Because Donald Trump is a buffoon does not mean we should continue treating him as a joke. I’m no longer interested in trying to plumb the shallows of his mind. We don’t need to know the causes of his psychopathic narcissism, nor should we care what turned him into a bully. He is a man who will say anything because he believes in nothing – and takes no responsibility for his words. Like every aspiring demagogue, he feeds on scapegoats and thrives on the damage he begets.
Neither he nor his message is new in American history. Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 to protect us from immigration and free speech, and three decades later, passed the Indian Removal Act, which led to the Trail of Tears. We have endured Know Nothings and Dixiecrats, the Palmer Raids after World War I and George Corley Wallace. South Carolina gave us “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, a rich Populist who built a mass movement of “Red Shirts” with his message of violence and racial terror; and Wisconsin gave us a cowardly, prevaricating, destructive blowhard named Senator Joe McCarthy.
But no one has come so close to being the presidential nominee of a major party, whose leaders are now debating whether to oppose him or embrace him. They’re worried he’ll destroy the party. But what about the country?
“Make America Great Again.” How’s he doing so far?
To paraphrase the man who brought McCarthy down, “At long last, have we no sense of decency?”