Eight Things About Donald Trump

Do I have thoughts on Donald Trump today? Why, yes. Yes I do.

1. Without offering this up as an excuse — it’s rather the opposite — I don’t think Trump planned to become the face of 21st century American fascism. I suspect rather strongly that he entered the presidential race for the usual reasons that Trump does anything publicly, i.e., for the publicity and the long-term brand benefits that accrue. He said outrageous things and when they gave him a boost, he kept on going in that direction, because why wouldn’t he, and here we are. Of course Trump is going to escalate his rhetoric, because that’s what he needs to do to keep the focus on him, and to starve the other competitors for the GOP nomination of the spotlight, forcing them off the stage.

Which is to say that Trump is running his campaign like he’s on a reality show, which has no other context than itself, and of which the goal is to win the presidency, not actually to be president. He’s not wrong about the reality show aspect of the campaign, and that’s on all of us. He’s wrong about everything else, and that’s on him.

2. I don’t believe that Trump actually thinks about Muslims or Mexicans in any particularly deep fashion; I think he likes and respects the members of either group exactly as much as they have money and a willingness to do business with him. So if you’re a Carlos Slim or a Saudi prince, he’ll like you just fine and be happy to cut you all the breaks you want (Carlos Slim, it should be noted, recently dumped Trump). Otherwise, you’re an abstraction that he can use to motivate another abstract group, that is, likely GOP primary voters, who, to be clear, I suspect he thinks about and respects as much and in the same fashion as Mexicans and Muslims — for what they can do for Trump, and only exactly that much.

3. Fundamentally Donald Trump doesn’t give a shit about anyone other than Donald Trump, and while this is obvious to anyone who knows anything about Trump for the last thirty years, it’s still apparently confusing to a number of people, who like to offer up various conspiracy theories for his continued existence in the race. He’s a plant by the Democrats to make the Republicans look bad! He’s a plant by the GOP to make the rest of the field look more moderate by comparison!

Well, no, and no. In the former case, the modern GOP doesn’t need any help; in the latter case, one need only look at the current other two front runners — Cruz and Carson — to see what nonsense that is. It’s extraordinarily telling that less than a year out of the election, the top three GOP candidates can all be described by the same two words: “Career narcissists.” That’s something for the Republicans to ponder. But to get back to Trump, there’s no reason to spin up increasingly bogus and complex conspiracy theories about who is tugging on his strings when Occam’s Razor — and common sense — dictates that this is Trump doing what Trump has always done: Making things about Trump, and his need to have the spotlight on him in order to build the brand.

4. This may lead you to ponder the philosophical question of “If you espouse fascist, bigoted points of views but don’t really believe them, are you really a fascist and a bigot?” In these troubled times it’s useful to turn to the words of a man wiser than I, so let me quote: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” (Indeed much of surrounding context for that particular quote is useful in the case of Trump.) Trump is espousing bigoted, fascist ideas and is campaigning to become president on the strength of those ideas and the fervor they generate. Whether he’s saying them because he believes them or merely because they give him a short-term benefit for a longer-term business strategy, the end result is a mainstreaming and affirmation of those ideals.

But he’s an outlier! Well, no. You can’t say the man who has for months led the polls to be the candidate for president of one of the two major political parties in the United States is not in the mainstream. Trust me, the bigots and the fascists are delighted by the amount of cover that someone like Trump gives them to say that their views are, in fact, at the heart of the American experience. There are others equally delighted that their inchoate bigotry, which before they knew enough to keep to themselves, now has a focus and cover for expression. You don’t get to walk away from the responsibility for doing that.

5. Which is the thing that genuinely confuses me about this whole thing. Bluntly speaking, Trump is never going to be president; mainstreaming fascism or not, at the end of the day the numbers won’t break his way. He’ll be swamped in the electoral vote certainly and probably in the popular vote as well. And then what? As noted, you don’t just walk away from being a bigoted fascist; that shit follows you around. As a business move it’s puzzling; it tarnishes the brand value of the Trump name — and burnishing that value is why I think he was in it in the first place.

It’s possible Trump doesn’t see that there will be long-term damage (or doesn’t believe it), or believes that he’ll be able to work within the universe of people who don’t mind he yanked his brand toward bigotry and fascism. Hey, it didn’t stop Hugo Boss or Volkswagen, he might say, afterwards. And, you know, maybe that will work out for him just fine. Maybe it’ll get him new casinos in the Carolinas and speaking gigs to “values” organizations. On the other hand, speaking anecdotally, before this election I saw the Trump brand as merely vulgar. Now I find it repulsive, and I strongly suspect for the rest of my days I’m going to go out of my way to avoid anything to do with it. The question is whether the people like me do more damage to the brand than the value added by the people who don’t mind bigotry and fascism.

6. Lindsey Graham today has been calling out Donald Trump, calling him “a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot,” which is correct, and I absolutely applaud him for saying so. He’s also saying that Trump “doesn’t represent my party,” which is, unfortunately, not correct at all. Again, Trump has been leading the GOP polls almost without interruption for months. He’s not an outlier. He’s there for a reason. The reason is that the GOP has made space in their party for race-baiting xenophobic religious bigots, and has done so for years by conscious and intentional strategy. Trump did not bring his supporters into the GOP. They were already there. I strongly suspect Graham knows it. The GOP wasn’t always the party of race-baiting xenophobic religious bigots — there’s a reason the term was “Dixiecrat” and not “Republidixies” — but they took possession of them 50 years ago and have been banking on them ever since.

The GOP’s problem is that Trump is the distillation of every political strategy they’ve honed over the last several decades, and particularly ramped up over the last two. Lionizing the “political outsider”? Check! Fawning over billionaires? Check! Ratcheting up political rhetoric so that everyone who opposes you is the enemy and sick and awful? Check! Scaring the crap out of not-young white conservative Christians with the image of lawless racial and religious minorities? Check! Valorizing the tribalism of white conservative Christianity over the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States? Check!

There’s a reason why the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s executive director wants GOP candidates to “be like Trump” even as Graham bleats that Trump doesn’t represent the party. Lindsey Graham, are you shitting me? Trump doesn’t just represent your party. He’s the goddamn Platonic ideal of it. You can’t spend decades preparing the way for someone like Donald Trump and then pretend to be shocked, shocked when he roars down the field, flawlessly executing your playbook.

7. Also, getting rid of Trump, which the GOP now fervently wants to do, doesn’t solve the party’s fundamental problem, which isn’t Trump, but rather the fact that the race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigots he’s currently energizing will still be there if and when he goes. Dear GOP: Do you think that when Trump goes, the remaining candidates are planning to turn their backs on that particular constituency? Hell, Ted Cruz is positively drooling at the prospect of snapping up Trump’s leavings. And Cruz may not even have to wait that long; he’s gaining in Iowa, primarily on the strength of the same crowd Trump is riling up.

I think that the GOP wants to get back to where it was before, when it could pretend with a wink and a nod that race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigots weren’t in fact one of the two twin engines of the party, the other engine being rich autocrats, who don’t care for silly things like regulations or workers’ rights. Guys: It’s a little late for that (we figured out the rich autocrat thing, too). There’s only one way to fix your race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot problem, and it’s not (just) by getting rid of Trump. He’s the symptom, not the disease.

Actually, he is a disease. But he’s an opportunistic infection allowed by a previous illness. You have to have had the one to have the other. The GOP didn’t vaccinate for the first. It actually smeared the infection vector all over its body.

8. In case it wasn’t clear: No one — no one — should be supporting Trump at this point. No one should have been supporting him at any point, mind you. But now more than ever is the point when anyone who isn’t comfortable with outright fascism and bigotry should make it clear, to themselves if no one else, that they are out. It doesn’t matter that Trump won’t win the presidency; it doesn’t matter that he might not even win the GOP nomination. Right now, in the United States, the leading candidate for president of one of the two major political parties — the leader by a substantial margin — is openly talking about denying an entire class of people their fundamental Constitutional and human rights, and being cheered for it. It’s not right, it’s bigoted and hateful, and yes, it absolutely is dangerous.

Trump has a right to say bigoted and fascist things. Other bigots and fascists have a right to support him. The rest of us should also exercise our rights and call Trump and the others out for what they are. And right now, the fact is: If you’re supporting Trump, you’re supporting a bigot and a fascist. That may or may not make you a bigot or a fascist, but it doesn’t say good things about you in any event.

If you love the principles that make the foundation of our laws — and of the United States in a general sense — then you should take your leave of Trump, and for that matter, of any candidate who would cheerfully ride into power the same constituency Trump is mining. What you stand for and who you stand with matters. It’s time to stand away from Trump. As far away as you can get.

267 thoughts on “Eight Things About Donald Trump

  1. Notes!

    1. Obviously the Mallet will be out. Be polite with each other. And if you are new here (as these posts will often bring in new people) you should read the site comment policy. It’s real, and I use it.

    2. Very specifically I will be on the lookout for bigotry against Islam. If you’re dumb enough to think all Muslims are [insert negative thing here] and/or should be [insert unconstitutional thing here], then I’m going to judge you to be not worth participating in the conversation and will Mallet your comment. Be smarter than that.

    3. “But you clearly think all GOP/conservatives/Christians are [insert negative thing here]!” Well, no. There are lots of GOP/conservatives/Christians who are wise and intelligent, with nuanced thoughts on many topics, including politics in general and Trump in particular. I’m sorry for them this particular election cycle. If you start off with the belief that I think individual members of groups are not capable of independent thought and action, you’re going to have a bad time.

    4. Also note: The topic here is Donald Trump in particular, and the GOP to a lesser extent. Please keep on topic. If your comment is going to be “Yeah, but the Democrats [insert horrible thing here]!” Then you’re almost certain not to be on topic. It’s entirely possible that the Democrats are indeed and/or do [insert horrible thing]. That’s not the topic under discussion. You have the whole rest of the Internet for that discussion.

    5. Finally, let’s not make this thread a very general symposium of what fascism is or means. Keep things on topic, please.

    Thanks!

  2. .
    “So what do you want to do when you grow up, son? I’m leaving you loot to get you started, as Howard Hughes’s father did, as Solomon (builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem), great in wisdom, wealth, and power, but ultimately as a king whose sins, including idolatry and turning away from Yahweh, led to the kingdom’s being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam, whom he at least left a large inherited stash. And was contractually bound to sell the Cedars of Lebanon to cover his war-debts.”
    .
    “Dad, I plan on being a fascist demagogue, with real estate as my Day Job.”.

  3. Sadly, I have friends who think that because Trump says whatever he wants to without concern for political fallout, no matter how odious it is, is a great reason to support him.

  4. I would actually go further than you did on that last part. If you are supporting Trump, you ARE a bigot and a fascist!

  5. “The GOP didn’t vaccinate for the first. It actually smeared the infection vector all over its body.”

    You have a way with imagery, sir.

    I would be gleeful that the GOP’s chickens were finally coming home to roost, if it didn’t indicate such appalling things about our society. I mean, fuck – I thought we were better than this, but it seems that every stupid, hateful, ignorant thing that comes out of the man’s mouth is embraced and applauded by a percentage of the population I find dismayingly large.

  6. I’m sure there were many Germans who were sure Hitler could never be elected. I sincerely hope enough of us have learned something from history.

  7. That was the finest bit of political commentary I’ve ever read from you, John. It clearly describes the problem with the modern GOP, its roots, and why Trump and the other two GOP leaders shouldn’t surprise anyone. Well done.

    But *I* am going to vote for Trump in the primaries, and here is why: You are correct that he has no shot at the Whitehouse. We will have President Bernie or President Hillary. Given that, putting the logical outcome of GOP electoral strategy out on display during a general election is the very best thing that could happen if you want the entire party to go away.

    The man is a sickening spectacle, and is a perfect representation of what the GOP represents. The GOP has always been the party of rich autocrats (or as I like to call it, good old fashioned greed) and that used to be a fine balance against the excesses of their opponents. When candidates had respect for the system and respect for each other, we all progressed nicely. Now one side has no respect for anything, and the best way to highlight that is to put their leading candidate under the bright lights of a presidential election.

    So vote Trump in your local GOP primary. Both Hillary and Bernie will do a fine job as president, so unless you have some serious objection to either one of those, there’s no reason not to.

  8. The only parallel I can think of for this phenomenon, not that anyone asked for parallels, is Jesse Jackson in the 1984 Dem race. He sucked up all the oxygen for a while, even won the South Carolina Democratic primary, before the party machinery regained control. But Trump is, as they say in fire fighting services, “uncontained as yet”.

  9. This has indeed been a long time coming. As I noted somewhere else last week, Trump is a Lee Atwater candidate without Lee Atwater to hold his leash.

  10. Nice to read this on other than Hispanic targeted editions of the Guardian.

    And totally agree on so much.

    Will only quote,”I think that the GOP wants to get back to where it was before, when it could pretend with a wink and a nod that race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigots weren’t in fact one of the two twin engines of the party, the other engine being rich autocrats, who don’t care for silly things like regulations or workers’ rights.”

    Thank you for the rational push back against this guy.

    Kinder than what he deserves.

    But more effective :)

  11. I agree with every point, but I’ve moved on to bigger worries: Ted Cruz is far smarter and every bit as awful as Trump, but actually has a chance of winning the nomination.

  12. Nate Silver has some smart things to say about Trump and his polling.
    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-republicans-and-polls-enable-donald-trump/

    Excerpt:

    But it’s also possible that the Republican reluctance to criticize Trump stems from a surfeit of short-term thinking — combined with a possible misreading of the polls. Several times so far in the campaign, we’ve witnessed the following cycle:

    Trump says something offensive or ludicrous.
    Some pundits loudly proclaim that it could bring about the end of Trump’s campaign.
    Instead, Trump’s position remains steady or even improved in ballot-test polls.3
    The same pundits therefore conclude that Trump is indestructible and impervious to criticism.

  13. So basically you’re saying that Donald “Herpes Zoster” Trump is the Shingles that is the sad but predictable result of inoculating yourself with Lee “Chicken Pox” Atwater in the 80’s?

  14. “The GOP’s problem is that Trump is the distillation of every political strategy they’ve honed over the last several decades, and particularly ramped up over the last two. Lionizing the “political outsider”? Check! Fawning over billionaires? Check! Ratcheting up political rhetoric so that everyone who opposes you is the enemy and sick and awful? Check! Scaring the crap out of not-young white conservative Christians with the image of lawless racial and religious minorities? Check! Valorizing the tribalism of white conservative Christianity over the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States? Check!”

    God bless you, Scalzi; THIS is exactly why Trump pisses me off so much. Not who he is, but what he represents.

  15. I think that it is also important to not forget that just before this latest bout of escalating insanity, Trump also said openly, without any hint of pause, that he was intending to commit a war crime. Any one of his mind-bogglingly hateful pronouncements—starting with his comments about Mexicans at the beginning—should have, in any rational and kind world, eliminated him not just from the Republican primary, but from the public sphere entirely.

    I believe that anyone who is, today, or anytime in the recent past, supporting Trump is both a bigot, and fascist. They may not be willing to be open about their hateful beliefs, but that just makes them a coward too.

  16. I worry about how this entire conversation is moving the Overton window – anything to the left of Mussolini looks warm and fuzzy at this point.

    I also worry a bit that Trump is, quite unintentionally, a huge boon to Daesh. He’s ideal for recruiting, and I’m sure they’d love nothing more than for him to be in charge of the U.S.

  17. On five

    Trump is a terrible businessman.

    If you take the amount he claimed to worth in 1982 and the amount he claims to be worth now (I figure he’s lying both times, hence claim) he would have slightly more money if he’d dumped his money in an total stock market index fund.

    You can, as I did, do that math yourself. Now this presumes that he didn’t spend any money in the interim, which is obviously not true. But if you look at the success he’s had with the Trump brand, it’s fairly clearly that his actual business acumen aside from being a public figure is actually worse than nothing.

    So it’s not any surprise his plans don’t seem to espouse any long term view. But the truth is, he may be right – Trump is not really in the business of business; he’s a celebrity. As long as he draws eyes, he will continue to be seen and profit from it.

  18. Point 5 is what’s been tugging at my brain all along, too. What the hell is Trump’s endgame? How does all of this help him unless he’s decided to corner the All American Bigot market?

  19. So far you’re batting a thousand when it comes to eloquently speaking my mind. I bet you didn’t know you have the (almost) exact same thought processes as a 51 y.o., ex-USAF officer and southern-born gay man that now lives in Los Angeles with his partner of 15 years? ;)

    Still, I have some facebook friends that would rather see a Republican win the presidency than vote for Hillary. They (die-hard Bernie supporters) think that if things get bad enough America will “wake up” and realize they’ve gone too far. I disagree, but I’d love to see your take on that idea in a future post.

  20. I’m just confused. I know a large number of conservatives and I have yet to meet a live human being shouting “go Trump!” Many of them were for Carson, until he put all his feet in his mouth and outed himself to be insane. Everyone is sort of cringing and not sure what to do. I can’t help but think the media is manipulating polls by carefully choosing who to ask, by like asking the folks coming out of Westboro Baptist and KKK meetings or something. I just cannot figure out what the heck is going on.

  21. I think the deal with Graham (and the other R pols bemoaning him) that you get at with him being wrong about Trump representing the party is only partly correct.

    Graham and pals aren’t thinking long-term about this. They don’t worry that the bigots are flocking to Trump and will in turn flock to Cruz. Short-term, if it works out like that, that’s a Republican victory – Trump got the hot mess rolling and a career politician picks up the results, in this telling.

    Trump is mainly a problem right now for them in the same way the DC journalists reacted to Clinton – he wasn’t one of them. Terrible cultural fit, nobody in the R caucus has dirt on him, he didn’t play by the rules, etc. Creeping fascism is a thing to worry about after the election.

    Which is a terrible way to run things and irresponsible bordering on incompetent in a national politician, but, well, welcome to today’s Republican party.

  22. Thank you, sir, for posting this. Once upon a time I found Trump’s candidacy for the 2016 GOP Presidential nomination amusing, in a clown car sort of way, but now it is horrifying, as he goes full Fascist on America. All Americans must stand together, as far away (as you so well put it), from this bigotry, demagoguery, and hatred. We have a moral imperative to do so.

  23. @Jerome O’Neil:

    So vote Trump in your local GOP primary. Both Hillary and Bernie will do a fine job as president, so unless you have some serious objection to either one of those, there’s no reason not to.

    I’m really, really uncomfortable with this, for three reasons.

    First of all, the further he goes and the longer he runs, the more of a head start the next cynical opportunist to let these genies out of their bottle will have. The bigots and extremists will have had that much longer to dig in and make themselves part of the national discourse. The Overton Window will be that much more settled into its position.

    And secondly (and more importantly), that’s that much longer that American Muslims (and Sikhs, and people of Middle Eastern descent, and people who look like they’re of Middle Eastern descent if you squint a little) will have to live in fear of the hatred and cruelty that he’s whipping up. It’s much easierl to be strategic when you’re not the one being followed home from your place of worship by openly armed people, or being thrown off of airplanes while your fellow passengers cheer.

    Also, and on the third hand, what if he wins? Don’t tell me he can’t; I’ve heard that he can’t get past the latest gaffe any number of times. And yet here we are.

    The longer he runs, the more of a disgrace we as a nation are, in my opinion. What kind of a people are we, to let such a man get so far in our politics? We should all be ashamed, every one of us.

  24. Well spoken, the only mistake I see is that you gave Trump press at all. It’s sad that he’s somehow getting so much attention good or bad. That said, Kanye West is planning to run for President in 2020, and it’s starting to feel like the movie “Idiocracy” is unfolding in real life.

  25. I think Donald Trump is deadly serious about winning the presidency. Just suppose . . .

    A few years back, Trump noted that Americans really love celebrities and really don’t love politicians. And he said to himself, “I’m a celebrity. A huge celebrity. And I’m rich. What if I ran for president as a celebrity?”

    And, naturally, his answer would be, “I’d win!”

    So he devoted himself to raising his brand’s profile via his Apprentice reality show and his Miss Universe pageant and all the rest of it. And then he decided to channel his campaign through the Republican primary process because, well, because he knew the tea party types would eat it up. And they did.

    But his goal was never really to win the Republican nomination. Sure, he’d take it if he could get it. But if not, he’d run as a third-party candidate. And he’d still win.

    He’d win because the huge publicity he’d get — and has been getting — would make it possible for him to do something no other American politician could do: mobilize and motivate the full half of the electors who don’t bother to vote even in presidential elections. The modern version of the pre-Civil War Know-Nothings.

    We keep seeing polling numbers drawn from likely or leaning Republican voters. I’d like to see what effect Trump is having on people who’ve never before bothered to register to vote. They’re the ones who frighten me. The ones who couldn’t find America on a map of the world.

    If he cranks them up and brings them into the political process, though only for one Tuesday in November, he will win. And then all bets are off. I’d expect state-of-emergency executive orders while they were still sweeping up the bunting from the inaugural balls.

  26. I keep wonder why the GOP leadership hasn’t ejected Trump from their party and primary.
    “We are against this type of bigotry and hate!”

    You pointed out the first problem, they are for this type of bigotry.
    The second problem is that there is no GOP leadership.

  27. I’m less worried about trump himself and more worried about what it says about America and our culture that he is still standing in this election. So much of it can be traced back to Fox News ramping up bigotry and hatred over the past decade. People believe that they are an actual news channel, and so believe what they spout as news, which makes it that much easier to accept what trump says. I don’t know the answer here. I sure wish I did.

  28. One wonders if many Germans in 1932 fully considered the possibility of Hitler 1) actually getting elected, and 2) the world-dominating strategy he had in mind when he ran for Chancellor. If Trump were, by some unforeseen circumstance, to be elected, imagine where such might quickly lead. Never think a situation is so bad that it can’t get worse. A lot worse.

  29. Years ago, when I registered to vote, I registered Republican because on the whole I disagreed with them less than I disagreed with the Democrats. This election is the first time I’ve seriously considered changing my party affiliation. I’m not going to, though, because I do not want to miss any opportunity to vote against Trump I can get. (And if there were a legal way to vote against him more than once at any level of the election, I’d surely take it.)

    Now if only I could figure out who I’m going to vote FOR instead…

  30. I still have this nagging theory that Trump is trying to burn down the Republican party by being the logical conclusion of the last few election cycles so that he inspires real change within the party and they’re able to reset for 2020. Maybe orginally he was hoping it could be done in 2016, but after he became the most popular candidate, his options became limited.

  31. What I’m baffled by is the inexplicable support of Trump by PoC. Its not a lot of us that do but there are a few and I wonder what messages they’ve been hearing from this man that would allow them to support him. What do they hope to gain from such a person?

  32. What will Trump do after? What he has done financially umpteen times – declare moral bankruptcy and move on.

  33. I think I’m already on the list of people who have volunteered to hide the persecuted if he gets elected.
    Can’t tell you how absolutely gobsmacked I am to hear this rhetoric not only being spoken, but being enthusiastically received. Wishing my Hebrew School classes on the Holocaust had been delivered in the public schools instead.
    Am I going too far by pointing out that Hitler and his cronies were seen as buffoons too – before it was too late? I’m really regretting my knowledge of history right now. I could be blissfully ignorant of the fact that we’re on a path we’ve seen before.

  34. Ro @1:11: I’m just confused. I know a large number of conservatives and I have yet to meet a live human being shouting “go Trump!”

    You haven’t met my mother-in-law, then. I don’t know anything other than that she supports Trump, because as soon as I found that out I rigorously steered all conversations away from the political during the Thanksgiving visit because, from hard-learned experience, it was not going to go well. I suspect that many of her friends and relatives feel the same as she does.

    (My in-laws told us Obama’s plan was to turn the country Muslim. My husband plans on asking them if they’re Muslim yet after the next election. I plan on being in another room for the conversation.)

  35. Adding a few notes to points 4 and 6:

    WRT 4:
    There is a better comparison to answer the question of “If you espouse fascist, bigoted points of views but don’t really believe them, are you really a fascist and a bigot?”: George Wallace. Wallace didn’t believe in the segregationist and supremacist message he espoused. In his first run he was quite conciliatory on the issues, forward looking on civil rights, and endorsed by the NAACP. He faced James Patterson, who ran with the support of the KKK, lost, and vowed to his aide “Seymore, you know why I lost that governor’s race? … I was outn[—–]ed by John Patterson. And I’ll tell you here and now, I will never be outn[—–]ed again.” He adopted a hard line segregationist and supremacist stance, and told his supporters that he adopted this message because “You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about n[—–]s, and they stomped the floor.”

    He didn’t believe it, but he did it for power, and became the face of it, unleashing terrible forces in the course.

    WRT 6:
    Some more examples of how central this hate is to conservationism

    Trump is calling for a religious test for entry. However his is a less restrictive on that that of Jeb Bush, who wanted to ban all non-Christians.

    He doesn’t want Muslims to come here, but neither do the 26 governors who banned the settling of refugees (some, like Mike Pence, are trying to simultaneously decry Trump and kick them out this morning)

    He his energizing hate groups with this rhetoric, but next week almost every candidate will be doing the same when they speak at Frank Gaffney’s conference. Frank Gaffney is the person who originated the idea of a ban for Muslims.

    “Moderate, sane Republican” David Frum, a Bush speechwriter, called for the ban on entry and mass expulsion of Muslims presently living in western Europe following the Paris attacks.

    The call to ban all Muslims, to collectivize a group for prejudice, bigotry, and hate, is not limited to Trump. If anything, he is more subdued than most of the party. Trying to claim “but this isn’t what conservatism is!” is akin to the communists 60 years ago who saw the Soviet Union and claimed “this isn’t what communism is!”. The ideology as practiced is what the ideology is. And it is ugly, and fueled by hate.

  36. I guess I should be more concerned about Trump, as a Muslim American (adjective, noun), but in a way he’s irrelevant. The Islamophobia is real, and it’s getting worse, but that’s not Trump’s fault. He’s just cashing in on it. I dont want to make excuses – or maybe I’m just so weary of thinking everytime there’s a shooting, *please dont be muslim please dont be muslim please dont be OH FRAK* – but I just cant see Trump as the problem right now. If anything Trump is motivating me to blog and write more about what we as Muslim Americans need to be doing – and I’m more offended by the President’s suggestion in the Oval Office that my community needs to be doing something more than we already have been. Im just frustrated. Trump is a symptom, and he wont ever be president, and the people who support him are a problem regardless of what rhetoric Trump engages in – theres no line he cant cross verbally that his extreme supporters havent already crossed internally.

    or maybe Im just really, really tired. :p

  37. As a German watching this development from across the pond, I find this very scary indeed. Not just Trump and how much attention he gets, but the people actually cheering for him at his speeches. For some time now I have Goebbel’s “total war” speech as well as Hitler’s completely incoherent ramblings playing in my head whenever I hear Trump speak, and I can’t be the only one (very apt cover image in that respect, John/photographer).

    And as a counterpoint, Bertolt Brecht and his poetry (both from exile and war years) as well as his plays spring inevitably to mind:

    “Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”
    (The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui – a play I can only recommend for everyone in this precise time.)

  38. As bad as Trump is, and he is a terrible human being, the real people who are to blame for this state of affairs are the cable news media, the so called Beltway Press. They’ve become so docile, so unwilling to point out lies by their guests and so nakedly desperate for ratings that they saw him for what he is, a celebrity who knows how to play the game. Look at the way he gets treated whenever he appears or calls in to one the political talk shows, obsequious is putting it mildly.

    He knows they can’t help but report on him and it’s a sad fact that the more news coverage a politician get the higher his poll numbers are, however he’s entertaining and gets good ratings so who cares.

    Forgive me if this is a bit off subject but I thought it important to talk about why he has so much coverage and how that’s helped him to get to this point in the campaign.

  39. This. So much this.

    I think that Trump, on his own steam, is unelectable… but if he manages to get the nomination (not that Cruz or any of the others are really any more moderate or sane or even human), I do fear that there will be jiggery-pokery at the polls (as if we haven’t seen this before), and we’ll be handing an engineered election. I’m completely reminded of Martin Niemöller’s speech that’s most popularly translated as “First they came for the Jews….” and I shudder.

  40. As an Arab American, I’m scared. I’m scared of how many people seem to think ignoring him will make him go away. I would like to beg people not to vote for him. Please. Reagan became president. He was an actor. While I thought Bernie came in to showcase the issues, initially, I had thought Bernie had a good chance, but Trump is consolidating the other side of the coin from Bernie. He is consolidating the angry ones who want a scapegoat. The media, and not just Fox News, need to stop giving him credible air time and start talking about this as what it is, hate speech. Thank you for posting this, Mr Scalzi.

  41. Please, please, PLEASE don’t vote for Trump in the primary because you don’t think he can win the presidency! I know of people who did the same thing when W was running the first time and look how THAT turned out! Holy baby Jeebus: Save us from this madness!

  42. My wife attended a county Commissioner’s meeting in Roxboro, NC. last night. The motion under consideration was whether to permit concealed carry on all county property. The Republicans are heavily in favor of this. I would say they just don’t give a damn about how they appear to people, but that’s not it. You can’t delink the whole “I want my gun everywhere, and to keep you ignorant of that fact” from racism, any more than you can deny the “pro-life” movement is a thin cover for the politics of segregation.

    There is no difference between Donald Trump and the GOP, especially in states where the desire is to return to Jim Crow as quickly as possible. The term “Muslim” itself is already interchangeable, in the Republican mind, with Black Lives Matter, Barack Obama, and the Northeast. Come down and get a load of these people sometime, and tell me Godwin isn’t full of shit.

  43. but if he WERE a Clinton plant, if this was all a 21st century P.T. Barnum joke and one day he can look at all of us and say “don’t you feel stupid, now, suckers?!?” — what a spectacular ruse he would be playing! It would be a positively epic performance for the ages, an Ali G writ extra large, with devastating effect. I agree with you about Occam’s Razor and what it says about the plausibility of this admittedly ‘tinfoil hat’ conspiracy theory — but my god, doesn’t it feel good to think it might be the case? Just, for the sake of…hope?

  44. “What about those of us who knew better — we who knew the words were lies…? Why did we sit silent? Why did we take part? Because we loved our country. What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later. Hitler himself will be discarded — sooner or later. The country is in danger. We will march out of the shadows! We will go forward. FORWARD is the great password.”

  45. Once again you have brilliantly expressed my thoughts. Should I put you on retainer?
    A technical point: to those pointing the finger at Lee Atwater, the infection started much earlier with the Goldwater campaign, followed by Nixon’s deal with the devil (the ‘Southern’ strategy).

  46. “If you love the principles that make the foundation of our laws — and of the United States in a general sense — then you should take your leave of Trump, and for that matter, of any candidate who would cheerfully ride into power the same constituency Trump is mining.” I guess I want to see him win the nomination so we can get a percentage of the US that is really like him. My tea party uncle insists he speaks for the silent majority (and the US is fundamentally not what I think it is). I think we need an answer to that.

  47. A couple of months ago, my facebook stream was passing around an essay by a French Intellectual comparing boxing to wrestling. Boxers are working tactically and strategicly toward a goal. Wrestlers are making the show good RIGHT NOW. The model looks good for this evil circus. The rest of the candidates are strategicly angling for the nomination while Trump is making sure not too many news cycles go by without featuring his mouth.

  48. (applause)
    However, regarding:

    It’s a little late for that (we figured out the rich autocrat thing, too).

    …there’s been a very successful campaign to paint the Ds as the true party of Wall Street, all D supporters as unwitting dupes of same, and the talk-radio/shouty-TV folks as the brave defenders of Us Regular Joes against both Big Money and Creeping Communism.
    From my limited exposure to right-wing people, it’s working very well.

  49. If the choice we are left with is Trump or Hillary, or any of the ones who seem to be the frontrunners, I’m writing in John Galt. They are all the face of American Fascism. As things are now, it is soft-fascism it just depends on who is most likely to resort to the bayonet and take it to the next level.

  50. Quote from Mr. Scalzi: “Ratcheting up political rhetoric so that everyone who opposes you is the enemy and sick and awful? Check!”

    This exactly is what is wrong and what has been wrong with politicians since at least G.W.’s candidacy and election. When one or both major parties demonize any and all opponents (even among their own party) so much that there can be no give and take, no compromise, no chance to work together for a real solution to real problems, then the process of government is in real danger.

    It seems to me that the purpose of a government, be it local or state or national, is for people to come together, to propose and discuss possible solutions to public/community problems, and to iron out a compromise on the most workable solution they can find. Then if that doesn’t work, they must try another solution, either to modify the existing one, or to scrap it and try another. But even with different ideologies on how to do things (political, religious, what have you) the people who are elected to represent the public citizenry still have an obligation to work together to reach a consensus, to work toward the common goal, which ought to be to solve the real-world problems facing the local, state, or national area and its people.

    If they cannot all somehow work together to find workable solutions to actual problems, then it seems to me that they should be voted out of office and start over with some fresh person who can work with others. I do not want politics as usual. I want something now too rare, almost unheard of: compromise, working for the common good of the people, diplomacy, statesmanship, public service. This is what it ought to be. But it surely is not what we have had for far too many elections and presidencies and congresses now.

    Sure, that’s idealistic. But on a local level, when there’s a problem facing you and your community, your business, etc., you decide on a solution, you find people to do the work (or do it yourself and your group members), and if that doesn’t work, you get together, come up with a new plan, and try again. It’s that simple. Or it ought to be.

    Things like the economy, health care costs, education, jobs, public works, trade/commerce, banking, insurance, and on and on? These are real-world problems that really, badly need real-world solutions. They do not need demonizing rhetoric or outright refusal to budge or come in to talk or vote.

    I think until the political parties, both major parties and any serious minor contenders, wake up and remember this basic, simple fact about what really is the purpose of a government, be it national or the local city council or town meeting, then we are likely to continue to have real trouble in our candidacies, elections, and elected officials in office running things.

  51. I’m also concerned about how many other candidates are saying they would support Trump if he won the nomination. It says an awful lot of terrible things about the GOP’s current Overton Window when mainstream leaders publicly state they will support someone who is openly espousing fascist policies.

  52. Catherine N, Reagan had been an actor, but then was a governor and had been politically active for many years. The cases are not the same.

    I won’t say Trump can’t get nominated, but here’s why I doubt it – until three years ago, I lived in Iowa. Most people answer polls don’t go to the Iowa Caucuses, it takes some real dedication (particularly if the weather is bad). Those who go tend to be conservative, not in the political sense (well, many in that sense too) but highly suspicious of star power and celebrity. If someone is new, they need to have really made the case “I’m a serious candidate and have serious plans”. So I think Trump is going to do VERY badly in the caucuses. (Bernie Sanders also has a real disadvantage for similar reasons, though better set to overcome it.)

    And a big part of Trump’s appeal is “he’s a winner” and he gets ugly when he loses, he all but called Iowans stupid when they preferred Carson over him. The kiss of death in New Hampshire would be if Trump comes across as “the voters are obligated to vote for me” – and I can see him doing it.

    If he does poorly in Iowa and New Hampshire, the long knives come out and his aura of winning is badly cracked.

  53. Great post John.
    It also points to the fight that we must be willing to engage in now. We can make people like Trump irrelevant if we increase immigration, and now that means more Muslims who would like to live here should come. With increased immigration, people like Trump will fade.

  54. I agree with what Scalzi wrote, but I think he didn’t go far enough. I would like to present an even more depressing idea on this topic. Trump is a symptom of a deeper disease. However, there is nothing that can be done, because the system is now self-sustaining.

    The problem I see is a combination of the USA two party system and the alignment along liberal/conservative lines of those two parties. The Republican party has gone fascist because it no longer has any liberals, and when left in a purely conservative group, conservatives will consolidate and grow ever more extreme.

    Liberalism and Conservatism are based on two fundamental thought paths present in all humans. Just as we all have left and right hands, but tend to be dominant one way or another. Conservatism is the thought process based on defense: Find the threat and eliminate it; Stick together; Don’t buck authority; Militancy and caution. Liberalism is the thought process based on opportunity: Find the opportunity and take it; Spread out and look around; Find a better method; Freedom and exploration. Both thought processes are vital and necessary. Without one, we would have died out a long time ago. Without the other, we would still be in caves and trees.

    The two parties once had both liberals and conservatives in each. Say one party was working on a business bill. Then you will have the liberals looking for new deals and the conservatives looking to preserve stability. However, they were all businessmen working together on that bill. The two parties would constantly fight and argue, but they were doing so on *ISSUES* not liberalism vs conservatism.

    When the Dixiecrats split and joined the Republicans however, it was on that ideological level. The years and political decisions since have only worsened that divide, so now it is unthinkable for a liberal to join the Republicans or a Conservative join the Democratics. With the liberals, this is annoying. An anarchist has pretty much no issues in common with a hard core socialist. However, liberal mindset by its very nature encourages a degree of cooperation and looking at alternative views. It’s awkward, but workable. With the conservatives however, this is a disaster. Conservatism by its very nature encourages group think and attacking the “other.” Us vs Them mentality. So what you get is an ever-increasing series of purity tests and a group who eventually only support the truest form of conservatism… which means all aspects of liberalism expunged… which means extreme fascist positions. Let’s face it, a christian conservative and a conservative businessman have almost nothing in common and often by all rights should be opposed. However, neither one can break free of their identity as “true” conservatives. It becomes a suicide cult.

    At this point, I don’t see anything which can stop the cycle short of a fairly significant cataclysm style event.

  55. You talk about “when Trump leaves” the primary campaign, but there’s no way he’s going to go gentle into that good night. How exactly is Trump going to be eased out in favor of anybody else? What could the GOP possibly do that he wouldn’t see as “treating him unfairly?” I don’t think that simply losing a bunch of primaries would convince him that he was being treated fairly, not after all this time of commanding leads in polls. He’ll see it as the Republican establishment manipulating the voting (and he may well be right).

    And if Cruz is then the nominee, he and Trump would have exactly the same base, would probably split it in half. Clinton might win every state but Texas.

  56. Your comparison to a reality show in which the goal is to win the election, rather than be president, is particularly apt this year because Trump actually has a reality show, but it’s not just how Trump is running his campaign, it’s been an apt description of the presidential election for years and some presidents never stop running, even in their 2nd term.

    Didn’t we have a volley of colorful Republican candidates four years ago who faded rather quickly once the primary votes started rolling in?

  57. The scary part is, he’s probably the least awful GOP candidate. Which is saying something. I don’t think this latest outburst will damage his standing, it might even increase his lead.

    Cruz is even more scary and that’s saying something.

  58. @Abi Sutherland

    Regarding your second point (and I understand your concerns about it) ultimately, this is going to happen no matter who gets the nod. Anti-Islamic rhetoric is going to dominate the GOP talking points regardless of whether it is Trump or Cruz or Carson. Anyone still voting for the GOP eats that stuff up, and they know it. The difference is what John mentioned in the post: Everyone but Trump wants to take that kind of talk and stick it back in the bottle. It was OK when it was dog-whistling, but Trump has turned it into referee whistling, and that makes middle America uncomfortable.

    Your first and third points I’m going to smash into one, as they are ultimately the same. You can bet the next skeezy opportunist will take this same tack, and for the same reason: It works. John’s point with this post was that Trump isn’t the problem, he’s a symptom of a disease. And if your third fear comes true, well, then the disease is terminal and the nation is going to die, anyway.

    So don’t fret! Vote Trump, and then shine a light on him on the biggest stage on Earth. He will give you all the ammunition you need to finally put an end to the GOP.

  59. Well, I think Trump has a shot. And that is very very sad. But he obviously is connecting with many Americans in a way that no one else has been able to. What can Bernie, Hillary, or any sane and reasonable politician (i’m not picky) do to steal his fire? I refuse to believe THAT many Americans are just stupid racist losers so there must be something he is offering that no one else is. What it is I can’t really discern….Ideas, people? Can do attitude? Bold ideas? A way out of this mess? Whaaat?

  60. I know I’m getting seriously freaked out when I start thinking that Canada should start getting ready to support a large number of American-Muslim refugees. We’re the logical destination and we have the space if not the infrastructure. If Trump or Carson get in, I feel like it’d only be a matter of time before we’d need to start up the underground railroad again.

    And it’d be nice to do something to ease the shame of “one is too many.”

  61. I think the original post does a minor disservice to Trump. It posits him as being smarter than he really is. I see Trump as the billionaire version of the cranky old man sitting at the end of the bar spouting “solutions” to the world’s problems as he gets three sheets into the wind on cheap bourbon. In short, he gave no more thought to the terrorist problem than I gave to deciding on which pair of socks to wear. (Very little – grabbed the first tan pair in the pile.)

    The reason Trump is doing so well in the polls at the moment is that a large portion of the Republican electorate at the moment are the non-billionaire cranky old men sitting at the end of the bar getting faced on cheap bourbon. They see in Trump a successful version of themselves, saying what they would say if you gave them a microphone.

  62. I like what Jim Wright (he of Stonekettle Station) just said in a Facebook post:

    Listen to me: When you look to your right and see NOTHING but the howling mob, then you look left and see everybody including Dick Cheney (Dick CHENEY for fuck’s sake) looking back, you, my friend, have lost your goddamned mind.

  63. I think the majority of Republican voters are now completely bored with Trump and he is speaking to a rapidly shrinking audience of bigots and media pundits. The voters have gone back to watching other reality shows and doing their holiday shopping. When the primaries roll around the Republicans will vote for anybody but Trump. A year from now he’ll be remembered as another one of the billionaires who bankrolled his own vanity campaign, the guy with the hair.

  64. For what it’s worth, I had a revealing conversation with a family member over Thanksgiving about this. He’s voting for Trump because Trump “is a buffoon, a cheat, a liar and an a**hole. He doesn’t care about anyone or anything except himself. So he’ll make a perfect politician and will be able to get things done.” All of this was said without any irony, sarcasm or rancor. More like resignation about the state of politics and politicians.

    This person is a smart guy. He’s a neurosurgeon (which incidentally is the reason he’s NOT voting for Ben Carson; think Wesley in “A Princess Bride”: ‘No good, I’ve known too many Spaniards’) and normally a very rational, cost/benefit kind of thinker. So it’s not hate or bigotry that put him on Trump’s side, it’s pessimism and nihilism.

  65. I will go Jerome O’Neil one better; this is “the finest bit of political commentary I’ve ever read” Period. However, be cautioned by M.A. “I’m sure there were many Germans who were sure Hitler could never be elected. I sincerely hope enough of us have learned something from history.” Please do not vote for Trump in the primary. I fear there are too many in this country that would vote to put him in office if he did become the GOP nominee. As you say, John, the GOP has been feeding this chicken for many many years, and it is coming home to roost. And you know what you find under as roosting chicken don’t you?

  66. I lived in Europe for some time and if you stand a Christian Conservative and an average European, the European racist, bigoted attitudes would make the Conservative’s jaw drop. I’m convinced the US is far more tolerant than what the 24/7 Newscorps and the left depict. The problem, as you put so well, is that the GOP has grafted post-segregationist attitudes to platform, but rapid change is eroding that base. Yet they’re hardcore like a Peach stone and just as amiable.

    Sadly, I what I see from the Dems front runner is a candidate who’s also a “narcissistic careerist” eager to serve democracy on the end of a drone.

  67. People who bleat “there’s no difference between the two parties” are dumbasses.

    You think President Gore would have appointed Chief Justice Roberts? Hell no!

    You think President Hillary would appoint the same kind of justices Der Trumpenfuhrer would? Hell no. She’s going to at least appoint someone who isn’t going to ratchet up the anti-woman stuff.

    Presidents are around for 4-8 years. Supreme Court Justices are around for decades, and give us fun things like Citizens United, which has brought us to where we are. It matters.

    And women, gays, PoC, poor people, disabled people, and non-Christians who vote Republican are either deluded or self-hating.

    Register as a Republican if you don’t live in an open primary state, and vote against Trump (and Cruz, and Carson — and their state/county equivalents!). Then re-register as whatever party you want.

    My heart’s with Bernie, but the practical side of my brain says “Yep, Hillary will do a pretty good job and not completely screw over us common folk. She’s smart, experienced, and I remember the great economy and no wars during Bill’s administration.” Plus, it’ll be fun to see Bill as the first First Gentleman, admit it.

  68. Trump is to the Republicans what George Wallace was to the Democrats many years ago. The difference is that Wallace believed in his racist positions and made an attempt to be charming during his campaigns. Trump’s popularity (about 36% of the 16% of Americans who are likely to vote in the Republican primary claim to support him) is also a sad commentary on the disgust that people have with all current politicians. I thought that the era of hyper-partisanship would end somehow; this is not what I envisioned. Then, again, I had friends and family members living in Minnesota when Jesse “The Body” Ventura was elected governor.

  69. “A year from now he’ll be remembered as another one of the billionaires who bankrolled his own vanity campaign, the guy with the hair.”

    I hope not.

    I mean, I hope Trump loses and loses badly. I don’t share you optimism that he will, but if your scenario happens, I hope we don’t remember him only as the guy with the hair. I hope we remember that, for at least six months, the leading Republican Presidential Candidate was legitimately compared to Hitler. I hope we remember how scary it was. I hope we remember to tell the Arab-Americans among us that we’re really freaking sorry portions of our electorate lost their every-loving minds. We have to remember, or we won’t get better.

  70. @Jerome O’Neil:

    I find it remarkably difficult to be perky in this set of circumstances. But congratulations on living so lightly in our society that you can cheerfully contemplate its demise, and indeed risk it in order to make an even bigger bang if Trump implodes! It must be wonderful to feel so safe.

  71. Ever since G.W.’s candidacy and election, I’ve thought there would be a split among the Republican Party and some realignment or new parties would develop. Given the current crop of candidates, maybe it’ll happen this time. (If I wanted to go for a low-brow, bad pun, I could wonder if “crop” might be better spelled with a different vowel. :wink: )

    Somewhere along the way, perhaps as early as Reagan, or perhaps before, the Republican Party began to transform itself into what people then termed the NeoCons, a much more rabidly conservative faction. At some point, the Republican Party became almost exclusively that, and has continued in that direction since then.

    I am no longer much a fan of either the Republicans or the Democrats, and the smaller parties too often seem too nuts-and-flakes for me. However, my vote still has to go for something and someone. I’d love “None of the Above,” requiring a new election, possibly requiring all new candidates, or at least new ones along with those who were running. I think I know who I’ll vote for in 2016 for president. It will not be a Republican candidate, and it absolutely will not be Trump.

    I used to be mostly Republican, who’d vote for a Democrat or an Independent if there was a candidate I thought was better suited for the job. But after G.W.’s first term and all the nonsense surrounding the election, then his first term in office, I have voted mostly Democrat since then. But I’d love some better candidates and a better party or two. I began mostly conservative, due to upbringing. But I’ve become more liberal as time has gone on and I’ve lived through more things on my own, and seen how life works for myself and others; or maybe more how it doesn’t work right always, would put it better.

    I am a minority in a few different and important (to me) ways. Let’s say that who I am and what I think and believe would not be popular with a fascist or bigoted régime. – I do not want to see our country return to racial/ethnic or religious prejudice, and I want more progress toward lack of prejudice on sexual orientation/identity. I can respect and value other people’s viewpoints, and if I don’t agree with them, I don’t have to associate with them. If we can’t agree, then let’s at least agree to disagree. I like foreign languages, cultures, food, and the people who use/create those. Just because they think and believe differently than I do, doesn’t mean that they don’t have something great to offer the rest of the world. Quite often, they do have great things to offer. — Give me a free trade of goods and services and ideas, or reasonable prices, anyway. I would much rather we all get along that way. Hurting and killing people because you don’t like their ideas seems stupid and crazy. If you can’t convince ’em to believe your way, then let ’em be, give ’em some personal space, live and let live. If you can get along enough, even if you disagree, then that’s fine too. It seems a shame to me that ideas like that are labelled simplistic or childish, immature. It seems a much greater shame that some people would rather hurt and kill because some other people don’t believe the same as they do.

    Here’s a simple way to put it: We humans are all one species. No matter what color we are or what shape our features are, we’re still humans. We live on a single blue-green planet, a little oasis in a vast starry desert, a deep, dark emptiness without even air, much less any sand. So we must all live together. We all share this little oasis with a number of other creatures at the oasis. If we poison the well, then we poison ourselves as much as any other people and creatures at the oasis, or any visitors, if they should ever appear. We are guests at the oasis, as much as hosts. All those other creatures have an equal right to be here, as much as any humans. In fact, we rely on them and they rely on us to keep the oasis in balance and unposioned. How is that for an analogy that fits in with the scriptures of several world religious views?

    Or even more simply, to quote Ben Franklin: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

    And yes, that’s a global world view, not one based on nations or ethnicities or religions or politics. Biology and astronomy: One planet capable of sustaining Earth life as we know it. Only one. One human species. A multitude of other species on Earth. A whole, beautiful, fierce planet to live on. Only one. In the vast emptiness of all of space. The lesson? Get along with each other, keep the oasis clean, or else you will go extinct, and some other creatures will inherit the Earth. Again, how’s that for a semi-scriptural analogy?

    It is, by the way, also a good argument for why we should get out into space. If one space rock hits us and it’s big enough, we go the way of the dinosaurs, quite literally. Or the extinction sometime in the Pre-Cambrin or Cambrian. So avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Get out of the nest, the cradle of this planet, and live out among the stars, on other planets and around other stars. Or all this sound and fury could signify nothing but a blink of an eye in time.

    OK, that was a bit gloomy and overly dramatic, yes?

    Really, I’d settle for us all just to get through the next 50 years or so. But if we’re going to get through the next 50 years, we really need to learn to get along better.

    All those idiots who want to hate some other guy so much that they’d banish them or kill them or make war and wipe out an entire group of people? They are dangerous, crazy-stupid. People like that should not be leaders. They’re mentally ill and need treatment. The don’t need to lead groups, neither congregations nor nations.

    It is alarming that they can sway people who are desperate or ignorant or gullible, or people who sincerely want to believe, to show faith in something. That’s the danger: That deranged leaders, bent on violence, bigotry, fascism, can lead so many people to do the wrong things, dangerous and terrible things, that are not in any way holy or good.

    I really hope our human species, our planet, can outgrow this childish temper tantrum phase, or we’ll never get out of the nest, the playpen.

  72. Regarding the deeper symptoms of the illness — points 6 and 7 in the OP — I still think one of the better researched “maps” of how the parties have changed over time was presented by
    Randall Munroe at http://xkcd.com/1127/large/ . It was originally about Congress. Today I feel that it illustrates the wider scope of our entire US political system. In particular look at the changes that the GOP has suffered since approx. 1990.

  73. I live in Denmark, we have our own political hacks that speaks to the lowest common denominator, and I don’t particularly like what my government is doing at the moment.
    I am fascinated that a man like Donald Trumph has gotten that far, it is kind of like a comedic play, except that it could have so far ranging consequences for the rest of the world. Donald Trumph seems, from an outside view, to be a political uneducated glory hound, but then I did not think too highly of President Bush or Dick Cheney’s intelligence when they were running, not to mention Sarah Palin.
    I find it strange that your religious identity is part of the ability to be elected, for a country based on the idea of religious freedom that is strange. I don’t think I have ever heard a danish journalist asking a candidate what religion they had, but then most danes have a very lukewarm relationship with religion and as long as a candidate does not bring it up it does not matter.
    Please excuse my english, since this is my second language and I am trying my best to be concise and precise.

  74. Yes, thank you, especially items 6 and 7. The media in this country has been reluctant to state these facts and remember this history, apparently in pursuit of some distorted, looking-glass concept of balance. In the last generation or so we’ve seen half our political discourse devolve into something that is on the verge of welcoming the rise of an American Mussolini or Franco. It’s a scary time.

  75. Trump cant win?

    My younger self would have agreed. But my older self remembers that there was no al queda connection to Iraq, no active WMD program in Iraq, no connection between Iraq and the attacks on 9/11, that both the US weapons inspector Ritter and the UN inspector Blix both said Iraq’s old weapons would be dealt with in a few months, but then not only did we invade anyway, but we invaded anyway, and soon thereafter, American support for the war was 80%.

  76. You might be interested in what Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) has been saying about Trump on his blog. You’re analyzing (correctly, imho) what Trump’s saying. Adams is looking at the persuasion techniques.

    I’ve always thought Trump was a blowhard and an ass, and nothing he’s done recently has convinced me otherwise.

  77. I have little patience for the people who are pessimistic about how to stop Trump. Get involved in your local politics. If Trump is a disease, it’s because there are niches all over the country where he can thrive. It may not be particularly easy, but the silent majority can be convinced of his repulsiveness.

    I do question just how deep the support for Trump actually is. It seems likely that his supporters are just the loudest of the Republican party. Voters consume media so much differently than just 20 years ago, so media channels are chasing thin slices of the electorate. While Fox’s Trump coverage is chasing their viewer’s racism, other media coverage is chasing something akin to celebrity gossip.

    What do polls say about support for Trump when all likely voters are asked?

  78. Part of me keeps thinking that it is all some colossal joke Trump is playing and that he is suddenly going to say “Gotcha. Made you all look stupid.” Wishful thinking, I know.

  79. I watched the faces of some of the people who had the mike thrust into their general direction at a recent vox populi video just outside one of Trump’s rally points, and frankly, I’m starting to be very afraid. People keep saying Trump can’t win – and I desperately hope they’re right – but those people, those people… the glazed little eyes, the fervent replies of “Oh, YES!” to the question of “Would you still vote for him after what he said today?”… even one person like that out there with a vote in their hand scares me. And I saw quite a few.

    Not that i’m surprised at the fact that fearmongering and dealing to the absolute lowest common denominator demographic works. It’s no less frightening for all that.

  80. Didn’t McCain start off this latest GOP sliding-off-the-rails by *substantially* lowering the bar with the selection of Palin???
    I agree with the commentator who said Trump leads to Cruz.
    Our *biggest* problem this time around: TED CRUZ.
    Why?
    He’s getting tons of *national* exposure AND he’s going to be around for a *long time*, folks.

  81. Man, everything Der Dönäldenfürher says is more and more like a Nazi. We need to just get rid of this fucking pig, can we shoot him to Mars on a rocket or something?

    I shudder to think what will happen if he’s elected…I can just imagine a Sturmateliung led by Dick Cheney, and the ghost of Adolf Hitler clapping at the spectacle as Reinhard Heydrich’s ghost inhabits Glenn Beck and founds a “Trump Youth” group.

    …yes, I admit it, that was last night’s nightmare.

  82. I really wish we, as a nation, could just tell Trump, “You’re Fired!” and then watch him walk away in pathetic disgrace.

  83. When I saw this in the morning I had to post on fb about it. Basically, what Trump is doing and what I’m most critical of him is the lack of responsibility he’s displaying. Exactly as you say, this is a reality show–for him. For the rest of us it’s the world trying to come to terms with itself rather than see it all burn. The man is in serious need of a zen moment.

  84. This is the best take on Trump I have read… and I subscribe to Talking Points Memo and Daily Kos!

    I have an observation on Point #5 (long-term damage to the Trump brand.)

    Trump owns a lot of golf courses and every one bears his name. (1)

    There are a lot of high-profile golf tournaments scheduled on Trump courses over the next seven years. Are the tournament organizing groups and sponsors going to pull their tournaments from Trump courses?

    I think it very likely they will. In fact, it has already started. This September, the PGA canceled the Grand Slam of Golf scheduled for October 2015 at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles. (2)

    The next tournament on a Trump course is The World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship which is held in March every year at Trump National Doral in Miami. It might be too late to switch venues for this year, but it will be interesting to see if sponsors and tour pros pull out.

    And what the United States Golf Association (USGA) will do? The 2017 Women’s Open is to be held at Trump National located in Bedminster, NJ. Does the USGA want to dirty their brand with the Trump Name? Imagine all that merchandise emblazoned with “2017 U.S. Women’s Open/Trump National.” Time is short. If the USGA wants to move the tournament, they need to act fast.

    There is more than enough time for the PGA to pull their 2022 PGA Championship, which they awarded to the same Trump National golf course (3) The PGA would have no logistical problems in switching the location, although Trump is likely to sue their ass.

    You might think that this is no big deal, but to the Donald it is a VERY big deal. It has always been a dream of his to host the U.S. Open, most likely at the Bedminster course. (3) I think he can kiss that dream good-bye.

    1. https://www.trumpgolf.com/course
    2. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/252681-pga-cancels-grand-slam-of-golf-event-at-trump-course
    3. http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golf-central-blog/pga-ceo-trump-were-monitoring-situation/
    4. http://www.golf.com/ap-news/donald-trump-wants-host-us-open-trump-national

  85. StoryCorps’ recording of a Japanese-American woman recounting memories of having to leave her home and go into an internment camp during WW2, as a teenager, is required listening in my opinion. It’s short and I’m sure it only scratches the surface of her experiences and feelings. I hope our Gracious Host will consider it ‘on topic’ in light of Mr Trump’s vile blatherings. It was horribly wrong then;Trump is gleefully proposing worse for the greater glorification of Trump. http://www.capradio.org/articles/2015/12/01/storycorps-in-sacramento-injustice-endured-for-the-sake-of-the-children/

  86. I find Trump terrifying. Well, more accurately, I find what he shows about American society to be terrifying.

    Trump said a few days ago that we should murder the families of people who commit terrorist acts. I have *seen* that movie, you know? He’s not running for president, he’s running for supervillain.

  87. @Abi Sutherland

    Thank you for your snark. Let me paint it another way for you, then. You are hopelessly naive if you think there is any substantial difference between what Cruz and Carson are saying, and what Trump is saying. The only difference is the former are still using the dog-whistle to communicate, while Trump is simply shouting on the sidewalk like the carnival barker he is. If you think that somehow we will be safer with a Cruz presidency then you aren’t paying attention. The only difference there is that Cruz *can* get elected.

    The GOP is going to run some flavor of xenophobic bigot. They aren’t just going to pick “no option” because you’re uncomfortable with one of them. You ought to be uncomfortable with all of them. So your best option is to pick the one that has the highest probability to implode, and help him get on the ballot.

  88. > Bluntly speaking, Trump is never going to be president; mainstreaming fascism or not, at the end of the day the numbers won’t break his way.

    I think we’ve reached the point where realistically becoming president is the least important part of being a presidential candidate.

    At the start of the campaign, I would have characterized the field as “Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, and a crap-ton of people who just want to raise their exposure level/build their brand/sell books/get on TV”.

    I mean, sure, Santorum masturbates to the idea of being president, but I have to think that he knows how unlikely that is to happen. Winning would be, to him, an amazing bonus, not the only point of running. Perennial candidates like Lyndon LaRouche and Jesse Jackson used to fill those roles in the Democratic party; it’s just the that proportion of serious candidates to those just in it to be noticed was much higher.

    I’m honestly not sure if Trump even wants to win. I have to think that a loss that could be characterized as being stabbed in the back by the Republican establishment (and which would let him drag things out for a while about whether he’s going to do a third-party run, before presenting himself as magnanimously bowing out for the good of the country) would be far better for him than actually getting the nomination and losing to Hillary–or, worse, for just about everyone, winning and having to actually put his money where his mouth was.

    It’s quite possible that Donald Trump is the political equivalent of The Producers, which makes his fascism quite a homage.

  89. Please continue to be the voice of reason in an unreal world. To me, the fact that people are willing to say in public that they support Donald Trump is a sign of how far apart human perceptions of the same set of facts can be. How can anyone not see Trump for the narcissistic bully that he is? I fear for my country and the world.

  90. Lurkertype: Onion headline on the election of G W Bush: Our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over!

    Trump seems to be running an extreme version of a standard political playbook: “My opponent will tell you just two things – what to be afraid of, and who to blame.” And that’s a very simple slogan, easily absorbed if it’s repeated a few times. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Will

  91. Whenever I read what you write about politics, I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with everything you say, but annoyed at all the things you didn’t say, but should have.

    It’s just weird to use the phrase “Career narcissist” about this election without also using “Hillary”.

    It’s annoying to claim Republicans are in the pocket of plutocrats, but with your silence imply that Democrats aren’t.

    Democrats could stand to check their eyes for motes concerning “Ratcheting up political rhetoric so that everyone who opposes you is the enemy and sick and awful” “Scaring the crap out of [their core voters] with the image of [other kinds of people]” and “Valorizing the tribalism of [their kind of voters] over the rule of law and the Constitution of the United States”

    A plague on both your houses. But yea trump is pretty awful.

  92. “Career Narcissist.” Can’t disagree with that assessment. After 25 years in DC, I can tell you this town is full of such people in places high and low. The current occupant in1600 PA Ave has the same malfunction, but unlike Trump, Obama has that passive aggressive tendency to “gaslight” people he doesn’t like, people that, in his mind, make him feel ever so morally and intellectually superior. (Those would be Republicans and conservative folk. . . ) Trump on the other hand is just plain ‘ol aggressive. Act in any way that contradicts his rather high opinion of himself, and his response will be immediate, direct, and oh-so-very abusive.

    The thing that unites Trump and Obama in their malfunction is extreme sensitivity to threats that could do permanent damage to their “self image” . . . that is, to anything that could cause others to view them in terms that do not coincide with the all-knowing, all powerful “false self” they habitually project to the outside world.

    People like Obama and Trump need others, especially their inner circle, to feed the false self so they are forever distracted from the deep-down self-knowledge that they are not super smart, super good, and so on. Such a moment of clarity is to the narcissist as holy water is to the vampire. It is something to be avoided at all costs.

    In Trump’s case, it will be interesting to see how he responds the moment his poll numbers begin to sag and fail to rebound, the point when he fathoms that he could really blow it Big Time on the national stage. (Who’s the Apprentice now Bitch?!) If it becomes clear to him at any time during the early primary stage that losing the nomination after months of soaring high is likely (seems like a Big If at this point), there’s a strong chance he could bail out, just like in 2012, if only to avoid his day of spiritual reckoning.

  93. You know, if this novel thing peters out on you you should consider a job as an opinion columnist. Of course you’ll have to trim it down a bit but I bet you could do that. Oh, and liberals are not allowed on the editorial page or talking head shows. That would be an issue. Exceedingly well thought out, well written & exceedingly excellent thought piece.

  94. Well, yes and no. Trump probably is a fascist; is certainly a narcissist. But I think everything else is much more complicated than you suggest. Maybe.

  95. I don’t in any way support the poop-in-his-mouth-head, but I am fascinated by the fact that he has “outed” the horrible undercurrents of the GOP in the way he has. Every god-forsaken troglodyte out there is jumping up and down in the back of his coal-rolling “I’ve got a bigger dick than you” supersized truck, waving his “I’ve got a bigger dick than you” AR-15 with the “I’ve got a bigger dick than you” 250 round magazine, screaming “thank you Jesus! At last – someone is willing to tell the truth!!” at the top of their lungs. Which is a separate level of irony, but I’m moving on.

    But I’m curious if you think he deserves our… “thanks” for doing so. I’m deeply reluctant to appreciate him on any level at all, I really am. Is he doing us a favor by exposing this infection? Will we be able to clean it up a bit now that we know it is there, or is it more like scratching at the infection with dirty fingernails and is this just going to make it worse?

  96. I’m amazed and disappointed and not a little disgusted that some folks are still desperately or ignorantly trying to pass off the “both aides are awful” false equivalence route as some kind of wise political insight.

    No. Just no. At this point that’s fucking stupid.

  97. @Lawrence D’Anna
    You’re getting Hillary Clinton mixed up with the SNL version of Hillary Clinton. Everyone I know who has worked with her or knows her etc. says she’s a competent hardworking career bureaucrat with a big sense of public service. I think this whole idea of narcissism has pretty heavy ties to misogyny. How dare this uppity woman try to play politics with big boys? WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? That’s where the narcissism idea comes from. Not reality.

  98. @nicoleandmaggie

    Sigh. I don’t watch SNL, and I would say the same thing about Jeb and W. For all three, their principle qualification for high public office is nepotism, and that’s just gross. The fact that any of them could seriously run for president is alarming. I don’t know her personally, so I can’t speak to her “big sense of public service” or how “hardworking” she is. Can you? I doubt it. As to “component”, all I can say is “LOL email”. Also the fact that you would jump straight to accusing me of misogyny is inaccurate, rude, and depressingly typical.

  99. Trump is malignant narcissist with a yuge chip on his shoulder. He has not forgiven President Obama for mocking him openly at the correspondents’ dinner some years ago. The hatred is real. And, as they say on reality TV, the thirst is real.

    Unfortunately, a significant portion of the population is easily manipulated.

    It’s scary, really scary, but I don’t think he’ll make it to the WH. I would imagine that the RNC will be working overtime, hard and dirty, to bring him down.

    Thank you for the brilliant eight point list.

  100. Trump actually does more complaining about plutocrats than anyone else in the GOP, and he’s pretty big on campaign finance reform. He’s also quite a bit more amenable to gun control than rest of the GOP field, much less concerned about traditional religious right issues, and so on. (And he’s pretty much alone in the GOP race in praising universal health care.) So it’s pretty difficult to describe him as the platonic ideal of the GOP, and really much more easy to describe him as a populist, with elements similar to, yes, Pat Buchanan, but also Ross Perot. There were a fair number of conservative Southern Democrats who used to be around who sounded similar. I’d describe someone like Jim Webb as “the thinking man’s Trump,” certainly much less extreme, but from a similar outlook.

    He doesn’t fit into either party’s mold, but takes elements (in my opinion the worst elements) from both.

  101. I am worried that this is going to turn out like the last UK election. Everyone said that Cameron and his Conservative party could not win. That they were toast. They were too anti-European, too anti-poor, too sexist, soo much in love with the radical free market ideology, had Iain Duncan Smith on their team. Well, trouble is, they are in power now and sure they were not as flamboyantly racist as Trump but they spoke the same general language.

    That is where I fear Trump heading, because what we don’t need to worry about is the howling mob, it is the silent mob. The fearful racists, sexists, and generally fearful middle class old and young, the shy conservatives. These are people that won’t admit to a polling company they are voting for the nutjob but will still do it anyway. And Hilary… Oh dear, she is the Milliband of America, nowhere tub thumping or radical enough to bring those looking for a radical solution to her side. That is the problem I see, and one Trump will profit from. People are looking for a radical change, and if the left won’t offer it then the likes of Trump and Cameron will; and it’ll be too late to anything about them once they are in power.

  102. A huge percentage of Trump supporters say that they would vote for him in a third party race (68% in a poll today). They overwhelmingly identify in polls as people that ordinarily don’t vote in primaries, people with less education (who are less likely to vote), people with lower income, and Trump polls slightly better among self-identified “moderates” (and even “liberals” who identify with the GOP) than those who identify as various flavors of “conservative.” None of that fits with the idea that he’s some sort of platonic ideal of the GOP.

    He’s attracting the votes of a lot of people who are normally turned off by the political process because they don’t feel that either political party fits their both, though they may like some individual ideas of both, some of what they want no one is offering. Of course, these people have exactly the opposite views of other people who feel the same way, whose likes and dislikes about the current parties are reversed.

  103. There was an entertainment writer that got retweeted into my timeline who said something that backs up some of what you’re saying here, John. I’m paraphrasing, but something along the lines of, “when is someone going to ask about the video crew he hired to follow him in the early days of the campaign? The idea was to film himself on the trail, and shop it to networks when he dropped out. His plans changed when people began to take him seriously.”

    Wherever we are now, yeah, I think it was originally all about burnishing brand Trump.

  104. Trump started his campaign by insulting Mexicans, has gone on to insult women (Megyn Kelly), Blacks (retweeted racist claim that Blacks are responsible for the majority of White murders, encouraged supporters to physically assault a Black protester), the disabled (NY Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski), and now Muslims.

    The fact that Republicans — voters and political leaders — have supported this bigot is astounding. Yes, he would be trounced by Secretary Clinton in the general election but that’s beside the point. How can a supposedly mainstream party condone this type of hateful rhetoric? What does that say about how Republicans view Americans who aren’t White?

    Say what you will about how weak Democrats are, at least they do not support hate speech. Trump has scarred the Republican Party as he has shown how low they will go to pander to voters. Furthermore, a Republican Party which has rallied around the likes of Trump is not welcoming to minorities which may end up being the party’s downfall given the changing demographics.

  105. I’m still boggled that people who belong to the party full of conservatives – ie, of people who want things to be unchanged – want to do someone so thoroughly unconservative as violate the Constitution.

  106. As an Australian, I worry that this is turning out to look suspiciously like our last election, complete with everyone saying ‘he’ll never get in’, ‘both sides are awful’, and ‘he can’t actually be serious’.

    I remember when Abbott got elected, a lot of right-wing Australians who voted for him were subsequently upset–and surprised!–that he actually did what he said he’d do during the election.

    I remember watching in horror as bills I firmly believe would have hurt my country almost came to pass (being stopped as a few conservative independents defected to the other side of the vote).

    Please do be careful, guys. I know your political system is very different, but don’t just assume he won’t get in. The only way he won’t is if you go out and vote against him.

  107. If Trump is elected, it might not just be Muslim refugees headed your way. He terrifies me, and I’m chicken-shit enough to run. But is Canada far enough away?

  108. He’s an old school always be closing salesman. Throw in a bit of NLP too. He knows his market. The Republican white vote. If he wins that ticket, he’ll soften his stance but go on the attack with China and its copy policy for Economic output. The rest don’t know how to sell themselves. He on the other hand is willing to do anything it takes to keep the attention on him. Anything. Flans his flame and starves others of oxygen.

  109. Note to all:

    This is the sort of thread that sprouts trolls if I leave it unattended overnight, so I’ll be closing it when I head to bed (which will be around ten, probably, because I am an old old man). I’ll open it up again in the morning.

  110. Here’s the thing I’m wondering and worrying about here, and which I haven’t seen discussed: This isn’t just a presidential election; there’s Congress as well. And Congresspeople tend to get in at least partly on the coattails of the presidential candidates — and, even though the Republican candidate lost the last presidential election, the momentum behind them helped a lot of Republican Congresspeople get into office.

    If the Trump momentum continues, who’s going to be riding into Congress on his coattails?

  111. C W Rose: Today’s Onion headline is “Trump Gives Muslim On Fence About Radicalizing Just The Push He Needed “.

  112. To be honest, the thing which worries me most about Trump is this: he’s a businessman who has so far gone bankrupt four times. Now, one bankruptcy can be said to be a tragedy, while two is generally considered to be evidence of carelessness. What does four say?

    What four bankruptcies ought to be saying to anyone with money to invest is “this bloke is a con artist of no small measure”, and encouraging them to keep their money out of his ventures in future. (And before anyone makes noises about “personal fortune” – after four bankruptcies, if the system is working correctly, he shouldn’t have one!). Yet somehow he’s still able to be a businessman, long after a sensible financial system should have removed his counters from the board rather comprehensively (oh, hang on, I see my flawed assumption[1]).

    So approximately a quarter of your population (about half of the half of the population which actually bothers to pay attention to politics and vote) is proposing to put a slick-talking con artist into the White House, and in charge of the largest budget in the world. And apparently nobody sees this as an asset-stripping risk, or a potential hazard to the global economy or anything like that…

    I really worry about your country sometimes.

    PS: Lesson from Australia. I thought for ages that the Liberal Party under Tony Abbott would never get elected here. I thought – and said – for years that Tony Abbott was not the sort of person who would make a good prime minister for this country, and that the best things the Liberal party could do were to either brick up his mouth, or take him out into the back paddock and leave him there. Unfortunately for our country, nobody was listening at the time – and we wound up with that neo-reactionary radical as a Prime Minister who damn near wrecked the country as a result. Which is to say that Jerome O’Neil’s notion of voting in favour of Trump on the assumption he won’t get elected may well result in an own goal of spectacular proportions.

    Please, don’t do it to yourselves.

    [1] Sorry, I was working on the assumption the USA has a sensible financial system. Silly of me, I know.

  113. If Trump was elected would even a hint of his ideas be capable of becoming realities? Just because he would be president doesn’t mean that he would have free reign to do whatever he wanted and with both democrats and republicans hating or at least not agreeing with him and the trends of GOP staunchly standing against anything different couldn’t we just end up stagnant for four years and then leaving Trump behind like an old racist grandma?

  114. I want to potentially disagree with your point #1. Potentially because there’s no way to be sure.

    But there are some indications that Trump has worked towards this for a while. I don’t have cites to hand but could find them if I had to. And several articles at reputable press sites have described how Trump has spent quite a few years cultivating the support of various hard-right groups, including Christian groups and others. Not for his businesses, but on a personal level.

    And then there was an odd story from Dan Quayle of all people, that showed up sometime in the past week. Quayle said that Trump had actually solicited George Bush the First for the VP slot. (Quayle was glad Bush said no.)

    This doesn’t mean Trump has any idea what he’s doing, but it points at least a little to some sort of intention.

  115. Even if Trump is elected I am not going to Canada. Or even leaving Colorado. I will still be here doing my best because I have no children to think about, I have no legacy except in what I personally do for my country and the world.

    It will not happen. Trump is not going to get anywhere near the Presidency because he does not have the support necessary. Hitler, who never got better than a plurality even when he banned the communists, had a private army to support him and to turn out the vote by hook or crook. It takes support from dedicated offices on the ground with manpower to get elected for all that we talk about websites and media buys. Trump is only succeeding right now because right now is the equivalent of preseason NFL games. Not a single score has been put on the board yet in anything that matters. Polls… Polls are fantasy what ifs. They are who’d win, Captain America or Batman?

    A Republican is very likely to be the next President of the United States due to lukewarm support for Hillary, but that Republican is not Trump.

  116. If Trump was elected would even a hint of his ideas be capable of becoming realities?

    Two things:

    Judicial appointments.

    Administrative appointments.

    Not the top level, but the mid and upper level. I think there are ways for him to get his way…

  117. American politics is my favorite reality show, it’s a shame the big seasons are only around once every four years. I don’t watch any other reality TV except for the American Presidential race, it’s a good show every season and this season is already a big one. I heard that the next season might have Kanye West in it, that should be a good one too.

    But seriously, Trump seems like a joke that has now gotten a little out of hand, time to stop legitimizing him.

  118. I’m still a bit puzzled as to why Trump, in particular, is being singled out as a special new jump in evil compared to Carson, Fiorina, Huckabee, Paul, Santorum and Cruz. Seems to me, most or all of the whole field of GOP Presidential hopefuls is just more Trump.

  119. Then again, there’s this…

    Who best represents the values of the GOP?
    D-O-N….A-L-D…. T-R-U-M-P!
    Greed, oppression, vote suppression, and stupidity
    D-O-N….A-L-D…. T-R-U-M-P!

    Not Ted Cruz–Donald Trump!
    Not Jeb Bush–DONALD TRUMP!
    He’ll build a border fence, and make it high
    (high! high! high!)

    Who’s the bane of Rick Santorum and Mike Hucklebee?
    D-O-N….A-L-D…. T-R-U-M-P!
    Who says what the others won’t, ’cause they’re too cowardly?
    D-O-N….A-L-D…. T-R-U-M-P!

    Mighty Mouth! (Donald Trump)
    Mighty Mouth (DONALD TRUMP!)
    Forever let us hit him with a pie
    (pie! pie! pie!)

    See his hair, and say a prayer for our Democracy
    D-O-N (Enemy of the people)
    A-L-D (Dee-sgusting!)
    T-R-U-M-P!

  120. WOW! I am so heartened to see so much support to counteract those (relatively few) jeering smearing Trump supporters. This kind of activity will change the dynamic ! Total support from me.

  121. David Neiwert argues that while Trump is close to fascist, he isn’t all the way (http://dneiwert.blogspot.com/2015/11/donald-trump-may-not-be-fascist-but-he.html). Technical details (Neiwert rights about neo-Nazis and fascists so he uses the term quite precisely) on the link.

    Re the statement above that Obama’s “gaslighting” Republicans: gaslighting refers to making someone doubt their own sanity, not to making them look bad (even if they weren’t making themselves look bad). I only wish Obama could make them question their sanity.

  122. My colon (to be specific about which part of my gut it is) might agree with Donald Trump. But I would not want to live in or be known as a person who comes from a country governed by my colon.

  123. matthughes: “mobilize and motivate the full half of the electors who don’t bother to vote even in presidential elections. The modern version of the pre-Civil War Know-Nothings.”

    Very minor nitpick – but the Know-Nothings weren’t called that because they were apathetic or uninterested or ignorant. They were called that because they started as a semi-secret anti-immigrant movement called the Native American Party, and if you asked a member what he knew about their activities, he was supposed to reply “I know nothing”.

    That concludes your Interesting Political Fact of the Day.

  124. @Jerome O’Neil

    Thank you (genuinely) for stopping patronizing me and answering sincerely; if you don’t like snark in the future, don’t be dismissive.

    I still disagree with the strategy of giving Trump any votes, ever, even strategically; it seems to me that it can go to horribly wrong. But now that you’re spelling things out a bit more seriously, I can see your point.

  125. “But I would not want to live in or be known as a person who comes from a country governed by my colon.”

    You’re an anti-colonialist.

  126. I want Trump to win the Republican party nomination. He is the cell phone camera for the Republican party. As the cell phone camera has shined the spotlight on police brutality, Trump is shining the spotlight on Republican bigotry and racism.

    For generations minorities have complained about police brutality, however only now with cell phone pictures/videos have they gotten white America to admit that yeah, maybe there is a police brutality problem. Trump is doing the same for the Republican party. For a few generations now its been pointed out that the Republican party has become a haven for bigots and racists, however only now with Trump leading the Republican polls is white America starting to admit that yeah, maybe the Republican party has a racism problem.

    An old engineering saying: The first step to fixing a problem is admitting their is a problem.

  127. “I still disagree with the strategy of giving Trump any votes, ever, even strategically; it seems to me that it can go to horribly wrong”

    It really, really can. Lots of Labour MPs gave Jeremy Corbyn their votes for nomination because they wanted to “broaden the conversation” and then were horrified when he actually got elected as leader.

  128. Wman:

    “Calling someone racist, bigot bla bla does not work anymore.”

    Sure it does. But I am of course aware that racists and bigots would really like us to believe that it doesn’t, so they can go about being racist and bigoted and not get called on it, or pretend that somehow it’s okay to be a racist or bigot, i.e., what you’re trying to do right this very second. And, well. No. I’m not going to do that.

    “I support Trump and so do my friends.”

    Then you’re supporting a racist and a bigot and a fascist, and it’s entirely possible that you are these things too. Congratulations!

  129. A Trump Support Anecdote: One of my professors at college thinks that Trump is an idiot, after all he got in a media fight with Rosie O’Donnell. How does a businessman get in a war of words with comedian. (To paraphrase the professor.) But he understands why so many people support him because white men in the country are being treated unfairly. I was horrified to hear this from a professor, but no idea what (if anything) I should say or do about this sort of common bigotry.

  130. I want Trump to win the Republican party nomination. He is the cell phone camera for the Republican party. As the cell phone camera has shined the spotlight on police brutality, Trump is shining the spotlight on Republican bigotry and racism.

    I think Trump has already accomplished this by forcing the newsmedia to take him seriously as something other than a vanity candidate. Having him be the nomination makes me far too nervous.

  131. It’s rare to never that I find something like this that strikes such a deep chord of “this guy nailed it and I MUST share” I have read this 3 times over the past two days, after the first time I couldn’t wait to share on my FB feed, you are amazing and I applaud you! You have penned, very eloquently, I might add, my very thoughts on this thing named Trump, WOW just WOW! Thank you, Thank you!

  132. AS always John Scalzi, you manage to say exactly what I am thinking. I did used to think that the republican party was simply about being conservative – but In addition to what you say above, I also worry that we don’t even know what democrat and republican mean and stand for anymore. And the individuals who say they are one or the other do not know either…conundrum…

  133. Curiously, I and most of my GOP leaning friends really do not like Mr. Trump. But several of my union and Democratic leaning friends approve of him.

    [The rest of the post deleted because merely prefacing a off-topic derail with two sentences nominally on topic does not, in fact, hide the fact that a derail was attempted — JS]

  134. One possibility is that this is a strategy to get ‘disowned’ by the GOP. If that happens, it’s a convenient out on the pledge to not run as an independent.

  135. Mishalak, do you have a student dean or a “Unity House” (what we had at my college) that you can talk to? I would probably go the Unity House route first, maybe it can lead to some kind of campus conversation? One can only hope. And in terms of voting for Trump, too many people are putting their heads in the sand, just hoping he will go away. He has people who think that he is the “best of a bad group”. It is reassuring that so many people are angry about him, but… I joked at the start of the season that it would be Trump vs Bernie. Now I am starting to feel that could actually happen.

  136. I suspect Trump’s poll numbers will increase, not decrease, after the latest insanity (may need to define that as he’s probably done something else awful overnight).

    He’s only 4% behind Hilary in a head to head match up in the current RCP poll of polls.

  137. Exactly, Trump is an opportunistic disease. The Republicans replaced a critical press, the usual immune system, with an inbred media that stokes fear and inoculates consumers against any challenge to conservative shibboleths, leaving them susceptible to nonsense.

    A media monoculture cannot sustain the broad coalitions America’s two party system requires. Republican dysfunction in DC and the rise of Trump are signs that the southern strategy is played out and their coalition has fractured. If the GOP breaks its media monoculture it may form a new coalition, otherwise it will stumble about as it shrinks and dies, hopefully not doing too much damage in the process.

    The Republican coalition is fractured but probably not broken. Trump or a candidate espousing his ideas will probably win their primary and have a decent chance of winning the presidency. If you don’t want that to happen then vote, organize and fight for the Democratic coalition.

  138. If Trump is the symptom, I think the disease is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not being “safe”. Fear of change. We’ve become, I believe, a nation of fearful people, fear that’s pounded into us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by a combination of the need for ratings by the media and our own basest desire (need?) to focus on the terrible. To feed the beast as it were. We’ve become a nation, or perhaps even a civilization that, like any addict, requires our daily dose of fear mongering.

    When Trump speaks, he pumps up the fear people have (“the Mexicans are rapists and criminals!”, “Muslims want to destroy us!”, etc.). He gives them their fix. But then what he does, in the afterglow of the shot, is tell those listening “but I can make it all better and safer by doing simple things!” and they eat it up.

    Some days it seems to me that we’re no longer “the land of the brave”. We’re not the people who defeated Hitler, broke the sound barrier and went to the moon. Some days though, some days, a school kid stands up to authority that doesn’t understand a clock isn’t a bomb, or an Archbishop stands up to a governor and says “I’ll do what’s right”, or even I’ll read an essay like this (and many of the comments) and I’ll believe that the spark is still there – we still *can* be the land of the brave and home of the free if we just stand up, draw the line in the sand, and say “no further!”

    Stand up. Draw the line. Say “no further” to the Trumps of the world, to the bigots, the fear-mongers, and say “no further” to the fear.

  139. Ack, sorry for the disrail….still getting coffee down in the morning….

    But….one thing….in a lot of ways, Trump >IS< the best of the bad lot…but he has no bones about saying EXACTLY what will please his constituents. His racism and fascism is all right out there in the open for his minions to cheer.

  140. @Becca Stareyes

    I think Trump has already accomplished this by forcing the newsmedia to take him seriously as something other than a vanity candidate. Having him be the nomination makes me far too nervous.

    Trump is only saying out loud what Republicans have been dog whistling and whispering for the past 50 years, why the sudden nervousness?

    As John stated in his OP the Republican party has been the party of race-baiting xenophobic religious bigots for the past 50 years and white America has basically shrugged and not gave a damm. Kind of sad that it takes an overt racist and fascist like Trump leading in the polls and about to capture the Republican nomination for white America to become concerned.

  141. Calling people racist, bigot, xenophobe, facist, etc, because you disagree with their politics, doesnt make it so. It just makes you look stupid. And stating that you’re going to actively remove comments contrary to your apologetic view of the evils of Islam shows your insane bias.

  142. No worries John. Too early, not enough coffee or brain activity before clicking the “post comment button.”

    As to the *actual* topic at hand, the Trump supporters I have encountered are horrifyingly willing to wave away their candidate’s increasingly unsavory activity–to the point where today’s NY Daily News front page was met with cries of “liberal media” and “terrorist sympathizers”–which, if you know anything about the NYDN, is absolutely *hilarious*. . .

    More than a few people have noted that the desperation of the Beltway press to seem impartial has actually given Trump more opportunity to do and say harmful things, because his positions are not being *questioned,* only reported on, and as a result the press (including the “damned liberal media” the right likes to vilify but can provide almost no evidence for) has done nothing for trump but given him a nationwide platform, a literal bully pulpit if you will, and legitimized positions that should be anathema to anyone who treasures the Constitution–or for that matter, professes to Christian values.
    And it should be noted as John has above that Trump is only putting into plain language what dozens of so-called “conservatives” have been quietly intimating through dog-whistle language for years now. John is exactly correct in pointing out that Trump is the ultimate expression of this process.

    I have more thoughts on this, mostly about how we as a country are complicit as well in the creation of a Frankenstein’s Politician like Trump, but I need to get back to work. I just hope we come to our senses and demand some accountability of this man, and then *hold* him to account rather than let him slide away on his trail of slime. We’re past due for a course correction in how we handle our politicians in this country, especially on the right. Trump is just the most extreme example of why.

  143. Is it time to step things up?

    Mr. Scalzi, you show up at cons. Your showing up at cons causes fans to show up at cons. And cons hire venues. Usually on a regular schedule.

    Is it time to let venues know that they will be shunned by cons if they are trump stained?
    Is it time for musicians to cancel gigs at trump-stained venues?

    Trump thinks his money can sway everything. If he learns that it’s possible for his money to become unwelcome, it would be the biggest hit his ego has ever had.

  144. Dan Sweborg:

    “Calling people racist, bigot, xenophobe, facist, etc, because you disagree with their politics, doesn’t make it so.”

    Fortunately, that’s not why I’m calling Trump racist, bigot, xenophobe, fascist, etc. I’m calling him that because he’s espousing racist, bigoted, xenophobic, fascist ideas and positions. I also happen to disagree with those positions, it’s true. But I’m calling them racist, bigoted, xenophobic and fascist because they are, not because I disagree with them. Even if I agreed with them, they would still be racist, bigoted, xenophobic and fascist. And, probably, so would I be. The good news is, I don’t agree with them!

    “And stating that you’re going to actively remove comments contrary to your apologetic view of the evils of Islam shows your insane bias.”

    Well, no. Pointing out that I’m going to remove actively bigoted statements regarding Islam means I don’t tolerate ignorant, hostile people coming in and shitting all over the comment thread. The stated rules are simple enough for even a hostile, ignorant person to follow. And of course, Mr. Sweborg, if you don’t like the rules, don’t comment.

    Ocschwar:

    As noted in the entry, when given a choice, I suspect I’ll not be supporting Trump-owned business from here on out. What other people do in terms of their conscience is up to them.

  145. @ Dan Sweborg:

    Calling people racist, bigot, xenophobe, facist, etc, because you disagree with their politics, doesnt make it so. It just makes you look stupid.

    Oh. So calling, say, Eugene “Bull” Connor a racist just makes me look stupid? Calling Benito Mussolini a fascist just makes me look stupid?

    There’s a difference between slinging mud at people for disagreeing and calling a shrub a shrub. Trump is literally using the exact same tactics as Hitler:

    Blaming an ethnic group for the ills of the country? Check.
    Stating that the scapegoat ethnic group is entirely evil? Check.
    Recommending that people be registered with the government for their religion? Check.
    States that he will make his nation great again by removing the “undesirables”, AKA his scapegoats? Check.
    Realizes that deporting the scapegoats isn’t realistically possible and turns to death camps to deal with them? Not yet, but I suppose it’s only a matter of time.

    Unless you’ve got the balls to try and say that Trump’s just being satirical or some bullshit like that, you’re just repeating the same BS as every other fascist Trump supporter.

    And stating that you’re going to actively remove comments contrary to your apologetic view of the evils of Islam shows your insane bias.

    You know, if you gave enough of a shit to read just 10-15 posts down on the main blog page, you’d find a post and discussion thread pointing out that Islam is no better an no worse than any other religion, and that 99.99% of all Muslims are just normal people who want to get through their lives, just like 99% of Christians are normal folks rather than violent extremists. But I suspect that you genuinely do not give a shit and are only here to defend your fascist hero, Trump.

    May I recommend that you take a hike?

  146. Floored:

    “May I recommend that you take a hike?”

    You may not recommend that, Floored. That’s my job, not yours. Until and unless I say otherwise, anyone may comment here.

  147. Should I have placed it in quotes and attributed it to Trevor Noah and then posted a link to the clip? Or is shining a spotlight of Mr Trump’s other repulsive views too “off topic” for the thread? [he asks innocently]

  148. Has anyone read “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis? Here’s part of the amazon.com synopsis of the book:

    “It Can’t Happen Here is a cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, an alarming, eerily timeless look at how fascism could take hold in America. Written during the Great Depression when America was largely oblivious to Hitler’s aggression, it juxtaposes sharp political satire with the chillingly realistic rise of a President who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, rampant promiscuity, crime, and a liberal press.”

  149. And, I must say, I am absolutely tickled that I had a comment deleted! I’m giggling to myself in my office like a child!

  150. To the point about about not knowing people who support Trump: there’s been a very interesting and unprecedented split in the polling around Trump. Trump has consistently polled much higher in Internet polls than in traditional phone polls — see this Washington Post article for example. (Five Thirty-Eight digs into the question more deeply.)

    Explaining the reason for the disparity is more complicated. Is it that Trump supporters are shy to do so when talking to a real person? Are they somehow less likely to answer phone polls? Are they smaller in number than they seem, but really, really devoted to the cause? Are they outside the usual category of “likely voters,” and has Trump changed that or not? I haven’t seen any indication that anyone knows exactly what is causing this effect, and what the true level of Trump support really is.

    Trump has definitely stayed dominant in the polls longer than the political and pundit classes expected, and his position has repeatedly strengthened after he said things that would have doomed any other candidate. But his negatives have consistently outweighed his positives: even among Republican likely primary voters, more people say they’re planning to vote against him than for him. In the end, his actual level of support among real voters will not be clear until the voting actually begins in February.

    Of course, at this rate, by that point he may be calling for an obligatory nationwide curfew and armed political officers to keep order on each block. As others have mentioned, the “don’t let in any Muslims” isn’t even the most outrageous thing he’s said this week: his willingness to murder the entire families of “terrorists” is much worse.

  151. @Dale If we are recommending stuff, then there is a particularly insightful documentary series from the 1990s called “The Nazis: A Warning From History” which is well worth the watching too. It is a very uncomfortable viewing at times, true, because it highlights just how easy it is to sleepwalk into that state through minor incremental changes to pre-existing states. Available from reputable service providers, and no doubt disreputable ones on the web if one is piratically inclined.

  152. From the OP:

    As noted, you don’t just walk away from being a bigoted fascist; that shit follows you around. As a business move it’s puzzling; it tarnishes the brand value of the Trump name — and burnishing that value is why I think he was in it in the first place.

    Trump’s candidacy may have begun as a cynical grab for attention, but I think it has become something more.

    Trump talked about a Presidential run in 2012, but nothing much came of it.

    This time is different. By accident or design, Trump tapped into something powerful. He became the leader for all that is bullying, racist and xenophobic in the Republican party. All of a sudden, he’s leading the polls for months at a time. Trump stands in front of adoring crowds who fervently believe that only he can save America.

    That kind of adulation would turn anyone’s head, let alone that of an egotist like Trump. What if Trump has come to truly believe he can and should be President? That his Presidential run is genuinely more important to him than his business empire?

  153. @ ocschwar
    Every American on this thread and elsewhere can step things up by registering to vote (if they have not already done so) and expressing their views on the voting machine as well as the Internet. People in the US usually register in the same place that they get a driver’s license (I think – more knowledgeable people, please correct me!).
    Americans overseas (the approx. 7 million civilians, as well as the military) can also vote, but they need to register in the year of the election, and well before election day, to be sure of getting a ballot. You can get the forms and help with filling them out online (from the Overseas Vote Foundation and the Federal Voter Assistance Program) and or from your local embassy or consulate.
    So how about making a new year’s resolution to register on January 1, and fulfilling it?

  154. @bill says: Anyone but Hillary!

    So, either Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump would be acceptable to you. I’m trying to make sense out of that Venn diagram.

  155. My issue with this quote: He’s ‘the leading candidate’ and ‘being openly cheered’, which means, if he wins it’s what a majority of the people want. So speaking of Constitutional rights, unless they change the 15th Amendment, the right of CITIZENS of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The majority will win.

    Surely if the millions of Muslim immigrants vote against.. OOPS! Under current law, non-citizens are not allowed to vote in federal elections, and it is a federal crime for a non-citizen to vote or register to vote in such an election.

  156. I’ve got a good friend who supports Trump. I haven’t talked with him since this recent dust-up, but I’d bet he hasn’t changed. His liking for Trump is mostly based on his disgust with both the mainstream parties. (A sentiment that I can’t really disagree with.) He thinks Trump can get in there and shake things up. On a slightly different note, what I find scary in the presidential race is the electoral college, it’s not the whole country, but 100 thousand people in Ohio that will pick the next prez. (Scalzi, maybe a blog about the electoral college?)

  157. Some people seem to be getting bent way out of shape about Trump, imagining all sorts of strange scenarios and wallowing in fear a bit. Yes, Trump is leading many Republican polls and hasn’t gone away, but that doesn’t mean he’s on the verge of being elected. First, the polling system has become strained and not reliable any more, I’m not sure if it works well any longer. Just ask Mitt Romney. Second, the election is nearly a year away and there are many acts to still be played out, acting as if all is lost at this point is just silly. This really isn’t anything like Germany in the 30s, go read your history.

    The dynamics of this election are unusual for this era and seem to be altering, but don’t lose sight of what’s going on. The Republican field has yet to be winnowed and Hillary has the Democratic nomination essentially tied up (yeah, lefties, Bernie is a great dude, but isn’t going to win more than a few minor primaries). Most of the lesser candidates are going to stick around for months. A ton of red states are going to vote in a big block on one day, and that will either mean one candidate dominates, or, and I think this is more likely, different candidates continue to fight into the late primaries, possibly even to the convention.

    It used to be the case that Republicans would settle soon for the next guy in line, but that seems to be going away. You can no longer predict that candidates would drop out for the good of the party. This year it looks like Trump and Cruz are the types who’d play a scorched earth strategy if they don’t have enough primary votes to win. There are factions who no longer tolerate each other as well as they used to, so expect sparks. This is far from over. Is the party broken? I don’t know, but this is not a happy time for them.

    On the other side, Hillary has been building goodwill among Democrats for 30 years, has formed connections all over the country and the Obama ground game organization is in place and ready to go. Bernie’s appeal to the left in the party is marginal and doesn’t translate into a win. He’s clearly signaled he’s going to play by the rules, so it is hers to lose. None of the factions in the Democratic party are going to vote for Trump in a general election as they can’t tolerate his hate-mongering, and there isn’t even another Republican who appeals at all. Really, the game now boils down to how divisive can Trump make the primary and how hard does he make it for the eventual nominee? Trump is a real motivator for Democrats to get out and vote, so the longer he persists, the more Democrats will turn out.

  158. Tactically, I’d prefer that the Republicans nominate Rick Santorum, Trump walks out in a huff and runs an independent campaign all the way through the election, and Hillary wins in a landslide, then in January she’s impeached over the TinFoilHatGate scandal, and Vice President Lessig appoints Elizabeth Warren as the next VP. Also I’d like a pony, preferably a unicorn pony.

    Trump’s job in the last election was to be the opening clown act, rouse the rabble, and get people interested in a long circus intended to convince the Tea Party that they were going to have to accept a corporatist-wing machine candidate because nobody on their side was going to be electable, as well as giving the Tea Party free rein to spend a year bashing Obama and every other Democrat without the eventual candidate having to take responsibility for the racism and hatred.

    But this time he hasn’t gone away, and his job seems to be to convince the public that anybody the Republicans actually do nominate is fairly reasonable and moderate. He’s almost making Ted Cruz look polite. I’d expected Jeb! Bush or Scott Walker to step in around March and be The Adult In The Room, but Walker’s gone (yay!) and Jeb! seems to be slinking away quietly, so it’ll probably be Rubio. And Kasich has always sounded like he’s running for VP.

  159. Mr. Fox:

    “He’s ‘the leading candidate’ and ‘being openly cheered’, which means, if he wins it’s what a majority of the people want.”

    I can think of a recent presidential election won by someone who did not win the popular vote.

  160. I like your thoughts, Mr. Scalzi. I am suspending my disgust with Donald Trump and substituting it with simple amazement that he is happening. I figured that this was his way of bowing out of the race with as much spectacle as possible, but it’s not, is it? He’s just going to keep doing this.

  161. First, let me say unequivocally that I don’t like and have never liked Trump. John is correct that he’s a “career narcissist” and if he’s the GOP candidate next fall I’ll just not vote (or vote libertarian). He espouses disgusting ideas. It’s perfectly acceptable and wholly in the American tradition to give preference to Christian, Jewish and Yazidi refugees from Syria and make Muslims wait; it’s completely wrong (but apparently constitutional) to bar Muslims access completely.

    Having said that, John is wrong on two points. Trump is no Fascist. The Fascists were socialists and hence bear a stronger resemblance to Bernie Sanders than Donald Trump. Recall that Bernie agrees with the Fascists about: Capitalism, Banks, socialism, immigration etc. And just because Sanders is a Jewish person doesn’t absolve him of being a fascist; the anti-semite fascists were Nazis, while the Italian fascists (socialists through and through) were not so hip to the jew-hating.

    Two, this isn’t the “state of the GOP voter”; the GOP voter is frustrated. I’m still hoping that during the primaries the GOP primary voters will have gotten their frustration at the Establishment (which is left and going further left) out of their system and vote for a more reasonable candidate like Cruz or Rubio.

    In fact, it isn’t the GOP that is going full-right; it’s the so-called “progressives” that are going full-left as evidenced by Bernie Sanders filling stadiums hating on banks, rich people, capitalism, business and promising them heaven on earth (see: the Khmer Rouge, the Reign of Terror, the Soviet Union and the peoples’ republic of China about how well that worked out).

    But in the end two things will likely happen: Trump will be the GOP nominee, in which case I won’t vote; or he won’t, in which case I’ll vote for hopefully Cruz, maybe Rubio.

  162. If Trump had been running in 2010 (or in 2008 and the crisis hit earlier) I’m not sure he wouldn’t be hating on banks, (other) rich people, (no True Scot) capitalism, and (other dubious) businesses. Right now big government tends to equal healthcare, gun control, and too much immigration. However, there was a moment when it also meant bailing out big banks and favouring Wall Street over Main Street. That moment has past and the GOP is now all “capitalism” all the time. But if there was another crash, Trump would go after the banks in a way that make Bernie and Warren look as meek as church mice.

  163. tiburke (@tiburke) says:

    Exactly, Trump is an opportunistic disease. The Republicans replaced a critical press, the usual immune system, with an inbred media that stokes fear and inoculates consumers against any challenge to conservative shibboleths, leaving them susceptible to nonsense.

    The NYTimes? WaPo? CNN? CBSNBCABC? Time?

    When exactly did the GOP replace them with anything?

    The fact that the MSM is devoutly uncritical of anything on the left, including my current President, is precisely part of the problem.

    Had the administration taken some modest steps to curtail illegal immigration and remained engaged in fighting the panoply of terrorist groups that currently exists, Mr. Trump and his propaganda wouldn’t have any traction. Had the MSM properly taken the administration to the rhetorical and proverbial woodshed, then this mess might have been avoided.

    However, moderate and reasonable objections have been ignored by the administration and by the MSM.

    Therefore immoderate objections, as repugnant as they are, will be raised. Mr. Trump may be an opportunistic disease, however the immune system was compromised by an uncritical MSM and the current, do-nothing administration.

  164. People here have commented about Strategic Campaigning (as with Trump never intending to win election, but boosting his fame, noting that H. Ross Perot made a huge profit by losing) and about Strategic Voting (as my father’s father did, as a definitionally Wall Street Conservative Republican donating to the “worst” Democratic candidate in New York City and New York State elections). By the way, my wife as a 30th generation Scottish Aristocrat (direct ancestor saved a King of Scotland in battle against English) is profoundly disgusted by Trump, who rejects all the Scottish Enlightenment.

  165. This was a great read; thanks very much.

    For someone who touts how great the Trump brand is, he seems oblivious to the damage he is doing the brand and that those supporting him are not really the brand’s target demographic.

    Trump is, in Freudian terms, all id. I suspect he had his ego and superego surgically removed. I find it very strange that people who’ve met him one-on-one recount that he is not at all like the public persona. Such a dichotomy must be exhausting to maintain if it is for show, and probably a sign of a personality disorder if it is not manufactured.

    Glad I’m watching this election from my safe, progressive confines north of the 49th parallel. Good luck, America, you need it.

  166. So it’s not hate or bigotry that put him on Trump’s side, it’s pessimism and nihilism.

    @thomasmhewlett: no, it’s intellectual laziness and ignorance masquerading as pessimism and nihilism. What things, exactly, does your relative believe will ‘get done’ by means of narcissistic assholery, and particularly how are these things unachievable by other means? How will Trump manage to ‘get things done’ in the face of opposition from the existing political institutions – many of which contain numerous other narcissistic assholes whose interests may not align with his?

    It’s also, bluntly, a lot of privilege masquerading as cynicism. As Abi Sutherland alluded to, it’s simple to think a fascist president will simply be an annoyance when one has enough power, money and social status to insulate oneself from the results of regulatory gridlock and decades-long damage to the federal courts. (Oh, the EPA is frozen in endless litigation with Trump’s corporate buddies? No worries; *I* don’t live in the kind of neighborhood where sleazy companies dump their lead tailings. Food stamps are virtually impossible to get? Doesn’t make a dent in *my* purchases at Whole Foods.)

  167. Is it me, or are there striking parallels between Donald Trump and Vox Day?
    The following analogy springs to mind:
    Sad Puppies: Republican Establishment :: Rabid Puppies: Trump’s Campaign.

    I can’t be the only one who sees this.

  168. If you look at contemporary accounts, people thought Hitler was too buffoonish to win. In more recent and local elections, people thought Rob Ford was too ridiculous to win.

    Violence against people perceived to be Muslim has already kicked up several notches — my “favorite” being the 6th grade girl who was called “ISIS” and assaulted by her class mates because she wears hijab. Trump saying things like “kill all the families of terrorists” and not getting immediately shut down is pushing the realm of “what is acceptable to say and do” over in an even more dangerous direction, and even if he loses, his actions of late still make the extremists feel more justified in their hatred and violence. (I had to google the “Overton Window” that keeps coming up, and apparently that’s basically what it means, that widening the range of acceptable).

  169. No one has yet brought up Trump’s “Cool Kid” vibe. It’s the attitude that lets the Cool Kid say, “That’s not important” when he flunks the big math test, and wave away every cogent objection to his behavior. That’s Trump in a nutshell.

    But now all those people who were never “in” with any cool kid think that Trump, the ultimate cool kid, is sitting at their table in the cafeteria. Nothing is going to shake their willingness to cling to that coolness. After all, Trump is not going to call them “mooks” on the record, and it’s never going to bother them that he looks like a rabid goldfish.

  170. @Scorpio

    Having said that, John is wrong on two points. Trump is no Fascist. The Fascists were socialists and hence bear a stronger resemblance to Bernie Sanders than Donald Trump.

    *sigh*

    Fascism = Consolodation of power (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fascism)
    Socialism = Collective governance (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism)

    THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING!

    And before you say anything about the “National Socialist” party, please read the following from the virtual Jewish Library(https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/nsdap.html):

    “In April, 1920, Hitler advocated that the party should change its name to the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Hitler had always been hostile to socialist ideas, especially those that involved racial or sexual equality. However, socialism was a popular political philosophy in Germany after the First World War. This was reflected in the growth in the German Social Democrat Party (SDP), the largest political party in Germany.

    Hitler, therefore redefined socialism by placing the word ‘National’ before it. He claimed he was only in favour of equality for those who had “German blood.” Jews and other “aliens” would lose their rights of citizenship, and immigration of non-Germans should be brought to an end.”

  171. Trump is a symptom of the American public’s increasing loss of confidence in the federal government and its ability to keep the Homeland secure, among other things. Split hairs over the proper definition of Fascism all you want. If the federal government cannot protect the country on the Democratic Party’s watch, then the American people will likely seriously consider alternatives that Progressives will find upsetting to their moral sensibilities. The American people will even entertain harsh policies, like banning certain immigrants, as (not if) more attacks occur. Trump may sound like a Fascist to Progressive ears. He’s just slightly ahead of the curve, only because he can see a bit more clearly than his opponents which way the political puck is gliding. If Virtue Posturing is your thing (and I am not saying it is), then 2016 is going to be very target rich indeed.

  172. Dear Wman, Dan, Et al.,

    The classic and standard definition of prejudice and bigotry is discriminating against someone on the basis of their “race, color, or creed.”** That is, not on the merits of them as an individual, but whether they belong to a group that you despise. It does not matter if there are members of that group that you have good and truthful reasons to despise. When you show prejudice against all members of that group because of the activities (real or imagined) of a minority of them, that makes you a bigot.

    This isn’t some new “social justice warrior definition.” It’s dictionary/textbook, very old.

    It doesn’t matter that you believe you are right. Bigots always believe they are right. It doesn’t matter that you do not self-identify as bigots. Self-identification is simply not part of the definition.

    Asserting that you are not a bigot or that what you believe is true, isn’t even a weaksauce argument. It is non-argument.

    The reason for not calling Trump a bigot is because campaign rhetoric frequently involves a candidate pandering to whatever voting block they think they can grab. What they say often does not correspond to what they believe. A prudent individual does not assume that what a candidate says conforms to their real thoughts and opinions. Hence, I could not say Trump is a bigot, but I can say factually that he makes bigoted statements.

    You, on the other hand… Yes, you are bigots. And decent folk repudiate you.

    **(Yes yes, I know the playing field has expanded. I’m part of the expanded playing field! But, I’m going REAL old school, by intent. Please bear with it.)

    pax \ Ctein
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  173. As Beyond points out, fascism is not socialism—Mussolini, for instance, crushed the Italian socialists when he took power. Saying “But national socialist party!” is like arguing that “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics” made the USSR Republican.
    Hitler was seen at the time as much more pro-business than FDR, one reason (according to David Brinkley’s excellent “Washington Goes to War”) that some Americans didn’t want to go to war with Germany.

  174. Point #4 reminded me of a spoken-word song by the Drive-by Truckers called “The Three Great Alabama Icons” and I’ll quote the relevant lyrics:

    “George Wallace died back in ’98 and he’s in hell now, not because he’s a racist. His track record as a judge and his late life quest for redemption make a good argument for his being, at worst, no worse than most white men of his generation, North or South. Because of his blind ambition and his hunger for votes, he turned a blind eye to the suffering of black America and he became a pawn in the fight against Civil Rights cause.”

    WIth Donald Trump, it doesn’t matter whether or not he believes in the thoughts that he is promoting. By advancing them he is allying himself with those who do, and that makes him just as guilty.

  175. Great post. I’m also enjoying the comments. You have the best commenters, Scalzi, and a solid gold ban hammer.

    But even with all this inspiration all I can think is:

    Trump? Trump? Really? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hoohoohoohoohoohoo heeheeheeheeheehee !

  176. To everyone who is making some version of the argument “Trump, because: ‘Security'” I would like to pose one query:

    Given that the number of Americans killed on American soil by foreign (or “islamic” if you insist) terrorism since after 9/11 has been LESS THAN 100, and the number of Americans killed on American soil by other citizens employing firearms in mass killings is more than TEN TIMES that number, kindly explain the following:

    First, how is the government currently “failing to protect us” from foreign terrorism; and second, how will a pogrom against Muslims and other (brown, mostly) immigrants accomplish “protecting us” ?

    A coherent, evidence-based answer will make some progress in convincing me that the real basis of Mr. Trump’s toxic bloviation is not racist bigotry, pure and simple.

    Waiting…

  177. The supporters of Trump seem to also appreciate the polarization he brings to the issues.

    Given that, does it really behoove the opponents to be bringing up the comparisons with Hitler, Nazis,etc. Furthermore, the use of ‘socialist’, ‘fascist’ also have really lost the real semantic value and basically get cognitively processed to simply mean ‘bad’. It is also sad that words like ‘bigot’, ‘racist’ also being heard as just ‘bad dog’.

    It is also interesting how certain narratives continue. For example, I’d agree with Pedro about the dissatisfaction of how government is performing. However, to say the current administration (which was responsible for the capture/execution of Bin Laden) is ‘doing nothing’ and how the country is less safe under ‘Democratic watch’ when 9/11 happened under Bush seems to show a very selective interpretation of events (or extremely strong confirmation bias).

  178. Guys, remember at the top I said “let’s not make this thread a very general symposium of what fascism is or means”? It still applies! Let’s reel it in please.

  179. I just want you to know, Mr. Scalzi, how happy I am that someone turned me on to your site via your Trump article. Having read your rules of engagement, I’ll leave it at that, but please know that you have a new fan/reader that you didn’t have before. Relevant articles will likely end up being shared with my Facebook friends. Keep up the good fight!

  180. I really feel like a lot of people need to read Erik Larsen’s ‘In the Garden of Beasts’ before making ‘Trump is just like Hitler!’ declarations. He is quite simply nothing like him in terms of political savvy, oratory or the situations in which he works or finds himself (not in the least of which is that he exists in a post-Hitler world).

    Hitler did not appear out of whole cloth. Many were aware and concerned about Hitler, but many more thought that Hitler would flame out (‘He’s too crazy for the German people to continue to support him’) or that he couldn’t possibly be as bad as some were saying. The US ambassador continually sent warnings about him back the US, who ignored them and marginalized him. And most importantly, Hitler had a masterful propaganda machine running (on a scale not seen before this) that actively hid, obscured or re-contextualized incidents for prying eyes both internally and externally. Hitler was also a cunning politician who outmaneuvered his opponents who underestimated him over and over again.

    Trump is a rich narcissist who appeals to some very unpleasant people, but he is not a Hitler. I’m not complaining about the Godwinning, here…more just the lazy narrative.

  181. My working assumption of the Trump phenomenon is that folks are draw to his image as a “winner.” He is full of braggadocio, calling all of his opponents “losers” and “stupid.” If you’re with him, you’re smart, and you’re backing a winner. People like that! Especially those folks whose relative position in the socio-political hierarchy has been taking a hit as disempowered groups become slowly and slightly less disempowered.

    And I’ve assumed that this lasts until the very first time he doesn’t win a caucus or primary. Because if your big thing is that you win, losing is tough to explain. I’ve thought the wheels would come off as soon as he lost, likely in Iowa but perhaps as late as South Carolina. I always thought that he wouldn’t be able to sustain an independent run because the core energy that is driving his candidacy wouldn’t be there to power it. There was always the chance he’d say that he hadn’t been “treated fairly” in some fashion, but making excuses also goes against his brand. Instead, he slinks away, calling those who have abandoned him losers themselves, America is too stupid to understand greatness, yada, yada, yada.

    But this latest incident has a chance to change that script. Intentionally or unintentionally, the blowback against Trump from within the Republican Party provides an exit ramp for him from the Republican nomination fight *before* the first vote is cast. He can say that the Republican establishment isn’t treating him “fairly” by coming out against his insanely xenophobic pronouncements. He is too smart and too much of a winner to continue competing with people who don’t understand the way he does about how to Make America Great Again. So he strikes out on his own, and manages to take his core supporters with him since he hasn’t actually suffered the damaging defeat.

    I haven’t gamed out where I think that leaves us.

  182. It isn’t clear why people are making the comparison between the US today and Germany between the wars, there is barely any comparison. Trump may be a lot of things, but he lacks the support of the Army, he doesn’t have a coterie of industrialists ready to come to his aid when he is about to go broke, he doesn’t have an doddering old fool who signed over the government to his hands, and doesn’t have a huge communist opponent in the government who shares his belief that democracy is an impediment needs to be choked to death. Whatever Trump is, there is no constellation of forces that are going to throw the government in his hands like that. Maybe things will break his way in an unexpected manner, but he doesn’t have a chance to just take control of the government. He has to win some primaries just for starters.

  183. @Pedro – yeh, GWB kept the US safe, after all, 9/11 was in Obamas’ presidency. Oh wait…

    Srsly, as the kids of today no longer say.

    The complete disaster of GWB’s middle east policy lead directly to Daesh, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    And as for Trump saying ‘Why do the Moooslims hate us?” the unquestioning support of Israel, the 15 years of war, and the resulting generation of underemployed Iraqs who are now late teens/early twenties and have never known peace might have something to do with it.

  184. Personally, I think President Trump would be the best thing that could happen to the country.

    … because the election I really care about is 2020, not 2016.

    Remember how the Democrats got shellacked in the 2010 election, not only losing the House, but more importantly, getting their asses kicked state-by-state? That was a pretty poor time to lose, considering that the decennial determines who’s running the redistricting process. If the GOP manages to hold on to widespread state-level control in 2020, we’re probably done as a country for another generation.

    What level of enthusiasm would you expect to see from Democrats for the ‘Give Hillary another four years’ campaign vs. ‘Get Trump the hell out of the White House’ one (or, conversely, the GOP for four more years of Trump vs. their final chance to take down Hillary)?

    Yes, it would be a pretty rough four years but, to be honest, the odds of Trump getting anything meaningful through Congress would be miniscule.

    Hillary gives us four more years of what is, by any sane historical standard, a moderate Republican in the White House, who is unlikely to accomplish anything more than Obama has in the last four years, and which will very likely be followed by a GOP wave in 2020.

    Trump would give us four years of nutjobbery in which very little actually gets done, and the GOP is exposed for what they are (hopefully lancing that boil of insanity), followed by a Democratic wave in 2020.

    My money would be on the parties splitting the next two presidential elections, and I don’t think the weak tea of Hillary is worth losing the one that matters more.

  185. I don’t understand Trump’s supporters seeing America “at its worst” and needing to be fixed. It ain’t broke. People are crazy…look at Trump as an example. I would call him bipolar or high on a hallucinatory drug. He is NOT normal and his followers are NOT normal.
    Someday I’ll get to ask pre-sexual bedding “Did you vote for Trump?” When yes emerges; idiot is led ASAP to door. Right now I’m still stuck on Nixon. I don’t like the Bushes either but I think after Cheney’s puppet-Bush it would be cruelty to animals to diss them all.

  186. brgibbons, a lot can happen in four years. I was a bit upset when the Supreme Court gave the 2000 election to George W. Bush, but I consoled myself that it was part of the process the founders put in place, the system worked, if not as I’d have liked it to, and it was only four years and how bad could Bush be, especially with some of his pop’s seemingly reasonable sidekicks as his advisors (I actually thought Cheney would be a good influence, more fool me!). At first, it seemed that it would be OK. Then came 9/11/2001, and things went downhill fast. Nobody seriously expected anything like the 9/11 attacks, and nobody knows what could happen if Trump becomes president and some horrendous terrorism incident takes place. I really really don’t want him in the White House if it does, though.

  187. I think the big problem is not trump himself but the fact that that he is popular . It returns me to one of the scariest thing I have seen in my lifetime . CNN poll for Iraq war which showed that the majority of Americans supported it. Trumps rhetoric are not much different from hitlers before the world war 2 . Like trump hitler also ran on conservative and religious support

  188. brgibbons, even if you were correct, I think you’re forgetting the likelihood that the next president is very likely going to nomiante one or more Supreme Court Justices. That has some very far reaching effects, as you may note in the current court’s composition.

  189. “…it’s simple to think a fascist president will simply be an annoyance when one has enough power, money and social status to insulate oneself from the results of regulatory gridlock and decades-long damage to the federal courts.”

    @Mythago: Thank you! You bring up an illuminating point. My relative is in a very secure position and can afford to watch the country break down as if it has nothing to do with him. Also, I think you’re right about the intellectual laziness inherent in this position. He never explained what “things” he expects will get done. Getting things done seems to be an end in itself by this way of thinking. And those “things” could go very wrong for me and a lot of people I know.

    I hear this opinion in my family-of-origin a lot. It’s a removed, disinterested cynicism that assumes the speaker has no power to affect change or any connection to the consequences. I’m going to stop calling it pessimism and start calling it laziness!

  190. John: What is your definition of Fascism? I did a quick key word search of this thread, and beyonsafewords is about the only one among us who really offered a definition, but only in the form of a link to the Merriam Webster dictionary, which defined Fascism as follows:

    : a way of organizing a society in which a government ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which people are not allowed to disagree with the government

    : very harsh control or authority

    I think the way most commenters are using the term in this debate is as a handy stick-on label for other terms like “bigot,” racist , etc. Others in this thread (e.g. Lou) have made roughly the same point.

    And as far as the definition of “bigot” is concerned, Ctein nailed it.

    Lou: (And with Mr. Scalzi’s forbearance) Yes. The Obama Administration has taken clear actions against the jihadist threat, notably the killing of OBL. Following that event, the country generally approved of President Obama’s handling of the terrorism issue. CNN/ORC reported at the time that about 65 percent approved and about 30 percent disapproved. After San Bernardino, CNN/ORC polling showed the reverse: 65 percent disapproval. Which means the president has just about lost the country on this very important issue. That’s significant from my perspective.

    In politics as in sports as in life, “what have you done for me lately?” is the operative concept here. Bin Laden is dead, but jihad has returned to our shores. And it has done so on the Democratic Party’s watch. That’s not a selective interpretation of events so much as it is a BSOTO or Blazing Statement of the Obvious.

  191. br: “What level of enthusiasm would you expect to see from Democrats for the ‘Give Hillary another four years’ campaign vs. ‘Get Trump the hell out of the White House’ one”

    GWB’s reelection proved your approach does not model actual human behavior.

    More importantly, “lose now to win later” is generally the fallback excuse used by losers to find some silver lining in losing. It doesnt actually work, but maybe it keeps a person from putting his head in the oven out of desparation when the worst person in the world is elected your leader.

    Lastly, and possibly most importantly, the thing about “win later” is that it sort of assumes you get to stay in office for mulitple terms, which isnt always the case. Losing 4 years now to win 4 years later? That isnt actually winning anything overall, if the alternative is simply win 4 now only to lose 4 later. Especially when the win you plan on coming “later” is hypothetical and not guaranteed (i.e. GWB).

    Also, I think Scalzi had a pretty good post back when dems lost a lot of seats that I thought explained the situation fairly well. Some of those Dems got in because people in generally Red states were fed up with Bush and Republicans in general. But people are fickle and have the attention span of a coke addled squirrel, so by the next election, the red state swung red again, and those dems went out. The gist was it had less to do with Obama and more to do with local politics.

    In short, always try to win. If your side is good, then letting evil take over can send you down an irrecoverable path. And even if it IS recoverable, you have to spend your time fixing the other side spending years setting the nation on fire, rather than doing actual good.

  192. @megpie71: “So approximately a quarter of your population (about half of the half of the population which actually bothers to pay attention to politics and vote) is proposing to put a slick-talking con artist into the White House”

    You missed a fraction. Trump’s support is about 30% in the GOP field, meaning his actual support is less than a third of about half of half the country – that puts his total support at about 7.5% of the nation. Still scarily offensive, but much less bad than 25%…and quite debilitating to the notion of running as an independent.

    I’ll say it now: If Trump runs as an independent, the Democrats could run an old jogging shoe and win, because the diehard Trump cards would be enough to deny the Republican candidate a win. The margins are close enough as it is; splitting off a third of the GOP would be the best gift the Democratic nominee could ever hope for.

    Of course, one theory is that Trump’s base is primarily made up of people who don’t vote. Well, even if only 10% of Trump’s support comes from established GOP voters, that’s still enough to deny them a win… and the other 90% would have to show up in droves to make him a viable indie candidate. Not saying it’s impossible, but it’s very unlikely. 57.5% of the eligible population voted in 2012, so let’s say 60% would normally do so in 2016. That’d be about 30% Democrat, 27% GOP, and 3% Trump. For Trump to win, he needs another 27.01% of eligible voters* – skyrocketing total participation to over 87% of the electorate. I don’t see that happening.

    The big question mark is what happens if he becomes the GOP nominee. If the GOP voters close ranks, he’d have a solid chance at winning because of the nonvoters who show up just for him. (30 + X > 30) If not, it’s a matter of whether the new voters outnumber the lost GOP voters or vice versa.

    * Yes, I know I’m overlooking the Electoral College as a factor. This message is long enough already, and I don’t have an intuitive take on that angle. Someone else, maybe?

  193. Pedro: “What is your definition of Fascism?”

    It is refreshing to see someone show concern for using accuratd language that doesnt unneccesarily inflame the conversation.

    “jihad has returned to our shores.”

    Oh, fuck it. Never mind. You just want to downplay trumps fascism by arguing dictionary definitions, but then play fast and loose with headlines from the Enquirer.

    If you are going to use moronically inflamatory language like that, you dont get to complain about people calling Trump a fascist.

    “landing on our shores” invokes a large scale invasion. At which point, whether or not Trump meets the dictionary definition of “Fascism” is but a quibble.

  194. brgibbons, I heard the same kind of reasoning from Ralph Nader supporters in 2000, when they were warned that they risked throwing the election to George W. Bush. Fine, they said, that’ll surely set up the Democrats for a win in 2004, after four disastrous years of Bush. We all know how that turned out.

    I appreciate you being thoughtful enough to look a few years ahead. But I invite you to think about what the next 30 years will be like if Trump, or any of his candidate cohort, have the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice or two. In fact, if I were to recommend to the low-effort voter the only two things to consider when selecting a president, I’d point out that (a) the president nominates Supreme Court justices and (b) we have a nuclear arsenal. It’d be nice to have someone intelligent and of reasonable temperament to oversee both.

  195. Greg: Merriam Webster’s definition works for me. I am dismayed by Trump’s rise, but I’m even more dismayed by the performance of the current incumbent. During 2015, we have experienced at least three confirmed Islamic State-inspired attacks, including San Bernardino, and since March 2014, the FBI has conducted Islamic State-related investigations in all 50 U.S. states and made at least 71 arrests. It’s like the administration’s failures on terrorism is becoming a competitive political advantage for the Democrats by stimulating the more ornery types among us. Hate makes people stupid. . .

  196. This matches up so terrible well with my words to a friend of mine today who happens to be a Republican:

    “I’m going to say something here. I think that people like Trump, people who follow that sort of madness, the various TP crazies who want to default on the debt, misogynists, racists, theocrats, etc, have irrevocably poisoned the GOP. It may be time for sane conservatives to say “Enough” and form a new party… because it’s too late to get the xenophobes out of the Republican Party.
    “We’re looking, unfortunately, at the natural conclusion of a strategy that was put into place by Goldwater over 50 years ago.
    “He, followed by Nixon, Gingrich (who, btw, thinks Trump’s Muslim travel ban is “worth discussion”), Rove, and Priebus ran with trying to get every xenophobe in the country to vote Republican. And this is the end result.”

  197. @Rev.Bob – To be honest, it’s not so much the figures that bother me. It’s the whole bit about “slick-talking con-artist” which is much more worrying, because I (as an Australian) have recently seen what the hells happens to political discourse when such people obtain power (see also “Tony Abbott” – both as Opposition Leader during the Gillard years, and as Prime Minister up until about mid-September this year). Thing is, the office of the President of the USA is a force multiplier – it means that people who are paranoid can be paranoid on a much wider scale (Nixon); people who are narcissistic can be narcissistic on a much wider scale (Reagan); people who are sleazy can be sleazy on a much wider scale (Clinton); and people who are incompetent can be incompetent (Bush II) on a much wider scale than they could normally manage on their own. Yes, it does work in reverse, up to a point – the well-meaning have a chance of being well-meaning on a global scale too – but unfortunately the forces of entropy tend to be a lot more persistent and damaging over the long term.

    So my fear is that if the USA lets this particular slick-talking conman get into the White House (whether through active malice, electoral fiddling, or just plain incompetence) the entire damn planet is going to have to wear the consequences. And those bits of it which aren’t still glowing in the dark may well be cursing your collective memory long into the future.

  198. Can you imagine the lobbying power he has as a businessman right now, let alone if he gets to be a presidential candidate? If he doesn’t get the nomination what will the GOP have to offer to get him not to run as an independent? If we think of this as a renegotiation tactic he is taking a very strong position when he next comes to buy influence. I don’t know if this is a business move, but it’s not a bad business move.

  199. Yes, it would be a pretty rough four years but, to be honest, the odds of Trump getting anything meaningful through Congress would be miniscule.

    If you think the only significant thing a sitting President does is trying to get bills through Congress, and that nothing else “gets done” by the occupant of the White House, then I strongly urge you to take another look at the powers and duties of the executive branch before urging a Trump presidency as some kind of short-term but necessary unpleasantness. As well as considering that those “pretty rough four years” are a lot rougher on people who don’t have the luxury of viewing political change as some kind of intellectual football game.

  200. This is fucking brilliant — incisive, inciteful, a devastating fusillade against the excesses of the GOP since Nixon’s Southern Strategy.

  201. As for the concept of years of the G.O.P. “paving the way” for things like Trump, another example of paving is that after years of putting the marketplace and individuals ahead of the government and the communal, they had to fight a “war” (on terror) in Iraq not with the nation but with republicans (rejecting folks with years of working in Yugoslavia) and armed forces.

    No asking ordinary Arabic-speaking housewives to go to Iraq as translators, no asking “what can you do for your country?”

    Paving has results, too bad it takes a Trump to raise our consciousness.

  202. Pedro seems to be translating “Home of the brave” to “home of the incoherently terrified” – a few low rent lunatics does not make a jihadi invasion, tragic though it is for the innocents killed in the attacks. You are literally about twice as likely to die through lightning strikes (26 so far in 2015) than jihadi with a gun (14) (which was more of a workplace shooting in any event). So I guess we should set loose a Hellfire at Zeus?

    90% of the FBI cases probably are entrapment/enticement rather than any legitimate threat.

    America seems uniquely terrified of (Islamic) terrorism, but totally unphased by mass shootings – if the San Bernadino shooting was just another daily, routine, mass killing with slightly more than normal people, the headlines would be back at the Kardashians by now. White Americans blowing up federal buildings and killing 168 people also seems just to elicit a collective shrug, but as soon as someone who looks slightly foreign gets on a plane and talks a “funny” language, you collectively lose your shit.

    It’s darkly ironic for me as an ex-pat Brit to see Rep Peter King wetting his pants over alleged jihadis, when he was an enthusiastic supporter of the IRA during the Troubles, and if the British followed the US example, he’d be dead in an airstrike on Boston.

    America – Land of the surveilled, home of the terrified.

  203. As I sit and watch what is happening in the US from far outside its borders, I am reminded of a quote I saw some time back –
    “It is not an overstatement to say that the destiny of the entire human race depends on what is going on in America today. This is a staggering reality to the rest of the world; they must feel like passengers in a supersonic jet liner who are forced to watch helplessly while a passel of drunks, hypes, freaks, and madmen fight for the controls and the pilot’s seat.”

    – Eldridge Cleaver

  204. Interesting take on this question from CNN’s Peter Bergen:

    One is therefore left with the conclusion that Trump is a proto-fascist, rather than an actual fascist. In other words, he has many ideas that are fascistic in nature, but he is not proposing violence as a way of implementing those ideas.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/09/opinions/bergen-is-trump-fascist/index.html

    But Trump is a CEO after all. He might just delegate the violence and call it leadership.

  205. Dear John,

    I very rarely disagree with your political analyses, but this is one of those times. I think you are correct that Trump will lose the election (yay!), though not by as much as you think. I think that Clinton will win the election (meh). No disagreement there. Where we part ways is that I think your analysis of the sociopolitical import of Trump’s rhetoric is way off the mark. Vile as it is, it does not have the direct import nor personal meaning that you think it does. It is almost irrelevant. We know a certain fraction of the American public are stone bigots, but most of the people who will support and vote for Trump.

    We’re in a period of hyper-polarization. The US body politic does this periodically; it is, unfortunately, not novel. Both parties have spent the past 25 years ramping up the rhetoric, way beyond simply focusing on where their policies differ. The opinion managers have done their best, on both sides, to portray the other side as the devil incarnate, apocalypse visited upon the earth. It’s conscious political strategy––demonize the other party thoroughly. The goal’s been changed from “elect our guys because they are good” to “elect our guy because the other guy is a monster.”

    Both sides do this. This has nothing to do with facts. It’s about what you get people to believe. It does not matter if we are, in fact, on the side of Truth and Justice and they are, in fact, Evil Incarnate, all that matters is that both sides believe this is true. And, today, they pretty much do.

    The consequence of that is that the parties and their followers go with the candidate they think can win the election for their side, regardless of whether they agree with their values or pronouncements. Because otherwise the unthinkable happens, the UberBad Guy wins and the hellmouth opens up and we all die.

    A plurality (note, NOT a majority) of Republicans think that Trump is the guy who can do that. Bill’s one line comment above goes to that: “Anyone but Hillary.” And, no, I don’t think he meant including Bernie Sanders, really. If I misread you, Bill, my apologies. Please correct. Even if I’m wrong about Bill, I’m right about the rank-and-file Republicans. It’s been well-established how much they loath Clinton.

    Almost, in fact, as much as we loath Trump!

    And, again, reminding folks, not a matter of factual argument. You all may think you have perfectly good reasons for loathing Trump (I agree!) and that they don’t have good reasons for loathing Clinton, but that doesn’t change the reality that they loathe Clinton! They are just as convinced that the facts are on their side.

    (That I, or anyone else, don’t think they are is supremely irrelevant.)

    Trump’s bigoted rhetoric? Deplorable, regrettable, supremely unfortunate, most Republicans would tell you. And irrelevant, because if that’s the candidate they have to go with to beat Clinton, that’s what they’ll do. Because Saving the World is what’s most important, and that’s what they think is at stake.

    Lest anyone think this is a pathology peculiar to the Republicans, the Democrats are running their own flavor of that. Clinton has been anointed by the party machinery (and polls of the most likely Democratic voters) not because her values align well with the Democratic Party. She is a Blue Dog Hawk. She’s in the camp of the very minor (in numbers) right wing of the Democratic Party. The Blue Dogs are to the Democrats what the Tea Party is to the Republican; a group that is small in numbers but disproportionately large (and substantially disruptive) in influence.

    On the basis of both policy statements and track record in government, you’d expect the Democrats to flock to Bernie Sanders. His values are vastly more congruent with the values espoused by Democratic voters and The Party. Except… As I said, it’s not about nominating the guy you think is the right guy, it’s about nominating the guy you think can beat the Demon on the Other Side. Anyone but Them.

    So Democrats, by and large, will hold their noses and vote for Clinton if she’s the nominee, and it will not be because the Democrats have become the party of warmongers. It will be to kill the Devil

    Republicans, by and large, will hold their noses and vote for Trump, if he’s the nominee, for exactly the same reason.

    That’s the driving rhetoric, and because of that the impact of anything either candidate does or says on either their image or the parties’s image will not be lasting nor important, because that’s not what the fight is about. Both parties have made sure that the fight is SOLELY about Preserving Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

    pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery http://ctein.com
    — Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com
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  206. PS. Dammit, word salad! Last sentence of first paragraph should read:

    “We know a certain fraction of the American public are stone bigots, but most of the people who will support and vote for Trump will not be doing so for that reason; they don’t care”

  207. I’m going to sleep early tonight, I think, so I’m going to go ahead and close down comments for the evening. See you all in the morning!

    Update: Comments back on!

  208. @ctein

    Although we obviously come at this from very different perspectives, I agree with a lot of what you are saying. A Trump presidency is a predictable disaster. I am working (modestly) to have someone else be the candidate for the GOP. The Libertarians may well get my vote if he is the candidate.

    However, as much as he would be a disaster, there are other predictable disasters in the running. Disasters that would be worse then Trump, IMHO.

    Man, I just really hate being offered the choice of voting for the lesser of two evils.

    Glenn Reynold’s take on the mess is pretty good. We could have avoided this Trumpification if more attention had been paid to the moderate voices out there a while back.

  209. In your eloquent manner, please call out Cruz and the others who fail to call Trump what he is, what you called him. Cruz and the others are winking and nodding to the fascists and bigots, waiting to use that fueled fire for their own narcissistic purposes. Not a statesman among them. And yes, anyone who has voiced support for Trump has been outed, for all the world to see and hear, as being a race-baiting xenophobic religious bigot.

  210. John – your thoughts about Trump and what he’s doing / why he’s doing it are spot on. You and I have rarely agreed so thoroughly on something in the political arena. Trump has achieved quite an accomplishment – he’s got Republicans and Democrats agreeing that he’s awful, and he has you and I agreeing on politics! Huzzah!!

    My only quibble here is with two points that keep coming up in the comments.

    1) Trump is not Hitler. He’s not even close. Pointing out similarities to Hitler has become political sport for decades now, but until I hear Trump calling for the DEATH of Muslims, then he’s not Hitler. Sorry – it doesn’t mean Trump isn’t awful. It just means that Hitler was awful in a way that we haven’t seen since, and have never seen here in the US. And that’s a good thing.

    2) Trump is not dangerous. He’s wrong, he’s bigoted, he may even be fascist (not sure I agree that spouting facist ideas for opportunistic reasons makes you a facist, but it still makes you wrong and bigoted). But he’s no more dangerous than FDR was when he rounded up the Japanese Americans. It was awful, wrong, bigoted, and regretful, but the republic survived. And he’s no more dangerous than Jimmy Carter was when he banned Iranians from entering the United States in much the same way as Trump is proposing. Again – wrong, bigoted, and regretful. But we survived that too, and we will most certainly survive this. In fact, I suspect that Trump’s rantings are doing as much, if not more, to rouse those who oppose Islamophobia as it is encouraging/providing cover for those who espouse it (hard to measure that, of course). In any case, the number of things that have been deigned to be “destroying America” – everything from the Beatles to coin-operated video games to the Internet to George W. Bush and Barack Obama – all have one thing in common: they all failed spectacularly.

  211. @ctein, Well said! The demonizing on both sides (Trump compared to Der Fuhrer.) Just makes the other side more strident. And the cycle continues. (Sigh) I’ve found myself turned off by politics, wondering what is wrong with both of these parties.

  212. You do not want Trump as the GOP nominee, not as a joke, not to “wake up” the GOP. Not only does it send a terrible message to the rest of the world that he’s even being considered, not only does it give us another half of year of his public discourse, not only does it give him even more time to rouse the hateful emotions of the population, but because you don’t know what might happen.

    First off, the GOP will vote for him, whether they like him or not, because he is not Hillary Clinton. So will some Independents and Democrats, for that matter. Secondly, all it takes is a terrorist attack or another scandal (real or invented) against Clinton just before the election to swing things Trump’s direction.

    As for the Hitler comparisons: he doesn’t strike me as the Hitler type. But his followers remind me greatly of the kind of people who are happy to blindly, violently go after people who are not like them, and that depresses and terrifies me.

  213. Brian Greenberg > Carter never banned Iranians from entering the country.

    He called for all Iranian students in the country illegally to be deported. There were legal battles about this back and forth. When the Ayatollah backed the student takeover of the US embassy Carter shut down the issuance of visas to Iranian nationals, not uncommon during crisis times.

    He did not call to block an entire people based on solely their religion. He did not call for internment of those people.

  214. dann665 illustrates my point. As reported on Fox News (Latino) the Obama administration deported 20% more people annually than the Bush administration at their peak in 2008, even though illegal immigration has declined since then. Conservatives are too inoculated to the facts to accept that Obama has taken dramatic and effective steps to reduce illegal immigration.

    @ctein: Clinton’s votes and her policies are on the liberal side of the Democratic coalition (eg her DW NOMINATE score). Bernie’s policies are significantly further left, which is why he refused to call himself a Democrat until this year. The values of the Democratic electorate are somewhat to Clinton’s right, which is why Democrats, by and large, flock to Hillary Clinton and will enthusiastically vote for her in the general.

  215. A useful example for the “strategic voting” and “voters will regret their mistake” crowds: Kansas. In 2010, they elected a Republican governor, Brownback, who promised tax cuts as an economic panacea, and enacted them. Not only have the tax cuts failed to boost the economy, but the loss in revenue has led to drastic, near-ruinous cutbacks in services — to the point that a whole lot of Republicans backed his opponent in the primary.

    Did the voters learn from their mistake? No. Brownback won re-election in 2014.

  216. @cabridges: shutting down the issuance of visas is functionally the same as banning immigration. Here is the quote:

    (source):
    “The Secretary of Treasury [State] and the Attorney General will invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.”

    To be clear: Carter did not do this out of bigotry or fear – the motivations that appear to be driving Trump’s proposed lunacy. He did this in an attempt to PUNISH Iran for taking American hostages. In doing so, of course, he also punished Iranian refugees who felt oppressed or otherwise unsafe in their native Iran at a time of great political instability in that country. One can reasonably argue on both sides of Carter’s policy.

    I did not mean to equate Carter’s policy with Trump’s or to in any way legitimize Trump’s idea. I only meant to point out that Carter’s actions had the same immediate affect on innocent people that Trump’s would have, and that this did not destroy the moral compass of America, nor did it damage our long-standing reputation as the land of opportunity, etc..

    If we are to think critically about politics, we must be able to disagree with those we oppose without feeling the need to equate them with brutal dictators or traitorous revolutionaries. He’s just wrong. And that oughta be enough…

  217. Brian Greenberg > As I said above, I don’t equate Trump with Hitler. I appreciate that you’re not equating Carter’s policy with Trump’s.

    I do think Carter had a bit more standing, as he was blocking visas for residents of a specific country that had all but declared war on us and not on something as vague and globally widespread as the members of a religion. As such he didn’t cause quite the firestorm that Trump’s words have stirred up and I think we’ll be seeing the effects of that and other anti-Muslim hysteria for quite some time.

  218. @tiburke

    I’m dutifully informed by theoretically responsible people that Fox News is an unreliable news source. I don’t watch/read Fox News in any case. NPR is a much bigger source of my news than Fox.

    A quick bit of Googlery suggests to me that the statistics are a little muddled. I found one site that suggests that deportations are declining. I found others that suggested they are increasing. I suspect that someone is cherry picking, but I need to do a little more research to know who that is.

    [snipping some stuff that might be seen as derailing things. You are welcome, John.]

    FWIW, I am strongly pro-legal immigration. I think we are going to need to increase immigration in order to minimize the coming social security debacle. Our objective needs to be to attract educated and skilled immigrants.

    However, the correct way to fix our significant immigration problems is to work with Congress to change the law. Those changes need to retain a path to citizenship that begins at an American embassy or consulate. Not some time after someone hops the border in violation of U.S. law.

  219. Actually, I’m kind of surprised that no-one has brought up Mussolini in regard to the “Trump is not Hitler” argument. Honestly, he seems to be a much closer example: a self-promoting quasi-buffoon with imperial pretensions who did a fabulous job of surfing the public discourse like it was the Banzai pipeline, and promoting himself as the central figure of a “one-man cult of leadership” (c.f., Wikipedia) And people laughed at him. Until they didn’t. He certainly rivals Trump in his mixture of cynicism and narcissism.

    I suggest a look-see at Josh Marshall’s recent piece in Talking Points Memo (entitled Know Your Fascist Dictators) for a slightly deeper analysis. I’ll admit to stealing part of the last sentence in the preceding para from Marshall’s piece.

  220. Pedro: I am dismayed by Trump’s rise, but I’m even more dismayed by the performance of the current incumbent.

    Oh, sweety, that’s because you’re easily frightened and horrendously bad at math. Three confirmed Islamic State-inspired attacks does not constitute any notion that “jihad has returned to our shores.” The only way Daesh becomes an existential threat to America is if American cowards scream the sky is falling and attack all of Islam. At the moment, the enemy is Daesh and they’re losing ground in the middle east. Only if knuckleheads who can’t grasp simple numbers like “three” manage to wet their collective pants and attack all Islam would America’s enemy be all of Islam.

    So, the problem isn’t with Obama and 3 attacks. The problem is with bigots taking 3 Daesh inspired attacks and saying, whelp, lets force all Muslims to register with a database and stop all Muslims from entering the country until I feel safe enough to stop wetting my pants.

  221. The problem with all of these “Trump = [insert your favorite dictator here]” comparisons is that Trump is not in power. He is a candidate for the candidacy for power. The whole thing is inches in front of our face, which makes it seem much more important than it is. And yes, the man is an international celebrity, so his words carry beyond our shores. If Rick Santorum or Ben Carson suggested banning all Muslims from entering the US, it wouldn’t matter much to anybody at all.

    As it stands, it serves as a good political lever for folks who want to advance an agenda or score points with their base. But Trump isn’t ACTUALLY banning anyone from doing anything, nor is he rounding up large groups of people or (a la Hitler) killing large groups of people.

    As John said in the original post, he is popular because he is popular, and he’s an absolute expert at keeping himself in the news cycle. Come to think of it, he’s the Kim Kardashian of American politics!

    When a poll asks people to choose amongst 14 candidates, most people will pick the name they recognize. And right now, that’s Trump. When it’s 3 or 4 candidates and people can actually associate specific ideas to each one, Trump will fade fast (or find some way to quit that saves him face). At that point, this will all be as relevant as Michelle Bachmann’s brief time in the lead, or Rudy Giuliani’s, or Newt Gingrich’s (or John Edwards or Hillary Clinton’s – just in case the Democrats felt left out…)

  222. But he’s no more dangerous than FDR was when he rounded up the Japanese Americans. It was awful, wrong, bigoted, and regretful, but the republic survived.

    You know, there’s a lot of room between a political non-event and the death of the Republic. FDR’s actions were not simply ‘wrong, bigoted and regretful’. They had concrete and devastating effects on an entire population, and those effects are still being felt to this day. “Yeah, but the Republic survived” seems rather to miss the point.

  223. I should have added, Trump having a narcissist disorder will not allow himself to quit and will delude himself into any belief that he is right. My hope is that the Republican Party will kick him out and that he then runs as an independent, fragmenting the right wing vote even further, insuring a Democrat victory. My hope is in Berni Sanders.

  224. Brian Greenberg, I can’t agree. Here’s why: not being that interested in doing too much web surfing, I tracked the poll info from the last Republican presidential nomination. Here’s what I got: Michele Bachman – led for one month; Rick Perry – one month, more or less; Herman Cain – one to one and a half months; Newt Gingrich – 3 months; Rick Santorum – unclear, 2 or 3 months? (all of this data, by the way, is from this National Review article: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/421119/reminder-four-years-ago-michele-bachmann-was-getting-same-share-polls-donald-trump).

    As far as I can tell, Trump’s been leading more or less since he entered the race in June. Which is 6 months. Longer than Bachmann, Perry and Cain combined, or Gingrich and Santorum combined. I’d also note that the NR article I cited above was intended to reassure people that Trump was bound to fall, just like Bachmann et. al. But that article was dated July 14. Almost 5 months ago.

    So, yeah, Trump may just be an entertainer at heart, but honestly, if Kim Kardashian voiced the same repugnant views and proposals in pursuit of public office, and still led in the polls for half a year, I’d be worried about her too. Ultimately, what’s worrying is not so much Donald Trump per se, it’s what Donald Trump and his success says about the attitudes of the republican base and possibly the American electorate as a whole, and what the mere possibility that someone, anyone, espousing such racist heinous (much less profoundly unconstitutional) views could be considered for president says about this country. And, finally, what Trump’s success to date says about the state of the American political process/dialog, and the possibility that sooner rather than later we could have a Mussolini-esque candidate elected.

  225. Mr Scalzi — Are you up and awake? I have encouraged a few to read your OP which was one of the first to call it I caught it through a commenter link off TPM because he or she knew it to be both brave and brilliant. And wanted to share it as the best analysis and call out. This was days ago.

    Days ago. Thank you again. Those who read it appreciated it very much. I do think many read it, including tv and cable network staff, who didn’t and couldn’t acknowledge your influence. As in research and background folk.

    I happen to believe that Malignant Personality Disorder and the attendant hatred exist and are involved. Also happen to think that neither can be proved nor assumed. Assigning meaning and intent are different matters. We get to make that call.

    Your original eight points can get lost in the shuffle and the sparkle of snark. They remain. Thank you again for being so brave, direct, and cogent. I do think you made a big difference.

  226. The best thing about all this is, it guarantees the Hillary will be the next President. The repukes have imploded. This time we can really look forward to hope and change.

  227. As a side note, I think we can skip insults like “rethuglicans” and “repukes,” please (and things like “libtard” on the other side of things). It doesn’t add anything good to the discussion. Thanks.

  228. The best thing about all this is, it guarantees the Hillary will be the next President.

    The best thing would be Bernie Sanders getting elected. But if Hilary wins the primary, I’ll vote for her. I can’t tell if Hillary really is as Hawkish as she acts or if she’s trying to “prove” she isn’t weak because she’s a woman. Her internal reasons don’t matter much, whatever the reason, she’s hawkish.

    And to the “Sanders is too extreme to get elected” crowd, I’d just point out that the only person not swept up in the “Hey, lets invade Iraq!” nonsense after 9/11 was Sanders who was the only senator to vote AGAINST the stupid AUMF in 2002 that led directly to the moronic invasion in March 2003. If that’s “extreme”, then yeah, I want more of that.

    But then Trump is so far off the insanity scale that he swamps out any differences between Hillary and Sanders. There will be no “lesser of two evils” voting this election. Trump is a full fledged fascist and all the other options look pristine in comparison.

    I don’t *think* Trump will get the party nomination, but even then, he has energized a massive group of massive bigots who are likely going to vote for whoever is the biggest bigot. I think this is why the Republican party hasn’t shot Trump down yet. Because they want Trump to energize the bigots and other extremists, and then they want to give the nomination to someone else, hoping that someone else will be able to leverage the bigot vote that Trump has been stumping for the last few months. Even after Trump loses the nomination, this vote will be for fascism or against fascism, and that is clearly NOT a lesser of two evils kind of decision.

  229. I think the reason Trump is going so far is that his narcissism has taken over any business sense or plans he had. He’s so in the limelight that it overrides everything else. And I think he believes he can become president and do a good job. I think the personality disorder is expanding.

  230. And then what? As noted, you don’t just walk away from being a bigoted fascist; that shit follows you around. As a business move it’s puzzling; it tarnishes the brand value of the Trump name — and burnishing that value is why I think he was in it in the first place.

    It’s possible Trump doesn’t see that there will be long-term damage (or doesn’t believe it), or believes that he’ll be able to work within the universe of people who don’t mind he yanked his brand toward bigotry and fascism. Hey, it didn’t stop Hugo Boss or Volkswagen, he might say, afterwards. And, you know, maybe that will work out for him just fine. Maybe it’ll get him new casinos in the Carolinas and speaking gigs to “values” organizations. On the other hand, speaking anecdotally, before this election I saw the Trump brand as merely vulgar. Now I find it repulsive, and I strongly suspect for the rest of my days I’m going to go out of my way to avoid anything to do with it.

    See, this is why Trump doesn’t think it’s going to hurt his brand.
    Dude, it took you until this election to avoid the Trump brands? The man’s gone way past dog-whistle territory for years, if you paid attention. I jumped off that train when he started with the birther crap several years ago. Not only is the dude pretty much an “anybody but” vote for me, I won’t go to Trump hotels, I won’t buy Trump merchandise, fuck, I won’t even buy Ivanka Trump branded shit, because even though she hasn’t said anything in public she owes her start in life and 90% of her wealth to sharing DNA and a name with this man. This dude is outright banging those Godwin klaxons, and SNL gives him free air time. He is a literal billionaire who’d still be a billionaire even if all he did was stick his initial trust fund into the S&P 500 and let it sit for 30 years. He doesn’t care. His businesses are hobbies to him.

  231. Thank you.

    I don’t know where this leaves me as someone who desperately wants to do their bit to combat the rising tide of bigotry in our country, but I do know that I feel much saner for reading this piece. Personally I really need that.

  232. I think you are right on about Trump’s approach to this as marketing and brand building. But for Trump, it is not about a party, he will go independent if he is really serious. For the rest of the rant, I would say there are plenty of haters on both sides, which has driven me to reject the system: it no longer is about the best for the country and the people (if it ever was). I don’t think Trump is the disease, but rather, the symptom. The disease was spread by 15 years of the worst government in the nation’s history, and both of the parties own it. Americans need to recognize that we have been made into ideologue pawns in their struggle to stay in control, one group of aristocrats against the other. Trump is the symptom of our need to get government back to focusing on Americans, but, as a selection, he is not the cure; Trump is just another bottle of poison we have not tried yet. The other two “bottles” have been swallowed and we are no better off than the day the Trade center was leveled.

    We have to come up with our own cure, or, just sweat out the illness and see if we survive. In history, most everyone just sweat it out with mixed results.

    Will any of this hurt Trump? No way. If Martha Stewart can go to jail and come out to record breaking profits, Trump can say and do anything; he’ll be the richest man in the world before he passes. I actually love it; the country deserves this for the stupid decisions it has made about selecting leaders and the decisions those leaders have been allowed to make.

    Democracy is dead. It has been all this century if not longer. In fact, in my entire life, no ballot I have cast has ever led to a better life for myself, nor will any cast in the up coming election lead to a positive result. If you think it will, your just a pawn rattling your chains. Drink your poison!

  233. @mythago: there’s a lot of room between a political non-event and the death of the Republic.

    Yes, and that’s why I so thoroughly agreed with John’s original post. Note that, in this thread alone, Fascism has descended upon America, Democracy is dead, and Trump is a poisonous, narcissistic, mentally ill DANGER.

    I’m not suggesting we don’t talk about it, or even that we don’t rail against it. I’m merely pointing out our tendency to exaggerate that which is most recent and that which we feel we must advocate against. Trump is wrong. His ideas are terrible ideas. And most people (even most Republicans) agree. There is no reason to invoke Adolph Hitler, or suggest that American Muslims/Muslim immigrants are headed for the equivalent of a Holocaust just to emphasize the point.

    @pixlaw: in 2012, there were eight candidates (Romney, Perry, Santorum, Huntsman, Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul & Cain). By this time in that cycle, Cain had dropped out. By the end of January, we lost Huntsman, Bachmann & Perry. That left four people – each of whom held the lead very briefly, as you described.. (Source: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/republican_presidential_nomination-1452.html#polls)

    This time, we have thirteen candidates, and one of them is a real estate magnate and a Reality TV star. He’s lead for so long because there are way too many for anyone to separate out their ideas, and when asked, the easiest answer is the one with the most name recognition. In a 4-6 person race, at least one or two others become as well-known as Trump, and people stop picking someone they disagree with vehemently in the polls.

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