Let me say at the top, before the haters start in: I dislike Donald John Trump and have so since I became aware of him some time in the mid-eighties. I find him arrogant and thus dangerous, grandiose and thus ill-informed, and self-absorbed and thus sociopathic.
However, it must be said that the primary, overarching and most significant cause of the Trump phenomenon is Barack Hussein Obama. Were it not for him, Trump would be relegated to staking out his turf each four years and bowing out after Iowa.
What has changed? Instead of Trump’s usual performances in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, the electorate has surged, doubled down and surged again behind a man with demonstrably no talent in government, dubious business practices, failed marriages due to adultery and a persona that is both irritating and offensive.
Presidential elections are different.
Everyone admits this. The founding fathers imagined that the quality people of the country would get together in sober congress and select the best among them as chief executive. That lasted exactly two elections. Democracies all go the same way, or so thought Herodotus: collapsing into conspiracies of self-interest. Thus political parties were born with the election of 1796. The president is the one elected national office. It remains the one place where all voters have a say in the national government, unfiltered by the personalities and issues of representational elections.
It has not been pretty.
Andrew Jackson, about as rough an old hickory switch as one is likely to find, was arguably a murderer, bigamist and military adventurer. He won a landslide election casting himself as a bulwark against the moneyed classes. He cannot be argued to be a good president but he certainly was a popular one: defeating the continuation of central banking, firing from his cabinet the great men of the era, misdirected energy into petticoat politics and illegally removed native Americans from their ancestral homelands in the Trail of Tears.
The people loved him.
Thanks mostly to external events rather than canny government, he was able to leave office without a major war or disaster to his credit. Timing is everything.
Another “change” election was Harding’s, who, like Jackson, was elected as a reaction to the fascist-like policies of Wilson (before, during and after the war) on a platform of a return to “normalcy.” The best thing he did for his presidency was die in office.
Nixon’s change election could be seen as a visceral reaction of the “silent majority” to the chaos of the times by those who saw themselves as the real soul of the nation. Like today, the rancorous “protests” in the street mobilize the large majority of Americans to repudiate those who refuse to work within the bounds of at least nominally civil discourse.
Finally, Barack Hussein Obama is the most recent of the “change” presidents. “Hope and Change,” as ironic as it seems now to say it, elected him, most voters crossing their fingers and whispering prayers (atheists in foxholes, after all) that the callow senator from the corrupt state of Illinois would be different.
He certainly has been different. Rather than making any attempt to find consensus, BHO’s presidential career is one of unremitting conflict with the elected representatives of the people, currying favor with those who will never love America, toadying to special interests, actively picking winners and losers in the culture that prides itself on a level playing field, and failing to support those who have every right to expect America’s unqualified support.
There is one more historical simile to make: Hindenburg was Hitler’s godfather. Without the progressively more repressive and shortsighted actions of Brüning, Franz von Papen and Kurt von Schleicher, supported by Hindenburg, the inclusion of the national socialists in the government would have been ludicrous. Hindenburg’s undeserved stature was the proximate cause of Hitler’s rise.
Likewise, today we have an emperor (and assuming more and more imperial trappings daily) who has no clothes. He has singlehandedly prolonged a recession, diminished us in the world’s opinion, encouraged our enemies, betrayed our long-time allies, wasted our resources and made a determined effort to divest America of those things that make it great, all the while telling us that “we did not make” what we have made and that our beliefs are due to unthinking “clinging” rather than conviction.
Who gives hope for a change now?
The disgust and disenchantment most Americans feel for the president now may be buyer’s remorse. That does not mean it is any the less ardent.
Disdain for Obama and all that he has touched in his failed attempt to make over America in his own image is the driving force behind Trump. As is the past, it may well work.
May God have mercy on our country.