Predictions are a mug’s game, as we all know, but I’ll lay one down right now: I think there will be a serious push over the next twelve years (assuming the nation lasts that long) to nominate Elon Musk as a Republican candidate for President of the United States. Since he’s not a native-born American this would require amendment of Article II of the Constitution, so I expect that to happen as well.
You may wonder why the Republicans would bother to elevate someone whose nomination would require all that extra groundwork. First of all, amending the Constitution would not be that big a deal; it’s not as if they respect the thing any more than they do the other instruments of government they’re always fucking with, and they might even enjoy the perverse challenge to put their shit-stains on the old parchment just as a flex; they might make “Let’s Go Brandon” the National Anthem while they’re at it.
My contention is that, from what we know about Republicans, policy no longer has anything to do with their decisions, and they mainly want be represented by someone who fits their idea of American greatness — which, as we see from their current avatar Trump, means their champion must be vicious and boorish and, above all, project a winning air. In my view Musk laps the field.
The current contenders all strain to achieve this trifecta, but their shortfalls are obvious. Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton talk big but you can just look at them and see that if they were challenged with any seriousness they would crumple like wet cardboard. (This is one of the professional risks of sucking up to Trump; such backbone as one has tends to atrophy from lack of use.)
The Republican who best meets the formula now is Ron DeSantis, who has been successfully murdering his own people with COVID for a year and a half and has them convinced that it’s freedom, which actually outdoes Trump, who was so inept at this game that he had to cease his “inspirational” addresses to the nation on the subject and let Jared Kushner more quietly mismanage the crisis.
The problem with DeSantis is, he may be too much of an obvious goon to translate as leader material beyond the borders of his corrupt bastion of Florida Men. He reminds me of minor gangsters in old movies as played by Sheldon Leonard and Mike Mazurki, except Leonard and Mazurki had presence and even charm — DeSantis is more like Rondo Hatton. It’s telling that he so consciously copies Trump’s body language; on the one hand it shows the requisite shamelessness, but on the other it also suggests a lack of inner resources. Once Trump’s out of the way — and he will need to be, for anyone else to advance — the new champion will have to have some style and swagger of his own, and if DeSantis can’t achieve that he’ll go down the way the minor Warner Brothers hoods did.
That Musk is suitably vicious and boorish, and then some, is evident in the perfect thoughtlessness of his actions. He constantly makes claims for his products that are not remotely matched by their performance. His rocket ships keep blowing up and his engineers are forced to acknowledge that his grand claims for the self-driving capabilities of his cars have been wildly exaggerated, but at these reversals he never shows the slightest concern or willingness to change his approach. And you saw the Tesla Dancing Robot, right? Only someone with total contempt for his shareholders and the public would pull anything like that.
Musk acts as if the rules don’t apply to him — and he’s right. He was born into huge wealth and his feet have never touched the ground. Thus he goes through life in a way that would be called “blundering,” were it not for the fact that his extreme wealth — far beyond what Trump even pretends to have — insulates him from any possible consequences.
When Musk opens his yap this becomes even more obvious. For example, his tweet in response to Bernie Sanders’ otherwise unremarkable call for higher taxes on the rich —“I keep forgetting you’re still alive” — is the sort of response an old-world grandee or pasha would have. It’s up there with “the public be damned” — though I must say Billy Vanderbilt’s blurt was at least part of a longer coherent thought; there is no evidence that Musk has ever thought anything ahead more than a few seconds. And why should he?
And thanks to his connection with futuristic-libertarian enterprises such as Space X and Tesla, Musk appeals not only to the current Republican base of brute-worshippers, but also to a burgeoning Republican constituency of crypto and NFT dorks. The “weird nerd” defenses of Musk that pop up on the internet whenever their hero is denigrated are at least as voluminous and ludicrously impassioned as that of any pop star “hive.” These are the kind of guys who, when they see a story about a human getting hurt or killed by a self-driving car, side with the car.
And, I believe, these dorks represent a growing cult of young men who have been rattling around incel-pickup artist territory awhile, but have matured — not enough to start making rational, adult decisions, perhaps, but enough to turn away from these childish forms of anti-social behavior toward other, more adult-seeming forms of anti-social behavior that make them feel less pathetic.
And who is better equipped to represent them than the guy who comes at dorkdom from the totally opposite direction — one who is incompetent to observe society’s rules, not because he was bullied in school or fucked up by feckless parents, but because he has never had to bother. He is as dysfunctional as they are, but rich and famous. No wonder they worship him.
And they will grow in numbers. The part of the Trump base currently comprised of goons, groypers and Proud Boys can’t grow very much (unless society really collapses, not impossible but unlikely), so a lot of the right’s prospects will have to come from the educated classes. And that’s where the Muskovites will be in abundance. See if I’m wrong!