of-consciousness stump deliveries. Trump is going to "make America great again." Implicit in that promise is that his tribe is no longer great, and Palin's word salads are paeans to the disenfranchised whites who flock to Trump rallies.

What remains to be seen from a political viewpoint is whether or not their tribe exists in numbers great enough to sway presidential elections. My view is that it's a fool's errand. But we elected George W. Bush twice (well, actually we didn't, the Supreme Court did, but...), but Bush's base had the luxury of having more than disgruntled whites in it.

Whatever. We're still in a pass-the-popcorn moment. The GOP clown car didn't get a new occupant, but it may have gotten a new driver. Will she steer them out of the ditch or back in it? We'll see.

Note. As I alluded to, Trump can manage Palin -- for now. She is famous for "going rogue," something the McCain camp barely contained. Can Trump manage her any better if and when she goes off the rails? It's especially meaningful now that the Republican establishment has found they have no choice but to embrace Trump, otherwise they're on the outside looking in as Trump's victories pile up. The establishment clearly feared a Cruz nomination more than a Trump one, and they were willing to throw Rubio's chances under the bus to avoid it. As many Dem observers might say, hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

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