It’s obvious to anyone paying attention that Donald trump does not actually want to be president. I think I have his grift figured out though: the key is his recurring threat to not show up at a debate unless his silly demands are met.
Trump is running a variation on the Big Store con. He gets a bunch of investors to give him money for a sure thing, then it falls apart. He walks away with the money while the marks feel like they were part of something exciting. “Everyone gets exactly what they want.”
The trick to pulling this off in front of the camera though is to orchestrate an out that satisfies all the criteria.Trump has to exit dramatically, while making himself look tough and the GOP like crooks. The last isn’t the hard part.
So he spends months threatening a no-show at his own party, skipping debates unless he gets money, but always showing up. Then, a week before the primary, he follows through and ditches the last debate, counting on low-info voters to assume he’s dropped out. He loses the nomination, cries foul and leaves the party in a huff, announcing that he’s going to run as a 3rd party candidate.
This keeps him in the spotlight, and knocks the feet out from under the GOP. But running as a 3rd party is extra expensive. So Trump sets up a PAC, asks for donations. And gets them by the millions.
Come election day, he of course loses, catastrophically. We all know the elections are rigged against 3rd party candidates. He gives a wowser of a concession speech, pleasing the marks in his crowd, shitting all over the Dems, the GOP and democracy in general. Then he pockets the PAC money, walks away with a couple extra million tax free. He looks like a downtrodden hero to the Trumpettes.
The side effect is that Hillary wins in a landslide, the GOP, who went with Cruz, tank. The Dems even pick up a majority in the Senate.
This also reinforces the conspiracy theory that Trump is a Clinton plant. I doubt that. But the effect is the same as if he is.