Here Comes the Trexit!

If you’re wondering what the ever-changing presidential campaign might look like between now and November, you may be tempted to think this will be another historical battle between the lesser of two evils. Maybe so (seems that’s always the case). But if recent developments are any indication, that outcome is anything but assured. Having successfully laid waste to the Republican field of so-called “contenders” and cemented his role as the current standard-bearer of the GOP, either Trump’s legions of supporters is much larger than polls indicate (yikes!), or it’s likely time to get ready for Trump’s exit from the race, on his own terms — the “Trexit”.

Is the Trexit the nimble political pivot of an overheated narcissist under siege, who sees the writing on the wall? Or is it a deft, premeditated political move, months or longer in the making, a final triumphant admission that he successfully “played” the entire American electorate to his own advantage? Those and other scenarios are for reasonable people to debate. But these outcomes would be evidence of Trump’s ability to out-maneuver the best of establishment politicians and media machines, despite his uncontested status as sociopath-in-chief, serial liar, and worse.

Consider the following…

Trump has consistently behaved in reprehensible fashion throughout this campaign, outdoing himself almost every day, as he continues to confirm and reconfirm himself as the man least qualified ever to become President of the United States, in either aptitude or temperament. Even high profile Republicans are publicly renouncing their support, promising not to vote for Trump. Some even promise to vote for Hillary Clinton. In a rare break from presidential protocol, President Obama has chosen to publicly denounce Trump as “unfit” for the job.

And let’s be honest, we can (and should) take some real satisfaction (and bestow some well-earned admiration and gratitude) for the remarkable way that Trump has completely taken apart the Republican party. During the primary debates, he exposed the entire field of GOP presidential wannabees as wholly and entirely unqualified for the office of President — beginning with “low energy” Jeb, ending with “Lying Ted,” and including all of the delusional nincompoops in between. He accomplished what used to be the result of fact-based journalism, albeit via very different means (the mainstream media having long-since traded journalistic integrity for personality-based “news” and other profitable drive). For his fine work, Trump deserves some praise.

So now the moment we’ve all been waiting for — Trump vs Clinton in the final stretch of the campaign, right? Wrong. Why? Because Trump has recently surpassed the point of diminishing returns in his quest for greatness as a presidential candidate. His outlandish rhetoric, lies and relentless ugliness have finally caught up with him.

Aside from his “base” (however you choose to define it) and the pitiful lack of spine or moral conviction on display by GOP “leaders” like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, Trump’s goose is likely already cooked, by his own hand, and even he knows it.

And the one, single, indisputable thing that Trump could never live with, above all other outcomes, is the risk of losing the general election. Because that would mean he is a “LOSER,” not a winner. And being crowned “loser” with a defeat in November is the one risk Trump can never, ever take. He is a self-proclaimed “winner,” and there’s no way he’d be able to continue to declare himself a “winner” if he loses in November.

So, Trump has already begun laying the path for his exit from the race, in almost predictable fashion. He has planted the seeds for his Trexit with recent assertions that the general election is being “rigged” (by whom, specifically, is less clear). His charges of cheating will easily feed the paranoid narrative that his hard-core supporters live for. Additionally, his ongoing willingness to “double-down” on his most bizarre and offensive statements gives the distinct impression that he either believes he can survive any push-back (including from prominent Republicans and pretty much ALL mainstream media) OR that he desperately wants to be removed as the GOP candidate. It’s a lot easier to be the attention-getting candidate than it is to actually perform the duties of President.

So here is what will likely happen in the coming weeks:

Trump will continue to increase both the volume and frequency of his new mantra — that this election is “rigged,” as his political credibility (among normal people) and poll numbers continue to drop. At some point soon it will begin to occur even to his base that he is likely to lose in November, at which point he will declare his exit (the Trexit). His crowd will go nuts with indignation and admiration for their beloved “God Emperor” (yes, really).

Or, the Trexit may happen before the poll numbers dip too far — instead preserving Trump’s ability to say he “would have won big — very very big,” based on “favorable” polling, except he will say that the situation demands that he quit the race to preserve his “integrity” in the face of electoral corruption. Either way, he will be able to turn to his base (as well as the rest of the nationally captive audience) and declare unequivocally that it is “impossible” for him to win “fair and square.” He will claim “the support of the entire country.” And as he exits the presidential race, he will have accomplished 3 important things for himself (naturally):

  • He will go out a “Winner,” having shown how easily he won the Republican nomination, exposed his early competitors as “losers” and completely owned what is left of the GOP. First and foremost, he will avoid having to lose in November, by getting out of the race now.
  • He will likely still win Time Magazine’s “Person-of-the-Year” cover, being the person who most affected the news in 2016 (remember, Time does not distinguish between good and bad impact, only the winner’s effect on news itself).
  • He will increase the value of his “brand” 1,000 fold and set himself up for “huuuge” associated attention and revenues, including more celebrity appearances, where he will continue to wow his loyal followers with his braggadocio and far-flung conspiracy theories. And he will lay claim to being the “people’s” hero — an enduring legend in at least his own mind and the minds of his rabid supporters, who will probably not go away.
  • He will further strengthen his already out-sized ego — priming him for whatever unsavory role he chooses to play as a non-candidate, with an army of millions of loyal, if not misguided (to be generous), followers. A narcissist’s dream, to be sure.

In short, if the Trexit takes place more or less as outlined above, Trump will have had his way with the entire political system we call democracy and exited way ahead of the game. That would be brilliant gamesmanship. The only question then will be whether it was intentional or accidental (of course he will claim the former).

Unfortunately for the rest of us, Trump has been gifted perfect “cover” for his accusations of a rigged election. That cover has been provided courtesy of the DNC, recently exposed for having unfairly skewed the Democratic primary process in order to give Hillary the advantage, leaving electoral integrity and voter trust as casualties, and preventing the Democrats from forcefully rebutting Trump’s charges of a rigged election.

The DNC’s unfortunate actions now makes it easy for Trump to claim that the same kind of tampering with the democratic process that kneecapped Sanders is happening to him as well. Thank you DNC, as you and the nation now reap the karma of your hubris — your “…end justifies the means” calculations regarding how to deal with Bernie Sanders and his followers.

So what happens if and when Trump drops out? That becomes the moment the Republican establishment has been waiting and praying for — the moment a new GOP “hero” steps up to save the day as the new Republican nominee. Who would that hero be? Probably not Ryan or McConnell. And probably not McCain or Pence either.

No, the likeliest hero is the ever-ready workhorse and reliable voice of the 1%, Mitt Romney. He is a proven GOP figurehead with proper distance from Trump’s antics, and one of the few GOP faces to have opposed Trump from the beginning. He may have soiled himself by endorsing Cruz, but unlike Trump, Romney is not the most disliked candidate in history. Instead, he’d be running against the runner-up in that category.

Who would be the obvious winner of Clinton vs Romney? That’s an easy one — Donald Trump.

Richard Lang 8/5/16

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