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paranoid theory of the week :: is donald trump secretly a plant for the democrats?

i had intended to start the "official-ish more like space american democracy-thon 2016" coverage with some kind of commentary on all the candidates, but i can't find time in between candidates becoming contestants to get a solid group of thoughts together. surely things are taking their final shape now, though, even if their final shape is a rather amorphous blob. but already, there's clearly one candidate who's been more visible, more risible and less believable than anyone else.

when donald trump first announced that he was thinking of running for president, i assumed it was the same sort of bluff he pulled last time, a publicity stunt to help boost the ratings of the apprentice and reassure himself that he was [still?] relevant. when he went through with it, i couldn't stop giggling and, once i saw that remarkable launch speech with the talk of mexicans being sent to the united states to commit crimes or something, i asked dom if he thought trump was really a democrat working to destroy the republican party from within. i meant it as a joke, but it turns out there are people who are wondering if that isn't the case. which is where we get this week's paranoid theory.

the theory ::
donald trump is secretly a democrat, whose run for the nomination of the republican party [and, in the event that he loses, a possible run as an independent] is actually a ruse to ensure that the democrats- and in particular hillary clinton- win the 2016 election.

the origins ::
a handful of republicans and a few right wing media outlets, but not total fringe-dwellers. the washington times has raised the issue on several occasions, for instance. for that matter, the ubiquitous huffington post raised the possibility in a jovial way, but didn't exactly dismiss it entirely.

the believers ::
not a lot of them who'll speak publicly. aside from the aforementioned washington times, miami congressman [and jeb bush supporter] carlos curbelo floated the idea on spanish language media, but even then only meekly. i suspect there are a lot of people [like me!] who don't think it's the craziest idea that they've heard, but they don't want to speak up because a. they're going to get shot down and be derided as a loon; or b. they don't want to spoil the fun.

the bad guys ::
donald trump and the clintons

the evidence :: 
no one disputes that trump has donated nearly as much money to the democrats, including to the campaigns of one hillary clinton. and, as the media loves to keep pointing out, the clintons were guests at trump's most recent wedding. i can't recall the last time the republicans had to deal with a candidate whose party credentials were so equivocal and the last guy who ran had created a blueprint for barack obama's health care program.

but what really seems to be driving people to question trump's seriousness is the shit that keeps pouring like the contents of a burst sewage pipe from his mouth. it started off with the first speech of his campaign [and while his comments about immigrants got most of the coverage, there were a lot of moments that were memorable]. then there was a speech in las vegas that was described by a number of media outlets as "surreal", where he crowed about the importance of his book the art of the deal as it pertains to international trade relations, said that he would put a hotel mogul in charge of trade relations with china, re-upped on his comments about immigrants and said that those who opposed his views were agents of the mexican government [which could be a future paranoid theory of the week] and more. or there's the potshots he took at former presidential candidate john mccain, specifically on his war record, which is the one area where even angels fear to tread in criticizing him. the guy spent years in a cage and refused to leave when he could have. that's some serious inner strength.

people are looking at donald trump and thinking that, while he may have been born into privilege, he didn't get to be the man he is today [whatever you think of him] by being stupid and crazy. he has done well in business, including taking advantage of laws that allowed him to declare bankruptcy for certain of his enterprises. the stuff he's saying now is testing the upper limits of the nuts-o-meter. it's not like he's shied away from being eccentric in the past, or like anything he's saying now seems completely disconnected from his previous statements. but it's hard to reconcile what he says now with the guy who built his family fortune into a much bigger fortune, or who managed to transform himself into a celebrity with a considerable following.

what's absent in all this is any evidence of actual collusion on the part of democrats. yes, hillary clinton is clearly running for president and she and trump have had an amicable enough relationship in the past. but if this is something that's being planned, the people involved are keeping some hermetically sealed lids on it. in an age when news stories seem to leak before they've even stopped happening, we are to believe that the democrats have somehow mobilized an incredibly high profile spy to take over the republican nomination process without a whisper of this having ever left the room. i'm sure that democrats are thrilled that donald trump is in the race and doing so well, but does the party command the sort of loyalty that could execute this sort of coup without a hint of their complicity coming out?

the likelihood :: 3/10
i hear you asking: why are you giving this any credibility whatsoever? well, because even though i don't accept that there's any evidence that the democrats are involved in planting donald trump as a disruptor in the republican race for the white house, i think that there's a possibility that donald trump is planting donald trump as a disruptor in the republican race for the white house.

if you look at trump's business record and the politicians to whom he has given money, they tend to be those who are in favour of economic deregulation [like bill clinton], who have a healthy relationship with wall street and big capital and who adopt a more hands-off approach on social issues. and that's very much in keeping with what you would think trump would want, given his personal history. so it is just possible that, without the democratic party ever approaching him to do so, he is using some of his vast wealth [whether you believe his claims as to its extent or not] to play an elaborate prank on the hardcore right wing who have seized control of the republican party since 2010. he's essentially parroting the worst parts of their arguments, alienating all the groups who party leaders admitted they needed to attract after the last presidential election and he's leading in every single poll. [and for those who want to argue that his lead is based on name recognition, i'd like to see them explain why self-identified republicans don't recognize the name "bush".]

by playing up the clownish caricature of himself he's been honing on television for years, he's exposing those very vocal elements of the republican party for the fools that they are and potentially shooing them out of the way for the future. if the price he pays for that is four [or eight] years of a democrat in power who he likes personally and probably feels will embody his own views in government, that might be a chance he's willing to take.

of course, trump is taking some very real business hits because of his comments. but he's also getting a phenomenal amount of free publicity. and let's be honest, it's not like he needs to be earning more money at this stage. whatever he wants to do, he basically can. and it's not out of the realm of possibility that he wants to play an elaborate practical joke on people who will worship him for it.

a couple of days ago, i saw a republican party strategist on msnbc [getting my time in before they dispose of all of the hosts who made them watchable] say in a defeated tone that he hopes donald trump continues his run, that he hopes he wins and that he hopes he then goes on to inevitably lose all fifty states so that the republican party can move on from the foolishness that's possessed it in recent years and rebuild. i'm not convinced that donald trump isn't in complete agreement.

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