Donald Trump is a man who knows how to commit to a joke. I love him. I also loved Andy Kaufman, but he died before he could run for president, so Trump is the closest we’re going to get. Trump may even be Andy, pulling the payoff of a 30-year joke. I hope he is. It makes sense. How different are “Donald Trump” and Tony Clifton really? You see a lot of things on the Internet promising to “restore your faith in humanity.” Nothing I’ve seen in 20 years of surfing has done that yet, but Trump pulling off the mask like Ethan Hunt to reveal Andy Kaufman would clear that particular hurdle easily and permanently.
If you haven’t had your faith in humanity destroyed yet — I lost mine early, to a River Forest school system I would even today gladly see bombed flat (after hours, of course) by predator drones — I suggest you read the comments section of any publication, including this one. Reading a few hundred semiliterate opinions will take care of any lingering human faith you’d like to shed.
Comment sections are the human equivalent of chimpanzees pooping in their hands so they have something to throw. I don’t know anyone who admits to participating in these troll wars, but I know a few people who cannot resist reading them. It seems to be an odd cousin of whatever motivates those adrenaline addicts who do things like jump off cliffs wearing suits with wings as though they were Wile E. Coyote. (The recurring fate of whom seems to go unnoticed.) Comment sections — and, ahem, un-curated Facebook groups — angry up the blood, as Satchel Paige used to say, without physical exertion.
Angried-up, blood-wise, I did not watch either of the Republican primary candidate debates. I feel like I watched it, though, because I have Twitter, so I got the distillation. Trump was Trump and everyone else was being operated by consultants like a marionette. There, I saved you watching it, too. Sorry for no spoiler alert. Didn’t figure anyone who was still reading had saved that dog show on DVR.
But let’s be positive for a minute. Just for fun. Here’s a few things any candidate could say that would instantly steal my support out from under Donald Trump’s magical performance-art candidacy:
1) “As long as the tax system in America makes figuring out correctly and honestly what you owe beyond the skills of the average person, it favors the upper class, and neither the Democrats’ nor the Republicans’ promised tax cuts will change that.”
2) “Normal people under about 40 won’t ever see a dime of Social Security, and the fair thing to do is let them opt-out permanently so they can do their own retirement planning.”
3) “What do you say we get together over coffee and agree on a written definition of what exactly we’re using for criteria when we talk indignantly about ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’ and ‘the middle class’.”
4) “The war on drugs is an absurd failure.”
5) “Every lie you tell about me from here until next year is gonna cost you a tooth on the spot.”
6) “There is no valid argument for the United States to restrict immigration in any way. Of course, we’ll have to make some adjustments in entitlements, but lack of freebies didn’t stop any of our relatives coming here, amirite?”
7) “Can we all take a moment to enjoy the fact that we seem to have moved past comparing Vietnam resumes as part of this circus?”
8) “It’s time we acknowledged that we’re all just big bags of gas. Can you believe people take our minor differences so seriously?”
As for those of you anxious to get to poundin’ out the takes in the comments section: There’s a lot to complain about here. Get to work. Maybe some poor intern at the Review will even read them. Probably not, but you never know.
Me, I’ll just appreciate the extra page views that result from you people savagely misspelling insults at each other. Carry on.