You’ve heard of the Grexit: Greece’s exit from the EuroZone.
You’ve read about the Brexit: Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Now, allow Major Terata to introduce the Trexit: Trump’s exit from the GOP presidential nominating race.
Last summer, I predicted Trump would not be in the race by the following summer. His staying-power and primary contest successes since then would seem to dash that prediction, but I’m sticking to it. And here’s why.
First, Trump’s entry into the contest along with more than a dozen others was purely a ploy to elevate his brand, and draw renewed attention to his name – which is, after all, his core business. No longer a real-estate developer, Donald Trump draws almost all his income from licensing the Trump name to practically any commodity that its producer wants to associate with luxury. (My personal feeling is that the “Trump” name implies obnoxious garishness more so than the beautiful trappings of an elite life-style, but I’m probably not the target audience for stuff plastered with his logo.) And as any brand manager can tell you, preservation of the brand is paramount. Products come and go, but a brand must endure for the company to survive over the long term. That means careful stewardship to maintain its meaning, protect it from being tarnished, and keep it vital.
More than once, Trump publicly floated the idea of running for office – governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, and president on the Reform Party ticket in 2000 – and although he never jumped in, he timed the activity to coincide with projects (books, reality TV) designed to buff the Trump brand. Most likely, Trump examined the dozen or so misfits who had tossed their hats into the GOP ring last summer and concluded he could dominate the scene for a while, and polish up the “Trump” brand in the process. I suspect he presumed that the establishment Republicans would lavish huge sums on preferred candidates (which they did), and someone like Jeb Bush or Scott Walker would ascend. Trump would then declare that the party was a fucking mess undeserving of his brilliance, and drop out.
Consider his almost-candidacy for president in 2000 on the Reform Party ticket. Even though Trump boasted, “if I ran and spent a lot of money I could actually win, I could beat that Democrat-Republican apparatus,” he eventually shit-canned the idea, complaining, “the Reform Party is a total mess! You have Buchanan, a right winger, and you have Fulani, a Communist, and they have merged…. I don’t know what you have!” In 2014, in advance of the governor’s race in New York, Trump pulled away, again slamming the party. “I have clearly stated that if the New York State Republican Party is able to unify, I would run for Governor and win. They can’t unify – SAD!”
So, I conclude that Trump would have done the same thing this time – use the media coverage of his vanity campaign to buff the “Trump” brand, then when others pulled ahead, he would drop out in a huff, blaming the establishment idiots for not appreciating him.
But in a bizarre twist, Trump has maintained his lead and vaulted into position to take the nomination. No matter what asinine things the man says, no matter how vaporous his “policies” are, a certain non-negligible slice of the electorate loves his shtick and continues to propel him and his ego.
Still, I predict he will drop out – for the simple reason that he doesn’t actually want to be the President of the United States. It’s too hard and involves way too many responsibilities for Donald Trump to divert from his country-club life-style. Put aside the bluster. Can you really see Trump running stultifying cabinet meetings, and parrying with moronic congressmen, and simultaneously balancing 100 foreign policy disasters, and facing realities that he ignored on the campaign trail – like actually building a wall from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean? No, Donald Trump just wants to prove he could be president, not actually take the job.
So how does he get out? Of course, he’ll rely on the old tried-and-true method of trashing the party for incompetence. And the GOP will hand him this excuse on a silver platter in a month or so when talk ratchets up about overturning the primary results at the convention. The establishment hates Trump so badly that, if necessary, they’ll go nuclear at the convention and force delegates to switch.
But Trump will also pull a Howard Stern and claim that the demand to see his detailed tax returns is a deal-killer. Howard Stern once ran for Governor of New York but dropped out when forced to expose details of his wealth. Trump will do likewise. He’ll deny wrong-doing, or shiftiness. Rather, Donald Trump will maintain that publishing his tax documents for all to see would be to reveal business trade secrets and give competition an unfair advantage. His genius-level business acumen would be compromised, and Trump, Inc. can’t allow that.
Hey, Trump would have won. He would have made America great again. But they just wouldn’t let him do it.