So far, I’ve dealt with Donald Trump’s bid for the White House as performance art: a clever, full-body, self-marketing scheme in the fashion of actor Joaquin Phoenix restyling himself as a hip-hop artist to promote his mockumentary I’m Still Here. You remember that odd media moment from a few years back, right? When the handsome star of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line grew a huge beard and rapped incoherently on David Letterman? I can’t be the only one, can I?
So I keep waiting for the Trump-presidential-run punch line. I mean, what is his endless campaign that’s conquered America’s and even the world’s attention 24/7 really selling: the new Trumptopian private community on the moon (or in Burma)?
Still, after all these months—can it truly be nearly a year and not an eon or two?—I guess I finally have to accept that he’s really running for president and I have to figure out how to explain Donald Trump to my kids. At 9, 3, and 2, they may be the only Americans left who aren’t in the know when it comes to The Donald—and, believe me, I have no illusions. This is going to be tough! After all, he makes me scream at the screen, which leads my kids to wonder not about him but about their mom. It goes without saying (which is undoubtedly why I’m saying it) that he’s the antithesis of everything I believe in. Why are you not surprised by this? I’m way left of Bernie Sanders. I don’t usually admit it in public, but I’m probably going to vote for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. She talks about deep system change and a human-centered economy, and that’s the kind of talk I like.
Please note that, in good mom fashion, so far I’ve used only “I statements” and I’m always polite (when not screaming at that screen). Come to think of it, I pretty much only argue about politics with other people who read The New York Times with a highlighter in one hand, their indignation in reserve, and a pad of paper ready to make notes for their next rational (yet withering) letter to the editor that won’t be published.
So, it’s no surprise that Donald Trump pushes all my buttons, even a few I hadn’t noticed that I had, which is why I’ve tried to relegate him to the National Enquirer end of the media-political spectrum. But now that the Enquirer is breaking stories of “political import” in the era of The Donald and he’s even more of a household name than ever, it’s time to reconcile with reality. It’s time to accept that, even though (or do I mean because?) he’s racist and sexist, blustering and entitled, full of lies and blames and hates, he’s a Republican presidential candidate of consequence. I know, I know—I’m the last person in the United States to do this, but bear with me.