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With Trump, It's the Audience That Counts.


Yesterday I listened to about twenty minutes of Donald Trump’s speech in front of a gaggle of adoring fans in Michigan. He was going on and on about how the election was ‘rigged,’ and it occurred to me that he’s been kvetching about this so-called rigged election for nearly two years.

Trump started complaining about the election in June, 2020, when states began pushing mail-in ballots and other strategies to reduce crowds at the polls and thus keep down the size of election-day crowds to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. In fact, I ended up doing the mail-in ballot thing that year, the first time in my entire life that I didn’t show up in person to vote at the polls.

Trump talked on Saturday for – ready? – nearly two hours! What politician other than Rand Paul when he’s filibustering against something ever gives a two-hour speech? And the more I think about it, the more I think that once again, when it comes to understanding or explaining politics, the fake news media has gotten it wrong.

Trump may run again in 2024, although I’ll take the long odds on that one for sure. He may also want to continue pulling the GOP to the alt-right so that he can be the party leader whether he runs or not. These are the two most frequent explanations for why Trump doesn’t do what every other former President has done, which is to shut the fu*k up and go away.

But here’s what I believe is the real reason Trump sticks around even when he really has nothing to say. And it’s the same reason Grandpa used to invite us over for Sunday at his house In Queens, New York.

We would get to Grandpa and Grandma’s house right around noon and eat the lunchtime meal. Then ‘the children’ – my older brother, me, my two sisters and my younger brother, would play around outside in the yard.

At 1 P.M. we would be commanded to come back into the house and were made to sit down in the living room along with my father and Grandpa while my mother and Grandma were in the kitchen cleaning up from lunch.

My grandfather would sit right in front of his Dumont black-and-white TV which took forever to warm up but when it did, the show he watched was called ‘Meet the Press’ and featured some government big-shot being interviewed about some issue or event that was making the news.

My grandfather would sit directly in front of the TV and when the guest was asked a question, Grandpa would give the answer and if the person being interviewed then said the same thing that Grandpa had just said, Grandpa would nod his head up and down. On the other hand, if the person being interviewed said something different than what Grandpa had just said, Grandpa would shake his head side to side and mutter something about ‘that damn fool.’

I remember watching the show when the person being interviewed was John Foster Dulles who happened to be Secretary of State. This was in 1956 during the Suez Crisis and I was 12 years old.

At some point, Grandpa responded to what Dulles had said by calling him a ‘damn fool’ two or three times. After all, what did John Foster Dulles know about the Suez Crisis that my grandfather, Yossi Savetsky, noted fruit-and-vegetable purveyor from a little store in Rockaway Beach, Queens didn’t know?

I was never exactly sure how the filtering mechanism worked which let some ideas get into Grandpa’s head but kept other ideas out. But what I did know, and what every member of my family knew, was that during the half-hour for ‘Meet the Press,’ we all had to sit there, keep our mouths absolutely shut and serve as the audience for whatever Grandpa wanted to say.

While I was watching Trump speak, if I closed my eyes I could have been listening to Grandpa. The tone of voice and the accent were different, but the only thing which mattered to Grandpa back in the 1950’s and to Trump today is that there was an audience listening to what they had to say.

And just as much of what got into Grandpa’s head and popped out his mouth had no basis in reality at all, so the same can be said about what Trump has been telling his audiences over the past six going on seven years. After all, when Trump announced his Presidential campaign on June 16, 2015, his speech was basically a rant against all those ‘criminals’ and ‘rapists’ coming over the Mexican border, a trope he repeated almost word for word on Saturday night.

Please God, please make sure that Trump heads the GOP ticket in 2024. Please.

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