There are many reasons why creatures like Trump are succeeding the world over. First of all, the media acts not as “the fourth estate” but merely as an amplifier of lies and propaganda provided those lies are simple to understand and sensational. This is because the media is in a constant battle for eyeballs (which in turn means more ad or subscription revenue) and sensation is the most reliable way to grab attention for a moment or two. That’s why Trump received 85% of total coverage during the primaries and more than Clinton during the election: he was an infantile buffoon saying outrageous things; what better way to grab more eyeballs? This is not going to change. We don’t have news, for the most part: we just have vacuous entertainment. There are a very few exceptions (The Economist, France 24, l’Obs) but few even know of them and fewer care.
Secondly, we let anyone at all vote provided they’ve managed the stable genius feat of living long enough to reach the age of majority. It doesn’t matter how ignorant or foolish a person is, provided they’re over 18 (or whatever happens to be the local threshold) they can vote! As every politician now knows, a vast percentage of the population is ignorant and foolish and these are the ones to target because (a) it’s cheap to acquire them, just a few simple lies and a few impossible promises of free ice-cream forever; and (b) once captured these folk stay captured for a long, long time because it’s beyond their intellectual capacity to change their minds. Intelligent informed people, conversely, tend to be ignored because (a) it’s too “costly” in terms of time and effort to try to acquire these folk, and (b) even after you’ve got them on your side they may change their minds based on new information.
So in a representative democracy we ignore the intelligent and well-informed in favor of the foolish and ignorant because of the fundamental economics of our game of buy-a-vote. Worse yet, we don’t even require any qualifications of those who stand for election. Provided you can gull enough people, you can become President!
In short, our approach to self-government is so profoundly flawed (and I’ve indicated just a few of the systemic problems here; for a more detailed analysis see my book Why Democracy Failed) that it is no surprise we have Trump and Johnson and Bolsonaro and Le Pen and Salvini and the AfD and so many others all doing so very well. Until we realize that representative democracy is utterly unfit for purpose in a modern, complex, and inter-connected world, we’ll continue to watch as clowns, imbeciles, and repellent non-entities destroy everything of value in our civilization while the drooling dull-eyed mob cheers them on.