A farewell campaign for the ages, some leave us wanting, and others should just leave…

The Murdock tabloid trolled the former guy the other day by burying the lede and the candidate in a half-column slight:

“With just 720 days to go before the next election, a Florida retiree made the surprise announcement Tuesday night that he was running for president.In a move no political pundit saw coming, avid golfer Donald J. Trump kicked things off at Mar-a-Lago, his resort and classified-documents library.Trump, famous for goldplated lobbies and for firing people on reality television, will be 78 in 2024. If elected, Trump would tie Joe Biden as the oldest president to take office. His cholesterol levels are unknown, but his favorite food is a charred steak with ketchup.”

The snub was incredibly hurtful because it was the Florida man’s former hometown paper- one that had given him years of glowing headlines to feed his ego and the bloodlust of the conservative crowd that wraps its grievances in yesterday’s edition. Suddenly, the announcement of another presidential run was deserving of the Post staff’s ridicule with the column headline reading “Been there, Don that.” In a single half-page column, Rupert Murdoch’s scandal sheet wasted as little newsprint as possible, creating a larger story that headed nearly every program on MSNBC. The cut was deep.

The candidate’s announcement was worthy of the snub- a desultory recounting of the Trump list of grievances and resentments. The unending theme of a stolen election is drowned out by the prospects of an expected indictment. Could his candidacy deter DOJ’s decision to hold him accountable? Leg chains and handcuffs are such a bad look for a candidacy. Would nostalgia for a return to the divisiveness of his first term create a yearning for another one? Would his last campaign be one that his party reluctantly embraces because his base holds the party’s fortunes by the balls?

“Final campaigns” were once the stuff written by historians about great men who served in great times. Lincoln and FDR each had successful final campaigns. John Kennedy was savagely denied the opportunity. One of the haunting recountings of Last Campaigns was written by Thurston Clarke about Bobby Kennedy’s run in 1968 that ended with his assassination ending a decade of political murders. In an introduction to his book, Clarke quoted RFK’s words that night in Indianapolis when he announced to the crowd that Dr. Martin Luther King was killed by an assassin’s bullet:

“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.

“Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”

- RFK, April 4, 1968

That night, Kennedy spoke without a prepared speech, his words helped quell the anger and sadness that night. Indianapolis was spared the riots that erupted in the wake of the death of Dr. King in many American cities. Bobby after his brother’s death had grown from the president’s little brother into a formidable speaker whose words inspired a generation-mine- with speeches like one given in 1966 to National Union of South African Students members at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. That speech, which I devoted a diary to earlier, was known as The Ripples of Hope speech that contained these words:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. Thousands of Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference in isolated villages and city slums in dozens of countries.Thousands of unknown men and women in Europe resisted the occupation of the Nazis and many died, but all added to the ultimate strength and freedom of their countries. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped.

Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

— Senator Robert F. Kennedy, June 6th, 1966

Compare those sentiments — from a man who lost a brother who was about to eulogize another great American who was cut down in his prime by right-wing violence and hate- to those of the Florida man, whose contribution to American oratory was the inaugural disgrace, “American Carnage.” His announcement on November 15, a rambling, fact-averse diatribe, was barely intelligible but within the word scramble, there was a recurring theme:

Now, it’s very interesting. Today I heard it. Through stupidity, in a very, very hard core prison, interestingly named Clinton, two vicious murderers, two vicious people escaped, and nobody knows where they are. And a woman was on television this morning, and she said, “You know, Mr. Trump,” and she was telling other people, and I actually called her, and she said, “You know, Mr. Trump, I always was against guns. I didn’t want guns. And now since this happened”- it’s up in the prison area- “my husband and I are finally in agreement, because he wanted the guns. We now have a gun on every table. We’re ready to start shooting.”

I said, “Very interesting.”

- The Florida man, November 15, 2022

He speaks in code. No music to the ears there, the would-be candidate from yesteryear proclaimed that he would make America great and glorious again — a nod to his MAGA sloganed first campaign and history misremembered. The Florida man looked and sounded like a relic from a long-lost era. His fixation on ballot counting, at the heart of at least one of the investigations dogging his campaign kick-off, revealed his stone-aged approach to problem-solving:

“Mr. Trump lamented how long it was taking to know the full results of last week’s midterm elections, and he proposed requiring ID for all voters, same-day voting only and paper ballots rather than machines.”

- Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump Announces Third Consecutive Presidential Bid,” by Alex Leary

What is lacking in his analysis is a Republican conclusion that what Americans vote for and who they vote for can be overcome by limiting the voter pool to who votes — creating Republican-friendly demographics through manipulation and suppression. While the demographic advantages of their base melt, as the nation’s voter becomes more diverse, more educated, and younger, the party resists changes and defaults to a gilded past time when America was younger, less tolerant, and more white. The candidate from Florida represents the rotting hulk of a movement that relies on the comfort of the past from which the nation has been evolving- the “more perfect union” promised by its founders. Their base is an intolerant rabble of racists, white nationalists, antisemitic bigots, and evangelical Christians whose worldview is clouded by their ignorance and hate.

And so, as the Florida man made his case for running again, his slogan has morphed from the disingenuous to the ridiculous, from MAGA to MAGAG to MAGA-DAGA- DOO! His message, such as it was, is a sadly unevolved and crudely delivered throwback to another time when dinosaurs- like him- once ruled.

Originally published at https://www.dailykos.com on November 17, 2022.

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Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.

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Vince Rizzo

Former president of the International Association of Laboratory Schools (IALS) and a founder of a charter school based on MI theory.