It was funny at first. As the Republican Party primary bus began to take on passengers, the sheer number who would be trying to separate themselves from the rest assured a certain level of entertainment, if not particularly distinguishing political insight. When U.S. capitalism's narcissist-in-chief, Donald Trump, climbed aboard (okay, he insisted on his own helicopter), the whole group took on the patina of a reality show cast of characters. But they soon found themselves sucked into the Donald's vortex. The guy who was supposed to be a sideshow, at best someone who would draw crowds to their show, was taking over, giving directions, starring in the production. And in no time, he was THE SHOW!
It was once funny. Now it's become scary, and I haven't seen anyone articulate why this has become scary as well as the Washington Post's conservative columnist Michael Gerson, who describes Trump's vitriolic, one-line answers to complex problems the equivalent of "ideological nitrogylcerin". In his column today, Gerson warns conservative to stay away from Trump's "joyful warrior" approach that appears, at first, a kind of refreshing spontaneity seldom seen on the campaign trail. As for the common attitudes that excuse Trump's wilder bluster by noting that he is "tapping into some real anxiety," Gerson pinpoints the deeper danger. "It is an approach that effectively legitimizes Trump's disturbing enterprise. He is not making a series of arguments about the role of immigration in depressing wages or increasing unemployment," Gerson writes. "He is choosing an enemy in order to organize and direct public anger. There is a difference between striking a populist chord and feeding cultural resentment with racial overtones." Much more here to ponder. Gerson has made an invaluable contribution to the season's political conversation.