|Rick McKee cartoon, (c) 2015 Cagle Cartoons|
Donald Trump has gone from entertaining sideshow to dangerous demagogue. I'll admit at first that I fell into the attitude that he was a flash in the pan; something that, like summer, would be wrapped up by Labor Day.
Not so. Today, Trump's numbers are as high as ever. The media is tripping over themselves to let him on their shows, just so he can lie over and over again while saying that the media is scum. It's a form of self-flagellation that not only hurts the media, but hurts the entire political atmosphere in America.
The problem is that the American echo chamber, when replayed abroad, is portraying Donald Trump as speaking for the U.S. If every time someone overseas turns the television on and sees Trump bloviating on banning Muslim travel to the U.S., or saying the Paris attacks would have gone differently if the victims had been armed, or that Muslims need to carry special ID, what else are they supposed to think?
In the same way that so many people think that ISIS and Al Qaeda represent Islam, many people abroad are beginning to think that Donald Trump represents America. Neither are true, but the truth gets lost in perception time and time again.
The GOP should not be surprised that the three current leading candidates to represent them in the 2016 election are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson. Three people that, if they boarded a New York subway and went into their stump speech, would have rational people rolling their eyes and wishing for Showtime.
The Republican Party took a hard right when it came to religion and perceived morality in the 1980s with the election of Ronald Reagan and his use of the Religious Right. Barry Goldwater - the epitome of a pre-Reagan conservative - predicted the fall of the GOP 20 years ago, when he warned Republicans about letting the extreme religious portion of their party take over.
They didn't heed that warning, and the result is that decades of sowing that side of the party has reaped them with three national embarrassments as their best candidates. The party's reliance on partisan media, their willingness to court white voters almost exclusively, and their inability to criticize Trump because they think he's a victim has led them to their current position. And they have no one the blame but themselves.