The idea that Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton seems ludicrous in mainstream terms. But is it? We have a national rise in fear among a segment of reactionary whites (the hard-core Republican base) that it may be a mistake to underestimate. Clinton is widely mistrusted from the left into the center. In a Clinton-Trump face-off, if lefties and middles stay at home and the hard-right Republican base comes out, as it typically does, could Trump win?
I don't know. But I don't think that corporate media pundits, who confidently pronounce Trump's chances in a general election as hopeless, know as much as they think they do. The rise of Hitler, to take one example, shows us how the ravings of an initially disregarded tinhorn can be amplified by the insane fears of an electorate that feels its historical entitlement has been betrayed -- which pretty well describes a significant and scared (or at least passively intimidated) swath of American white people.
One of the most incisive, if crude, descriptions of this madly panicked white mob mentality comes from Matt Taibbi, who in 2009 (http://www.smirkingchimp.com/print/21289) wrote of
"...an audience that’s been trained that the rich are not appropriate targets for anger, unless of course they’re Hollywood liberals, or George Soros, or in some other way linked to some acceptable class of villain, to liberals, immigrants, atheists, etc. — Ted Turner, say, married to Jane Fonda.
"But actual rich people can’t ever be the target. It’s a classic peasant mentality: going into fits of groveling and bowing whenever the master’s carriage rides by, then fuming against the Turks in Crimea or the Jews in the Pale or whoever after spending fifteen hard hours in the fields. You know you’re a peasant when you worship the very people who are right now, this minute, conning you and taking your shit. Whatever the master does, you’re on board. When you get frisky, he sticks a big cross in the middle of your village, and you spend the rest of your life praying to it with big googly eyes. Or he puts out newspapers full of innuendo about this or that faraway group and you immediately salute and rush off to join the hate squad. A good peasant is loyal, simpleminded, and full of misdirected anger. And that’s what we’ve got now, a lot of misdirected anger searching around for a non-target to mis-punish… can’t be mad at AIG, can’t be mad at Citi or Goldman Sachs. The real villains have to be the anti-AIG protesters! After all, those people earned those bonuses! If ever there was a textbook case of peasant thinking, it’s struggling middle-class Americans burned up in defense of taxpayer-funded bonuses to millionaires. It’s really weird stuff. And bound to get weirder, I imagine, as this crisis gets worse and more complicated."