The Maryland Public Policy Institute
In May 2015, the National Security Agency intercepted the following telephone call between two individuals identified only as “Bill” and “Don.”
Bill: Hello, Don?
Don: Bill! How you doin’, guy?
Bill: [Pause.] Not good, Don. The plan might be fallin’ apart.
Don: What? What’s wrong?
Bill: You know that guy Sanders? The Marxist screwball is actually getting some support. If Biden enters the race, Sanders could pull enough votes that Hillary loses, and then where will I be? Stuck home with her in New York, that’s where.
Don: Look Bill, don’t worry about Sanders. It’s like you say: one third of both parties are nuts and idiots. A third of Democrats think George Bush was behind 9/11 and a third of Republicans think Obama is an imposter from a Muslim country. Sanders is catnip for those types. But enough Democrats remember how communism worked out. Hillary will win her primary by a huge margin.
Bill: But what about the general election, Don? Thanks to Sanders, she now has to spend campaign money and make a bunch of crazy promises to win the primary. Those won’t look good in Republican attack ads next fall, I’ll tell you that. What’s the good of winning the primary if she’s so wounded she loses the general?
A wingnut candidate like Sanders can wreck an election. Lousy country club socialist who can’t even comb his hair…
Don: [Long pause.] Well, you know, we could even the odds…
Bill: How’s that?
Don: What if we find a wingnut to wreck the GOP primary? If Sanders makes life hard for a frontrunner with a huge lead like Hillary, think what one could do in a race with a bunch of candidates and no favorite.
Bill: Hoo-eey, it’d be a mess! He could play for the wingnuts by saying crazy stuff like that women are hormonal morons and that Hispanics are rapists and murderers and Muslims are terrorists…
Don: And he could call for closing down all the mosques and making Muslims register with the government. He could even say he’d hunt down and deport every single illegal and build a huge wall across the Mexican border.
Bill: [Laughing.] Heck, he could say he’d make Mexico pay for the thing!
Don: This is so great it makes my head spin! He could repeat all the crazy rumors on the wingnut websites and dismiss real news and even mainstream conservative ideas as being part of some big “establishment” conspiracy! And he’d have no real ideas about how to fix anything—no economic plans, or foreign policies, or thoughts about health care or Social Security or Medicare. He’d just say that when he’s president, he’ll hire a bunch of people to tell him what to do and he’d make all these big deals, and America would suddenly be great again!
Bill: That’s a brainstorm there, Don, I’ll tell you that. But who’d play the part?
Don: Well, what about me?
Bill: What? You?
Don: Think about it: the promotional value would be huge! My name on TV 24/7, enormous crowds coming to see me, my face on the front page of newspapers—it’d be the best marketing ploy in the history of the world!
Bill: But for all the wrong reasons, Don! You’ll hurt your own businesses by saying all that crazy stuff!
Don: Bill, you know as much as anyone, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. My stock would go through the roof!
Bill: But you know nothing about politics. The other candidates will know you’re a fraud right away.
Don: It don’t matter what they know, and it don’t matter what I know. All that matters is I look like I know what I’m saying. Heck, the candidates who do know what they’re talking about look the worst on TV.
Bill: But everyone knows you’re a lefty, Don. I mean, yeah, you hate Obama as much as Hillary and I do, but you’ve supported leftwing causes and donated to Democrats for years. Heck, Nancy Pelosi was at your last wedding!
And you’ve made billions in development, hotels and golf courses! How can anyone believe you if you start saying you want to deport all the illegals?
Don: Bill, you’re overthinking it. All I’ve got to say is I changed my mind on that stuff, or that it’s not true to begin with, and then insult anyone who says different. You’ve seen the GOP candidates—they’d be scared to death of me. They’re so spineless they’d get beaten up by a high school chess team.
Bill: It just might work. And you know what’s really crazy? Forget about just mucking up the GOP primary; if you get the whole wingnut vote, you’d only need another 15 percent to win the primary. And then it’s Hillary vs. the dadgum Trojan horse who’s putting her in the White House!
Don: It’d be huge, Bill—huge! And you’ll be hip-deep in interns in no time!
Bill: [Laughing.] It’s brilliant, Don, just brilliant! [Pause.] But wait—what if you’d actually win the whole thing?
Don: C’mon Bill, the voters aren’t that crazy.
Thomas A. Firey is senior fellow for the Maryland Public Policy Institute and a native of Washington County.