Fear of clowns is known as coulrophobia. The prefix 'coulro' comes from the ancient Greek word for 'one who goes on stilts.' The full array of individuals seeking the Republican nomination was unrelievedly repugnant: clowns all, but each with his or her uniquely unpleasant and insulting variation. I do not fear these clowns so much as the culture they represent, their deeply flawed view of America and our precious democratic experiment.
It is commonly assumed that its successful nominee hijacked the Republican Party. Actually it's the other way back: the Party hijacked the nominee. The important lesson we need to internalize is not simply that the Republican candidate for President of the United States is a loathsome clown. The important lesson is that he is a creation of the Republican "base."
Donald Trump has always been a parody. Generally, when someone repeatedly and loudly insists on everyone believing how smart he is and how rich he is, he is likely to be neither. Trump is fundamentally impoverished. What matters more is that he is the avatar, the distillation, the condensate, the voice, the representative, the essence, the apotheosis of the pitiful remains of what was once the GOP -- the Grand Old Party -- the Party of Abraham Lincoln. This was readily apparent without the unendurable agony of the primary season. His constituents, with fulsome media connivance, led him speech by speech, rally by rally, primary by primary to full out public self-parody.
The spectacle of Republican Party officials and Paul Ryan and John McCain and all the other local, state and national candidates then trying to ride this beast of their creation while denying his existence would beggar belief had the complicitous media not profited from normalizing the circus. That spectacle is the manifest reduction to absurdity of an American political party which no longer believes in democracy ("I'll accept the results if I win").That is contemptuous of the citizenry (tax the poor and middle classes for the benefit of the rich and of transnational corporations). That routinely threatens violence against them who are not us. That embraces a terrifying revolt against reality.
Sure, the nominee's insatiable quest for adoration and sycophants made him an easy mark for the tea partiers, the alt-rightist, the racist, the bullies, the xenophobes, the misogynists, the unrepentant Confederates, McCarthyites, Birchers, Kochheads, KKKlaners, the gullible, the wise (sic) users, the nuke-em-'til-they-glowers, the climate change deniers ... and the deeply cynical. The more absurd his statements, the louder they cheered. The more they cheered, the more absurd he became until he emerged under their direction and with their support probably the most deformed and reprehensible clown ever to strut on the American political stage. And that was before the draconian policies he promoted -- yes, he actually had some and guess who pays?
Early in the appallingly long campaign for the U.S. presidency, Carly Fiorina's ex-husband said of her and of the Republican side of the race: "In the clown car that is the Republican Party, she's the ultimate clown." Almost. In many ways their ultimate nominee was the appropriate distillation of their meanness and vitriol, a man who reliably offered up "BS on stilts."
America needs at least two political parties engaged in substantive, informed, ongoing democratic dialog about how to cope with and create our futures. Clearly, it is not enough to have one party and the parody of an evil-clown filled circus. The fact that its our current reality should turn us all into coulrophobics.