What if Donald Trump is playing an elaborate joke on the country and especially on the Republican Party? Until a few years ago, he was a pro-choice liberal Democrat. Then he went Birther. Trump claimed he never accepted the evidence that Obama was born in the U.S. If Obama was born in Kenya, his presidency would be entirely illegitimate. Was Trump feeding the resentments of Americans who never came to terms with having a black family in the White House? Was this just a preparatory step for spinning the joke? After all, 43% of Republicans think Obama is a secret Muslim and a Kenyan-born socialist bent on destroying America. By getting on the Birther bandwagon, Trump was ensuring that he when he threw his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination, he would get a respectful hearing from just under half of all Republicans. And Republican primary voters are even wackier than the rest. Who knows how widespread such sentiments might be among independents who don’t tell the truth to pollsters?
The Republicans Trump is appealing to loathe Obama, but they also hate immigrants, especially Mexican immigrants, feminists, blacks, and Muslims. They are also inclined to believe that many so-called disabled people (They prefer the less politically correct term “cripples”) are faking it. So what has Trump done? He has attacked every one of these groups in turn. He even attacked so-called war heroes who were captured as losers. And his poll numbers among Republican primary voters continue to surge. Part of the joke could be showing normal Americans what sick puppies many of their fellow citizens are.
Trump’s Republican rivals are flummoxed. Not one of them has gotten to talk about a single policy initiative. In fact, practically all they ever get to talk about is Trump. Every time some news story comes up that threatens to knock Trump off the top of the news, he comes out with something outrageous that the news can’t ignore. On the heels of the ISIS-inspired massacre in San Bernardino, Trump immediately suggested barring all Muslims from entering the country, and that policy suggestion—forget that it is unconstitutional and not implementable– was the top of the news. Only a couple of his rivals roundly condemned it. Ted Cruz was especially muted in his remarks about the suggestion and may be the biggest butt of the joke. The Republican base ate the notion of barring Muslims up like Cheese Whiz on Oreo Cookies. Almost nothing Trump suggests is remotely feasible, but that doesn’t matter to them.
So if it’s all an elaborate joke, here’s what it has achieved: No matter who gets the Republican nomination, the vast majority of Mexican Americans, African Americans, Muslim Americans, feminists and disabled people will prefer reaming out their nostrils with potato peelers to voting Republican in the general election. That means a Democrat—either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders—will be the next President.
So why aren’t Democrats ecstatic? Some probably are, but many fear that maybe it’s not a joke, maybe Trump will get the nomination, and maybe there are enough morons in the country to actually elect him. What if there’s another terrorist attack? I mean a terrorist attack by somebody with a Muslim name. Other terrorist attacks don’t seem to count. The really nervous Democrats are mostly American liberals of the generation that firmly believed the nation would never elect a grade-B actor whose main claim to fame was a nice smile and an ability to remember his lines.