Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The brilliance of Donald Trump

The way to achieve electoral victory in any political contest, especially when there is an above-average number of contenders, is to set the agenda. It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong; if everyone is arguing about your topics, you win. No one knows this better and no one has capitalized on this strategy better than GOP presidential contender Donald Trump.

Today it doesn’t seem like anyone in politics is talking about anything else than Trump’s horrendous, stupid and unconstitutional idea to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. However, the illegitimacy of Trump’s idea is completely irrelevant; all that matters is everyone is talking about it and that means everyone is talking about Trump and no one else. And when that happens, Trump wins.

This is important because it boils the field down to a contest between Trump and all those other candidates who disagree with Trump. And this is important because as strong as Trump has appeared in all the polling we’ve seen, he still isn’t anywhere close to claiming the support of more than 50 percent of likely Republican voters. That means, obviously, more than half of those voters don’t plan to cast their ballots for Trump.

So Trump is playing the media like a video game he has mastered and the media is reacting exactly the way Trump wants them to. "Talk about me, me, me. What I say isn’t important. But as long as you’re talking about only me, you’re not talking about any of the other candidates, unless, in the off-chance, your quoting what they have to say about me, me, me."

There are plenty of more important stories the media should be concentrating on, including one that could have a far more profound effect on our democracy than whether Trump will ever get to establish a religious litmus test for immigrants to this country. The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on a suit filed by a pair of Texans who claim voting districts should not be based on population, but on the number of voters in each district. This is simply another attempt by Republican Tea Party right-wingnuts to strip representation from minorities, since minorities tend to congregate in urban areas and this suit seeks to strip more diverse urban areas of representation in congress, state legislatures, etc., and allow more representation is less populated, less diverse rural areas.

The fallacy in this argument is that elected representatives must represent everyone, not just those who bother to vote. That’s the basis of our system of government. That doesn’t mean the Supreme Court will do the right thing (see Bush v Gore, see Citizens United).

It’s interesting to note exactly who is filing this suit. According to Mother Jones, "One is a Texas tea party activist who has promoted a conspiratorial film suggesting President Barack Obama’s real father was Frank Marshall Davis, a supposed propagandist for the Communist Party. The other is a security guard and religious fundamentalist who believes the Earth doesn’t revolve around the sun and that unicorns were real." I’m not making this up. You can learn a whole lot more about these crazies by reading this.

But no one is talking about this threat to our voting rights, because Trump has managed to divert all the attention to himself.

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