The WWE’s tangerine terror only “won” the presidency because we underestimated him and overestimated the people and institutions that should have stopped him. The need to keep discounting him heading into the 2020 election is his greatest and possibly only asset, and the worst threat to our democracy we’ve faced.
Trump is actually getting better at the worst things that matter most, like avoiding accountability for high and low crimes, capturing the courts for the far right, and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to “carpet-bomb” Democrats. The institutions that were supposed to rein him in have done more to restrain his critics than him. Meanwhile, what reigns is the belief that this nightmare is bound to end on its own — what writer Sarah Kendzior calls “normalcy bias.”
By now, we should know better.
Cognitive scientist George Lakoff warned in 2016, “Trump is a master salesman with a history of selling deals good for him but not so good for most others.” But it may be “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, the author of a book that claims Trump is a “master persuader,” who nailed Trump’s strategy: “When it comes to unfavorability, you don’t need to outrun the bear. You only need to outrun your camping buddy.”