Here & Elsewhere—Candidate Trump Edition

Our editorial on the nomination of Donald Trump is now up on the homepage. It begins:

For more than a year now, half the country and most of the media have responded to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with a mixture of amusement, disgust, and morbid fascination. Obvious lies and juvenile insults that would have sunk any other candidate only seemed to help Trump. He mocked a disabled journalist and faulted a U.S. senator for having been a prisoner of war (“I like people who weren’t captured”). He called other candidates short or ugly and bragged about the size of his penis. He was, if anything, rather less statesmanlike than the version of himself he had played on his reality-TV show, The Apprentice. But the worse his behavior, the better he did in the polls. It was all quite a spectacle.

Now that he is the official nominee of the Republican Party and has pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton in some polls, the fun is over. The most important fact about Donald Trump now is not that he is ridiculous or contemptible, but that he is dangerous. His character, inexperience, and complacent ignorance all disqualify him for the office he seeks. If elected, he would pose a threat to the country’s constitutional norms, as well as to its security.

Read the whole thing here.

In the Times Literary Supplement, the novelist Richard Ford wonders why Trump "seems strangely insubsantial." What is it about people, Ford asks, "that makes them seem actual or authentic, makes them seem to be there instead of seeming vacant and vanishing, like Mr Trump"?

Listening, would be one thing. Donald Trump doesn’t seem to listen to people, especially people who don’t corroborate what he already espouses (though he does seem to hear insults and likes to mock and threaten and even injure those he deems to be insulters). Being able to distinguish our needs from his needs, would be another trait of actualness—instead of believing (as Trump seems to) that our needs should match his, or maybe just match his wishes. That’s two. Another evidence of actuality might be that if a person spends a great deal of time and effort persuading us he badly wants something, that we eventually can find some evidence that the wanting person knows a modicum of what that something is. Three. Four would be that a person not flat-out mislead us when the truth is otherwise easily available. Five would be that a person not malign everybody who disagrees with him about virtually anything—calling into question their morality, ethics, religion, marriage, ethnicity, their dog’s name. Six would be (I’ll quit after this) that a person be able to affiliate himself with people who themselves seem actual or authentic, allowing us observers to conclude that he’s like them. Absence of these qualities is what makes us run away from people. It’s not what makes us elect them to be president.

In the Washington Post, Leon Wieseltier writes about how the politics of grievance has given rise to Trump:

What does economic wretchedness have to do with the appetite for authoritarianism? There is nothing very mysterious here. Liberals and socialists have been wondering for a hundred years why people in economic distress do not vote according to their economic interests. The answer should have been obvious long ago: People in adversity turn not to economics but to culture. They are fortified not by policy but by identity. They seek saviors, not programs. And as the direness of their circumstances appears to imperil their identity, they affirm it by asserting it ferociously against others. Hurt people hurt people. Against these hurt people, therefore, and against the profiteer of pain who shabbily champions them, it must be insisted that no amount of sympathy for their plight justifies the introduction of a version of fascism into American life. No grievance, however true, warrants the fouling of American politics by the bigotry and the brutishness peddled by Donald Trump. Either he wins or America does.

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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