More than 2,500 years ago Plato pointed out that democracy was a terrible idea for the simple reason that inevitably a demagogue comes along who stirs a significant percentage of the population with simple-minded lies and bogus promises. Those people then become his followers and the rest stand by passively as the state descends into inevitable tyranny.
Representative democracy stumbled and lurched along for 200+ years because of the tyranny of distance. A demagogue simply couldn’t reach enough people enough of the time to succeed. Until… radio, television, and now our 24/7 always-on screen-in-your-face sensationalism-always world.
Trump is a repellent sack of orange pus, but his success is possible only because the media is focused entirely on generating ad revenue. And that means sensation all the way. Trump, being a moron who says and does unbelievably stupid things on an hourly basis, is the ultimate media boon: a freak show. People love freak shows. They stare, they gawp, they drool. And a lot of people like the idea they can give vent to their feelings of insecurity, shame, hatred of others. For these people Trump is their Fuhrer.
Meanwhile millions of Republicans go along with it because the orange halfwit is wearing their team’s colors. And as politics is merely a sub-branch of the entertainment industry, and as a lot of people aren’t very intelligent, supporting your team is the easiest thing to do.
Hence we’re coming to the end of our accidental experiment with representative democracy. Trump is a vile creature but sadly he’s merely the harbinger of much worse to come. Instead of being repulsed by the orange moron and his crew of equally repellent creatures we need to be thinking seriously about better approaches to governance for a complex inter-connected world. Those who survive the horrors to come will need better ideas for governance, because they surely won’t want to repeat the mistakes of representative democracy and end right back where we are today.