Could Trump unleash hell on earth? Perhaps — but in our age, in our country, I believe it takes a force more diabolical than an opinionated businessman. Trump is far more likely than Napoleon was to be constrained by the deep cultural and historical fabric that truly holds the so-called status quo in place. Our national institutions may be weakened and corrupted. But our habits, customs, and memories are not so poorly off. They will exert the same power, at every level of life, as those that pulled society back into the regular orbits once so seemingly threatened by Bonaparte, Jackson, and other western revolutionaries.
The most superficially scary thing about Trump is the thing we ought to emulate most: his freedom from elective tribalism. If he can’t win the nomination his way, he’ll lose, and he’s okay with that. If he can’t win the election, he’ll go back to private life, and he’s okay with that. He isn’t thrown into a crisis when the power of his political team is imperiled because he doesn’t have one, no matter how many fanatical supporters flock to his rallies.
In politics today, too many of us fear whoever might marginalize our chosen team. We blow our adversaries’ power way out of proportion. That’s one thing Trump refuses to do. So should we all.