Imagine the following scenario. Trump ... steps up to the podium ... takes off his obnoxious red Make America Great Again hat. He pauses, looking down, somber. Here's what we hear.
I have something to say.
I've made a horrible mistake.
This election process has finally caught up with me and has revealed to me what my whole life is about.
I went into this election really believing that I wanted to make America great. I realize now all I have really wanted--the campaign underneath the campaign--is to make Trump great. I thought I wanted America to win. I see now that all I really want is for Trump to win. I'm grateful for your kind support. But I see now I don't deserve it.
I know my supporters may not like this. But I can't take it anymore. Enough is enough. I am thoroughly ashamed of myself. So what I want to say is: I would like to ask for the American people's forgiveness. If they withhold it I can't blame them. But I have to ask you all to forgive the folly, the bombast, the self-exaltation, the fierce resistance to correction, the pride. I've been wrong.And so on.
I have considered quitting the campaign, but I do for now plan to continue. And I have resolved: no more yelling, no more lying, no more name-calling, no more hate-mongering, no more elitism-nurturing, no more boasting, no more question-evading. Yes, this nation is in a downward spiral, but now I see that I and people like me have been leading the way...
So implausible as to be laughable, I know. But my question is: How would the millions who back Trump respond?
We know how they would respond. We know because as the outrageously immoral and self-inflating statements from Trump have piled up since last June, his support has not waned. It has increased. We therefore know that those supporting Trump are not doing so because they see him as morally exemplary. In the meantime he remains opaque on his actual positions and how he would accomplish his big promises. We therefore also know that they are not supporting him on account of superior tactics in his policies.
One can only conclude that they like him--including these so-called evangelicals--because of who he is. Because of the bombast, not in spite of it.
They want a man like Trump in charge. They want the big talk, the egotistical claims, the elitist mindset. His supporters aren't overlooking these things for the sake of other virtues in him or his policies. These anti-virtues are themselves what attract Americans.
We therefore know how Trump supporters would respond to such a speech. While true evangelicals would celebrate his recovered moral sanity, his present supporters, including the so-called evangelicals, would howl.
Such penitence would not be a step forward, in their minds. It would be a step backward. It would be the loss of what they crave in a president.
As Trump has gotten haughtier and haughtier the past 8 months, his support has, inexplicably, grown. Do we really not see that if he were to become humbler and humbler, his support would decrease?
If so, then the problem is not Trump. It's Americans. The bombastic, haughty candidate in this election just happens to be Donald Trump. It could be any self-aggrandizing billionaire and the results would look the same. The problem isn't Trump. It's us. Trump is simply a big golden mirror showing Americans, showing Republicans, showing alleged evangelicals, what they really love.
Many are questioning whether Trump is mature enough for our vote. I would question whether we are mature enough to cast it.