The problem is that it's not the "most febrile" elements of the Republican Party that joined Trump. It's the whole damned thing... (Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Trump Hell)

Jelani Cobb: [Donald Trump and the Death of American Exceptionalism][]: "Trump; he didn’t join the Republican Party so much as its most febrile elements joined him...

...Trump is partly a product of forces that the G.O.P. created by pandering to a base whose dilated pupils the Party mistook for gullibility, not abject, irrational fear that would send those voters scurrying to the nearest authoritarian savior they could find. The error was in thinking that this populace, mainlining Glenn Beck and Alex Jones theories and pondering how the Minutemen would have fought Sharia law, could be controlled. (For evidence to the contrary, the Party needed look no further than the premature political demise of Eric Cantor.) The old adage warns that one should beware of puppets that begin pulling their own strings....

Trump... rejects the effete nature of dog-whistle politics the way the religious right defined itself by rejecting the watery tenets of liberal Christianity. Implicit within dog-whistling is enough respect for democratic norms and those outside one’s base to speak to that base in terms that the mass populace can’t readily decipher. Here, plausible deniability is at least a recognition that there are people with interests different from one’s own and that their influence, if not their interests or humanity, warrants a certain degree of respect. Trump is doing the opposite of this....

The end result of Trump’s evangelism is that a xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, serially mendacious narcissist is poised to pull in somewhere north of fifty million votes in the midst of the most bitterly contentious election in modern American history. The easy analysis holds that Trump’s jihad against decency has wrecked the Republican Party, but the damage is far more extensive.... The anti-immigrant, authoritarian, and nationalist movements we’ve witnessed in Germany, the U.K., Turkey, and France, troubling as they may be, do not violate a broader mandate that those nations have assigned to themselves. The United States’ claim to moral primacy in the world, the idea of American exceptionalism, rests upon the argument that this is a nation set apart....

The old presumptions hold that some element of national humiliation and decline predisposes nations toward fascism.... But in the U.S. this movement sprang up on the contrails of the first black Presidency--a moment that was, perhaps naïvely at the time, thought to be one of national affirmation and triumph. The unsavory implication here, of course, is that, for the cornerstone elements of Trumpism, that triumph was a national humiliation, that the image of an African-American receiving the deference and regard that the Presidency entails invalidated these Americans’ understanding of what the U.S. is, or at least what it is supposed to be.

In the broader context, Trumpism represents the demise of American exceptionalism.... At a quaint moment in the recent past, it was possible to think that a decisive Clinton victory would exorcise Trumpism from public life. But, on the verge of the election, that idea increasingly seems like an indulgent delusion. The problem of Trump is not simply that his opinions far exceed his knowledge; it’s that what he does know is so hostile to democracy, not only in the Republican Party or the United States but in the world. Whatever happens on November 8th, we are at the outset of a much longer reckoning.

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