October 2016.

Is Donald Trump a one-off, or has he changed American politics fundamentally?

1 answer

I don’t think you’re going to see another candidate like Trump run again. But the people who support Trump – who are angry, who are bitter, who are disillusioned – are still going to be there after Trump loses this election. There is blame to go around beyond Trump for the rise of that kind of sentiment. He seized the moment, but this discontent has been festering for years.

There is a certain section of the electorate that follows Trump loyally. He has this cult of personality, where no matter what he does, his hardcore supporters are still going to back him. I don’t expect him to go away after he loses. I’m sure he’ll spend a good deal of time after the election blaming everybody for his loss, claiming the election was rigged, claiming that because of his support for populist policies, he didn’t get support from the big business wing of the Republican Party, and that’s going to appeal to some people who also see it that way. It will be difficult to put the Republican Party back together enough that we can nominate a sane person for the Presidency in four years.

Trump has tapped into a movement which was already there, but by becoming the nominee of a major party, he has encouraged these people to come forward. If you listen to the radio show of David Duke – and I don’t, I just hear the clips when they’re circulated – he’s very, very proud of Trump and how his campaign is operating. He basically says that Trump is saying what he has been saying for decades, but he’s now saying it on a national stage, using the bully pulpit of a major political party. The alt.right movement has really been emboldened by Trump. I think that’s very dangerous for American politics going forward.

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