THE current contest to choose the next President of the United States might very well be the first contest that Donald Trump has ever been involved in where someone other than himself will decide who wins. It is the first game he’s ever played in which someone else is keeping score, and this has him terrified.
Think about it. He was born into wealth and privilege, where from birth he enjoyed the glorious protection from competition that those things bring. He never had to work for someone else. He never took orders in the military. His losses in business were initially covered by his father, and later by bankruptcy protections written into law by lawyers and lawmakers bought and paid for by big business interests. If the deal works, you keep the profits; if it doesn’t, the public absorbs the losses. You can’t lose. Risk is for the suckers who come to your casinos, and the poor slobs who work for you.
“Winning,” in Trump’s terms, means figuring out how not to play. If you can’t make it as a real-estate developer, create an image and a persona of success, and license that. Sell that. Sell the sweet smell of success. Every one of us, at some point in our lives, is susceptible to this sales pitch. We want to believe that we can get something for nothing, and that the only thing keeping us from the good life is our attitude, and other people.
If Michael Moore is right, Donald Trump never really wanted to be President, and he doesn’t want it now. In a piece published on Alternet, Moore says he knows for a fact that Trump only ran in the primaries in order to boost his brand and wheedle a better contract from NBC for “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice.” But then some Americans took his campaign seriously, and began to vigorously support him. He stumbled upon a whole new audience for his pitch. It felt good, at first. It felt like winning.
But then, problems arose. The principal problem, for Trump, is democracy. At least so far, the United States is still a semi-functioning representative democracy, wherein the president is chosen by voters in an election (or by a 5 to 4 vote of a partisan Supreme Court). At this point, it looks as though Trump would lose in such an election, bigly. He cannot let that happen.
Moore’s hypothesis is that Trump is currently sabotaging his own campaign as part of “his new strategy to get the hell out of a race he never intended to see through to its end anyway . . . so that he’ll have to bow out or blame ‘others’ for forcing him out.” The system, as Trump keeps telling us, is rigged.
If Moore is right, and Trump never wanted to be President, he is now actively looking for a way out, especially one that is advantageous to a new rightwing global media platform built by Trump, Bannon, and Ailes.
The only thing Trump cannot do is lose.
David Levi Strauss
Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 6 pm
[Photography: Jon Winet. Podium Steps. July 18, 2016. Quicken Loans Arena. Republican National Convention. Cleveland, Ohio. Click on image to see an enlargement.]
LINK to all David Levi Strauss Power 2016 Dispatches