A More Respectably Nasty Trumpism

There are those who will argue that a kinder, gentler Trumpism will fail to appease the martial appetites of MAGA-land, or its visceral appeal to those focused more on “owning the libs” than on the policies that drive liberals crazy. There is a brand of less crude but equally polarizing right-wing politics aligned with more orthodox conservative policy thinking. Pound for pound, no one can outdo Arkansas senator Tom Cotton for sheer rabble-rousing nastiness, as exhibited by the brouhaha he touched off earlier this year at the New York Times with his op-ed calling for deploying the U.S. military to cities experiencing civil unrest. His gold-plated résumé and adherence to old-school conservative values like debt mania and big defense budgets has earned him some fans in Republican Establishment circles.

Cotton is unproven in national politics and may need a personality transplant; he is about as relatable to swing voters as a scorpion. An alternative from the same school of maximum polarizers is Ted Cruz, who did finish a respectable second to Trump in the 2016 primaries, and can boast of his own brand of Ivy League elite-bashing.