I may be the only one of my friends who does not find the Trump candidacy amusing. Nor am I looking forward to the August Republican debate as some sort of laugh riot. In fact, I don't intend to watch it at all simply because I find public expressions of bigotry both ugly and unpleasant.
Even if I thought that the spectacle of Republicans saying utterly stupid things would help the Democrats in November 2016 (I don't), I wouldn't watch for the same reason I don't watch horror movies. The only difference between the two is that Freddy Krueger is only the stuff of fantasy. Not so Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Dr. Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and, of course, Donald Trump.
Maybe it's because my family has suffered terribly from worst case political scenarios actually being realized, I can't shrug off the possibility that the most horrifying of all the GOP candidates, the self-same Trump, will actually become president. Frankly, I can see it happening.
If the Democrats nominate Hillary Clinton and the Republicans nominate Jeb Bush. Trump can easily style himself the non-dynastic candidate of the people. No one in his family was president. His father was rich but he made the money himself. The New York billionaire can portray Bush and Clinton as the entitled candidates while he is a veritable Prairie Populist like William Jennings Bryan (okay, Manhattan).
Will the electorate buy that? The American public may already. They like Trump as evidenced by his wildly popular television shows and his best-selling books.
Yes, everyone I know considers him a buffoon but unfortunately that means nothing. My friends like (or love) President Obama, hate guns, and have no problem paying higher taxes for more services. They support marriage equality, immigration, tough environmental regulations to combat climate change, higher taxes on the rich, diplomacy and not war to deal with Iran, and a determined effort by government to reduce income inequality. They want less religion in public life, not more.
The question is what percentage of the electorate at large shares (more or less) those views. I don't know but I see no evidence that it constitutes a majority.
If it did, President Obama's popularity would not be consistently under 50 percent. Nor would such issues as marriage equality and immigration (both legal and not) cause such hysteria in large segments of the electorate. Nor would Obama have to tread so carefully to avoid arousing the right, a pointless exercise considering that Obama is hated for who and what he is rather than for anything he says or does. That was also true of Bill Clinton although obviously without the racial factor that is largely responsible for the sheer hatred the right has for the current president.
It must also be noted that the reactionary right is not limited to the Republican party either. Traditional Democrats in the middle south and throughout Appalachian counties from Georgia through New York hate Obama just as much as rightwing Republicans do. And not just Obama, but also all the liberal positions of the Democratic party today. Reagan Democrats are Trump Democrats, not Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders Democrats.
Immigration is the perfect issue to pave Trump's path to the White House.The supposed influx of immigrants is for angry white America a metaphor for everything they are furious about. Their fear is losing "our country" to outsiders. No one represents outsiders more than foreigners even though these people tend to be equally outraged by African-Americans, Muslims, Hollywood liberals (we all know who they are) and the GLBT community. Just watch Fox News for an hour and you'll see each of these groups called out for one crime against America or another.
Again, I don't know what percentage of the electorate that those people constitute but (1) there are enough of them that they were able to take over one of our two political parties and (2) there are millions of them who are Democrats or independents.
Many don't vote because neither the Democrats nor Republicans have ever nominated anyone for president who unambiguously speaks their language.
But Trump does. Imagine a raging George Wallace without his segregationist history but with billions of dollars to spend on an independent presidential campaign. The Wallace third party candidacy in 1968 threw the election to Richard Nixon. In the angrier (yes, angrier) America of 2016, a Trump third party candidacy could throw the election to... Trump.
There is nothing funny about any of this. There has never been anything funny about the politics of hate, especially when it may triumph.