My latest for Quartz is a sequel of sorts to my Foreign Policy piece (see below) on the repercussions of a Trump loss, and how his campaign has mainstreamed extremism:
Donald Trump’s erratic behavior over the past week has led to speculation that he is purposefully trying to sabotage his own campaign.
Since Aug. 2, Trump has feuded with a baby, repeatedly insulted the Muslim parents of a deceased veteran, claimed he “always wanted a Purple Heart,” insisted the election will be “rigged,” reignited past campaign controversies like his mockery of a disabled reporter and his comments over Megan Kelly’s menstrual cycle, falsely claimed he was given state secrets about Iran and then announced those “secrets” to the public, and inspired several Republicans to endorse Hillary Clinton.
This is clearly not a winning strategy. But there is no reason to believe Trump is purposefully trying to lose. In January, Trump boasted that he “could stand in the middle of [New York City’s] 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” There is no reason to believe Trump is purposefully trying to lose. What he is doing now is merely the rhetorical equivalent. Trump’s current behavior should concern Americans–not simply because of the hatred and intolerance his campaign has normalized, but because the leaders who might inherit Trump’s voter base could be even worse.