aNewDomain — Ah, Donald Trump. The Donald. Escalator-gliding, apprentice-firing, Mexican-hating Donald. You know, the United States has only had one independent president ever, and that was George Washington.
We have a two-party system in the United States. We get to pick from two names on the ballot. Sometimes there are other names, but voting for them is throwing your vote away, maybe making a statement but not a statement of who is going to run the country. Voting outside of the two main names really just means “none of the above.”
For all its weaknesses, which are mostly to do with how elections are funded and therefore who can buy politicians, this system makes us pick a candidate that at least a weak majority of us can live with.
Take a place like India. Nine parties contested control of the government, each party an alliance of many minor parties. Prime Minister Narindra Modi won with a staggering one third of the popular vote. Given that unbelievably fragmented system, getting 33 percent of the vote is a major accomplishment. And it means only one in three Indian people have a leader they chose for themselves.
Imagine if Americans had to choose from 20 presidential candidates.
With primary season approaching, that’s exactly what we have to do.
The Republican side is especially crowded. And the more crowded it gets, the more crowded it’s going to get. Think about this: If there were two candidates running roughly even, a third candidate just entering the race would have to get just over a third of the vote to beat them both. If there were three, a fourth would need just over 25 percent.
With 31 candidates declared or “exploring” a presidential bid, that means a candidate could potentially win their party’s nomination with only one thirtieth of the party vote.
And given that only the most interested voters from gerrymandered districts show up at primary events, it isn’t hard to find a hot-button issue to rile them up over, capturing a significant portion of the vote.
Take Donald Trump. Please.
So Donald Trump is polling at 12 percent right now, second to Jeb Bush. And this is after his racist, barely-coherent brag-fest of an announcement. I
In other words, 12 percent of Republicans are racist enough to not have a problem with Trump’s declarations that Mexicans are all rapists and criminals.
Remember that our attitudes sometimes follow rather than create our support. In other words, people who like Trump are unlikely to stop liking him because he says racist stuff; They’re just likely to become more racist. And when Donald Trump is the presidential nominee, the party will line up behind him, follow his leads and adopt his attitudes.
This happened with Mitt Romney and it will happen with The Donald, too. He isn’t going to moderate anything he says to become more popular or credible. He can’t. If he could, that hair would have gotten fixed decades ago.
And what about that hair? Two things are possible: Nobody on his staff has the courage to tell him it’s stupid and ridiculous and costs him credibility. Or when they tell him and he ignores or fires them, and the hair stays the same.
So Mr. Trump is doing a little good: He is showing us how primary voters think, hopefully inspiring some people to undo the horrifying voting blocs they’ve created. He might also be doing a lot of harm, too, in swinging opinion his way, in other words, towards ignorance and insanity.
So you’ve got to ask: How is that going to save America?
The thing is, a lot of candidates are running vanity campaigns. They’re selling books, building support for runs for lower offices, trying to earn a spot on Fox News.
But Mr. Trump’s run is getting costly for him, thanks to his racist comments about Mexicans.
NBC and Univision are backing away from Mr. Trump’s skin parades – I mean, beauty pageants – I mean, “scholarship programs.” ESPN is moving a golf tournament off his golf course over to one that isn’t tied to anyone who makes publicly racist comments. Macy’s is dumping his product line.
He’ll sue them all, of course, every last Trump-hating, immigrant-loving one of them.
In the meantime, people thinking about jumping into the growing crowd of presidential wannabees have to consider that now there are ramifications for making stupid and hateful remarks.
Such consequences are not just positive. They also are potentially problematic.
In a party that values free-market solutions, candidates have to consider that most businesses don’t give a rotten damn who their customers sleep with, who they marry, where they came from, whether they have papers or who they vote for.
What church they attend is none of a proprietor’s business – business is their business.
The stunts of the last election – firing people because Mr. Obama won, intimidating coal miners to vote Republican – these sorts of things won’t fly in this election.
Going to Republican conventions and spouting ignorance has been profitable in the past, but this year, thanks to Mr. Trump, folks are going to have to reconsider.
Potentially, this means we will get a candidate from the right who is more moderate, a candidate who can get away with not pandering to the most “biblical,” white-supremacist voters. Maybe we’ll get a candidate who is socially moderate and fiscally centrist, a candidate who has both a chance of winning and a chance of getting something done for us, we the people.
It’s not too much to hope for.
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.
Cover image of Donald Trump at his presidential bid announcement: ABCNews.go.com, All Rights Reserved. Other images: PaidInChickens.blogspot.com, All Rights Reserved, FoxNews.Com, All Rights Reserved.