I’ll speak for myself because it’d be presumptuous to speak for anybody else. After a terror attack, I feel like the world is ending and I’m powerless to stop it. I feel like I should say something but I can’t think of anything except what I said last time. I feel like I should do something, but I can’t imagine what. As a distant spectator, I can go about my day, but I go about it slow and wrong. I feel defenseless. Weak.

Donald Trump preys on that weakness. He’s got a cure for people like me. Strength. And he doesn’t go around the country campaigning with his cure, like we imagine people campaigning. Politicians campaign. Donald Trump tours. He’s got a one-man show. And it’s packed with spectacle. It has to be. That’s the only way he can play the big venues. He has to be loud.

So he says ridiculous things and demands ridiculous things. He says “we’re going to be so vigilant. We’re going to be so careful. We’re going to be so tough and so mean and so nasty.” He says we should spy on our neighbors and be our own cops. He demands a ban on Muslims entering America.

It’s easy to confuse spectacle with novelty. It’s easy to dismiss a presidential candidate who appeared in Zoolander and hosted Saturday Night Live twice. But we can’t do that now. We can’t pretend President Donald Trump is an impossible reality or even an unlikely reality. And we can’t confuse ridiculousness with desperation.

He’s not desperate and he’s not losing.

We don’t want to believe his act works on people, but it does. He is the GOP frontrunner. He’s leading by double digits. The Republican establishment tried to sell the country on literally anybody else, and it didn’t take. Ben Carson got close for a minute, but he squandered his support after he didn’t know what he was talking about too many times in a row. Success for Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio just means staying in the discussion. Jeb Bush wasn’t so fortunate.

We’re not in a Frank Capra movie. Gary Cooper is not going to give Trump his comeuppance. He is not going to die of his own mania in a burning barn or find God and quit the race to become a missionary. He is not a grand conspiracy meant to sneak Hillary Clinton into the White House. Denial accomplishes nothing.

He’s not desperate and he’s not losing.

And retreating to the comfort of our curated peers on social media, where everybody knows Trump is a villain, gets us nowhere. We don’t need better or smarter or funnier or more marketable ways to call him a villain. We don’t need to split hairs on whether he’s a fascist or just an almost-fascist. We don’t need any more hyperbole soloing. That won’t change the mind of a single Trump supporter.

We know what’s wrong with him. His worldview is filth and rot and darkness. He’s peddling the snake oil of power and strength to the exclusion of any amount of empathy or morality. He’s spreading lies and hearsay and promoting fear. But indignation won’t stop him. Indignation didn’t stop George W. Bush in 2004 and it won’t stop Donald Trump in 2016.

A bombastic and one-note platform of strength is intoxicating to a frightened country. By sticking to that platform, Donald Trump can break the old immutable rules and he can weather storms no presidential candidate is supposed to survive. He will probably weather his current storm. And there probably won’t be an apocalypse for Donald Trump that sends him packing from the national stage. The only thing to do now is figure out how to make Donald Trump supporters stop being Donald Trump supporters. Barring an act of God, we have 335 days to do this.

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