I worry about Donald Trump. While some commentators have noted that his popularity is with a particular wing of the conservative movement—working class white people who are among the greatest victims of the social change that, ironically, is one of the byproducts of the unrestricted capitalism of Trump and his fellow greed-worshipers—he is a media darling at the moment. Whether his ideas have value or not, he is getting incredible airtime on the news channels. And that, in turn, is reinforcing his message to the fringes of his base, expanding his impact.
There is good potential that Trump will simply divide the Republican party or fade away as others rise. He may even try a third-party run if the Republicans reject him, which could help the Democrats. However, I cannot see him simply going away. Instead, I would expect him to take ever-more radical positions as the campaigns move forward, forcing a political conversation built on manufactured fears rather than on our common interests.
My concern is simple: Right now, our country seems to be losing its political and moral center. The news media keeps looking at extreme positions on every issue rather than seeking a common middle ground. If Trump were to become President—or even Vice President—it would solidify the power of the new oligarchs and make it very difficult for democracy—what John Adams called “government for the common good” to thrive. Moreover, should a megalomaniac like Trump take power, it could be disastrous for us in terms of our international relations and whether we can come together as a nation around common, shared interests.
All this is a good argument for public funding of our elections. Unfortunately, that won’t happen before the next presidential election.