We now utterly conflate entertainment and politics, routinely confuse celebrity with authority and regularly lose sight of the difference between a cult of personality and a claim to leadership.
And Donald Trump — still going strong, still dominating the polls — is the emblem, apotheosis and ripe, fleshy, orange-crowned fruit of this. (Yes, Donald, I called you a fruit. Deal with it.)
He’s not just some freaky mascot for a preternaturally angry electorate, though he’s plenty freaky and the electorate brims with disgust for career politicians and rage at a system that seems impervious to meaningful change.
He’s not just the Frankenstein that the Republican Party created, and he’s not just a blip.
He’s the show that we’ve been sucked into and that we’ve asked for. He’s the carnival that we invited to town.
He’s been a long time coming: The bleed of entertainment into politics is hardly new. It’s been rued and prophesied for many decades.
Frank Bruni, “We Invited Donald Trump to Town”, The New York Times (2 August 2015), SR3.