It is said, sometimes by sensible people, that Donald Trump would be fine as President. He’s a business leader and he appoints good advisers and managers. Ignore all the reality TV nonsense that he spouts and focus on the way he would get stuff done. That’s the theory. And you hear it from some surprising sources who are frustrated more than ever with the gridlocked system and the entitled behaviour of the mainstream political elite.
On trips to the US this year – including one on which I walked past the launch of the Donald’s presidential campaign in New York and laughed, thinking wrongly it would never amount to much – that new wave of old populist anger has been impossible to ignore.
It is important to remember, of course, that not a single vote has been cast and that Trump can be stopped from getting the nomination by Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz once the primary season is rolling. But for pro-Americans, and horrified citizens of the world watching the rise of Trump, such reassurances are of limited comfort.
While one can recognise the causes of voter anger and understand some of the grievances,sometimes in politics an insurgent leader crosses into full-blown dangerous demagogue territory. This week Donald Trump went full scary 1930s.
His demand that all Muslims – all Muslims, including US citizens – be denied entry to the United States is sinister and inherently un-American. Trump claims that he would make America “great again.” This incident, the worst yet in his campaign, shows on the contrary that he is an all-out menace who would ruin America.
The condemnation has been widespread. Jeb Bush finally came to life to describe Trump as “deranged”. Dick Cheney, ironically, spoke for liberals everywhere when he pointed out that the roots of the US lie in religious freedom. Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims is like something from the early days of the Third Reich.
Not only is this terrifying for mainstream Muslims and awful for the image of the US. The world needs an engaged America run by a serious person in serious times. We have seen in recent years what happens when America withdraws, or “leads from behind,” what fills the vacuum. ISIS or its supporters are now even in Afghanistan. This is no time for a joke US President.
It has been clear from the start that Trump is not a serious person capable of dealing with the momentous challenges of this era. Now, with his proposed ban on Muslims, he has demonstrated that he is is much, much worse than just a bad joke.