The Sum of All Fears

On the heels of his dominant victory in last night’s South Carolina Republican primary, does anyone still think that Donald Trump’s rise to the GOP nomination can be stopped?

Trump is, for all intents and purposes, already the GOP nominee, a prospect that should unnerve any American who believes in common decency. His conquest of South Carolina was nothing less than a signal from America’s emergency broadcast system: this is only a test of whether rational America will allow fear and fury to flourish over the course of the next four years.

The thought of this man–this embodiment of every dark, demonic force in American history–becoming the 45th President of the United States chills the blood. What does it say about our educational system that this man was not laughed right out of the political system the moment he announced his candidacy?

He talks about what Mexico allegedly sends to the United States. Imagine what a President Trump would send to the rest of the world: a message that racism, sexism, xenophobia and narcissism are virtues, not vices. A message that reason is for the weak. A message that America has fallen into a deep moral abyss.

I’m scared for my friends’ children. They will be of an impressionable age over the next four years. When they see President Donald Trump on the TV screen, what warped values will penetrate their minds? What flawed lessons will they carry with them for the rest of their lives? Will I have to tell my friends not to let their kids watch President Trump, for the same reason one doesn’t let children watch movies with explicit sex, violence and profanity?

What kind of world will those kids inherit? A Trump victory would be far more devastating for our climate than the Keystone XL pipeline would have been. I guarantee that within 24 hours of a Trump victory, China, India and other major polluters will abandon the Paris climate agreement, reasoning that by electing an unrepentant climate-change denier, America cannot possibly be trusted to hold up its end of the deal. Without that deal, you can say goodbye to a livable future–and say hello to more fires, more floods, more disease, more death. (And by the way, Mr. Kasich, if you’re serious about climate, you will not endorse Trump once you suspend your campaign.)

A part of me wants to believe that hope will ultimately conquer fear, that morality will defeat madness, that progressivism will win over revanchism. Another part of me fears that such hope is an illusion, and that on Election Day, a majority of voters, hooked on the opiate of hate, will rush to the polls for their next fix from Donald the Dealer, this pathetic pusher of prejudice.

What would Marvin Gaye say about this, this dark moment in time? What would Nina Simone say? What would Maya Angelou say? Stevie Wonder once sang about finding joy inside his tears. What if, on the night of November 8, there’s no joy to be found?

I have to believe that hope will survive. Maybe that’s my opiate. Maybe I’m addicted to optimism. Nevertheless, I have yet to abandon my view that in the event Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cannot go the distance in his quest for the nomination, his passionate and enthusiastic supporters will step back, take stock, and set aside whatever grievances they have with Hillary Clinton, concluding that at the end of the day, an alleged “corporatist” cannot threaten democracy and civility the way an actual crackpot can.

Think about what’s at stake. This country is only so resilient. In 1992, America could have survived four more years of Poppy Bush. In 1996, America could have survived four years of President Bob Dole. In 2008, America could have survived four years of President John McCain. In 2012, America could have even survived four years of President Mitt Romney.

Does anyone think this country could survive four days, much less four years, of President Donald Trump?

The progressives currently feuding over the merits of Clinton v. Sanders will lay down their rhetorical arms and embrace each other as brothers and sisters at the conclusion of the Democratic primary. They will unify as the general election approaches, attending to their tasks with the skill and effectiveness of a veteran worker for a suicide prevention hotline. That analogy is apt, because progressives will, in essence, try to stop the country from cutting its own wrist on November 8.

UPDATE: More from Peter Sinclair, Rachel Maddow and Scot Lehigh.

SECOND UPDATE: Is this, God help us, the face of the next President of the United States? More from Kira Lerner and CNN.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.