Frequently predicted but never reached, “peak oil” — maximum possible production — has been postponed yet again, this time because of fracking. “Peak Sanders” was prematurely announced because of persistent underestimations of how underwhelming Hillary Clinton is as a candidate.
“Peak Trump” — the apogee before the dwindling — might be approaching for the perhaps bogus billionaire (would a real one bother with fleecing those who matriculate at Trump University?) who purports to prove his business wizardry, colossal wealth and stupendous generosity not by releasing his tax returns but by displaying a pile of steaks. The eventual end of our long national embarrassment might be foreshadowed by Donald Trump’s pattern of doing better among early voters than among “late deciders”: He firmly has those he entranced early; others are more elusive.
If Trump does become acquainted with gravity — no, not intellectual sobriety; nature’s downward tug — it will be for two reasons: The Republican Party, which together with the Democratic Party has framed the nation’s political debate since first running a presidential candidate 160 years ago, is not a flimsy dinghy to be effortlessly commandeered by pirates hostile to its purposes. And the lavish media exposure that has fertilized the growth of the weed of Trumpism in the garden of conservatism might still stunt its growth by causing his supporters to have second, or perhaps first, thoughts.
Mitt Romney’s denunciations and ridicules, reciprocating Trump’s, are not designed to dissuade Trump voters. It is axiomatic that you cannot reason a person out of a position that the person has not been reasoned into. The adhesive that binds Trumpkins to their messiah can be dissolved by neither facts nor eloquence. Romney and other defenders of Republican traditions are trying to prevent a stampede to Trump of “Vichy Republicans,” collaborationists coming to terms with the occupation of their party.
Trump promises a 45 percent increase in the price of the imports from China that help draw more than 100 million weekly shoppers to Wal-Mart, America’s largest private-sector employer. Sanders, another aspiring savior of the proletariat, promises “socialism,” which he defines as a “revolution” that resembles the status quo — meddlesome economic regulation by a federal government whose budget is 66 percent income redistribution through transfer payments. Sanders is conducting a self-refuting campaign, the premise of which is that “the billionaire class” of (according to Forbes) 536 people buys elections. In February, Sanders raised $42.7 million, Hillary Clinton raised $30 million and the most prolific Republican fundraiser of this presidential cycle (Jeb Bush, $157.6 million) went home.
In last week’s Fox News town hall, when asked about Michael Bloomberg, an actual billionaire, deciding not to run for president, Sanders said: Bloomberg is a billionaire, and it is “a bad idea” that “the only people who feel in many ways that they can run for president are people who have so much money.” Which is why Citizens United must be overturned “so all people can run for office, not just people who have a lot of money.” Well.
Sanders does not even understand his white whale, the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. It ended prohibitions against independent political advocacy by corporations and unions. It had nothing to do with what Bloomberg could have done, spend his own money on himself.
Politicians have been doing this since at least 1757, when George Washington supplied voters with 144 gallons of whiskey and other drink, enough to amply lubricate each of the 307 voters he persuaded in winning a seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates. This year, campaign spending on whiskey for voters would be welcomed by them as an anesthetic.