“Very seriously” said The New York Times in a powerful editorial on December 14:
Welcome to Weimar America: It’s getting restive in the beer halls. People are sick of politics as usual. They want blunt talk. They want answers.
Welcome to an angry nation stung by two lost wars, its politics veering to the extremes, its mood vengeful, beset by decades of stagnant real wages for most people, tempted by a strongman who would keep all Muslims out and vows to restore American greatness.
“We’re going to be so tough and so mean and so nasty,” Donald Trump says in response to the San Bernardino massacre. People roar. He calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” People roar. “People want strength,” he says. People roar. His poll numbers go up. Pundits, even the longtime guru of Republican political branding, Karl Rove, shake their heads.
Trump is a clown. No, he is not. He is in earnest. And he’s onto something. It is foolish not to take him seriously….
The Europeanization of American politics is also the Europeanization of American political risk. The unthinkable has happened in Europe. It is not impossible in America.
It would be wrong not to take Trump very seriously. It would be irresponsible. It would be to forget European history, from whose fascist example he borrows. In Weimar America politics are not what they were. The establishment looks tired. The establishment has not understood the fact-lite theater of the contemporary world.
The Weimar Republic ended with a clown’s ascent to power, a high-energy buffoon who shouted loudest, a bully from the beer halls, a racist and a bigot. He was an outsider given to theatrics and pageantry. He seduced the nation of Beethoven. He took the world down with him.
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Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, professors of history at Louisiana State, take a different view in Salon:
…Trump is a caricature of a populist, come to life, who exists before the television camera and for embarrassingly large crowds. There is nothing beyond the show. There is no relevant experience, no knowledge of policy, no statesmanship. Just an act.
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On December 15, Matthew Rosza had this to say, also in Salon:
If you can’t stand the thought of Donald Trump becoming president, the good news is that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) looks poised to upset him in the pivotal Iowa caucuses next month.
The bad news is that if Cruz succeeds and ultimately becomes the Republican nominee, he will prove to be far worse than Trump himself.
For one thing, Cruz has proved himself to be far more ideologically narrow-minded than Trump. For better or worse, Trump has been willing to defy conservative dogma on a number of issues (e.g., social security reform, progressive taxation, the 2003 Iraq War), indicating that at the very least he has a mind of his own. Cruz, on the other hand, has refused to waiver from the tenets of Tea Party doctrine even when the fate of America depended on it.