There are many reasons why Donald Trump should not be president of the United States that have nothing to do with temperament. His ideas on trade would be self-defeating and recession-inducing. His embrace of statist solutions for our economic doldrums would mire the country in even greater debt than it has already. His isolationism would make us less safe. Amazingly enough, that’s neither here nor there. Trump has terrible ideas but so does Hillary Clinton, and the choice between them on these grounds is a horrendous one.
Trump is unfit to be president of the United States–and has been since he traveled down that gilded escalator in June 2015–for reasons having nothing to do with policy. Simply put, he is an unspeakable human being, as we have learned yet again in the past 24 hours. He takes everything he touches or wants to touch and reduces it to a pornographic puddle. I don’t just mean the way he talked about a woman on that disgusting tape released yesterday, though that’s the straw that may have broken the camel’s back. I mean the way he talks about everybody and everything.
Ben Carson, he says, is a psychopath for the intolerable crime of trying to beat him for the presidency. Ted Cruz’s father may have been in on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and his wife is ugly. Megyn Kelly was mean to him because it was her time of the month. Rosie O’Donnell is a pig.
The pornographic excess extends to the controversies that helped him secure the nomination. Not enough to say immigration is bad for the country; no, the Mexicans who come here are rapists and murderers. Not enough to say many of our inner cities are awash in violence, and new policies are needed to stop it; no, black people live in Hell. Not enough to say ISIS is dangerous and we need to tighten our entry procedures; no, he floats a ban on all Muslims arriving in the United States, even citizens.
The ludicrous comedy of Republicans and conservatives embracing this slanderer of millions, this libeler of rivals, derives from the central conceit that he tells it like it is and isn’t cowed by political correctness. But for Trump, “political correctness” means something different than the effort to choke off debate on touchy matters by shaming anyone who steps beyond the bounds. It means the gleeful embrace of stereotype and the rejection of nuance. It means flaunting disrespect in the most caricaturish terms for people different from you. It means shouting out that you’re an a**hole at the top of your lungs and saying that anyone who isn’t an a**hole like you is a liar or a wimp or evil.
Without question, the constant effort to suppress the workings of free thought in this country about the problems that haunt it through the shaming system of political correctness has helped lead us to this pass. When our cultural authorities declare thought processes illegitimate, they do not end the thought processes, they just redirect those thought processes underground—through the muck into the fever swamps.
Still, the reckoning for the American people and the Republican party after November (or sooner) isn’t just about the willingness of so many in the GOP and in the general electorate not merely to tolerate such a person because people thought he was better than the alternative but about the fact that they thought he was a curative tonic. He isn’t. He’s an emetic, and he is about to be vomited up.