Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Trump Is Desperate for Ideas

Although Donald Trump is known as a businessman and a politician, the true core of his identity might well be "reality TV star." After all, in each of his various careers he's been a showman along the lines of P.T. Barnum. Further, on The Apprentice, he got to play the role of a successful businessman. That is not necessarily a role he played all that often in real life.

When Trump was on that show, he and the producers constantly searched for new gimmicks in order to keep things "fresh." The show started with teams organized by gender, but in season three switched to "college degrees vs. no college degrees." When New York grew stale, the show shifted to Los Angeles. When regular folks got boring, they started using C-list celebrities. And so forth.

As he runs for reelection, Trump is naturally going to adopt the same approach. "Build the Wall!" and "Lock her up!" aren't going to get it done anymore; not only are they now 8 years old, but they are rather clear reminders that Trump did not, in fact, build the wall or lock her up. He's gotta come up with something new, and right now he's testing out ideas for what that something new might be.

That brings us to new reporting from Rolling Stone that the magazine published yesterday. It would seem that Trump has observed, quite correctly, that many Republican voters are strongly "law and order" and are supporters of the death penalty. So, he is toying with a dramatic expansion in federal executions as a major campaign theme for 2024. And that doesn't just mean more executions. Trump is thinking that the executions should be more violent—firing squads, perhaps, or hanging. He has even asked associates how hard it would be to bring back the guillotine. And it doesn't stop there, either. Reality TV star that he is, he thinks it might be a good idea to put these violent executions on television, for viewers to follow along.

This is, of course, a vile line of thinking. Regardless of your views on capital punishment, there are reasons that U.S. courts have forbidden some of these brutal forms of execution (think "cruel and unusual punishment"). Further, to turn the death of someone—even a convicted, violent felon—into a spectacle is absolutely reprehensible.

Our guess is that someone will persuade Trump this isn't a winner, and that his thoughts will go elsewhere. But make no mistake, he is going to come up with something that connects with the base and that can be used to drive his supporters into a frenzy at rallies. The only question is how crazy that something is. (Z)

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