A smiling lady from Liger
rode on the back of a tiger.
They returned from a ride
with the lady inside
and the smile on the face of the tiger
That old doggerel comes to mind when watching Donny Trump try to keep up with the disreputable Republican contraption he’s put together.
SPOILER: He can’t.
One of the unchanging truths about right-wing politics is the unfailing trait of distrust. It’s always present.
Consider: Nearly every nut-case GOP group got started by folks who were angry/fearful of what the original group was doing/saying. Birch society. Liberty Lobby. The “break-aways” always think of themselves as the “truth keepers” i.e. the ones “keeping the faith.”
Distrust is the single most important element that’s saved the rest of us from a major societal disruption by a single nutball group. Groups like the Birch Society, Oath Keepers, etc.. The rest of us have survived this long because, at some point, distrust/anger/fear erupts among ”the faithful” and there’s a splintering or morphing as the “faithful” bunch breaks away.
Trump is facing such a quandary at the moment.
Since exiting the White House, he’s been proudly gathering his “faithful.” Some individually; some as groups. Remember, to Trump, loyalty to him is the most basic requirement of association. Loyalty to him and him alone. So far, to the wandering “faithful” looking for a new leader on the right, Trump has appeared to be the logical choice.
For these many months, it’s worked. He’s headed his legions of “faithful” with little trouble. His style of continual lying, defending 20 or so legal actions, his mercurial temperament, his non-stop “politicus interruptous” way of doing things - all have seemed acceptable to his followers.
BUT - now, as the primaries are underway - and with the general election some four months hence - his legions are beginning to crack. Seems some of the “basics” of the far-right dictum of Trumpism aren’t really “one-size-fits-all.” After all.
As Trump has scattered his endorsements of certain candidates from state to state, some of the “baptized” have lost their primaries. And, in some cases, the winners have strayed from the MAGA line when polls showed such adherence damaging to their candidacies.
There are, it seems, individuals who are, while generally following the Trump line, creating their own “legions” of followers. Absent Trump.
Case-in-point: Take Florida’s governor. Please.
Ron DeSantis has been acting like Ivan the Terrible in modern-day Florida. Banning books. Making life tougher for LGBTQ folks. Running roughshod over people’s lives. With or without legislative concurrence.
In Texas, there’s also been very little influence from Trump. Governor Greg Abbott, much in the DeSantis mold, has been operating as a political “free spirit,” enacting policies similar to MAGA but not exactly the same.
Then, there’s Mike Pence. He’s actively campaigning for the guy DJT did NOT endorse in Georgia’s primary. Bit of a split there, it would seem.
In just these three cases, Trump is not the central figure. Which is the requirement for MAGA membership. DeSantis and Abbott have created their own “local” movements; each with some MAGA guidelines. But not all.
If polls are borne out in Pennsylvania, the primary victor there won’t be Trump’s endorsee - Mehmet Oz. And Trump’s pick in Georgia is in deep trouble and could be another loser.
One thing Trump is not is flexible. One thing the far-right is not is flexible. So, if there is some change in Trump’s MAGA “philosophy,” or if the loss of several of his “preferred” candidates creates doubt about his leadership among “the faithful,” his grip on them may be loosened.
Trump likes to be “out front.” He needs to be the leader in anything he’s involved in. But, as the political profiles of other folks rise and fall, Trump may find himself challenged for that front position. His reign may be challenged. By an Abbott or a DeSantis. Or a Pence.
Remember the lady and her tiger. And the smile. Watch for the smile.