As with most political junkies, I've been a non-stop observer and commentator of Election 2016, the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I have watched with interest, but without suspense, as Mr. Trump trampled his primary opposition, picking up the charred remains of former rivals Chris Christie and Ben Carson and placing them on public display in the Trump Hall of the Vanquished. We have also seen the Trump version of the scorched earth policy when dealing with former adversaries who did not come bearing gifts to the new master of the republican universe. The savagery demonstrated to Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and John Kasich as well as the more recent venom being directed at Paul Ryan and John McCain play like a script adapted from "Game of Thrones". Murder and mayhem figuratively abounds, orchestrated in this case by the Mad King Donald rather than the Vicious Queen Cirse.
But there is a fatal flaw in this drama. The Mad King Donald is but a distraction. It is becoming increasingly evident that Trump is going to prevail in certain skirmishes, but he is almost certainly going to lose the war. The Mad King will be banished to his penthouse prison where he will live out the rest of his days in luxury, but relative obscurity. His dreams of a nuclear armed world, a resurgent Russia, and oppressed female population, a Muslim and Mexican free America will move with him into the back burners of our society. America will have won!
WRONG! For there lies the permanent danger of Donald Trump. It is the same danger that every extremist, right or left, brings to our body politic. His ideas may be bat crap crazy, but they are so crazy they might be validating the extremist ideas that have taken over the political party of Trumpism's birth. Donald Trump did not rise in a vacuum. He is the culmination of decades of hard work by the organized extreme of the republican party. When you look at Mr. Trump, you see the worst of everything that has driven republican politics since the civil rights era. You see a synthesis of anger, hatred, angst, nativism, and pessimism that has taken hold of our nation like a cancer. You see, in Donald Trump, a coalition of the most unlikely, failing businessmen, racists, people losing the tenuous reigns of power, the unemployed, and the underemployed, those whose jobs are being replaced by automation and cheap overseas labor. And what are Mr. Trump's solutions.....in a single word......Demonization! Ban Muslims, ban Mexicans, antagonize allies, redefine friends and enemies. Not a single solution with a policy of positive implementation----Not One!
And what will be the result? Trump will lose. The more he opens his mouth, the more certain that becomes. But what happens in the aftermath? Does the republican party return to its' big tent approach of the 50s and 60s, where all were welcome and some of the shining liberal lights of the nation were part of the republican constellation, or have they made the unforgiveable mistake of justifying extremism as moderation? Do they now give credence to the absurdist economic policies of Paul Ryan just because his views of a Muslim American war hero is better then Mr. Trump's? Do they allow the far right religious zealotry of Ted Cruz to rise ascendant because he had the common sense not to endorse Mr. Trump. Do republicans allow the likes of Marco Rubio and Rudy Giuliani to get a free pass on their irrational immigration proposals because their plans are only slightly less crazy than Trump's. Do republicans suddenly accept a tax policy that will add $12 trillion to the national debt simply because Trump's policy, for all its' worth, may add $20 trillion.
Extremism is never a virtue and the republican party is reaping that which they have sown. Donald Trump has been the answer to that party's slide toward obscurity. He is the personification of the devolution of a party that allowed themselves to be hijacked in successive election cycles by increasingly conservative and then nihilistic forces. There was a saying in the eighties and nineties that was popular. "It's difficult to soar with eagles when you walk with turkeys". Today that saying might be changed; "It's difficult to soar to greatness when the republican candidate is pulling us into quicksand."
It's time to bring back rational politics to our public discourse. Let's hope that our republican friends get the right message.