The Republican front-runner is exploiting popular anger against the policing of ordinary conversation—but also violating norms that protect America’s basic liberties.
One gets the sense from our current political class that, for example, torture and unconstrained drone strike assassination isn’t actually morally wrong as long as you adopt a furrowed brow
And it is profoundly ugly when Trump just gleefully says, more or less, I love torture and we’re going to be doing a lot of it. BUT, on the other hand, it’s not so clear at all that his stance on those things would really be any more assertive than people who adopt more pleasant, civil, “serious” rhetoric on these topics.
Every “crazy” Trump quote may be “politically incorrect,” but those labels conflate all categories of controversial rhetoric as if their substance is equally wrong. Neither impoliteness nor tone-deafness nor crude insults are to his credit. But a pol who seeks to gain power by demonizing ethnic-minority groups and threatening their core rights is engaged in a special category of leadership failure.
Too few Americans see that distinction. And Trump benefits from their dearth of discernment.