Nov 21 • 33M

Mr. Trump Goes to Washington

And is No Match for the Machine

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Sasha Stone
The podcast version of Sasha Stone's Substack essays.
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Trump was nearing the end of a campaign speech for Marco Rubio in Miami, days before the midterms when it started to rain. The MAGA faithful used their Trump signs as makeshift umbrellas. Trump’s mic cut in and out. He could barely read the teleprompter.

“Is everybody having a good time?” he shouted to the crowd.

The answer came roaring back. They were having the time of their lives, even as thunder cracked in the sky and the rain came down in sheets.

Covering Trump’s head was the red MAGA cap. Trump did something he doesn’t often do. He took it off, smiled at the excited crowd, wiped his brow, put the hat back on, and continued his speech.

“I’m not leaving,” he said—the crowd roared.

Maybe it was the rain, thunder, or something else but I couldn’t help but think I’d never seen anything like this. The music he’d chosen to close out his speeches might not always work, but this time, it not only worked, it was some kind of crazy magic.

Is anyone else seeing this, I wondered? I have watched all of Trump’s speeches since 2020 because I want to know what is true about what’s said about him. Most of the time it isn’t true. It’s the usual delusion meant to drive fear and panic.

The music served to raise the drama of the moment. His face soaking wet, his voice strong, I just kept thinking, how is it possible anyone who has gone through what he’s gone through still has the energy in him, the fight in him, to stand there, rain be damned.

No one there had any idea it was about to come crashing down. They didn’t know that the midterms would bring disappointment. They didn’t know MAGA wouldn’t be delivering that red wave as promised.

They didn’t know the GOP, Rupert Murdoch, Ben Shapiro, and other high-profile Conservatives would turn on Trump and MAGA or that Mitch McConnell would close the loop by saying “bad quality” candidates frightened Americans.

They knew none of this as the music played, the rain came down, and Trump moved them in ways no other politician ever had, at least not in decades. It was captured in time by the only streaming channel that plays all of Trump’s speeches, Right Side Broadcasting, and maybe a personal cell phone video.

One thing I knew for sure while listening to it, the mainstream media would never report on it. They would never tell the story of that moment in Miami when the rain came down, and Trump stayed.

Guess Who’s Back?

Last night Elon Musk reinstated Trump’s account after two years without Trump’s tweets. As you can imagine, chaos ensued. Powerful people don’t like things taken away from them, and there has never been a more powerful propaganda tool for the establishment Left than Twitter. It belongs to them, they believed, just like they believe America belongs to them.

But more than that, they count on Twitter to be the official story of the Biden Administration. A hive mind of Press Secretaries to make sure everyone is on point. They can’t afford dissent. They don’t mind that there are alternative sites like Substack or Rumble. They know the media only validates Twitter.

Musk has taken the place of Trump because nature abhors a vacuum. There is a fundamental need for people to tell the whole truth and to hear the whole truth, no matter how inconvenient it is. Musk’s takeover of Twitter has The Machine quaking in its boots. How long before they go after him the way they went after Trump? Probably not long. Matt Taibbi has a great piece on this about witch burnings.

Yeonmi Park escaped the fascist regime of North Korea only to come to America and find censorship and suppression of free speech. She is cheering Musk’s action to reinstate Trump:

Trump’s Twitter is important for history. He was our president for four years and used Twitter as his main communication outlet for much of that time. That is also our history. It belongs to the people, even if Twitter is a “private” company. The government co-opted it, creating a filter to violate the First Amendment. Now, they have to contend with Trump’s last tweets, which might be tough to help them prove he incited violence on January 6th:

Elon Musk is just getting a taste of the Washington machine, the same machine that has been trying to crush Trump and the MAGA movement for six long years. For a minute there it looked like they were going to lose. The scrappy Davids were going to take on the Goliath and win. They were going to win without the big money donors, without the mainstream media but just by hot-footing it door to door, talking to people the establishment government has long since abandoned.

The Long Con

Regardless of what you think of Trump, there is no good explanation for the ongoing persecution to “find something” to remove him from power, discredit and destroy his presidency because the Administrative State wanted him gone.

Trump, or Elon Musk, isn’t as pure and innocent as Jefferson Smith in Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. But this film, more than just about anything ever written, goes right to heart of the matter.

Released in 1939, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was loosely based on the Teapot Dome scandal of the Warren G. Harding administration, which held its place in history as the biggest scandal in Washington before Watergate.

Jefferson Smith is appointed to the Senate after the sudden death of one of their cronies. When he first comes to DC, he gasps at the Capitol Dome, the Lincoln Memorial, and the weight of our Nation’s founding. He believes in all of it. He’s a patriot and an idealist.

When the press mocks him for being nothing but a superficial “yes” vote and a puppet of the Senate, he tells Senator Paine, his mentor, that he’d like to write a bill for a Boys’ Camp in the wilderness, so kids from all different backgrounds can experience the wonders of the natural world, to spend their lives “like they just came out of a tunnel.”

But when his bill threatens a network of corrupt politicians doing the bidding of a powerful oligarch named Jim Taylor, he’s warned to step away, say nothing, and become just as corrupt as the Paynes and the Taylors.

But Smith, like Trump, is an outsider. He can look at the game with fresh eyes. He defies their demands and tries to expose the graft on the Senate floor. Senator Paine then accuses him of trying to push through a financial scheme for his own profit.

None of it is true, of course, but the mechanisms in place are almost exactly what happened to Trump in his four years in power and even the two years after.

They hold a Senate hearing to expel Smith from Congress with fake witnesses, fake handwriting experts, and a massive media machine to back it all up. In other words, a show trial like the January 6th show trial. They work a massive PR campaign to demonize and discredit Smith, whose only crime was threatening their hold on power.

When Saunders sees that Smith has packed his bags and is leaving town with a broken heart, she encourages him to fight back. And with that, we have the now infamous all-night filibuster where Jefferson Smith, against all odds, attempts to clear his name.

But the “Taylor Machine” has the media and corrupt politicians in his pocket, and Smith is no match for any of it. Saunders even tries to enlist a youth army to print their version of what Smith is saying, but Taylor sends out his goons to silence them by destroying their bicycles, hosing down their parades, and derailing their efforts to get the word out.

The result is a wrecked Jefferson Smith, who can barely stand by the end of it. But it’s when Senator Paine brings in boxes of telegrams from his hometown, proving even those who know him now despise him, that he reminds Senator Payne he once believed lost causes were the only causes worth fighting for. And with that, he finally exhausts himself and collapses on the Senate floor.

Wracked with guilt, Paine attempts suicide before hurling himself into the chamber and confessing everything, vindicating Smith.

But this isn’t a Frank Capra movie. No one is going to confess to what they’ve done. They’re going to play out the long con to the bitter end until Trump is destroyed and the grassroots movement of working-class voters is dead. That’s what they want for this country to be like Twitter used to be. All theirs.

Trump and MAGA were no match for The Machine. Trump thought he could beat them, that he could give a press conference every day during COVID, and they would appreciate someone who devoted that much time to getting us through a crisis. Instead, they mocked him, cherry-picked everything he said, and painted him as an existential threat.

We needed our president during that time of crisis. We needed a country to come together. But to The Machine, their power was more important than anything else, even managing a global pandemic.

Nothing would compare to what they did in 2020 and with January 6th. We’re not just talking about Trump being a target. His MAGA faithful are now being called “domestic extremists” and treated like enemies of the state. The bogus “seditious conspiracy” charges were like a slap in the face to people who carry around pocket Constitutions and stand in awe of the flag.

Now we know January 6th was an FBI operation because of course, it was. How could it not be? From Crossfire Hurricane to the Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping, it was clear they had an objective to bring down Trump by any means necessary. They were willing, and are still willing, to weaponize the DOJ or any major government institution to stop Trump and MAGA.

None of this means that Trump can win in 2024. And even if he could, he would only have four years, and they would sabotage him every step of the way during that time. If you want to blow them out of power, pick someone like Ron DeSantis, he will at least have the backing of the establishment Right and all of their deep-pocketed power players that Trump didn’t have.

Their long con worked. They did well in the midterms. Biden’s ugly speeches made him the first president in my lifetime to demonize his own citizens. If you’re looking for fascism, look no further than that. Far from being punished for it, he was rewarded for it, so too were the Democrats for their immoral double standard of funding the same candidates they called enemies of the Republic.

The truth doesn’t matter. That’s why they must keep control of Twitter. They want their negotiated truth to be the official story. They want to tell the history of Trump and the movement he inspired to make themselves the good guys. There might have been a moment way back when they actually were the good guys. Their corruption, however, now overshadows any good they ever did.

Trump took his place behind the podium at Mar-a-Lago and did the only thing he could do by now to clear his name. He can either let them write his legacy or fight to take it back. He announced he was running for the third time. Of course, they laughed at him. Of course, their machine whirred to life as Merrick Garland announced a Special Prosecutor.

Now they have to decide if they will finish the job, their long con, or if they will allow Trump to run again knowing that their machine can beat him.

I spent time in Trump World because I knew I wasn’t getting the truth about him or his supporters anymore. I know what is true and what isn’t. I have been moved by this scrappy group of outsiders who keep fighting no matter the cost. I don’t know how they endure, considering they’re treated like human garbage, shut out of American culture, mocked, and ridiculed by comedians.

I would be lying if I said my heart didn’t sink when they lost as badly as they did in the midterms. It wasn’t just that I felt bad for them; it’s that I’ve seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Frank Capra believed in the America I believe in. The storytellers in Hollywood used to believe it too. They don’t anymore.

Emily Dickinson said hope is the thing with feathers. It’s so fragile that it can take flight anytime, leaving you with nothing. I don’t want to live in an America where the Paynes and the Taylors win. I want hope to be alive, for Smith to win. I wanted to see all of MAGA’s efforts were not for nothing. I don’t want to see them to lose hope. What can I say, I guess I believe that lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for.