Trump ‘The Equalizer’

     Part of the job for a journalist is to say things efficiently. And to use words that sing, that zing, that keep the reader’s attention.
     So just as we must learn to say things that way, we can recognize when someone else has learned it too.
     Entertainer (and presidential candidate) Donald Trump has learned that skill, employing it crudely at times. But nonetheless, his zingers zing. They are short and colorful and he pounds them in. Little Marco, Lyin’ Ted and now Corrupt Hillary, all using two syllable adjectives.
     The problem for the Democrats is that you hear those crude jingles twice, and you remember them.
     It is also fascinating to watch Trump’s struggle between “sounding presidential” and being a mudslinger. He gravitates by some inner force back to the attack, inexorably, inevitably, indefatigably.
     I have a friend in the entertainment industry who based on his citizenship does not vote in U.S. elections. But his opinion, which I believe reflects the views of many in his business, is that entertainer Trump will blow away politician Clinton.
     The only thing that can save Hillary Clinton, as I see it, is the minority vote, which in places like California is the majority vote. But it is not all so cut and dried.
     I heard a Latino workman say he liked Trump a couple weeks ago. I asked why. He is not corrupt, answered the workman. And I remembered back to when I was a high school student.
     I worked during the summer to save money for college, at a repair shop that installed car air conditioners. I helped an older, Mexican mechanic installing the machines.
     He was a good and sweet man, and we talked about lots of things. But I was a little shocked at how absolutely and vehemently he hated politicians. He was categorical. They were all thieves, liars, corrupt to the core.
     He said it with such strength that I still remember the dark, oil-stained work bench where the otherwise sweet and gentle man expressed his rage.
     Another factor that makes Trump so dangerous for the Democrats is that his attacks come from all directions. A commentator on CNN struggled to make the analogy to a boxer who swung with any hand using upper cuts, under cuts, from outside, from inside.
     And like Reagan, the other entertainer who came out of TV to be president, Trump has the Teflon coating. His varying positions, his outlandish statements, his lack of a history in office, all allow him to shed old positions like a snake sheds its skin.
     Lastly, there is the sheer tenacity of the man.
     He has been counted out so many times. And still today, I hear folks like David Axelrod, the chief strategist for President Obama’s presidential campaigns, saying that Trump has to succeed on the first ballot because his chances drop sharply after that.
     But at the same time, the head of Colorado’s Republican delegation is talking about bringing a sheriff along to the convention to protect against the fury of the Trumpites. And Trump’s campaign staff has now been overhauled and professionalized.
     When I heard about that overhaul, it reminded me of the history of the convention where Lincoln came in as a naïve underdog against the wiley Douglas.
     But Lincoln had wisely hired an experienced, ruthless, and apparently enormous, campaign manager who traded promises of cabinet positions for swing delegations. Who better to play that game than the candidate whose solution to almost everything is making good deals.
     The existence of two major strains within the Democratic Party can also be turned against it. For so long, it was called the party with a big umbrella, that included an uneasy coalition of interests. That talk is gone, but the divisions are still there.
     Within those divisions, it seems that Clinton is more the candidate of civil rights, focused on group-by-group concerns and grievances, as opposed to her primary rival Bernie Sanders who is more the candidate of class fairness, focused on distribution of wealth.
     I think Sanders has the better view, but he seems to have run out of luck. Which leaves the class fairness argument to a very rich Republican — and this is one of the best examples of how nothing sticks to him — who focuses on jobs for the working people and attacks the wealthy elites who traded those jobs for profits.
     I grew up understanding the notions of civil rights and economic justice and how they can overlap. But I came away thinking that the deeper vein, the more powerful theme, is the economic one.
     My dad was deeply committed to civil rights. But I remember when we were in a lot looking for a car for my mom, and we watched a white car salesman practically bowing and scraping to a very large black woman who was leading him all around the lot.
     “The dollar,” said Pop, “is a great equalizer.”
     If he comes through the convention, Trump will own that argument.

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