Greenfield: Trump wasn’t stopped because Republican Party already embraced unthinkable behavior
Jeff Greenfield puts the Trump phenomenon at the feet of both political parties.
Why wasn’t Trump stopped? In part, it’s because the Republican Party had already embraced behavior that would once have been unthinkable. Of course you can’t really threaten not to raise the debt ceiling; that would risk something close to a global financial meltdown. (Of course you can’t use the filibuster on almost every key piece of legislation to turn majority rule into a supermajority). With so many “unthinkable” positions turned into an agenda, choosing a nominee—and a president—without traditional credentials was just another step down a road already taken.
There is, however, more to the story. Trump was immune to the hits that would have doomed any other candidate, in large part, because his ardent supporters hear any negative assertions as coming from a corrupt, incompetent, mendacious establishment that has ignored and/or betrayed them. In a way, they see Trump as their version of a classic Hollywood populist hero—courageous enough (and rich enough) to reject the demands of an arrogant power elite, blunt enough to say exactly what he means about immigrants, refugees, the media, “speaking truth to power” (as the left says), but in a language never before heard on the presidential stage…
For its part, the Democratic Party bears its full share of the blame. Its wholesale embrace of identity politics, its apparent indifference to what has happened to the working class that was at the core of its base from the days of Andrew Jackson, its willingness to nominate the symbol of “more of the same” in a political climate where “change” was the driving force, has left it—and the country—in the hands of Donald Trump. Clinton’s vulnerability as a candidate were on full display before she even entered the race.