SALT THE EARTH

At the end of the summer I made some predictions about the general election, some of which were very specific and clearly aren't going to work out (e.g., Trump "firing" Pence as a publicity stunt now seems farcical, while Pence quitting the ticket in a desperate attempt to salvage his political future seems marginally more plausible). But we've reached a stage in this campaign that I've feared was coming since Trump became the presumptive nominee: The point at which he, a man psychologically incapable of accepting the idea of losing anything, realizes that there is not a chance in hell he is going to win. In fact, the odds are improving that he may receive a drubbing the likes of which we haven't seen since the Franklin Roosevelt years. Trump, in short, is dead in the water. It doesn't matter that everyone knows it; I'm not looking forward to what happens now that he knows it.

With one tweet, the Republican nominee for president essentially kicked off a month of what promises to be pure scorched Earth politics. If he can't win, then causing as much misery and destruction as possible on his way to the losers' podium is the next best thing. I still expect this to culminate with an insistence shortly before Election Day – timing the announcement to cause maximum damage to the GOP he now hates as much as the Democrats – that his supporters shouldn't bother voting, that he never really wanted to be president anyway, and that he's come to the conclusion that America does not deserve his genius. He's been laying the groundwork for his post-defeat narrative since the summer, creating a "Stab in the Back" legend before the ballots even had his name printed on them.

It appears that the Vagina Grabbing tape was the last straw for some of his less ardent supporters, and certainly we could have a field day talking about why that was a bridge too far when they had been willing previously to condone all the racist, xenophobic, proto-fascist things he has said. His chances of winning hover around statistical zero. People and organizations who haven't supported a Democrat for half a century or more are giving at least grudging support to Hillary Clinton. Her myriad flaws as a candidate don't even seem to matter at this point; the country is willing to settle for her strictly on the basis that she appears to be largely sane and not openly displaying most of the diagnostic criteria for sociopathy.

I do not for a moment relish the opportunity to see "unshackled" Donald Trump. If this has been him behaving, trying to appear likable, attempting to play within some kind of set of rules, then it strains the imagination to think of how much worse he can get. I feel like Sunday night's debate was a preview of the rest of the campaign; he made not the slightest effort to talk about any of the political issues where he makes some people think he sounds reasonable, instead going full Yahoo Comment Section. We're in for four weeks of Vince Foster, Benghazi, 33,000 emails, Sidney Blumenthal, and basically every idiotic right-wing conspiracy theory to enjoy any popularity on the internet at any point in the last 10 years. He's done with "We need to bring jobs back to the United States" and is casting his entire lot in with the revenge fantasies of the white underclass. Without even a passing effort to connect anything he says to reality or the truth, expect that any and every email forwarded to you by your least intelligent friends and relatives over the past few months to become a fully fledged talking point until November when this mercifully ends.

We are unaccustomed to uncompetitive presidential elections. The last real blowout took place in 1988, and 1984 before it was the last time the map was essentially one color. The Republican Party is going to come face to face with the hardest of the hard core of its base, and it's unlikely to like what it sees – a group of people whose views are medieval, inarticulate, and unmovable, and a group of people rapidly shrinking in this country. But that problem is not ours to solve. We need merely to find out a way to hold on for another month and then begin the process of purging this entire embarrassing, enraging experience from our collective unconscious.

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42 Responses to “SALT THE EARTH”

  1. John Danley Says:

    Meanwhile, the Wilkes-Barre don't-tread-on-me caucus is seasonally upgrading their rape kit for one last hate fuck.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/12/us/politics/donald-trump-voters.html

  2. Emerson Dameron Says:

    Normally, the news media have an interest in keeping people engaged with the Horse Race up through the end – recall how they overstated the chances of an upset from Kerry, McCain, and Romney.

    There's no need for that now. Tracking one douche's Charlie Sheen-style implosion will be WAY better for ratings.

  3. Isaac Says:

    From the end of the article posted by John Danley:

    “The Trump campaign is counting on doing well in the Wilkes-Barre region, where factories have closed and the presence of Spanish-speaking immigrants has caused tensions.”

    Way to sugar coat things. Fuck the New York Times.

  4. Scepticus Says:

    You may be a little overly optimistic about this ending in November.

  5. Net Denizen Says:

    "every idiotic right-wing conspiracy theory to enjoy any popularity on the internet at any point in the last 10 years"

    I'm pretty sure the vast right-wing conspiracy goes back at least 25 years….

    Also, don't count on this ending November 9th after Hillary has won decidedly. Trump has stoked, and will continue stoking, the white supremacist and xenophobic rhetoric and those people (including his "2nd Amendment folks") are not going away quietly. This isn't Pim Fortuyn's List losing steam after his assassination and basically going away quietly, this is — as you say — merely the pre-cursor for the main event. Election Day is just the kickoff party, unfortunately.

  6. TakomaMark Says:

    They're talking armed revolution, and we know they've been stockpiling personal arsenals. They don't believe in math, evidence, or any source of information outside the right wing fever swamps – basically anything that conflicts with anything they want to believe is disposed of as suspect – so there's no convincing them that Trump actually lost legitimately. I guess there's hope they lack the ambition to organize…that's probable. Also, I doubt any of them actually has the balls to try to storm Congress or The White House or whatever other target seems logical. I guess that leaves retreating into the hills Red Dawn style…which is a pretty pathetic "revolution"…camp out in the woods for a while while the rest of the world ignores you and goes about its business. Seems about right.

  7. JMG Says:

    The least attempt at interfering with the results of the election, or the election process on Nov. 8. should and I think would result in Obama federalizing the National Guard in all 50 states and smashing the attempt with extreme prejudice. But I expect protests to be confined to social media memes.

  8. Leading Edge Boomer Says:

    Considering the deep polarization in the country now, I don't think that Trump can garner fewer than about 160 electoral votes, no matter how many dead whores are found in the trunk of his limo.

    In earlier times, bad candidates received some serious drubbings:
    1964–Goldwater got 52 EVs.
    1972–McGovern got 17 EVs.
    1980–Carter got 49 EVs (in 1976, post-Watergate, any D would have won).
    1984–Mondale got 13 EVs.
    1988–Dukakis got 111 EVs.

    These lopsided victories helped steer the country away from bad ideas as well. The blowouts of D candidates also led to superdelegates who preserved party memory to help stop nominating candidates who could not win. Surely the Rs wish they had had some superdelegates to prevent the upcoming R debacle.

  9. BruceJ Says:

    "Charlie Sheen-style implosion" Quite possible, in fact.

    Charlie Sheen's "freakout" has always struck me as much more 'crazy like a fox' than 'crazy'.

    It got him off a show he was no longer interested in, out of a binding contract not only without a penalty but a $25 million breach of contract judgement IN HIS FAVOR.

    I would contend that acting like a coked-up whack job for $25 million is a fairly smart thing to do…and he had both the acting chops and real-life experience to pull it off.

    Trump has always struck me as someone perfectly willing to sell out anyone for a buck; his campaign has, so far enriched him quite a bit, given that he's paying his campaign costs primarily to his own companies. He an Ailes can come out of this with a ready-made audience of marks fervent supporters willing to cough up considerable amounts of money. That he has to essentially destroy American Democracy to do so is merely a bonus.

  10. Skepticalist Says:

    I agree that we are unlikely to see the last of Trump. He's been having the time of his bizarre and selfish life and I doubt he'll slither away without doing his best to make the country pay for his defeat. It's not going to be his fault you know.

    I worry about the effect his alternate reality campaign show will have on home schooled knuckle draggers. At best it will be tiresome. At worst….

  11. Skipper Says:

    I don't know if he accepts the idea of losing, but it doesn't seem to bother him. He's a typical con man. When one con goes in the dumper, he just shrugs his shoulders and moves on to the next scam. That's been his MO since Day 1. There's always another mark waiting to be fleeced, and Donny is there with the clippers.

    His followers are a different story. They may have fantasies of revolution, but by Day 2, they'll be online begging for someone to send them snacks. And the first time an Apache Gunship swoops toward them, they will have collective diarrhea to the point of incapacitation. The "revolution" will dissolve into beer-soaked boasts of "What I'm gonna do next time…."

  12. Sluggo Says:

    20 years ago people said HRC was nuts when she talked about the vast right wing conspiracy. She was right, and now she is about to kick the shit out of it. You go girl!

  13. Isaac Says:

    Laugh all you want about the fat, dumb, trigger-happy assholes in pensatucky, but maybe you haven't experienced violent road rage like I have in the last few weeks because (I assume) I put a democratic house candidate bumper sticker on my car. I've been honked at, tail-gated with the angry gestures at 70mph, driven onto the shoulder, and had some asshole swerve around and then block me for five minutes as I sat there wishing I had pepper spray or a gun. I live in Eastern Washington 45 minutes from the part of Idaho famous for neo-nazis and all that. Our rep is Cathy McMorris-Rogers, a certifiable loon. This is the land where every fat man is packing at least one gun, and many of the women too. (a toddler shot and killed his mom in Walmart last year, took a snub .38 from her purse.) Five of us in this house, I'm white, my wife, kids, and mother-in-law are brown. Trump fans want to play civil war for a few weeks is not a joke, I'm adding fencing and security lights. Might be taking Grandma to the range soon.

  14. Well..mostly Says:

    Trumps "message" to communities of color – you've got nothing to lose – fits more snugly onto his yahoo followers than Mr. Bone's tight sweater. Nov 9 will bring the organizing phase of some new campaign. Who knows what or where that might go. The dark irony is that our DOJ may need to put someone, some 6'3" fellow (?), in jail for inciting riots.
    The story of a NYC developer descending from his golden penthouse, driving the limo past his country club and riling up all the Duck Dynesty reactionaries to save a nation is too far a foot for a Hollywood movie. But there it is.
    A wounded bear is the most dangerous. Ed has it right – the shackles are off now and we can expect truly bad behavior for another month: then it gets worse. He could keep funding those rallies forever. I cannot imagine a reason he would stop. Can anyone else?

  15. John Danley Says:

    @Skepticalist Says: I wouldn't be surprised if there are displays of Doyle Hargraves-esque violence at the polls. Coal rollers packing heat and singing Lee Greenwood lyrics through a bullhorn.

  16. Noskilz Says:

    He hasn't been very good at being a candidate – worse at actually running a campaign – perhaps he'll be no better at causing trouble for anyone other than the GOP. Less flippantly, I am at least a little concerned at the prospect of what some of his more enthusiastic supporters might get up to if he goes full Jonestown – unlikely to be numerous or effective, but also totally unnecessary and avoidable.

  17. Mo Says:

    Yepper, Skipper. Armed rebellion? Two words:

    Malheur Refuge

    And Trump, Palin, the GOP will continue to grift nicely, collecting the pitiful little cash gifts from the crowd in the tent as they dispense salvation validation.

  18. Talisker Says:

    There is an even worse way for Trump to fuck things up.

    Imagine he just can't take the pain of defeat, and blows his brains out all over the parquet floor at Trump Tower. He instantly becomes a martyr, surrounded by conspiracy theories that Hillary had him killed, and a rallying cry to be exploited by some more competent white nationalist leader.

    I don't think this is likely. Trump is a con man, after bankruptcy he has come back louder and more obnoxious than ever. But he really has gone all in on this presidential run.

    He's got a month to do things his own way. Possibly he will even convince himself he's winning, with whatever garbage pseudo-polls he can find on the internet, until he gets his ass handed to him on Election Day with the entire world watching. I'm not sure Trump can stand that kind of humiliation. Probably he will just start a TV network as a platform from which he can whine and sulk, but you never know.

  19. Katydid Says:

    @Isaac; are you around the Pullman area? One of my kids considered going there for an engineering degree, but back in the 1990s I made several trips to Mountain Home, Idaho, for work and the people just terrified me. I give you so much credit for making that your home.

  20. Hazy Davy Says:

    "…until November when this mercifully ends."
    Why will the election end it? He has given voice to a defiant, downtrodden group, and attached their persecution-narrative to his own campaign.

    Isn't this how revolutions and civil wars start?

    If the only way he can lose is because "they" cheated.
    If "they" cheated before (e.g., Bernie)
    If there are multiple scapegoats for your own suboptimal situation.
    If your role model is unshackled, and "will support you" when you [poll-monitor, throw out protesters],…

    …should you ever put the shackles back on? When your fellow, righteously indignant, REAL citizens revolt and are punished, should you let that happen, or should you take arms alongside them? It is, after all, more evidence of an unjust system meant to hold you down.

    What concerns me is that, now that the toothpaste is out of the tube, it may take a while to get to a clean counter, again.

  21. Dave Dell Says:

    The resentments brought to light by the Sanders and Trump campaigns are not going away.

    Heard part of an interview on "Tote Bag Radio" with some woman who represents the "Pro-Lilfe anti-Hillary" aspect of DTrumps followers: "Sure he's a scum bag but Yada Yada Hillary, BenGazi, emails, (so we still have to support him because she's pro-choice baby killer.)"

    She may be capable of rational thought in some areas of her life but not this and she's not going away. Nor are her followers. They run for local offices, school boards (even while they home school their own children), county commissioners, etc. They put pressure on the local business alliances to conform to their ideas. They and their fellow XIANs are organized and will not go away.

    Then, as I see it, there are the disaffected workers who are anti-union even as they get shit on at work. Their parents had better jobs and lived a better life than are available to them. They are not organized but…

    They could be organized by the right candidate. That's been pointed out here at G & T. What if DTrump wasn't such a scum bag? Wasn't such a poor political organizer? Was brighter about how to win a major election? Hand in hand with the XIAN wack jobs they empower a change in the U.S. to a theocracy run on a white America First basis. It won't happen this election but…

    Woe is us if the two parties don't address these concerns. The XIAN wack jobs won't give up on an eventual theocracy. The anti abortion types won't quit. The D's and R's could, and it's a really big could, at least do something to bring the other disaffected back to an idea that "when we all do better, we ALL do better and it's in my interest to help that happen."

    So many of you at this site could say all this much better (and more concisely) than I ever could. Keep up the good writing.

  22. Robert Walker-Smith Says:

    Hazy Dazy, may I use that 'clean counter' image? I like it a lot.

    The Malheur reference is spot on. There were people sincerely expecting that the Vast Majority of like-minded cholmondeleys would rise up and join the movement. When nothing even remotely close happened, some of them refused to believe that the actual vast majority of Americans gazed at the Bouncing Bundy Brothers with disbelieving scorn.

  23. Safety Man! Says:

    When Obama won last election, Trump tweeted about marching on Washington, look it up. I don't expect him to hold back now. I mentioned earlier that I half expect Trump and Hannity and the rest to call for open revolt. Some other posters have mentioned having to gently remind people that treason/ sedition is still a thing, and I expect at least a few of that crowd to come to an end at firing squad. I was also not exaggerating earlier that I unlock and clean my shotgun every Election Day in case some yahoo tries to take over town square.

    Anyway, I am going to take Ed's advise and vote early, all the better to avoid and nastiness. Be safe.

  24. geoff Says:

    Well Ed, the Giant Evil Baby hasn't yet had the n-word meltdown you predicted, but I might spot you that hot mike "pussy". Fun fact: I had never even heard of Billy Bush before this latest eruption, and was even then surprised to learn he's one of THOSE Bushes: Pres. GHWB's nephew. ZOMG IT'S OBVIOUSLY A TIME-WARP HAARP CUCKSERVATIVE NWO PLOT TO DESTROY TRUMP SAVIOR OF MURICA!!

  25. Aurora S Says:

    @Talisker–

    I grew up with a Trump-like character and the game is all too familiar. He'd never commit suicide, suicide would make him look "weak" and that's the biggest fear a person like him can experience. All the world's a stage and he's the lead role. Everyone else is just supporting cast.

    The point where we really fucked up as a nation was when we started indulging this guy and giving him attention—no matter what kind of attention. In fact, narcissists thrive on conflict because it makes the story that they can tell about them selves that much more thrilling. He doesn't actually realize that other people exist for *any other reason* than to be objects used by him to further his own story.

    The only agenda that Trump has is appearing to be "right" so he can go out to crowds of thunderous applause for just being himself. Reality teevee is this guy's wet dream and somehow, SOMEHOW, he managed to slither his way onto the world stage. He wants the biggest lead role in the world.

    He will never recognize a flaw within himself, ever. He will never come to terms with reality because he thinks he makes reality, and he will do as many logical contortions as necessary to blame his failure on others. His loss WILL be turned around on someone else. He may even try to turn his loss around to be a "victory" in the long run. He will be the champion, just ask him. He won't likely commit violence himself, he'll just rattle the horde of vigilantes he's created to do his dirty work. His radicalized supporters are who we need to worry about. They won't likely risk killing themselves in any sort of combat (despite what they may say), but we may see some KKK Civil Rights era shit where one or many gang up on those who can't defend themselves.

  26. Mike Says:

    It looks very improbable right now, but I wonder about the reactions of the left if Trump does manage to pull out a victory in November. Sure, Trump is prepared to claim the system is rigged and there was massive vote fraud, but I fully expect the Democrats to pull out the same argument if Trump does pull off a victory. I think we are in for civil unrest either way, because almost nobody believes that our system is aboveboard and fair at this point. And that is a systemwide failure, not merely a symptom of Trump.

  27. Monkey Business Says:

    For somewhere around 75-95% of the country, life will go on the day after Election Day the same is has for every day before and every day after. However, given a month worth of Trump stoking the bellows of inchoate racial resentment and advocating armed rebellion, it would not surprise me for a few sore losers to take up arms, storm some federal property, and discover that the Feds don't take too kindly to treason and sedition.

    The really important question is, what does the GOP do? They've gerrymandered the shit out of the states to the point where even a Reagan-style landslide would do little to move the needle on Congress, so most of their members are in ridiculously safe districts and protected by their statehouses. But a 2016 wave election that wipes out big portions of their majority, followed by a 2020 Clinton re-election year and the prospect of a sacrificial lamb of a candidate should really put the idea of a Democratic majority in both houses in play, and solidifying Democratic control of the redistricting process across the board.

  28. Emerson Dameron Says:

    @geoff:

    Misogyny is starting to get the same sort of cultural scrutiny that racism has for awhile, much to the consternation of Trump's base(ment).

    I'm willing to let Ed have that point.

  29. FDChief Says:

    I think that the bigger problem, and the less-tractable, is that there doesn't seem to be a "solution" to the things the Trumpenproletariat are excised about. Manufacturing is going or gone and what will replace it – largely service jobs that can't be automated – won't pay a living wage under the current economy. What's driving that bus is capital flight and offshoring rather than immigration, but asking these folks to really do the hard work of figuring that out rather than burning down the corner taqueria would be asking for a cat to learn German irregular verbs.

    There's really no "solution" outside of a fairly immense reworking of the way the US economy works – stuff like the "universal basic income" and a massive reorganization of the tax and financial regulatory codes to stop the transfer of wealth upwards – that just aren't politically viable.

    In all honesty, I can't help but see the Trumpendlosung of the GOP as the canary in the US coal mine. We've come to the end, or nearly the end, of being able to govern ourselves. Almost 40% of our fellow "citizens" are rage-drunk goofballs incapable of rational self-interest whose identity is pure tribalism. No industrial democracy can survive that level of public incompetence, and I'm fairly confident that we can't, either.

    What comes afterwards…brrrr…

  30. Anonymous Prof Says:

    My prediction:

    Russia will hack the election. Not in favor of Trump- in favor of Clinton. And they will do it so ham-fistedly as to ensure that the evidence will come to light, thereby deligitimating her among the 40% of the US population who are already assuming that she can't possibly win without cheating.

    Then Putin will order that Trump be assassinated. (After all, Putin has assassinated plenty of people, so this isn't exactly farfetched.) Then the Trump supporters will scream that Hillary killed Trump, just like she killed Vince Foster.

    Then America will be in a total shambles, because nearly half the population will have no faith in the system whatsoever.

  31. Scout Says:

    "Tracking one douche's Charlie Sheen-style implosion will be WAY better for ratings."

    Let's hope, because I cannot take any more enabling of this giant, spoiled toddler by the MSM, especially the tote-bag folks. They disgust me even more than the ones you would have expected it from.

  32. Scotius Says:

    @Geoff:

    Billy isn't the only Bush who has worked in media.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/nov/19/uselections2000.usa2

  33. Death Panel Truck Says:

    @Isaac:

    I also live in eastern Washington (Pasco), and I don't dare put a Dem bumper sticker on my car. There are too many RWNJs here, and it wouldn't sway anyone's vote anyway. I don't think I'd be run off the road or anything; I'm just trying to avoid having my car keyed in the parking lot at Fred Meyer.

  34. April Says:

    You know, Linhai China is actually quite nice this time of year. Grin.

    Seriously, though I worry. Fortunately both of my daughters are in deep blue places, but for the rest of you, please take care. I think it's going to be very dangerous out there.

  35. geoff Says:

    @Scotius, thanks for the timely reminder.

    @ED, absolutely. When Mittens called 47% of the US electorate "takers", I figured he was done. Trump has clearly signaled that he thinks over 50% of voters are useless if they're not "hot". That looks like a fatal self-inflicted wound.

  36. mothra Says:

    Geoff: I don't know about that. Never underestimate one woman's ability to be unbelievably nasty to another just based on her looks. Trump's less hot female supporters likely agree with Trump on his most misogynistic bloviating. It's really unfortunate.

  37. Skepticalist Says:

    With Obama's election, I was confident that we were on the way to adulthood. I was aware of the cult of ignorance that Isaac Asimov described but I was sure that it wasn't HUGE as Donald would say. I should have known better. How dumbth could I have been?

    He won't go away. We're in for Trump cable news, Trump online magazines, Trumpsters all over CSPAN and talk shows that will make Brietbart look tame. Trump souvenirs and conspiracy books will clog up Amazon with Christmas gifts. Perhaps some 2nd Amendment type will get in his way. I have my doubts and the Canadians will have to build a wall.

  38. democommie Says:

    For those of us who have disliked Trumbloviatingp.o.s. for the last 30 or so years, him blowing his brains out on 11/11/16 –or any other day for that matter–is something that we'll just have to learn to live with. Oneathemthere "Fathead" wall posters with his 'sploded skull on it would help.

  39. quixote Says:

    @Well…mostly (11th, 9:31 PM). "our DOJ may need to put someone, some 6'3" fellow (?), in jail for inciting riots"

    Problem is, they'll have trouble finding him with that description. He was 6'2" his whole adult life, until it turned out that he was short for his weight. Then he became 6'3" and his weight was magically this side of the definition of obese.

  40. Talisker Says:

    @Aurora S: Oh, I agree suicide is not in character for Trump and it's highly unlikely he'd do it. I'm just saying that if he did, it would further fuck up an already fucked-up situation.

    @Anonymous Prof:

    Russia will hack the election. Not in favor of Trump- in favor of Clinton. And they will do it so ham-fistedly as to ensure that the evidence will come to light

    Not necessary. Since when do the rage-addled Trumpists care about evidence? Easier, cheaper, and more deniable to plant some rumours of hacking without actually doing any.

    Then Putin will order that Trump be assassinated. (After all, Putin has assassinated plenty of people, so this isn't exactly farfetched.)

    Maybe. But Trump isn't some journalist in Moscow. Presumably he is fairly well guarded against kidnapping and the like, so he wouldn't be that easy to kill. Contrary to the movies, Russia doesn't have invincible ninja hit men hanging around New York just in case they're needed.

    Couldn't rule it out, but it's much lower risk and almost as destructive to just leave Trump where he is.

  41. Laie Says:

    @Monkey Business: shouldn't there be a tipping point after which gerrymandering backfires?

    Gerrymandering means a) concentrate the opposition so that it wins a few districts with a large margin, and b) diluting your own voters such that you win many districts with a small (but usually safe) margin.

    In unusual circumstances, the carefully gerrymandered districts may conceivably fall, all together. There is no wave, unless it's a tsunami.

  42. Robert Walker-Smith Says:

    Has anyone heard from Carrstone?

    I hope he's all right.