Grab the popcorn! Donald Trump has made the 2016 Republican primary the entertainment event of the season! And though they admit it’s terrible, plenty of liberals almost hope that he gets the nomination — because it’d be comedy gold, and of course, because then Hillary would win easily.
The former reason relies on the logic of politics as entertainment, while the latter presupposes the theory that Democrats will benefit from right-wing overreach. There is literally no evidence of the latter theory, however — if anything, just the opposite. What could possibly represent a greater overreach than lying the country into an unnecessary and criminal war, all on the backs of the victims of 9/11? Yet lo and behold, Bush won reelection. And since then, the Republicans have been more successful wherever they’ve been more extreme. Obama’s unique personal appeal masks this somewhat, but the Tea Party has made steady gains during his presidency. On the state level, no overreaching Republican governor has been punished for his foolish and reckless policies — the archetypal Scott Walker not only survived a recall, but was subsequently reelected.
We also know that Republicans have been pushing to restrict voting as much as possible, and there have been strong suspicions of election fraud — in Florida in 2000, in Ohio in 2004, and in Wisconsin during the recall. If it can happen during the most important and closely monitored elections, it surely must be happening lower down as well.
Even leaving all that aside, if Trump wins the Republican nomination, that makes him more, not less likely to become president. And given what we know about him, that’s a frightening prospect. His business career does not provide us with much confidence that he will live up to America’s international agreements. He is a misogynist whose ex-wife has accused him of rape. His immigration plan amounts to ethnic cleansing, and he is not shy about stoking up violent emotions about immigrants — most notably when he claimed that Mexican immigrants were all a bunch of rapists. And when one of his followers was literally inspired to commit murder by his rhetoric, he did not appear to care at all. All this adds up to fascism — not as a slur, not as a rhetorical exaggeration to rally the troops, but literal, textbook fascism.
Some might say it could never happen here. Well, then exactly where the hell else could it happen? This is a nation where ethnic minorities are gunned down in the street by the police, and where the murderers hold successful Kickstarter campaigns. It’s a nation that is perpetually at war and whose military and intelligence services are well known to have used torture with impunity. It’s a nation where the powerful have perfected scapegoating and victim blaming to a science.
All of this admittedly plays into another favorite Democratic pastime — demanding people hold their nose and vote for unappealling Democrats in order to stave off the worst. I hope we don’t have to test how big a motivator that strategy is this time around.