Trump's populism is not mob rule

It is very late for this sort of call to arms to support the elected class. They have failed terribly; they took the mighty moral and material and political strength of America and dissipated it for decades, and now the United States enjoys minimal respect in the world and, on its recent performance, does not deserve much. Those of us who know, in Mr. Churchill’s phrase, “what free men can do,” and what a mighty force for carefully selected and singlemindedly pursued good America has been and can be still, understand Ms. Zito’s reservations. But Donald Trump, her target, is right that the elected officials have failed; the system has failed. For decades it would not deal with illegal immigration, abortion, wealth disparity, campaign financing, a contemporary definition of the national interest, entitlement reform, the shredding of the Bill of Rights in the fascistic criminal-justice system, or the requirements of fiscal responsibility. Now the country faces a shambles less deadly and threatening than those that greeted the incoming presidents Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon, but more daunting than those that greeted any other inductee to that great office, except, perhaps, George Washington. It is a challenge to put Donald Trump in the category of those presidents just named, but he is the only serious candidate who is describing the crisis in its rightful terms, even if he has exaggerated on some points and been less precise on others than the country would wish and has a right to expect. These shortcomings can be remedied, and the elected political class has earned a collective suspicion, reversible in many cases, of incompetence or even turpitude; Ms. Zito is a bit late filing her defense and claiming that the skeptics are all anarchists.

It is an outrage to claim that Donald Trump’s support constitutes mob rule. Trump has not incited violence or any dilution or disrespect for democratic principles, and mob rule has never been described by a serious writer before as being the espousal of uncorrupted capitalism. As we head into Iowa, this election is already a contest between Hillary Clinton — a tired but semi-plausible resurrection of Clintonism, minus its most egregious tawdriness, after the interments of George W.’s mindless adventurism and Obama’s feckless, profligate, appeasement –and the orthodox Republicans. The most likely winner among these is probably Marco Rubio, who is not unencumbered by limitations but gives flag-waving a provisional respectability, or Ted Cruz, a heady but not necessarily felicitous combination of ferocity and intelligence, or Trump.

About Trump, we don’t really know. He could be a charlatan — though he is certainly more serious and estimable than Ross Perot, who put the Clintons in over the Bushes in the first place by splitting the Republicans — or he could be a candidate for Mount Rushmore. But he is not mob rule and RealClearPolitics and the Pittsburgh Register-Tribune have no moral or factual right to claim that he is.