The House Trump Built

Make America Great Again is a house Trump built yet the plans weren’t his own. He borrowed them and better crafted what would become a viable movement that captured the presidency and the Republican party. Is he still welcome? What becomes of the movement after him? Can there even be, as Steve Bannon believes, Trumpism without Trump? Pundits portray an increasing divide between Republicans. Not just one where grassroots activism challenges established mores, a Grand Old Party at odds with a new wave of populist-nationalism swelling within its ranks, but also a conflict between these populists and nationalists (and conservatives) who believe they rightly occupy a space that’s become the MAGA movement.

In simple terms what came first: the chicken or the egg, Trump or MAGA? For this paradox there is an answer. You can be certain MAGA didn’t start June 16th, 2015 at Trump Tower, with The Donald descending an escalator to announce his candidacy as “Rockin’ In the Free World” played. In fact, it didn’t start with Trump. The position wasn’t an epiphany revealed to him like God instructing Noah. It is, moreover, this confusion about MAGA’s origin that leads to the internal conflict noted above amongst adherents; their infighting is a symptom and misplaced loyalty is the cause.

Before I dissect what became Trump’s signature platform of “Make America Great Again” allow me to address the factions warring over its legacy. A modicum of foresight can easily see it splitting the president’s base much like John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson did to Jefferson’s Democratic-Republicans, but I digress. There must be moderation in all things, politics included (though it’s difficult at times I admit), yet these fervent forces vie for the last word on Trump’s movement without knowing how it started. This, I believe, is a serious problem that perpetuates discord.

The loyalists I’ve termed Ever-Trumpers. A passionate bunch who willfully accept every action taken by the president, like battered spouses defending their abuser. Harsh, I know, but the mentality is the same. They cannot explain why Trump occasionally deviates from the MAGA platform so they ascribe it all to sublime genius. Ever-Trumpers see a brilliancy playing out on the chess board and the president working four moves ahead. Certainly, there is some merit to it but this is not the answer to every single maneuver and resulting mistake made by the president. Arguments to this effect, however, are met by Ever-Trumpers with chiding or “let Trump be Trump.”

Whatever. It’s okay to expect the president to be the Trump we voted for and call him out accordingly when he falls short.
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Why did Trump back Strange?

There has been a lot of speculation as to why President Trump chose to support Luther Strange during Alabama’s Republican primary. Strange, the current sitting senator, is an ally of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He, like McConnell, is a creature of the swamp the president promised to drain. So why would Trump throw his weight behind such a candidate?

Trump tweeted support for Strange a week before the primary election. The race was between a number of Republican candidates with three popular choices angling for the simple majority necessary to secure the nomination. If a majority was not reached the top two vote-getters were slated for a run-off that would determine the winner.

After Trump released his tweet one of the popular candidates, Mo Brooks, took issue:

I am baffled and disappointed Mitch McConnell and the Swamp somehow misled the President into endorsing Luther Strange.

Brooks, like others, believe Strange has a questionable history when it comes to public service. Strange had been appointed earlier in the year by the then-Alabama Governor Robert Bentley to take the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions. Of this appointment Brooks said, “Strange corruptly and unethically held a criminal investigation over the head of disgraced Governor Bentley to obtain the senate appointment.”

At the time Governor Bentley battled allegations of an extramarital affair with a female advisor. The legislature floated impeachment. Strange, as the Alabama Attorney General, would’ve been intimately involved. The governor, nevertheless, selected him to fill the open Senate seat. A month after Strange went to Capitol Hill the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Bentley violated both ethics and campaign finance laws. The same day impeachment proceedings began Bentley resigned.
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Moore Character Assassination

Judge Roy Moore’s trial in the court of public opinion continues and the verdict will come December 12 when Alabamians head to the polls. Like with every political hit job there is intrigue and accusations worthy of a Clancy novel. A gripping plot underpinned by torturous subplots all working to a similar end.┬áThat end is, of course, who holds the invaluable Alabama Senate seat. A coveted possession, formerly occupied by now-Attorneys General Jeff Sessions, held by the soon to be evicted Luther Strange.
Strange lost in the Republican run-off election to Moore. He’s a lame duck loyal to Majority leader Mitch McConnell. There is ample motive for both the Democrats and the establishment Republicans to see that Roy Moore lose on the twelfth. But why? How? The narrative is that Moore, a vocal Christian, is a serial sexual predator. A claim Moore emphatically denies. The reason behind this never-before-made accusation is simple: political power is closely guarded and billions are at stake.

Like any good political thriller there are characters integral to the fiction driving forward the narrative. This story has a number of them. I’ve pieced together what can be found on the stakeholders, the accusers and power players both.

This story is updated as new allegations and facts come to light. Last updated 12/08

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