Trump in the age of Trump

Donald Trump on “Meet the Press,” Oct. 24, 1999

You know who else ran stunt campaigns in the late 1990s? Hulk Hogan. And in 1999, there wasn’t much differentiation in the culture between one weirdly bald orange guy and another.

But we were able to recognize the prospect of a Trump presidency was outrageous. While the roots of the modern Republican party took hold in the mid- to late-90s, with the rise of Fox News and all-out assault on Democrats, there was still a bridge too far. Donald Trump was on that bridge.

In the intervening years, our world has changed. The internet morphed from America Online to high-speed cable access to handheld Facebook and texting machines. Information has truly been democratized the way it was foretold, and the repercussions have showed that anyone with gumption and, more importantly, access to a Twitter account or webcam can change the world.

The genesis of Frank the Tank

But while we famously lost irony on 9/11, we’ve nearing the point of losing outrage. Donald Trump’s ascension to the presidency smashed the ceiling Hillary Clinton never got to stand under, but instead of breaking barriers for women, he broke our shared expectations of qualifications for executive audience.

Donald Trump is a Facebook meme brought to life. He’s an executive accustomed to always being right, and he’s white and old and the world is different, so he’s lashing out to changing circumstances. The daily fealty he enjoyed for his first 70 years is gone, and he’s had no exposure nor respect to the institutions that now govern his life. So he’s hurt and confused and angry and he’s acting irrationally, and he won’t be affected by the consequences of his actions.

But for the rest of us, we’ve learned that the world can still continue to turn with an oversensitive baboon as our leader. And every day the world doesn’t fall apart is a day further from our collective gasp that a know-nothing egoist would want to run for president.

The point is this: the bar can always go lower. George W. Bush was low, but he was pedigreed and his team of monsters were professionals. Trump has no pedigree. He has no class, no interests beyond himself, and is the most brutish American president we’ve seen.

The question is not how we #resist or how we function in a Pence presidency. The question is what are we gonna do, brother, when we eventually out-Trump Trump?