The Donald Trump circus is in town, and it unfortunately looks like it’s here to stay. The abrasive and obnoxious business tycoon have apparently struck a chord with Republican voters, as new polls indicate he has rocketed far ahead of the umpteen other cookie-cutter Republican candidates.
the Economist has him leading (with 15%) over the next-closest candidate, Jeb Bush (11%). Another survey by Public Policy Polling published Wednesday also placed Trump ahead of the GOP pack- with Trump leading Bush 16% to 12%. One in four Republican voters indicate that Trump is their first or second choices.
So it appears that despite the tidal wave of backlash that social media and business have unleashed on Trump over his extraordinarily ignorant and offensive comments about Mexican-American immigrants, Trump’s presidential campaign, once derided as a farce by establishment politicians and media outlets, has somehow become not only a legitimate player but has taken the vanguard of the GOP’s efforts to convince America to endorse their plutocratic and xenophobic agenda.
Which may end up being good for the rational progressives of America. Trump’s extremism has even prompted a rebuke and a request to “tone it down” from RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, who apparently has realized he should do something about the Republican Party’s incessant efforts to alienate every part of American society that is not white, male, and wealthy. Salon remarked that “the Republican leadership is very worried that their little white slip is showing, and the media is shocked, because once again they don’t seem to have been paying attention to what the Republican Party actually says and does”.
The Republican Party created this monster. It’s very ironic that the GOP party bosses are suddenly nervous over the raucous support that their voter base is showing for a crude, unsophisticated extremist like Trump. After relentlessly bombarding your base with radical propaganda for the past eight years, what did they expect would happen?
Trump’s particular brand of megalomania is so much that he is considering running as an independent if he doesn’t get the GOP nomination- a notion which terrifies the Republican Party, cutting into their monopoly on the easily influenced and the paranoia racists of America. That’s why the GOP bosses won’t publicly discipline Trump, even as he drags their brand through the mud, turning the careful consideration of those qualified to govern the most powerful nation in the world into a carnival of rabble-rousing delusions and exclusionary demagoguery.
It’s a disgrace to our proud democratic heritage to have this buffoon taking such a commanding lead, but maybe it’s the wake-up call that we’ve needed. Our democracy has been poisoned by dark money and the commodification of political influence, turned into a sensationalist frenzy by the 24/7 news cycle. Perhaps this is the wake-up call that we need to really take a step back and wonder how we let things get this bad.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.