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Donald Trump, dupe of the Deep State

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One problem with paranoid conspiratorial thinking is that it has no natural end point:

Arizona delegates to the Republican National Convention gathered this month in a Phoenix suburb, showing up to get to know each other and learn about their duties.

Part of the presentation included a secret plan to throw the party’s nomination of Donald Trump for president into chaos.

The instructions did not come from “Never Trumpers” hoping to stop the party from nominating a felon when delegates gather in Milwaukee next month. They instead came from avowed “America First” believers hatching a challenge from the far right — a plot to release the delegates from their pledge to support Trump, according to people present and briefed on the meeting, slides from the presentation and private messages obtained by The Washington Post.

The delegates said the gambit would require support from several other state delegations, and it wasn’t clear whether those allies had been lined up. One idea, discussed as attendees ate finger-foods, was for co-conspirators to signal their allegiance to one another by wearing matching black jackets.

The exact purpose of the maneuver was not clear — and left some delegates puzzled and alarmed. People familiar with the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said that perhaps the intent was to block an undesirable running mate. Most of the dozen GOP officials or activists interviewed by The Post even ventured that the aim may have been to substitute former national security adviser Michael Flynn for Trump if the former president is sentenced to prison time. Among some on the far right, suspicions have intensified that the former president has surrounded himself with too many advisers beholden to the “deep state.”

This is a nice illustration of Rick Perlstein’s point that right wing thinking in this country has for a long time been driven by a kind of neurotic dialectic, in which something that must happen (to save civilization) cannot happen (because social conditions make that impossible):

In the book I’m working on now, I’ve developed a theory to explain why that is, and how it works. I call it the “authoritarian ratchet.” Its axioms are that the basic thing conservatism promises to its adherents, a return of society to a prelapsarian state, is impossible; but that this impossible thing, in the logic of conservatism, is also imperative to achieve, lest civilization collapse, and good people suffer a kind of living death.

Donald Trump will of course fail to Make America Great Again, because the America of the MAGA imagination is in part an ahistorical fantasy, and, to the extent it isn’t, can’t be revivified, no matter how many undocumented residents and their families are deported, no matter how many civil rights laws are repealed or not enforced, etc.

What are they going to say about him when he’s gone? What? Are they going to say he was a kind man? He was a wise man? He had plans, he had wisdom?

My own belief is that Trump is decompensating fairly rapidly, and if, via The Wisdom of the Framers and the perversity of the Internet, he’s awarded another term, it will soon devolve into a kind of chaotic authoritarianism, in which various satraps plunder the nation while always working towards the Donald.

The bottomless and accelerating paranoia of the American right wing would no doubt play a critical role in this dynamic. What would be left afterwards is hard to say.

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