They are all insane people. Even poor, stressed-out, occasionally lucid-seeming John Kasich: bonkers. Pathology is contextual, and one simply does not bring reasonable takes like Actually, the deal with Iran is okay, provided we do the diligence of enforcing it, just like pretty much every other deal ever to a presidential debate stage in the Time of the Donald.
A room with Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Chris Christie in it is a fucking clown show no matter what they are doing there. Playing Xbox. Drinking tea. Whatever the fuck. Stay out of that room. A room in which those 11 are being treated gravely as serious political figures and permitted to campaign for the privilege of national leadership—for the privilege of having their fingers on the button, as the moderator put it re: Trump—is the world capital of hazard. It also is something of a miracle, as opportunities go. Lock that room and fill it with water, while you can, before any of them get loose. Ah damn. Too late.
Here are some of the ideas that received a hearing last night, from the 11 people vying for one of two available nominations to the highest and most powerful elected office in the history of the earth:
- Abolishing the 14th Amendment
- Deporting people born in the United States because their parents were not born in the United States
- Making the personal beliefs of county officials the highest law of the land
- Building an army of drones to patrol a militarized wall along the entire length of the U.S.-Mexico border
- Deporting thousands of people per day until the United States is entirely emptied of non-citizens
- Waging war in Syria
- Waging war in Iran
- Directing the moderators’ questions to Hillary Clinton, who was not present and who is not seeking the Republican presidential nomination
That these proposals all are implausible, irresponsible, or inconsistent with the candidates’ unanimously shared goal of drastically lowering all taxes or flatly bonkers or all of the above mostly went unmentioned, by the moderators and by the candidates themselves. Why bother? Such mincing concerns as these do not adhere to lunatic fantasies; making any of this shit work is a second-order delusion, after the one in which we live in the kind of place in which there’s any chance at all that any of these people can or would or even intends to try to enact a single goddamn one of them.
A campaign field like this one (and, mind you, this group of 11 left out four somehow even more ridiculous candidates—Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki—who debated on the undercard), and early polling results that put three people who have never worked in government at any level (Trump, Carson, and Fiorina) near the center of the stage, can be interpreted to indicate discord on the American right, and that’s probably fair. It’s also a bit too small to encapsulate the full batshit insanity of, for example, some of the night’s loudest applause going to Jeb Bush for asserting that his big brother George W. Bush—the architect of two needless wars and alienator of the world on whose watch operatives of a well-known international terrorist network carried out the deadliest act of foreign hostility on U.S. soil since the bombardment of Pearl Harbor—“kept us safe.” The thing being expressed here is not merely a disorganized right, but profound, widespread contempt for the entire idea that the United States can, should, or deserves to be governed. Which, given that the United States ultimately is nothing more than an agreement by wildly disparate and far-flung communities to consent to sharing the same government, amounts to contempt for the existence of the United States.
There’s plenty to like about that! Consider the assortment of gibbering psychos and clownfrauds and tools on that stage last night. The notion that a single government can meaningfully serve the interests and policy priorities of Mike Huckabee’s supporters (who evidently share his belief that a nation should be governed by asking Kim Davis what she thinks God wants her to do) and those of a Constitution-humping libertarian dweeb like Rand Paul is preposterous. The two groups’ respective theories of government share common ground roughly as thick as human hair, containing general agreement that government ought not purée babies and pretty much nothing else.
That is not nearly a wide enough plank to serve as the basis of a government that functions, which is no small part of why ours does not. And this is before accounting for the entire other, what, like 52 percent of the United States, who think both of those groups are fucking maniacs. This is unworkable.
Hell, for that matter, a single political party can’t even represent both the Huckabee and Paul groups. The mere effort has made an incoherent disaster of the GOP and created an opening for a reality TV star whose campaign pitch is his track record of withdrawing enormous personal profits from failed business investments to emerge as the choice of millions upon millions of voting-age Americans. Who consider themselves conservative! I will vote for Donald Trump; I trust him to become richer even if the United States implodes like one of his casinos, and that is what I, a “conservative,” look for in a statesperson.
Let’s do away with this shit. Many millions of Americans want their next president to be Carly Fiorina—an inept, failed CEO with no experience of public service who spent last night threatening to make war on half the fucking planet. She was like the eighth most irresponsible psychopath on the stage, and the rest of them, down to the least of them, all represent vast constituencies. This isn’t a failure of the political system—this is the political system working, expressing the will of the governed.
Any polity that can produce such an outcome should be abolished. Dissolve the United States, replacing it with a set of city-states, villages, and thinly-peopled hinterlands; let every public that wants one have their own Carly Fiorina or Bobby Jindal, and let everyone else go about their business. The candidate who proposes that will be the one to get behind.
Photo via AP