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I don’t think this is the main problem with Trumpism.

Maybe it’s just me.

In purely abstract terms, it’s hard to look at the Trump phenomenon and conclude that the liberal critique of Republicans is a “cartoon” that Trump accidentally happens to resemble. It’s much easier to conclude that Trump’s enduring, intense support simply validates the liberal critique of the GOP electorate.

We don’t live in the abstract, though. Last year, before the midterm election, the Republican mobilization strategy was a xenophobic freakout over child migrants being Ebola carriers and ISIS infiltrators. Actually, we don’t even need to go back that far. Literally the week before Trump became non grata in polite political company for proposing a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, the conservative movement was congratulating itself over successfully cowing Congress into a racist freakout over Syrian immigrants. That’s the winter strategy: an ethnophobic freakout against Muslim immigration. Conservatives distinguished themselves from Trumpism by limiting the freakout to refugees as if there’s some obvious logical discontinuity between “pausing” Syrian refugee admissions on the grounds that we can’t vet them properly, and “pausing” Muslim immigration altogether. But there’s no discontinuity. Trump merely has the courage of their convictions.

This is just one man’s opinion, but it seems like conservative energy would be better spent growing the coalition without resorting to this crap—perhaps by excising ethnonationalists, and moderating policy—rather than worrying about whether Trump makes it easy for liberals to say mean things about Republicans.