The cult of toxic personality

Last week we elected a Democratic governor in Connecticut, a decent guy whose vision for the future is either muddled or non-existent. He defeated another decent guy, whose vision for the state, he said, would be different from the first guy’s. I’m not sure how we would ever know. It was all very confusing and silly.

The winner, Ned Lamont, asked for unity. The loser, Bob Stefanowski should have asked himself why in the world he ever attached his name to anything Trump. Even though Connecticut is a blue state, we were ripe for the reddening, especially since our current governor had been masquerading as the invisible man for the entire election—his policies indefensible even by the Democrats. But once Stefanowski aligned himself with the president—referring to Trump’s financial genius—he dug the first spadeful of dirt from his grave.

Somehow Stefanowski forgot the president’s catalog of bankruptcies, desperate searches for financial assistance, and his refusal to reveal his tax returns which, according to most observers, will expose the sources of that assistance to have come from Russia.

But that last piece is conjecture: In this state Trump himself was the poison, and as we get further from last Tuesday’s elections, we’re beginning to understand the scope of the Trumpian disaster for Republicans nationwide. On that first night we thought it was a wash: one party for the Senate, one for the House. But down-ticket winners are everywhere. Seven governorships flipped to the Democrats, and state legislatures will have a decidedly blue (or at least purple) tinge for the next two years. Sinema’s win in Arizona is huge.

Face it: Trump is poison. All things being equal in Connecticut, Bob Stefanowski should have won. But even though the candidate openly disavowed almost every facet of the president’s persona and his personal foibles, it was too late.

Now the political conversation is turning to whom the Democrats will put up for the presidency in 2020. Let everyone take a lesson from Connecticut: Trump’s role in the race may be more significant than his opponent’s résumé.

So stop watching those Trump rallies and marveling at the man’s popularity. It’s an illusion. The noise, the placards, the idolatry, the race-baiting, the condescension, and the idiocy disguised as enthusiasm sometimes lead us to believe that his cult represents a huge cross-section of Americans.It doesn’t.  Last Tuesday in Connecticut—and in virtually every other state—we learned that. It’s a lesson worth hanging onto.

2 Replies to “The cult of toxic personality”

  1. As far as I’m concerned, if one label’s oneself as a republican, Trump is the package, the wrapping and the red ribbon bow. Either republicans totally embrace the extreme incompetence and idiocy of the current administration or they totally divorce themselves from the Trumpublicans and reclaim the party’s legitimacy. I don’t think they can do the latter because the party has attracted so many wingnuts, conspiracy theorists, bigots, and backward thinking “leaders’ that it may be doomed to be a fringe party.

    1. You’re right about the new Trump Republicans, but if you go back to the 60s you’ll find the first inklings of change in the party—their appeal to the Southern white voter and the first hints that the black man remained an enemy, especially with MLK and James Meredith and Rosa Parks and the whole civil rights movement. Not every Republican is a racist, of course, but in a way Trump has exposed the party for what it always has been; and now that the truth is out there, we can deal with it better.

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