Some of my liberal friends are secretly rooting for Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination.
If he wins, they argue, Republicans will be crushed in the general election. Trump, they insist, has a ceiling on his support. They say Latinos, African-Americans, Muslims and more will turn out to oppose him in record numbers. That women will reject him as a sexist pig. And so forth.
Perhaps. But ultimately, I find this foolish and dangerous reasoning. It conveniently forgets that past dictators initially came to power by being elected. It can happen here, too.
No, I'm not suggesting Donald Trump is Hitler. But he is a demagogue, who in Saturday night's debate said he would bring back "a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," the simulated drowning technique condemned as torture and banned after it was used as an "enhanced" interrogation tool by the George W. Bush administration.
Trump is a bully. He's a racist. And he's a loose cannon, a man so enamored of his own greatness that he likely could be manipulated to do almost anything by those who flatter him. Set up internment camps for American Muslims, for example. Start his own version of the brown shirts. Cozy up to Vladimir Putin. Perhaps even trigger World War III.
So if he's nominated, could Donald Trump win this November's presidential election? Absolutely. It might take no more than a recession. Or a timely October terrorist attack or two. Fear and panic are strong motivators for really bad political choices. Look at the rise of far right parties today in Europe.
I wish I lived in New Hampshire. If I did, and I were a registered Independent, I would vote Republican Tuesday. I would cast my ballot for the mainstream conservative who looks most likely to stop Trump. The problem, of course, is this: After Saturday night's free-for-all GOP debate, just who is that?
Let's hope New Hampshire voters can agree on an answer, can rally around someone who at least cuts significantly into Trump's huge lead in the polls.