Thursday, July 21, 2016

2016: The Year of the Great Republican Troll

Donald Trump is on track to become the 45th President, and you and I and every person that so vehemently opposes him are tragically the ones making it happen.
Image courtesy of drunkmall.com

Tonight he formally accepts the GOP nomination and continues to shock the world by remaining within a margin of error's distance behind Hillary Clinton in the polls.

Given the sheer torrent of insanity coming out of the GOP convention in Cleveland, a lot of people are starting to wonder why his poll numbers have remained relatively steady.

Now granted, there will always be a certain percentage of the citizenry who would vote for a bag of dog shit, as long there's an "R" written on the bag. But surprisingly, as this post goes live, RealClearPolitics has Trump in a statistical dead heat with Clinton (and in one poll, actually leading!). Despite an unprecedented disunity in the GOP and almost-daily scandals that would derail any lesser candidates (Biden's 88' run was ended in part due to a plagiarism scandal, for instance), Trump continues to show solid if not winning numbers.

What gives?

The fact that all the crazy has yet to put a dent in The Donald's momentum should scare anyone who follows politics. Instead, the commentary is consistently dismissive and jovial, that it's a foregone conclusion that Trump will implode, given sufficient time and/or rope. I disagree. I believe (and fear) that we're all in for a very unpleasant surprise.

Trump has been in the public eye for decades now, and usually not for positive reasons. He thrives in this environment, and he knows how to make it work in his favor.

Since we're about to elect the first reality show president if we're not careful, let's take a look that lowest common denominator of entertainment. For every uplifting-themed reality show like, say, Extreme Makeover - Home Edition, there are a hundred others garnering real ratings that are the television equivalent of rubbernecking fatal car crashes.

The Donald knows this. He knows that human spectacle attracts and holds viewers -- that people feel better about themselves by watching everyday train wrecks slobber on about their lives. He knows we can't turn away.

And now he's taken these lessons and is applying them to a presidential campaign. We may mock the dumpster fire that is the GOP convention, but ask yourself, when was the last time so many non-political junkies cared about a party convention?

It's all on purpose.

It's modern corporate marketing: bad publicity is still publicity. He can lie all he wants because someone has to say his name to call him out on his falsehoods. He doesn't need campaign money for ads because we're giving him free airspace by railing against his monumental idiocy. And he's already set the bar so low for himself that all the negative aspects of this strategy, things that would torpedo a normal candidate, simply don't phase him.

No one expects him to be honest or tactful or to argue in good faith, so that frees him to be the attention-starved troll that he is.

No really: he's trolling America, everyone. By derailing legitimate debates about issues with demagoguery, using incendiary name-calling in lieu of logic, rapidly changing stances without reason or warning or consistency, he can frustrate his opponents into yielding ground and initiative. By the time one is able to parse through his frustratingly-senseless bullshit, he has already gotten his point out and rerouted the conversation in a direction he'd prefer.

It's classic internet-style trolling at its worst.

So what is the answer? This being a libertarian site, we recommend voting for Gary Johnson, though we are not so blind as to believe that's the only option.

Instead, the next time you reach for the "Share" button on something coming from the Republican nominee, some gaff or blunder that seems so crazy that it can't possibly be genuine, take a second to think to yourself: "who am I really helping here?"

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