Posted on June 16, 2015
(This originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank)
Donald Trump is a brilliant marketer, a peerless self-promoter, a smart businessman–and a political disaster. His presidential campaign might be amusing, but it would not be serious.When should a billionaire run for president?
Still, his entry into the race could cause serious problems for the Republican Party.
Mr. Trump channels the frustration and fears of an angry GOP electorate. These voters question Barack Obama’s citizenship, as does Mr. Trump. They hate immigrants, and he spews anti-immigrant rhetoric. They say anything that comes to mind, as does he.
You might think that Mr. Trump as an everyman candidate would be healthy for our democracy, but here’s why it isn’t: Donald Trump’s nuttiness–as his rambling announcement speech underscored–gives everybody else permission to be just as nutty. And the last thing our democracy needs is more nuts.
Because of his high public profile, Donald Trump would qualify for the first GOP debate. That means he could knock out a candidate more qualified and more serious who could use that debate platform to shed light on real problems that confront this country–somebody like a Lindsey Graham or a John Kasich.
That scenario also means that Mr. Trump would be given an even bigger platform to spew his nonsense. It will be hard for other candidates who make the cut to compete with Mr. Trump’s ability to command the stage. And this could cause problems for the entire GOP field.
Mr. Trump’s entry into the presidential race shouldn’t be disregarded as a fun distraction by anyone who wants to defeat Hillary Clinton in November 2016.