Since the fall of 2015, I’ve been predicting that Trump would win not only the GOP nomination but the general election. This claim was dismissed as paranoid and pessimistic, but unfortunately I was right. I do think the general election will be close, so there is no reason to stop trying to prevent this demagogue from obtaining office. I would very much like to be wrong.
But here is why I don’t think I am:
In 2008, the United States plunged into a massive recession from which it never recovered. Unemployment soared, full-time careers were converted to part-time gigs and middle-class jobs were replaced by low-paid positions. In the midst of this financial collapse, Donald Trump achieved popularity as the host of the reality-television series The Apprentice.
His catchphrase was “You’re fired.” And Americans loved him for it.
This is the psychology of Donald Trump. He sells the suffering of others as a salve to the wounded. The smartest thing any candidate can do in the 2016 election is run on American pain. That is the U.S. growth industry in an era of economic decimation, war recovery and racial strife.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, who seeks to continue Barack Obama’s legacy, or Bernie Sanders, who offers hope through sweeping change, Mr. Trump homes in on anguish. He assures Americans that their fate is not their fault. He pledges to end their pain. And he does so by promising the public persecution of the most vulnerable citizens: ethnic, religious and racial minorities.
In Mr. Trump’s campaign, long-time losers – the mostly white industrial workers whose jobs began to disappear in the Reagan era – are promised to become instant winners, through means he has yet to articulate. The rest will be fired: denounced, deported, devalued. Mr. Trump redefines America through the politics of exclusion. He is tearing the country apart, and he will likely win what is left of it in November.