“This is America, remember. Bullshit always has a chance.”

Matt Taibbi has an interesting piece about Corey Stewart, the Republican nominee for the senate seat in Virginia where he is challenging Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Taibbi says that Stewart has distilled the essence of Trumpism and given us a glimpse of what that would look like without Trump.

The first thing to understand about Corey Stewart, Virginia’s long-shot Republican Senate candidate and perhaps America’s purest political distillation of Donald Trump, is that he’s crazy.

As a Mini-Me version of the president, Stewart is running a key symbolic race against former Hillary Clinton running mate and establishment centerfold Tim Kaine. Stewart is perhaps also an answer to a question hanging over American politics: Will there be such a thing as Trumpism after Trump?

Taibbi lists blatant lies that Stewart said during a debate with Kaine and elsewhere, and Kaine’s spokesperson Ian Sams described what this revealed about politics today.

“In this kind of politics,” Sams said, “there’s a fundamental imbalance that is shifted toward the lying person.”

If anyone were to try to articulate a political theory of Donald Trump, this might be it: lying-ism. It’s not so much about policy — Stewart runs to both the left and right of traditional Republicans, depending on the issue — as it is about using aggression as an electoral strategy.

You turn everything into a fight, renouncing decorum as a trick of the establishment (Stewart actually promised to run a “vicious, ruthless” race). Then, court voters’ secret resentments by relentlessly ripping your opponent as the Fucker Responsible for Everything, using accusations that are true, not true, doesn’t matter, just make sure you never stop.

Stewart seems to be the first from-scratch attempt to re-create this uniquely vile electoral brand. Trump has had allies before, but they’ve mostly been either craven opportunists like Chris Christie or scandal-tinged converts from traditional Republicanism, like Jeff Sessions and Jim Jordan.

Stewart is different, a true strategic apostle. “Corey is the most analogous Republican to Donald Trump running,” says Sams.

Taibbi warns that even though Stewart is trailing in the polls right now, he is dangerous and Kaine’s brand of bland centrism, the disease that infects the Democratic party’s leadership, is vulnerable to the kinds of no-holds-barred, facts-be-damned attacks that Stewart is using, and he ends his piece with the sentiment that I used as the title of this post.


  1. says

    Perhaps if there’s still a US left after Trump’s second term, we’ll see the electorate begin to value honesty again. Or maybe it just won’t matter.

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