It speaks to Donald Trump’s talent for self-promotion that ignoring him is much easier said than done. It seems like everyone wants to chime in with their opinion of what his impact will be on the Republican primaries and the presidential election. I’m feeling the same impulse.
I don’t think that Donald Trump will be good for the Republicans, but it’s true that he should make the rest of them look sane, tolerant, and polite by comparison. I have to agree that he will satisfy an itch a certain percentage of voters have to just enjoy an unapologetic nihilistic laugh at the whole process. And, yes, there’s a sense in which The Donald is really just a physical manifestation of the modern conservative id.
At the same time, Trump isn’t really a Republican or a conservative in any concrete way. His opinions are all over the map. If there is a solitary refreshing thing about him, it’s that he’s blissfully unaware of where he’s supposed to be as a loyal team member. He doesn’t courageously stake out unorthodox positions on issues. He just says whatever comes into his head in the moment, and that’s as likely to be consistent with the Chamber of Commerce’s position as it is to be channeling something heard on the Alex Jones radio show.
It’s primarily this lack of any filter that makes him unpredictable, but it’s also what makes him a certifiable clown. As an entertainer, it’s almost impossible for him to fail. He can’t be caught up in a lie or an inconsistency because the truth is so meaningless to him. He’ll just move on to the next bombastic insult or outrageous libel.
He’s just a more extreme example of the media strategy the Republicans have been employing ever since they did away with the Fairness Doctrine.
I have no idea what impact he will have. I do know that he’ll get attention that other candidates desperately need. I know that he’ll embarrass the party by making the debates seem like something between a reality show and a total fraud on the American public.
And I know that when the other candidates and the conservative elite press condemn him, they will be, to a large extent, condemning themselves.