So we now have to accept that we live in a world where Donald Trump is, right now, leading in the GOP polls. It goes without saying that Donald Trump is, as a result, an absolute embarrassment to the entire GOP electorate, in that he gains popularity even as plays twitter troll with all the talent and finesse of an adolescent prep school boy.
Yes, that’s right, the same people who in the past have burned conservative candidates like Rick Perry at the stake for the slightest deviation in orthodoxy now find absolutely no problem with the fact that Donald Trump is pro-choice, pro-gun control, bad on taxes, and a repeat Hillary donor. I won’t mention the fact that he also has the personality and qualifications of a clown or that his main business achievements consist of emerging from bankruptcies spot free while leaving a bunch of creditors in the lurch – to the people who are actually supporting Trump, these are probably features, not bugs.
So here we are, and the conservative commentators are generally falling into one of three camps when it comes to commenting on the Trump boomlet. The first tend to be clowns just like Trump and are actively cheering him on. These people tend to disproportionately view immigration as literally the only issue facing the nation right now. Look, there are plenty of candidates right now who are doctrinaire on immigration and who are also not a joke. If you support Trump over any one of these guys, it’s either because you’re not super bright or because you’re a huge fan of Trump’s opinions about Mexicans generally. For these people, there is nothing that can be done, or for their followers.
The second treats the ascension of Trump as, how shall we say, an interesting news item that is a cautionary tale to evil powers that be in the GOP establishment. This camp does not deign to criticize Trump (except perhaps in passing) so as not to risk alienating their readers or driving away pageviews, but rather takes an “aw shucks” approach to his foibles and feigns a grudging admiration for his derring-do and rapscallion style while remarking that that the “establishment” had better start taking Trump seriously.
The third, of course, is positively aghast at what the Trump ascension means and is doing everything in its power to point out what a stupid idea nominating him would be.
I want to speak a word to the people in the second camp. Probably, six months from now, Trump’s popularity will have crashed and a couple years from now we will have willfully purged the fact that it happened from our collective consciousness. So yeah, if you’re exclusively in the market for clicks, playing to the Trump enthusiasm of the moment seems like a smart play, and who will really remember it later anyway?
I guess my plea is this: take the responsibility you have as someone with a bully pulpit of any respectable size and use it responsibly. Don’t be carried along on a wave of ill-informed sentiment, do your part to actually direct the wave towards a more productive use of GOP voter anger. Trump is a fraud, a charlatan, and a Democrat in Republican clothing. Everyone knows it, so say that. What he is doing is not admirable and the people following him should not be encouraged to think that doing so sticks a meaningful finger in the eye of the GOP establishment. What it does instead is embarrass us all as a movement and make us look like people without principles – or, worse, people without the ability to even know what our candidates stand for.
Because after all, while the overwhelming likelihood is that Trump will crater sooner rather than later, stranger things have happened. Failure to take clowns seriously is what led to Jessie Ventura being elected Governor, Ross Perot getting 20% of the national vote, and untold other stunning political upsets. The American people (and, sadly, this apparently includes the GOP primary electorate) are suckers for celebrities and this phenomenon should not be ignored.
I don’t want to have to move to Poland after this election is over.