Outgoing US President Donald Trump addresses guests at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on January 20,...

The Washington Post estimates that Trump has netted nearly half a million dollars from just nine of the more than two dozen events held by GOP candidates and conservative interest groups at Mar-a-Lago this year.

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GOP hopefuls are still pouring money into Trump’s pockets

At this point, any debate on whether Donald Trump “took over” the GOP or if he’s simply the inevitable manifestation of the party’s not-so-well-hidden fascistic core is a largely semantic exercise — a chicken/egg ouroborus that distracts from the more pressing issue, which is that no matter which came first, the long-term Trumpification of the GOP is here, and it’s absolute. What’s more, this consolidation of power seems only (or at least primarily) worthwhile to him as a means to stuff his pockets with every last cent he can bleed out of a political movement wholly in his thrall.

As The Washington Post reported Thursday, at least 30 GOP candidates and conservative interest groups have made pilgrimages to the former president’s private Mar-a-Lago resort over the past year, marking a sizable uptick in visits to Trump’s personal fiefdom, for which the prospective lawmakers and policy-swayers are more than willing to pay top dollar. Among the hopeful sycophants shelling out major bucks to stay at and use the property: accused wife-beater and GOP candidate for Georgia Senate Herschel Walker; aspiring brownshirt organization TPUSA; Rep. Mo Brooks, the dumbest man in Congress; and smoky-eyed liar-turned-gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to name just a few.

All told, the Post estimates that Trump has netted nearly half a million dollars from just nine of the more than two dozen events at his property, based on the federal financial disclosures filed by a few of the candidates in question. It seems extremely likely that the grand total raked in by the former president will end up being considerably higher.

Of course, none of this is all that surprising. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be to anyone who’s paid even the most mild attention to, well, pretty much anything that’s happened over the past five years. Donald Trump exists first and foremost to make money for Donald Trump, and his time in office — and beyond — has demonstratively pushed that inclination into overdrive.

Nevertheless, there’s something acutely pathetic about Trump conspicuously charging the very people desperate to kiss his ring, and their obsequious willingness to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege to do so. If nothing else, this is just the most naked, unambiguous example of the degree to which Trump doesn’t actually care about the politicians he subsequently endorses. To him, this is all a transactional relationship skewing heavily to his benefit. Namely: cold hard cash.

And not that much of it either! Assuming the Post’s estimates can be extrapolated out from the nine forms they reviewed to the remaining 21 events that took place at Mar-a-Lago this past year, we’re only looking at a few million dollars total. For an alleged billionaire like Trump, that’s chump change! And on the other end of that equation, for the candidates and interest groups, this is just the cost of doing business: paying the troll toll in the hopes that some of his extremely spray-tanned patina will rub off on them.

Therein lies the essential dynamic of the GOP in 2021: No grift too small, no indignity too large. Put it on a bumper sticker.