I actually thought that Donald Trump was headed for a fall a while back but have quickly come to the realization that rational thought has no place at the Republican table. Despite the rather desperate efforts of what is left of mainstream, establishmentarian Republican orthodoxy and those who are brave enough to admit to it, the intransigency of the old Dixiecrats and modern Teabaggers who are stubbornly entrenched in the lunatic fringe of the GOP is proving both discomforting and downright scary.
There is a very mean strain coursing through the body politic in this country and Trump is playing it to his best advantage. He deserves no faint praise for such effort, it is actually much easier to pander to lunatics under the guise of some phantom populist rhetoric than it is to attempt to rally around consensus. To the extent that this may be a losing proposition in the long run let us not take too much comfort in its seeming short-term success.
Trump is capitalizing upon racist, bigoted, uneducated, and in his own words stupid ignorance. For a man who so proudly proclaims his Ivy League bona fides and disingenuously promotes his educational accomplishments (claiming he was the smartest in his class at Wharton Business School when his classmates cannot even remember him) one would think he might at least want to feign some intellectual capabilities. Such is not the case. His inability to coherently and lucidly formulate even a semblance of knowledge about anything other than cutting a deal reminds one of something more akin to an underworld boss than a serious candidate.
In fact, there is this apparent desire to dumb down to the most common element that is probably more disturbing than anything else and it is emblematic of a recurring theme of contemporary Republican candidates over the past thirty years or so. A growing portion of the electorate is all too willing to encourage and support politicians who seem to be either at their level of sophistication or below it as a way of deflating what can only be referred to as a collective inferiority complex.
As substantial numbers of people reject scientific method, classical education, logical thought, and intellectualism many candidates hop on board the clown bus despite the obvious opportunities they have been afforded in life. Trump is a prime example of an individual who obviously possesses charisma but prefers to modify it to appeal to a counterintuitive fringe element of society that despises progressive thought. Thus we continue to see successful candidates, largely in the Republican camp, who pivot consistently to the virtues of backwardness.
Taking the country back and making America great again are symbolic manifestations of the fantasy of reverting to a time that never existed. Ronald Reagan could be excused for pining for a world that once was because he was virtually incapable of distinguishing between Main Street on a studio lot and Main Street USA. George H.W. Bush, to his credit, made an attempt to rally the Republican troops away from the idiocy of supply-side economics (as a Presidential candidate running against Reagan he referred to it as voodoo economics) and was soundly rejected for doing so. George W. Bush, likely our most intellectually challenged leader in modern times, simply decided to cede decision-making powers to those who once worked for daddy and managed through sheer luck and circumstances to substitute swagger for succor in hopes that perceived might would ultimately make right.
Now we have the likes of Trump, Carson, Cruz, Rubio, Fiorina, and Huckabee furiously vying for the bedrock of ignorance that plays such a prominent role in the current primary selection process. And Trump seems to be winning the beauty contest, one devoid of even the appearance of substantive qualification. I once thought that the false bravado of people like Trump would not sit well with the venomous bigotry of the lunatic fringe of the right, but once again logic does not prevail. Trump is a bully, and oftentimes comes across as some petty hoodlum sans an open-collared shirt, gold chain and leather sport coat. In the end bigotry and insensitivity, rudeness and ignorance, or a lack of intellectual integrity know no bounds when it comes to class.
One can only hope that in the intramural scrum that is the Republican Party primary process enough disaffected mainstream conservatives will decide that the price for victory under these circumstances is entirely too high and opt to simply withdraw from the fray. Of course it would be far preferable if they actually rallied to soundly defeat one by one the crop of buffoons who have hijacked their party but I am resigned to the fact that if it has not happened by now there is little chance it will happen anytime soon.
I think that the general populace of the country is not willing to allow for a near total refutation of the principles of representative democracy as espoused by these charlatans, so it might be wiser strategically to root for a Trump nomination as a sure-fire way to win the White House, but that is a dangerous gamble and will only accentuate the deep political polarization that will face whomever is elected President in 2016.
We Americans may very well yearn for the return of Eisenhower Republicanism. Anyone who has read his farewell address delivered just three days before Kennedy's pass the torch Inaugural Address in 1961 would be inclined to like Ike. But the Republican political time machine is more likely calibrated to bypassing the 1950's for the 1850's. So we are all suspended in a time warp that will continue to feature silly, senseless, insensitive and yes stupid proclamations of faux masculinity (including Fiorina) fueled by ignorance for many months to come. It is a sad commentary on contemporary politics and largely responsible for increasing cynicism that poisons and contaminates the political well. Luckily the first votes have yet to be cast but soon the stakes will be real.