In the run-up to the Iowa caucuses (a period of time that has begun to seem interminable) and in the wake of the January Democratic debate, the identity of the Democratic party’s eventual nominee is still unknown. Whichever candidate emerges, however, he or she will face an incumbent and a party untethered to ethics and willing to employ a range of “dirty tricks” that far exceeds even the worst of what has gone before.
That nominee–and the Democratic Party–need to be prepared. They need to listen to Rick Wilson.
Wilson is a long-time Republican strategist. He is also one of the (comparatively few) “professional” Republicans who were horrified by Trump’s victory; he has spent the last three years advocating for a return to sanity and battling the conspiracy theories and “alternate facts” so beloved by Trump’s base. (I think–although I’m not sure–that he is the source of the “Vichy Republican” epithet widely used to describe Trump’s feckless GOP collaborators.)
Wilson has just come out with a new book: Running Against The Devil. His previous book was Everything Trump Touches Dies–the title doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity about Wilson’s opinion of The Donald, but just in case you didn’t pick up on his animus, he’s been quoted as saying that Trump will “go down in history with asterisks next to his name for endemic corruption, outrageous stupidity, egregious cruelty and inhumanity, for diminishing the presidency and the nation, and for being a lout with a terrible wig.”
Although I haven’t had a chance to read the new book, I did come across an informative review of it in The Guardian. Some excerpts:
Unlike most of the Washington reporters covering Donald Trump, Wilson, a Republican strategist and ad man, wastes no time trying to be fair or balanced about the career criminal who is the temporary occupant of the White House. His advice to Democrats is beautifully summarized in his epilogue:
Do not, as my party did, underestimate the evil, desperate nature of evil desperate people. Do not come to this fight believing that the Trump team views any action, including outright criminality, as off limits. [The 2020 election] is a battle that decides whether they have an unlimited runway to create a dynastic kleptocracy based on an authoritarian personality cult that makes North Korea look like Sweden, or whether the immune system of the Republic kicks in and purges them from the body public …
There is no bottom. There is no shame. There are no limits … He is surrounded by cowards with frightening and tremendous skills …
Wilson believes that the only thing that could save Trump in November would be a Democratic party “too stubborn, undisciplined and foolish to get out of its own way”–and those of us who follow such things know that such behavior on the part of the Democratic Party is a realistic possibility.
Democrats, in Wilson’s view, should emphasize foreign policy (a case that “makes itself”) and especially corruption.
Whether “it’s lobbyists for Wall Street banks, big coal, the payday loan industry, private prisons, or any other number of economic vampires, the Trump kakistocracy really does have something for everyone: nepotism, cronyism, pay-for-play, backroom deals for donors, abuse of power, lying to Congress … and as a bonus, monetizing cruelty to children.”
Trump, Wilson writes, is “sending a signal, loud and clear, that he’s for sale, satisfaction guaranteed.”
In November, we will see how many voters are buying the primary product Trump is selling–white supremacy and the demise of the American experiment.