Though Donald Trump formally declared his run for 2024 on November 15, 2022 in a speech to supporters at Mar-a-Lago, at no point has he ever actually been running for re-election. Oh, sure, he’s going through the familiar motions of campaigning. Our news media’s all lathered up. As much as covering politics baffles them, they understand how to cover a horse race. Someone wins and everyone else loses.
The fact that Trump is running again delights the news media. As bad as Trump is for democracy, he’s great for cable news ratings. That’s why even as they pooh-pooh Trump’s latest outrage, the news media still reports it breathlessly. Faithfully.
But, the stone cold fact is: though Trump says he’s running for re-election and acts like it, it’s all fascist kabuki.
American retail politics works, in theory, by pitting two contrasting ideas against each other. Back when America started, federalism vs state-ism was the divide. These days, it’s Democrats v Republicans. Because our news media believes “both sides do it”, they insist both sides operate with the same cynicism. It’s about power and nothing more. That simply ain’t so.
A person who truly believes in democracy runs for office accepting the proposition that they could lose. They approach an election as a sales event. The better idea will sell better than the shitty idea. But the GOP – with Trump as their spirit animal (a warthog?) – doesn’t even see the sales event anymore.
They want to convert the sales event to a rubber stamp event.
And, when you consider what the GOP is selling this election cycle – stripping rights from everyone not white and religious like them – clearly, Republicans see retail politics in a whole, new light. To the Republican Party, retail politics are utterly irrelevant. Same goes for elections themselves. Republicans see elections as Machiavellian free-for-alls where “cheating to win” is just another way “to win”.
From the get-go, Trump has stated clearly that he would not accept losing. That’s not pride talking, it’s criminal behavior. Ask Special Prosecutor Jack Smith. He’ll tell ya!
How many times does a demonstrable liar get to lie that he thought he won an election everyone else told him he lost? There’s a huge difference between acting politically and acting criminally for a political end. They may look the same but they aren’t!
Our news media helps sell this illegitimate, criminal behavior as legitimate politics to our collective detriment. Each time they broadcast Trump spewing his toxic bullshit, they normalize it just a teensy bit more.
Few journalists know how to handle Trump or his bag men. Nicolle Wallace knows how. So does the excellent Mehdi Hassan. Most important rule? You accept zero lies. Zero. You have to question everything that even sounds like it could be a lie – and then refuse to move past it until the liar owns the lie.
At some point either the liar will get bored and walk off the set or the journalist will send the liar into such wild paroxysms that their heads literally explode.
Talk about some colorful fireworks! I bet more than a few of us would heartily vote for that.