The tactic is quite effective: See Jeb Bush, immediately think of the nickname and then conclude, “You know he is ‘low energy.' ”
Likewise, his “Make America Great Again” slogan encapsulated his appeal — a throwback to a time when America was dominated by white, Christian males, popular culture was benign and neither immigrants nor foreign trade were a fact of life. Now “MAGA” red hats denote Trump, and Trump’s image of the national savior (quite literally, he thinks, the Second Coming) is fixed in his supporters’ minds.
Democrats should not get down in the mud with Trump. They should not spew obscenities, cruel remarks and bigoted stereotypes. However, they do want to name Trump’s greatest weakness and create an easy-to-remember message associated with the Democratic nominee. I humbly offer: “Stop the Craziness” (or “Stop the Crazy” or “End the Crazy,” if you want to fit it on a hat).
After all, Trump’s most defining feature these days is a frightful, manic personality more detached from reality than ever before. On Sunday, newly announced candidate Joe Walsh described the phenomenon that most of us have observed but too few say out loud: "We’ve got a guy in the White House who’s unfit. Completely unfit to be president. … "Everybody believes — in the Republican Party, everybody believes that he’s unfit.” He continued, “The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum. He’s — he’s a child. Again, the litany — he lies every time he opens his mouth. Look at what’s happened this week. He is — the president of the United States is tweeting us into a recession. I can tell you … that most of my former colleagues up on the Hill, they agree privately with everything I’m saying.” He reiterated, “You can’t believe a word he says. And again, I don’t care your politics, that should concern you. He’s nuts. He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
We don’t need a medical diagnosis or the 25th Amendment to conclude Trump is crazy in the colloquial sense — cuckoo, nuts, non compos mentis, off his rocker, unhinged. Even Republicans who like the tax cuts or the judges at some level understand this is not normal behavior and, at key moments, feels downright scary.
Name his greatest weakness. Say out loud what’s in the thought bubble above everyone’s head. And you can be certain between now and Election Day 2020, he will say and do things that confirm he is unfit and unstable. Crazy Trump.
Now, you might say that in the 2016 campaign Hillary Clinton and the entire Democratic Party made the case he was a mean, lying, cruel bully. People didn’t care and still voted for him (although to his chagrin, not a majority or even plurality of those who cast ballots). Why is this different?
This is crucial: It’s one thing to be mean and corrupt. His defenders say lots of politicians are. It is quite another to say he’s so erratic, so unhinged, so crazy that he sends the economy into a tailspin and risks international conflict (or capitulation to enemies such as Kim Jong Un, who Trump — crazily — believes likes him). Tying Trump’s unfitness to dangers to the country and to voters’ personal safety and prosperity should be a key objective for the eventual nominee. Unlike in 2016, “Crazy Trump” doesn’t make a moral judgment. It’s a statement of fact, a highly inconvenient fact for his apologists.
And one doesn’t have to operate in hypotheticals to see the damage he is already doing. His white-nationalist language has fortified and energized violent white nationalists who quote back his catchphrases and pay homage to him. How many other mass killers is Trump going to set off in his culture warfare, which he uses to rile up his base?
Likewise, his escalating trade war, on-again-off-again tax cuts and “order” for American businesses to stay out of China have sent markets plummeting, paralyzed business decision-making and hiked the chance of a recession. His craziness is both dangerous and destructive.
“Stop the Craziness” also suggests something more prevalent and equally upsetting. Trump’s craziness provokes gaslighting and excuse-mongering from his allies and prompts us all to check our social media once a minute to make sure something calamitous hasn’t occurred. His constant lying — claiming victory in the midst of obvious defeat and rewriting history — infuriates those who know better and suggests to them that his followers are dim or deluded or both. Pretending he is a normal president, which his party and too often the media do, is, well, crazy. It’s all that craziness we want to end, too.
Spelling out what’s on everyone’s mind in succinct terms is good marketing, and perhaps the only thing Trump is truly skilled in doing (other than corrupting those around him). Sure, Democrats will have to offer an alternative agenda. But first and foremost, they must promise to Stop the Craziness.