A raging, unhinged Donald Trump threatened Hillary Clinton with prison during a presidential debate unlike any other. But corporate media pundits said he won.
There has been a lot of debate about what Donald Trump’s legacy will be. My colleague Jeremy Scahill writes tonight that Trump “has empowered fascists, racists and bigots” and he “may go away, but the people he has empowered will not.”
My view is the opposite: I don’t think there will be any political legacy or really any big political lessons from Donald Trump.
He fundamentally isn’t a political creature. He has no real movement, no organized ground troops, and no real strategy. His only legacy will be demonstrating how easy it is to capture the narratives on television without really anything of substance to say.
Throughout his life, Trump has done little more than seek attention and every facet of him seems designed to get it. Over the past year, he has gotten obsessive coverage, largely negative, since he announced his run for president. He thrives on the attention, he doesn’t think about governing or policy, and I’m not even convinced he really wants to win all that badly. He’s just enjoying the ride.
The reason someone like that can get so far is because the one thing he does seem to understand is how to get attention. He constantly says provocative or offensive things, and that’s what the media wants to showcase.
If Paul Ryan walked into Congress and introduced a health care plan that would drive millions of people into a situation where they couldn’t afford care, and thousands more would die prematurely, the news media would yawn. (We know this, because he did just that and he is still considered a legitimate, serious figure). If Ryan walked out onto the street and yelled the N word 50 times at a random stranger, he’d be on the chyrons of every cable news network.
Trump understands that, and he’d rather be the guy who yells the offensive phrase 50 times than the person who makes policy that hurts of millions of people. That gets him the attention. Ryan, and other politicians who behave destructively, also understand that. They want to govern. They want to do terrible things without a lot of attention.
And that may end up being the true legacy of this campaign — the media’s inability to treat people who politely do terrible things the way they treat a carnival barker like Donald Trump.