The reason Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins have adopted a “wait and see” approach to the candidacy of Donald Trump is that they are counting on a systemic attempt to normalize him. David Roberts tells us why that is what we can expect.
[T]he US political ecosystem — media, consultants, power brokers, think tanks, foundations, officeholders, the whole thick network of institutions and individuals involved in national politics — cannot deal with a presidential election in which one candidate is obviously and uncontroversially the superior (if not sole acceptable) choice. The machine is simply not built to handle a race that’s over before it’s begun.
There are entire classes of professionals whose jobs are premised on the model of two roughly equal sides, clashing endlessly…
Among all these classes of professionals, all these institutions, that whole superstructure of US politics built around two balanced sides, there will be a tidal pull to normalize this election, to make it Coca-Cola versus Pepsi instead of Coca-Cola versus sewer water.
The US political system knows how to play the former script; it doesn’t know how to play the latter. There’s a whole skein of practices, relationships, and money flows developed around the former. The latter would occasion a reappraisal of, well, everything. Scary.
E.J. Dionne writes about this as well and suggests an antidote.
My friend, the writer Leon Wieseltier, suggested a slogan that embodies the appropriate response to Trump’s ascent: “Preserve the Shock.”
“The only proper response to his success is shame, anger and resistance,” Wieseltier said. “We must not accustom ourselves to this. . . . Trump is not a ‘new normal.’ No amount of economic injustice, no grievance, justifies the resort to his ugliness.”
It will be a challenge to maintain the shock as the system goes to work. That is why it was a brilliant move by the Clinton campaign to release this video on the day Trump became the presumptive nominee and before the normalization narrative had a chance to take its first baby steps.
The message: we’re not going to let you etch-a-sketch away Republican’s shock about Donald Trump’s candidacy. Gauntlet laid.