It is September 2016 and Donald Trump is one of two people who have a chance of being the next leader of the most powerful nation in the history of the world. Something in excess of four out of 10 Americans who are likely to vote support him and, according to a recent poll, his voters are more enthusiastic and engaged than those supporting his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
All this despite the fact that any objective analysis of the facts reveals the following: Trump has virtually no qualifications to be president, repeatedly failed as a businessman, has no history of public service, is the target of multiple investigations into possibly illegal activities, has regularly expressed racist and misogynist views throughout his career and during this campaign, and has deliberately and systematically reached out to groups that can only be described as “deplorable” — including white supremacists, anti-Semites, and other hate-mongers. Further, he has repeatedly expressed (including on Russian-state TV) his admiration for Vladimir Putin, a man who has systematically suppressed democracy in Russia, invaded his neighbors, scoffed at international law, and sought to undercut the interests of the United States. Worse, he has hired top aides who worked closely with the Moscow regime and sought to take advantage of a shockingly overt campaign by Russian intelligence to interfere in the U.S. election cycle.
Trump has repeatedly insulted and attacked the U.S. military and intelligence community, its leadership, and performance — while showing such utter contempt for the electorate that he has made no visible effort to come to understand America’s situation in the world or how foreign policy works. What is more, he has demonstrated his derision for the First Amendment to the Constitution and regularly sought to block, quash, and intimidate the press. If there were a more textbook example of the narcissistic, brutal personality type from which authoritarian thugs are made, it is hard to imagine. Trump is not just an American Berlusconi, he is our Putin- or Mugabe-in-waiting.
In an election year in which inequality and economic insecurity rank atop the list of voter concerns, Trump is a billionaire who has made his money by gaming the system and stiffing the little guy. He is odious and offensive; a poster child for everything wrong with the U.S. system. Indeed, the fact that he is not broke or in jail is powerful testimony to the special and unfair advantages the very rich have in America today. (See, for example, the evolving pay-to-play corruption scandal involving him and Florida’s attorney general.)
In fact, by any rational calculus the only federal office for which Trump seems suited is one with bars on the windows. The notion that somehow he has become a champion for Joe Lunch Bucket is beyond ludicrous. It would be like Kanye West becoming spokesperson for the American Humility Society … except the stakes are incalculably higher......