When normal is depressing

Yes, Donald Trump will likely lose tomorrow.  But it is a travesty and speaks so poorly of American democracy that he will not be utterly trounced.  Truly.  Seth Masket’s latest column captures my thoughts exactly:

What has soured me is that one candidate (spoiler alert: Donald Trump) has been going out of his way to make a mockery of the entire political system. He is unlike any other modern major party presidential candidate, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. He has run for office by trying not to expand a coalition but rather to narrow one. He insults large blocs of voters. He demonizes women, Latinos, Muslims, and Jews, among others. He makes young girls feel bad about themselves. Rather than just hinting at sexist or racist tropes, he overtly employs them, legitimizing their use by others.

And, for what it’s worth, he mocks the rituals and practices associated with our presidential elections. He has refused to release his personal tax statements. His medical disclosures have been a joke. He does not prepare for debates except to attempt to sexually humiliate his opponent. If he can’t find a poll that supports him, he’ll fabricate one in his head. And, of course, vows that, if he wins, he’ll jail his opponent, and, if he loses, he’ll challenge the outcome.

But what should sour us even more is that this hasn’t mattered very much. Yes, it’s mattered to some extent. I take seriously the forecasts that a more conventional Republican candidate would be beating Clinton right now. But it’s nonetheless disheartening that a candidate can do pretty much everything in his power to disqualify himself from office and see many of his own party’s leaders and nearly every major newspaper in the nation endorse his opponent and still be within a few percentage points of winning.  [italics Seth; bold is mine]

Yep.  Ultimately, among many other concerning things, it shows our democratic institutions are far more vulnerable than we realized:

I certainly get why this happens. Party identification is incredibly powerful. It allows us to dismiss criticisms of our party’s nominee while believing everything bad about the opponent. And party identification is very useful, allowing voters to meaningly participate in elections and get a pretty good idea about where most candidates will stand on issues without doing costly research. But it also means that literally anyone who manages to get through a party’s nomination system has a shot at winning office, no matter his or her qualities and no matter how broken that nomination system might be.

The sad truth is that a racist, xenophobic, sexist, anti-Constitutional demagogue, who was a little more focused, and a little less of a transparent sexual assaulter, might well become president.  And that is absolutely the scariest part of this election.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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