When I think of Donald Trump, which is rare these days, I think of a schoolyard bully. It’s an analogy that is so apt as to defy the usual charge of cliche. From his ducktail haircut to his sneering, rancorous, humorless manner to his thick body and thicker head, Donald Trump is “Biff” incarnate. Trump surrounds himself with little men and little women who would remain little men and little women without him. They are the same kind of people attracted to bullies the way pilot fish are attracted to sharks. Together they present to the world a kind of synergism of stultifying mediocrity, a cabal of the commonplace, a confederacy of creeps.
And it’s true, most bullies are cowards and Trump is no exception. It takes courage to stick your neck out for your friends, a thing Trump has never done. Trump won’t even mildly inconvenience himself for a friend. His casual indifference is revealed in the way he ignores Rudy Giuliani’s plea for money so he can pay his lawyers who are helping him with all the trouble he’s in for trying to help Trump. It’s revealed in his refusal to even give an audience to Matt Gaetz — a Trump toady if ever there was one — because Trump won’t risk even the smallest tincture of taint from the embattled, sycophantish congressman. We’ve seen it in how quickly and insouciantly Trump jettisoned his faithful lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen.
Trump is nobody’s friend but expects everybody to be his. He demands not just loyalty but to-the-death fealty, of the kind Hitler demanded of his generals and troops at Stalingrad, and during his final days in the bunker as the encroaching Russians drew ever closer. Trump used his trolling, bullying behaviour to get elected president of the United States, and thus revealed just exactly how many masochistic sycophants there are in America.
Trump sees no contradiction in the notion that all loyalty must be to him, it must be his for free and anything less is the rankest, most despicable kind of betrayal. Yet not one single finger of help is ever lifted in return, not one gesture of gratitude ever made, not one offer of assistance is ever tendered for the opposite party. Loyalty goes one way only for Trump. Everybody else can go to hell.
So while the Republican Party tries to draw the tendrils of its own shattered organisation back together again, Trump continues as he always has, without the smallest regard for the damage he inflicts by continuing to promote the Big Lie that he really won the 2020 presidential election. The current crisis facing the Republican Party is not Trump’s concern. Trump will not moderate his paranoid narrative even slightly to help them. His indifference to their distress is so blatant you might almost miss it if you’re not paying attention. Normal people try to hide the fact that, to paraphrase the slogan on Mrs. Trump’s famous overcoat, they really don’t care, do U?
The one thing keeping the Republican Party from unifying and getting on with the business of cheating Americans and destroying democracy is Donald Trump. Because as long as Trump keeps sounding his one note martyr’s leitmotif, the Trumpists in the party feel compelled to keep up the appearance of obeisance. Because they continue to join him as his monotone chorus, the dissenting faction inside the Republican Party must continue to play counterpoint. Such as it is, Trump may finally have a beneficial function in the end. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.