Yes, I could block his emails — and I probably will at some point. But some part of me is morbidly fascinated by the nakedness of the grift — and by the realization that there are people who respond to it. Indeed, according to media reports, they responded to the tune of $75 million in the first half of the year. I’m reminded of being amazed by Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker in the 1980s. Not just that their appeals for money were so garish and cartoonish, but that they were so successful.
No, Trump is not the only one. Though they don’t offer cheap tchotchkes like he does or have his talent for incessant begging, candidates like Florida Rep. Val Demings and Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock do turn up regularly in my email queue seeking donations.
Far from inspiring me to reach into my pocket, such appeals leave me vaguely embarrassed for the people making them — and more convinced of the need to overhaul our system of campaign finance. The one we have turns public servants into panhandlers, which is, you’d like to think, beneath the dignity of high office.
Of course, dignity has never been Trump’s problem. If we are lucky, high office won’t be, either.
There are two schools of thought on whether he’ll seek the presidency again. Both center on his fragile ego. One holds that he must run because that ego simply can’t absorb the humiliation of losing. The other holds that he can’t run because that ego simply can’t risk the humiliation of losing twice.
One wonders if even he knows where the ego will land. Meantime, raising money is an end unto itself, and to watch him con it out of people is fascinating and repulsive in equal measure. He weaponizes their fear and foolishness, and the cash comes rolling in. How sadly, grotesquely and absurdly American that is.
“In 2022,” goes an email in my queue, “we will SAVE AMERICA from the radical left.” It offers an “official” Trump calendar for any contribution over $45.
Sorry, Donald, not interested.