[The following is personal opinion and represents the views of no organization.]
Donald Trump could be our next president.
A man who, with the nomination in his grasp, showed that his idea of a credible source is the National Enquirer, and that his idea of ethical boundaries is to smear his opponent's father -- that guy could have his finger on the button of our nuclear arsenal.
The very notion of Trump as president is so comical that even hacks like me have succumbed to the temptations of satire. Stephen Colbert is grinning. The Daily Show is feasting. John Oliver, Seth Meyers and a legion of other satirists are laughing all the way to the bank.
Don't get me wrong -- laughter in the face of a threatening bully is good, but we can't let it make us complacent. To repeat. Donald Trump could be our next president.
There are many ways this could happen, but his most likely pathway is this: Hillary gets the nomination, disappointed Bernie supporters decide they are too pure to vote for her, and other Dems and independents stay home out a combination of apathy and disgust.
The minorities who are most threatened by Trump and most passionate about Hillary run into the disenfranchisement barriers erected by state GOP lawmakers: voter ID laws, voter roll purges, a selective shutdown of polling places, etc.
The right wing outrage machine scares the bejezus out of low-info voters with tales of middle aged, bearded "perverts" in dresses romping through in their junior high daughter's school bathroom. The fear tactic has worked before. In the '90s and early 2000s, the right whipped up hysteria about "the gay agenda" and "special rights," distributing propaganda VHS tapes to evangelical churches across the nation. They channeled the resulting fears into election success. The transgender bathroom scare adds voltage to what remains a live issue for right wing "values voters."
So, don't laugh: it could happen, and it could be catastrophic. What if as president Donald Trump, the world's most thin-skinned narcissist, gets in a Twitter feud with another nuclear-armed narcissist, such as North Korea's Kim Jong-un?
What if a President Trump actually tries to build the wall? Forget, for the moment, who's going to pay for it; what would the immediate consequences for America be? A drastic shortage of concrete and steel. Ali Rhuzkan, an engineer who's taken a serious look at the proposal, says to build a wall along the border with Mexico would take triple the concrete needed to build the Hoover Dam, and more steel than you could get by melting down a fleet of aircraft carriers.
We'd better hope that Mexico pays for the wall, because America will be in a stagflation nightmare. Donald Trump brags about being a Wharton grad, but he must have snoozed through economics. He sees trade as a zero-sum game, with a winner and a loser in each transaction. But the whole point of trade -- as opposed to, say, coercion or theft -- is to create winners on both sides. That's the main way total wealth increases.
Seemingly ignorant of this basic truth of economics, Trump has repeatedly pledged to impose tariffs of 35 to 45 percent on imports from Mexico and China. Doing this would be like throwing the brakes on a speeding train. We'd derail. Most U.S. manufacturers -- and there are many -- have international supply chains. The U.S. auto industry depends on parts from Mexico. Many industries are dependent on components from China. Impose tariffs and an instant scarcity of affordable goods would drive up inflation, while an incapacity to fill demand would cause stagnation. And that's before China and Mexico retaliate.
Take any Trump position, extrapolate into the future, and it's a disaster as far as the rational eye can see. So, sure, indulge in a few laughs. We have. But then get serious, get your ID, get registered, and vote blue, no matter who.