Why Trump? Why now?

We can go down the list of events in the Trump campaign since then. Cosmopolitan America sees a strong, moral – frankly ideological – interest in accepting refugees from Syria. Traditionalist America thinks that after Paris, this is insane. Which candidate is unafraid to say this unambiguously, without feeling the need to offer caveats? Traditionalist America thinks that the nation that put a man on the moon can “control its borders”; cosmopolitan America at best offers lip service to the need for doing so. Again, how many of the surviving Republican candidates fully side with the traditionalists? Traditionalist America wants to “kick the tires and light the fires” against ISIS/Daesh, and Trump goes on Blutarsky-ish rants against them. Trump doesn’t do nuance on these issues, but the cosmopolitan Republican candidates feel the need to. (Suggest raising taxes on the wealthy, however, and all nuance goes out the window with the rest of them).

All of this is a lengthy way of saying that Trump is a creation of the Republican establishment, which is frankly uncomfortable with many of its own voters, and which mostly seeks to “manage” them. This is a group that looked at the Tea Party revolts of the past decade, looked at the broad field of Republican candidates (many of whom at least had ties to successful Tea Party revolts), and decided that none of these candidates were good enough.

This is a dangerous situation (the Democrats have their own, similar problems, but that’s a different article). Outlandish third party candidates have a long, storied history in America. Our parties have generally responded to third party, outsider candidates by absorbing them and tempering them, be it Ross Perot, George Wallace, Bob LaFollette, or even Millard Fillmore (1856 edition). The one exception in American history is the post-Civil War period, when the inability and unwillingness of party elites to address debt and deflation led to a series of populist insurgencies, culminating in the nomination of William Jennings Bryan, who simply destroyed and rebuilt the Democratic Party with a speech.